Last week marked World Osteoporosis Day – a condition that affects over three million people in the UK. It is characterised by changes to the structure and density of bones, making them thin, weak and prone to breakages.
It’s often called “The Silent Disease” and for good reason.
You can’t feel your bones being stripped and left thin and brittle. Osteoporosis is irreversible once diagnosed – we can at this time only slow its progression.
The National Osteoporosis Society states that many cases go completely undiagnosed until it is far too late. The cost of this condition to the UK is estimated to reach £2.25 billion by 2025.
And yet for many, osteoporosis is preventable.
Laying down strong bones early in life is pivotal if we are to wipe out this disease. It’s absolutely poignant that I wrote about this disastrous nutrition situation last month in Our Teens Are ‘Ditching Dairy’ – A Teenage Time Bomb Waiting to Happen?
We know that there are a number of conditions where milk is a major determinant of bone health especially in the formative years. Not only in its acquisition but also its preservation.
Whilst convincing our teens to stop ditching dairy is one battle, for those with existing weak bones there are things we can do about it.
The latest research points to an inflammatory link with the condition, stemming from our modern day diets and lifestyles.
Whilst inflammation can of course be rooted in pro-inflammatory conditions such as arthritis, coeliac disease and inflammatory bowel disease, which are clearly associated with worse bone health and may not be preventable, lifestyle factors such as smoking, physical activity and more notably the food we eat most certainly are and can all play a role in reducing inflammation.
At the heart of this fire of inflammation, as Dr Mark Hyman, MD put in his HuffPost article 7 years ago is the ‘Mother of all Antioxidants’, Glutathione.
As Dr Hyman reports, Glutathione is a very simple molecule that is produced naturally all the time in your body: mopping up free radicals, supporting the removal of toxins such as heavy metals, and putting a dampener on inflammation.
It is well established that a Mediterranean Diet, rich in dietary polyphenols, flavonoids and antioxidants from fruits and vegetables, large quantities of essential fatty acids from oily fish, dairy products, nuts, seeds and oils such as olive oil promotes a lower dietary inflammatory index score; an index that ‘rates’ a person’s diet based on established dietary factors that promote inflammation.
And just this year, researchers have shown that a higher inflammatory index diet is positively associated with a higher risk of hip fracture and even more interesting, the link that ties it together seems to be glutathione.
Recently it was shown by Dr Richard Deth and colleagues from Nova Southeastern University, that consumption of a2 Milk™ in milk intolerant participants was associated with a doubling of serum glutathione levels and therefore reduced inflammation, whilst regular milk raised it only a small amount and no milk seemed to fair the worst.
So other than being a potent source of many of the nutrients needed for bone health, just making small dietary changes such as the milk we drink could boost our antioxidant reserve considerably.
Osteoporosis is evidently a big issue for many in the UK, so for strong and healthy bones throughout all stages of life, consider improving your diet and boosting your cows’ milk intake to help cool the flames of inflammation.
Photo credits: iStockPhoto