Historians acknowledge the ancient Greek philosopher, Hippocrates, as the father of medicine. He’s perhaps most remembered by naturopathic physicians for his famous quote, “Let food be thy medicine”. As we get further into the 21st century, it’s amazing that instead of creating more synthetic drugs to treat conditions, medical researchers are more and more looking at what Nature has already created that we’re not using. That’s why I want to tell you about this “new” treatment for building bone density, especially in older men. It’s actually been in most of our diets for ages but we’re just starting to learn about it’s use in bone loss…
Resveratrol: The Non-Calcium Nutrient That Fights Bone Loss
In the last 2 decades, it’s been proven in research to extend lifespan in lab animals by stimulating the SIRT-1 genes responsible for disease and aging. It does this by ramping up cellular mitochondria, the part of our cells that produce energy. Doing so helps block the development of the diseases of aging that include:
• Heart disease
• Brain and cognitive disabilities
• Decreased lung capacity
• Skin loosening, slacking
• Muscle loss
• Bone loss
In nature, in plant foods like nuts, grapes, and other fruits, resveratrol acts as a major antioxidant that blocks the effects of a harsh environment. These include the development of certain molds that “age” and eventually kill the plant or the toxic effect of too much sun and/or other environmental toxins.
Then researchers found out that these same properties were conferred to humans who ate the foods that contained resveratrol. So, extensive research was done on resveratrol that revealed it to be a top anti-aging, disease-fighting natural nutrient.
Now, though, bone researchers have found that resveratrol could also become a natural osteoporosis agent in the fight against bone loss. Resveratrol’s anti-aging properties also effect human bone cell production, speeding it up and helping to develop new bone cells. As you get older, this process, like all other physical processes, slow down. If you do nothing to counteract it, bone breakdown can start to occur faster than bone growth. Osteoporosis can develop which means higher risk for fracture and disability.
When people hit middle age, and hormone shifts start occurring, i.e., women experience menopause and the decrease of estrogen; men experience andropause and the decrease of testosterone. Hormone decreases can trigger bone loss as male and female hormones help to stimulate new bone cell development.
And in metabolic syndrome, a condition typical to middle age, bone breakdown, and other diseases, can set in more quickly. This is especially true of older men. Metabolic syndrome is a collection of conditions that fuel the aging process. These include:
• High LDL cholesterol, low HDL, high triglycerides.
• Belly fat – waistlines larger than 36″ in women and 42″ in men.
• High blood pressure.
• Abnormal hemoglobin A1c levels – a precursor to development of type 2 diabetes.
• High blood pressure – a risk factor for heart attack and stroke.
With metabolic syndrome, the stress hormone cortisol can increase as well as the buildup of disease causing proteins, cytokines. In reaction, your body starts to develop increased inflammation throughout and body systems can start to break down. Bone loss also speeds up in the presence of inflammation. You can reverse metabolic syndrome, however, by:
• Losing weight to attain a normal BMI.
• Curb high glycemic “white carbs” (most commercial box cereals, white bread, white potatoes, rice, baked goods) and sugar (read labels) to lower Hemoglobin A1c levels. Get most of your daily carbs through vegetables, a little fruit, and more high fiber whole grain foods.
• Ramp up exercise. It not only helps you lose weight it helps lower A1c levels and stimulates bone growth.
Resveratrol can help too. It’s a potent antioxidant that fights inflammation that stalls weight loss. It can help you lose weight while stimulating the growth of new bone cells. In Denmark’s Aarhus University study, the researchers gave resveratrol in 500, or 75 mg, doses to 66 middle-aged men. At the end of 16 weeks, they found that the men who took the higher 500 mg dose of resveratrol had a 2.6% increase in lumbar (lower back) spinal bone density.
They also had a 16% increase in the bone formation marker, BAP (bone alkaline phosphatase). The researchers concluded that resveratrol could be a natural ally in preserving bone density in middle aged (and older) people at risk for bone loss.
Get More Resveratrol Naturally
The findings of this study are great news to anyone who has osteoporosis or anyone trying to protect their bones from fracture as they get older. And, the best thing is, it’s fairly easy to add resveratrol to your daily regimen. You can do it in the following ways:
• Enjoy 2 glasses of high resveratrol red wine per day. Studies show that Pinot Noir, or Spanish “Black” wines, have the highest concentration of resveratrol. But, be careful not to over-drink thinking more is better. Wine is still alcohol which can have other negative effects. You can also get high resveratrol non-alcoholic grape juice as well, but go for the unsweetened variety as too much sugar negates the “anti-aging” benefit.
• Enjoy dark chocolate, cocoa daily: Chocolate with a high cacao content is full of resveratrol. Enjoy a piece of dark chocolate a day, but make it Stevia sweetened, to avoid too much sugar. Drink several cups of hot cocoa made from 100% cacao cocoa powder, the kind you use for baking. Again, watch the sweetener though.
• Eat more nuts. Peanuts in particular are high in resveratrol, as are other mixed nuts. Aim for 1/4 cup (about a handful) a day.
• Eat more high resveratrol content dark blue/purple grapes.
• Eat more berries: Raspberries, blueberries, cranberries, strawberries have good amounts of resveratrol in them.
• Take a 250-500 mg resveratrol supplement daily. Take it with lecithin or quercetin to improve absorption of it.
If you’re an older man, with or without metabolic syndrome, you can get control of your health and prevent further bone loss. Take the steps outlined above to reverse metabolic syndrome and add more resveratrol to your diet to help increase bone density naturally.