As an orthopedist, I see many older people come in with fractures of all types on a daily basis. Sometimes it’s a matter of osteoporosis caused by mineral deficiencies, or lack of muscle strength that doesn’t stimulate bone growth, but many times it’s a matter of osteoporosis (and fracture) created by stress.
Like my patients, you may not immediately understand the connection between stress and your bones; so I’d like to tell you about it. If you’d like to learn the scientific breakthrough to reverse Osteoporosis, safely and naturally – Click Here.
Your Older Bones on Stress – High Risk For Fracture
You may already know, or have read, that stress is hazardous to your health in general. It can affect how well you sleep, your heart function, your mood, your memory, all kinds of things. Well, here’s one more thing for you to know about stress. It can also set you up for a bad fracture by weakening your bones. Here’s why…
When you’re stressed out, your adrenal glands secrete the stress hormone cortisol. If you’re only temporarily under stress, then cortisol abates to its normal level eventually. But, if you’re under chronic, low-level stress, like being generally unhappy, frustrated, depressed, or anxious all of the time, then cortisol stays elevated. It’s under these conditions that they start doing damage to your health by causing inflammation throughout your body. Inflammation, researchers have learned in the past decade, opens the door for disease to settle into your tissues.
As far as your bones go, cortisol inhibits the growth of osteoblasts. These are “baby” bone cells that eventually grow into adult bone cells. If osteoblasts growth is inhibited, the older bone cells are not replaced. In addition, when you’re depressed – a chronic, low-level stressor – your brain tells your bones to secrete another stress hormone, noradrenalin, which also blocks the growth of osteoblasts.
Eventually, without your older bone cells being replaced with newer, stronger ones, your bones weaken and become frail. Osteoporosis sets in and you’re at higher risk for a debilitating hip or forearm fracture which is common in older people. And, taking more calcium won’t help this situation.
Interestingly, Americans, as a whole, take in more calcium than other countries, and yet we have the highest rate of osteoporosis in the world. The reason is, Americans also lose more calcium through excreting it – from drinking a lot of sodas and/or taking certain medications – and from our stress levels. Higher stress – and cortisol levels – all cause higher acid content in your body.
This high acid content also shows up in gastric reflux disease – which Americans also have in higher levels. Too much acid in your digestive system results in not absorbing the calcium you take in and it goes right out through your urine and the less there is to use for your bones.
What Can You Do To Lessen Impact of Stress?
You can see how stress can dangerously impact your bone health and ups your chances of suffering a bad fracture, as you get older. What can you do?
Well, to start, decreasing your sources of stress would be a big help. Don’t carry the weight of the world on your shoulders. Go talk to a professional and get some help to remedy the situation that’s causing it.
Exercising is also a great, cheap way to relieve stress. It may not solve the problem that’s causing the stress, but it can release a lot of the pent up anxiety, frustration, and anger that results in all that excess cortisol. It also serves to counteract the inhibiting effect that stress has on those baby bone cells by stimulating them to grow. Every time you move, your muscles rub against your bones and spur those cells into growing.
The answer to saving your bones from stress is not just exercising more – though it will help. The real answer is getting to the root of what’s causing the chronic stress to begin with and alleviating it. Maybe it means taking on a second job to relieve financial stress, or going into counseling with your spouse to work on stressful relationship issues. Whatever it is, in order to keep your bones, and the rest of you healthy, stress is a problem that needs to be remedied.
Mark Bromson, M.D.