During and after menopause, when oestrogen levels are low, the process of bone loss starts to speed up and it can lead to osteoporosis. However, according to the latest research published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, the ‘friendly’ bacteria in our gut can influence our bone health, and that giving women probiotic bacteria after menopause could help to prevent bone loss.*
How? Cassandra Barns, Nutritionist explains, “We know that women’s levels of oestrogen go down after menopause, and that this decrease can lead to increased bone loss. One of the reasons why is that the lack of oestrogen may increase the permeability of the gut walls. This means that more substances – including toxins and microbes – can then get through into the body. In response, the immune system releases chemicals that increase inflammation, and these chemicals can also trigger bone loss. It’s thought that ‘friendly’ bacteria such as Lactobacillus rhamnosus can help to prevent this increase in gut permeability and lower the release of inflammatory chemicals, helping to prevent this bone loss. Although the researchers were only testing this effect in mice, it shows promise for humans too.”
For women, taking a probiotic could be an easy way to help protect their bones as they get older – as well as having other benefits for their health too! “I’d recommend Quest’s Mega 8 Biotix – a blend of 8 strains of lactobacillus bacteria, including Lactobacillus rhamnosus It’s a great supplement to support not only your bones but also immunity and digestion,” Barns recommends.
What else can be done to reduce the risk of osteoporosis? We asked our experts to give us their top tips.
Top up your mineral and vitamin levels
What vitamins and minerals should you be taking? Vitamin K is an integral part of bone mineralisation and is needed to make a protein that’s essential for bone formation. It can also help to prevent deposits of calcium in the walls of blood vessels.
Vitamin D and Calcium are very important as they reduce the risk of fractures and are both beneficial minerals for bone density.
“It is crucial to support your body in this difficult time with the right supplement. Nature’s Plus AgeLoss Bone Support focuses on replenishing bone rejuvenation, including bone flexibility as well as density. Packed with Calcium, Magnesium, Vitamins D3, K2, Guava, Mustard and Moringa Extracts as well as antioxidant blends, it supports a healthy inflammation response,” comments Martina Dellavedova, Nutritionist at www.naturesplus.co.uk.
“Hormonal imbalances associated with the menopause have a significant impact on our muscles and joints. Oestrogen gives strength to muscles and ligaments, so when these levels fluctuate at this time, we can feel achy and become more vulnerable to injury. This, coupled with the normal wear and tear of ageing, can cause chronic back pain. Even though exercise might seem like the last thing that you want to do when you suffer with back pain, it can actually bring an enormous relief. Try to do Pilates at least twice a week with a qualified teacher (to find a qualified teacher near you visit www.bodycontrolpilates.com) to help strengthen your back muscles and improve core stability. Unlike other sports and exercises, pilates is done in safe and supportive positions to help limit the risk of strain on joints,” comments Lynne Robinson, Founder of Body Control Pilates and author of Pilates for Life: How to Improve Strength, Flexibility and Health Over 40
Make your diet more alkaline
The emphasis for preventing and treating osteoporosis is to make your diet more alkaline. Dr Marilyn Glenville, the UK’s leading Nutritionist, author of Natural Solutions to Menopause
explains, “Your skeleton acts like a buffer and the more acidic your diet becomes, the more calcium you will lose to neutralise that acid. The reverse is true when you make the body more alkaline. The power of fruit and vegetables to keep your bones healthy is enormous!’
“Research has also shown that higher intakes of animal protein are associated with lower bone density. Another point to bear in mind is that cheese, a traditional source of calcium, is one of the most acidic foods you can eat and you actually could be losing more calcium from your bones than the amount of calcium you will get from the cheese,” comments Dr. Glenville.