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october 2012

Your Thoughts Can CRUSH Your Bones

Dr Prabhat Lakkireddi 
Patients going in for bone health evaluations are often surprised when they are asked about their stress levels and emotional wellness. But stress and emotions have a powerful impact on bone health.
Stress leads to the release of powerful neurochemicals and hormones in the body, to help the individual cope with the situation. Cortisol is one of the dominant hormones released. Functionally, cortisol is meant to activate a relaxation response in the body. However, the prolonged presence of high level of cortisol in the bloodstream has many negative effects and they include decrease in bone density and decrease of muscle tissue.

A high stress lifestyle has always been suspected as a contributing cause for osteoporosis, besides other major health problems. Continued high stress levels can also lead to depression and Your Thoughts Can CRUSH Your Bones Dr Prabhat Lakkireddi more and more studies have been showing us that people with major depression have a lower bone mass density. Other studies too have found that extended loss of social interactions and pleasurable activities may have an impact on bone density as well. In the light of these findings, it is important to take note of the following trends:
  • Stress appears to affect the healthy functioning of bones more pronouncedly than it was earlier thought to be.
  • Depression should be considered as another important risk factor for osteoporosis.

Impact Of Stress Hormones On Bones
Constant stress promotes an unhealthy hormone shift, increasing cortisol and reducing serotonin levels. Higher cortisol levels increase total body inflammation, decreasing calcium absorption and increasing calcium excretion. Osteoblasts or the bonebuilding cells are reduced in number, impairing the ability of the bones to renew. The latter is essential for maintaining normal bone density.

Depression And Its Imprint On Bones
Depression is a mental condition affecting your mood, thought process and physical functioning. The depressed brain sends different signals to your internal organs and bones than a healthy brain. The brain uses the sympathetic nervous system to increase the secretion of a chemical compound called noradrenalin and interleukin-1 protein. Noradrenalin literally has a depressive effect on the osteoblasts. The interleukin-1 protein, which has been known for many years as a stimulator of the immune system,increases the number and activity of osteoclastic cells (bone break-down cells). Stress causes less bone to be created and more bone to be destroyed, resulting in osteoporosis.

Chronic stress can be physiologically traced as a significant player in the creation of osteoporotic bones. It alters the natural balance of bone growth and repair by reducing the ability of the osteoblasts to form new bones and speeding the osteoclasts into bone breakdown. Effective osteoporosis treatments must consider stress reduction, so bone formation and repair can return to normal.

A New Direction For Strong Bones
In light of these discoveries, it’s not enough to just discuss diet, exercise, supplements and medication for the treatment of osteoporosis. Research indicates that effective treatment programmes for healthy bones must include mechanisms to reduce negative effects of stress on your body. Doing so will help the cells responsible for healthy bones to function normally once again. In a nutshell, the time spent promoting good mental wellbeing is as important as that spent on good physical health.

7 Steps For Health Of Mind & Body
  • Eating fresh, nutrient-rich foods is good for your health. But eating fresh, nutrient-rich foods while feeling emotionally balanced and at peace is even better.
  • Move your body. Doing regular exercise is one of the best habits you can adopt that will help you avoid depression and stay emotionally balanced. It doesn’t matter what kind of exercise you do. What’s important is to be active and use your joints and muscles on a regular basis.
  • Your nutritional status can make all the difference between coping with stress or breaking down with stress. While it’s important to your overall health that you eat a well-balanced nutrient-dense diet, for emotional health specifically, it is important to ensure adequate intake of B vitamins, Vitamin D.
  • Breathe deeply and regularly. It helps reduce the tone of your sympathetic nervous system and increase 7 Steps For Health Of Mind & Body the tone of your parasympathetic nervous system, which is the portion of your nervous system that promotes relaxation and good digestion.
  • Spend some quiet time every day in prayer, meditation, or a purposeful relaxation session. All three have been scientifically proven to facilitate a relaxation response in your body that can decrease blood pressure, decrease pulse rate, and improve blood circulation. Meditation and relaxation sessions can be greatly enhanced by listening to audio CDs that are designed to facilitate optimal relaxation and mental clarity.
  • Practise visualization. Spend some time each day visualizing yourself going about your day in a balanced and emotionally poised manner. You can include visualization in your prayer/meditation/relaxation session.
  • Go for osteoporosis risk assessment and treatment.
Dr Prabhat Lakkireddi is Consultant Orthopaedic, Apollo Health City, Hyderabad.