In my last article I explained what a virus is and how they can affect and express inside a human body. To take this to the next step and assuming you have read the above linked article, let us discuss and explain the current facts and information on COVID-19.
Let me start this article by saying that I'm simply going to state the clear facts and information that is present regarding COVID19 so far. This will not be an article on the various conspiracy theories out there regarding COVID19. The internet is full of those, so if that’s what you’re searching for, feel free to Google away on that.
Regardless of what you believe, I must say that COVID19 has been extremely disruptive to families and societies globally. I’ve had friends, relatives and colleagues who have lost loved ones or are currently fighting COVID19 themselves. My heart goes out to those who have suffered and those who are currently battling this virus in order to survive. We always tend to throw numbers at large scale issues and typically forget that behind these numbers are people. People like us who were simply living their lives before COVID19 started to spread.
So, with that in mind, let's look at the actual facts based on what we know so far about COVID19. Here is a simple to digest breakdown :
One important item to mention here is that face masks are very important to limit the spread of COVID19. However, masks should only be used if you yourself feel you may have a cold, flu-like symptoms or COVID19 . Wearing a mask prevents you from spreading most colds, flus and COVID19. The majority of masks provide very little protection against COVID19 unless you’re using an N95 particle filter or above rating mask and wear it consistently.
This new virus and disease were unknown before the outbreak began in Wuhan, China, in December 2019. COVID-19 is now a pandemic affecting many countries globally .
Most people (about 80%) recover from the disease without needing hospital treatment. Around 1 out of every 5 people who gets COVID-19 becomes seriously ill and develops difficulty breathing. Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like high blood pressure, heart and lung problems, diabetes, or cancer, are at higher risk of developing serious illness. However, anyone can catch COVID-19 and become seriously ill. People of all ages who experience fever and/or cough associated with difficulty breathing/shortness of breath, chest pain/pressure, or loss of speech or movement should seek medical attention immediately. If possible, it is recommended to call the health care provider or facility first, so the patient can be directed to the right clinic .
Research indicates that children and adolescents are just as likely to become infected as any other age group and can spread the disease. Evidence to date suggests that children and young adults are less likely to get severe disease, but severe cases can still happen in these age groups. Children and adults should follow the same guidance on self-quarantine and self-isolation if there is a risk they have been exposed or are showing symptoms. It is particularly important that children avoid contact with older people and others who are at risk of more severe disease .
COVID19 can survive temperatures higher than 25C. You can catch it no matter how sunny and warm it is. So, whatever the weather you should follow the official advice to protect yourself from the virus. Getting out into the sunshine, if you can, is still a good idea as this helps your body produce vitamin D which is important for your immune system .
You shouldn't use strong disinfectants to clean your body. Washing your hands thoroughly with soap and water or rubbing an alcohol-based sanitizer on them will stop the virus spreading. Using stronger chemicals on your skin can be dangerous. Never drink disinfectant or hand sanitizer as this can do serious damage .
In terms of the numbers of those infected, recovered and those that have unfortunately passed on from COVID19 are approximately the following at the time of writing this article :
Comparing the number of those that have passed away to those that have been infected gives a 6.72% fatality rate. This number may seem high to those reading this article, and yes 311k number of deaths is high, especially in my opinion if those in power in the Western world could have handled and been a lot smarter in tackling the spread of COVID19.
But, without sounding too insensitive to the number of deaths as that is not my intention, i’m simply stating facts that i’ve researched online, let's compare COVID19 to other commonly known diseases and pathogens that we have seen in the past and their fatality rates :
We can see that the fatality rate is more severe for past pathogens when compared to COVID19. Of course we don’t know the full fatality rate of COVID19. The R rate of infection, the average length of recovery or if asymptomatic people can pass on the virus is all yet to be verified and proved. We will know in time as with most new viruses and pathogens.
To keep the number of deaths in context, approximately 4000 people a day are dying from COVID19 as the latest statistics show. These statistics do not show the percentage of those daily deaths that had underlying medical conditions in addition to COVID19. To place this into context, here is a breakdown of daily deaths of many other diseases :
When looking at these numbers above, COVID19 is near the bottom of this list as it currently stands with the data we have present. In conclusion to this article, I would suggest that staying alert and being sensible in what you do outdoors, especially if you’re a person who has serious underlying health conditions or are classified as elderly or live with those that have underlying health conditions.
Stay safe, be sensible, practice clean hygiene and if you do feel unwell, for now isolate at home and call your local health centre.
Christmas is a time of year to enjoy yourself, and everyone is allowed to indulge a little, but make sure you don't fall into the mindset of just binging for a whole week. A few treats are fine, but keep up your overall healthy eating and fitness regime and you'll be much happier and healthier come the new year !
There are lots of handy trips we can all do to make sure that we are sensible; yet have a good balance between a naughty snack and a healthy meal. Below are a list of tips which are helpful but by no means a complete list:
So you can see there is lots that can be done. What is important is to have fun, enjoy the parties, but make sensible food choices. The discipline and self-motivation to eat sensibly you show now, will serve you better come January when the majority of peoples resolutions are to hit the gym and lost those excess pounds, you can start the new year with other priorities and not have to worry about the weight loss and shopping for a larger pair of bottoms!
If you feel you could benefit from a consultation on eating habits require general guidance on nutritional support and how to live a balanced lifestyle please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit my website by going to www.urbanplatehealth.com
Summer is by far my favourite season. I like the warmth of the sun on my skin, the constant sunshine, the long days and hot summer nights. It's really what I live for, especially in the U.K! Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy all season as it's healthy for the body to experience all climates and environments in moderation, but having a prolonged winter takes it toll on my body after a few months.
With summer, I tend to find my body wants to eat less heavy, comforting meals and craves more salads, fruits and water of course. This is a perfectly natural reaction and should be what a healthy body craves. Foods are seasonal for a reason and there are foods that should be consumed more in the summer than other months.
It is important to be careful what foods you consume though, as in the summer, hidden sugars in drinks and foods can easily pile on the pounds and have a lasting effect on your health, and not in a good way! It’s kind of a myth that summer means more exercise and healthier food choices for everyone. One eye-opening study found that kids gain weight three times faster over summer than they do the rest of the school year, thanks to a steady diet of junk food and video games . And while there’s no comparable stat on grown-ups and weight gain, barbecues, state fairs, and waterside food vendors offer plenty of temptation.
Having said that, there are plenty of foods that are tasty, full on nutrients, easy to cook or eat raw and have many benefits for you whilst keeping the waistline slim. Here’s a list of some of them:
Hopefully the above list will give you some ideas about what foods to have during the summer season to keep the body healthy and the waist slim. Try and avoid fast food, takeaways, fruit juices, fruit flavored water, sweet alcohol and sugar filled snacks such as donuts and milk chocolate. They all contain hidden sugars and bad fats which won’t keep the waistline slim or your body healthy in the long term. The above list is by far not the only foods that should be consumed, but a rough guide to what should be eaten as a start before you explore.
I would also suggest to become more active in the summer. Take advantage of the longer days to go for walks and spend time outdoors as a family. If you have children, get them into the habit of exploring the world rather than being glued to the tv or a phone/tablet. By getting more sunshine outdoors, you’ll not only get the benefit of topping up the vitamin D, but get the benefit of being outdoors which is good for the lungs, eyes, blood and mental state. Being more active will contribute to you burning more calories and contributing to weight loss or maintaining a slim waistline.
If you feel you need help losing weight and getting beach body ready this summer or require general guidance on nutritional support and how to live a balanced lifestyle please contact me at email@example.com or visit my website by going to www.urbanplatehealth.com
With the clocks going back an hour in the Western part of the world, the days are getting shorter and the nights longer. The weather is getting cooler and winter is just round the corner. With all of this the general mood for most of us changes. Feeling down, having a lack of drive, a lack of energy and a general low mood are common symptoms for most. It's a rather dramatic shift from the summer where the mood is one of general happiness, fun and energy is abundant. These are classic signs that you maybe suffering from seasonal affective disorder (SAD).
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that comes and goes in a seasonal pattern. SAD is sometimes known as "winter depression" because the symptoms are more apparent and tend to be more severe during the winter. The symptoms often begin in the autumn as the days start getting shorter. They're typically most severe during December, January and February. SAD often improves and disappears in the spring and summer, although it may return each autumn and winter in a repetitive pattern .
Symptoms of SAD can include :
For some people, these symptoms can be severe and have a significant impact on their day-to-day activities.
The specific cause of seasonal affective disorder remains unknown. Some factors that may come into play include :
It's clear that the change in light patterns plays an important role in SAD. With less daylight and for those who work in offices, hospitals, labs and generally where the light is artificial all day and no light when work is finished, the effects of SAD can be more present. Let us discuss the science behind this to understand why it can affect us.
Vitamin D is essential for humans for survival. It is made when sunlight hits the skin. I won’t go into the science behind this, just take my word for it (and read my Vitamin D blog). With a lack of sunlight, vitamin D synthesis is limited. Numerous studies have suggested the condition may be triggered by lack of sunlight. SAD is more common among people who live at high latitudes or areas with lots of cloud .
One hypothesis behind SAD is that reduced sunlight exposure interferes with the body's biological clock that regulates mood, sleep and hormones. Another theory is that lack of sunlight causes an imbalance of neurotransmitters - such as dopamine and serotonin - which regulate mood .
A research team led by Alan Stewart of the College of Education at the University of Georgia - published their findings in the journal Medical Hypotheses:
"We hypothesize that rather than functioning primarily as a proximal or direct sub-mechanism in the etiology of SAD, vitamin D likely functions in a more foundational and regulative role in potentiating the sub-mechanisms associated with the depressive and seasonality factors," say the researchers.
Firstly, the researchers note that vitamin D levels in the body fluctuate with the changing seasons in response to available sunlight. "For example," says Stewart, "studies show there is a lag of about 8 weeks between the peak in intensity of ultraviolet (UV) radiation and the onset of SAD, and this correlates with the time it takes for UV radiation to be processed by the body into vitamin D."
Co-author Michael Kimlin, of the Queensland University of Technology in Australia, says that vitamin D also plays a part in the synthesis of both dopamine and serotonin, noting that past research has associated low levels of these neurotransmitters with depression.
"Therefore," he adds, "it is logical that there may be a relationship between low levels of vitamin D and depressive symptoms. Studies have also found depressed patients commonly had lower levels of vitamin D."
The researchers also believe there is a link between skin pigmentation and vitamin D levels, which may affect an individual's risk for SAD. They explain that studies have shown that people with darker skin pigmentation are at greater risk of vitamin D deficiency, and if such individuals relocate to high-latitude regions, they may have a higher chance of developing SAD .
So why are serotonin and dopamine so important for us?
Serotonin is one of the most important neurotransmitters (chemicals used by brain cells to communicate with each other). Serotonin exhibits a wide range of functions in both the brain and the body, especially of the central nervous system and the gastrointestinal tract .
The first known function of serotonin was controlling blood vessel constriction. But it is much better known as the “happy molecule” for the important role it plays in positive mood. Most brain cells are affected directly or indirectly by serotonin where it regulates mood, social behaviour, libido, sleep, memory, and learning. The advent of prescription antidepressants like Prozac and Zoloft turned serotonin into a household word .
These drugs are selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs) which are believed to work by increasing serotonin levels. While serotonin is almost always associated with brain function, mood, and mental well-being, surprisingly 95% of our serotonin is manufactured in the intestines, not the brain .
In fact, this “second brain” in our gut contains 100 million neurons, more than in either the spinal cord or the peripheral nervous system. Researchers are still unclear as to why there is so much serotonin activity in the intestines. It seems that serotonin facilitates communication between the gut and the brain, but serotonin used by the brain must be produced there since serotonin created in the gut is unable to pass through the brain’s protective filter. Because so much serotonin resides outside of the brain, some experts consider serotonin a hormone as well as a neurotransmitter .
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter released by the brain that plays a number of roles in humans and other animals. Some of its notable functions are in :
Dopamine is the chemical that mediates pleasure in the brain. It is released during pleasurable situations and stimulates one to seek out the pleasurable activity or occupation. This means food, sex, and several drugs of abuse are also stimulants of dopamine release in the brain, particularly in areas such as the nucleus accumbens and prefrontal cortex .
Deficient levels of dopamine activity in the brain can cause depression. this dopamine deficient depression (DDD) is characterised by a low energy, demotivated state, as opposed to the intensely painful character of serotonin deficient depression (SDD). A severely dopamine deficient depressed person may wish they were dead, but wouldn’t have the motivation or energy to do anything about it. The tortured, antsy serotonin deficient depressed person is a much higher risk of suicide. Suddenly increasing energy and motivation in a person with DDD by boosting dopamine can temporarily increase suicide risk. This is also a known and common side effect with antidepressant drugs .
Dopamine gives the brain energy, motivation, a switched on feeling and excitement about new ideas. A surge in dopamine can give a high and pleasurable feeling. The increased energy and talkativeness a coffee can cause is mainly due to the effect of increased dopamine levels. If you’ve ever felt sluggish first thing in the morning or afternoon for example and found a coffee gave you mental energy, sharpness and renewed enthusiasm that was a dopamine boost. (1-2 coffees a day gives you multiple health benefits by the way).
Dopamine is the primary neurotransmitter involved in the feeling of pleasure, feeling high and euphoric. Dopamine is involved in the pursuit of pleasure. It is often said that anything you do that feels really good has just given your dopamine levels a boost.
To little dopamine can also cause: depression coupled with significant fatigue, real apathy, maybe slowed thinking, drowsiness, the inability to feel enthusiastic about anything, no motivation and excessive sleep. It can also be involved in ADD/ADHD .
Both dopamine and serotonin elevate one's psychological mood producing an antidepressant effect. Serotonin primarily influences feelings of happiness, optimism, contentedness, seeing the cup half-full so to speak. Dopamine on the other hand influences feelings of, excitement, pleasure, euphoria, which can be addictive, dopamine gives one the feeling of reward that creates motivation and drive .
In a single word serotonin gives us happiness, dopamine gives us pleasure.
It is very clear to see that a lack of vitamin D can do so much to our bodies physically, mentally and emotionally. A lack of vitamin D will affect our serotonin and dopamine levels. Due to this it is clear that we feel more low during the winter months.
Now that we know what can causes seasonal affective disorder, what can be done to tackle this disorder? Below is a few quick and easy wins that can be done :
Investing in a vitamin D lamp could also be wise. Whilst these is no scientific proof, or rather studies to prove this works, there’s no evidence to say that it doesn’t work! So it could be worth purchasing one and keeping it on when working in low light conditions. Note when you have this lamp on, try and keep your head and arms (at a minimum) naked to absorb the light.
During the winter months, take a vitamin D supplement. Vitamin D content in foods is limited, therefore taking a vitamin D supplement during the winter months is vital for your health and wellbeing. In addition to vitamin D helping your hormones, it is vital for your immune system, which is helpful during the winter months where colds and flus are abundant.
You have read above about serotonin and how it is the ‘second brain’. There is so much serotonin activity in our intestines, it is vital we feed our body the right foods that will help our intestines keep a healthy level of serotonin creation for the brain. Here are some foods that will help with that :
Lastly, if by changing your lifestyle and diet you still feel that you are suffering from SAD, it could be that you need professional help from a psychiatrist or other therapies such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT).
CBT is based on the concept that your thoughts, feelings, physical sensations and actions are interconnected, and that negative thoughts and feelings can trap you in a vicious cycle. CBT aims to help you deal with overwhelming problems in a more positive way by breaking them down into smaller parts. You're shown how to change these negative patterns to improve the way you feel. Unlike some other talking treatments, CBT deals with your current problems, rather than focusing on issues from your past. It looks for practical ways to improve your state of mind on a daily basis .
The important thing is to seek help and do something if you feel you have symptoms of SAD or a generally feeling low and underwhelmed all year round, regardless of the seasons.
If you feel you require support with a change of mood and lifestyle in the winter or require general guidance on nutritional support and how to live a balanced lifestyle please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit my website by going to www.urbanplatehealth.com
With the shift in weather this time of year for those of us in Europe and North America, common colds, flus and viruses seem to flare up and do the rounds. From using crowded public transport facilities to working in air conditioned offices where the air is ‘recycled’, yes in most cities this time of year it’s a germ fest! So what can be done to ensure that your immune system is at its peak to fight off these nasty bugs and ensure you can have a healthy couple of months going into Christmas and the New Year.
Lets first discuss what is the immune system? The immune system is a collection of structures and processes within the body. It is designed to protect against disease or other potentially damaging foreign bodies. When functioning properly, the immune system identifies a variety of threats, including viruses, bacteria and parasites, and distinguishes them from the body's own healthy tissue .
The immune system is made up of antibodies, white blood cells, and other chemicals and proteins that attack and destroy substances such as bacteria and viruses that they recognise as foreign and different. The immune system also includes :
Without an immune system, a human being would be just as exposed to the harmful influences of pathogens or other substances from the outside environment as to changes harmful to health happening inside of the body. As long as our body’s system of defense is running smoothly, we do not notice the immune system. And yet, different groups of cells work together and form alliances against just about any pathogen (germ). But illness can occur if the performance of the immune system is compromised, if the pathogen is especially aggressive, or sometimes also if the body is confronted with a pathogen it has not come into contact before (this is how most of us get a common cold or the flu) .
So now that we know what the immune system is and how it works, what can we do to keep it healthy and running in peak condition? Here’s a few quick wins that we should all be doing :
What is almost always overlooked is the importance of exercise and the role it plays in keeping the immune system healthy. There have been many studies done that both say exercise is both good for your immune system and could also be harmful for you if you’re over exercising. Some theories of getting regular exercise to help the immune system are the following :
Exercise is good for you, but, you should not overdo it. People who already exercise should not exercise more just to increase their immunity. Heavy, long-term exercise (such as marathon running and intense gym training) could actually cause harm. Exercise makes you feel healthier and more energetic. It can help you feel better about yourself. So go ahead, take that aerobics class or go for that walk. You will feel better and healthier for it.
Let's also look at foods that can help boost your immune system and keep it in top shape:
Garlic (my favourite) - contains the active ingredient allicin, which fights infection and bacteria. One ounce of garlic contains 23% of your Manganese RDA, 17% of your Vitamin B6 RDA, 15% of your Vitamin C RDA, 6% of your Selenium RDA and also decent amounts of fibre, calcium, copper, potassium, phosphorus, iron and vitamin B1 .
Green Tea - People who drank 5 cups a day of black tea for 2 weeks had 10 times more virus-fighting interferon in their blood than others who drank a placebo hot drink, in a Harvard study. The amino acid that's responsible for this immune boost, L-theanine, is abundant in both black and green tea, decaf versions have it too. Optimal dose is several cups daily. Where green tea really excels is in its levels of epigallocatechin gallate, or EGCG, another powerful antioxidant. EGCG has been shown to enhance immune function. The fermentation process black tea goes through destroys a lot of the EGCG. Green tea, on the other hand, is steamed and not fermented, so the EGCG is preserved. To get up to five times more antioxidants from your tea bags, bob them up and down while you brew .
Sweet Potatoes - To stay strong and healthy, your skin needs vitamin A. "Vitamin A plays a major role in the production of connective tissue, a key component of skin," explains David Katz, M.D., director of the Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Centre in Derby, Connecticut. One of the best ways to get vitamin A into your diet is from foods containing beta-carotene (like sweet potatoes), which your body turns into vitamin A .
Green Leafy Vegetables - Vegetables come loaded with fibre and nutrients and are some of the healthiest foods on the planet. Green leafy vegetables like spinach, broccoli, and cabbages are loaded with essential vitamins and antioxidants that boost immune system functioning .
Berries - Blueberries are famous for their high antioxidant content, but almost all berries are very healthy. They contain flavonoids and phytochemicals, which are powerful antioxidants. Berries are versatile and can be used to make a range of healthy smoothies, desserts and more for yourself and your kids .
Nuts - Nuts like almonds, peanuts, and walnuts are great sources of fats. They also contain vitamin E and zinc along with a good amount of antioxidants. They are also versatile and easy to mix with different foods. To optimise digestibility of nuts and seeds, soak and dehydrate them first and all nuts and seeds can be easily made into delicious homemade nut or seed butter .
Ginger - Ginger is another ingredient many turn to after getting sick. Ginger may help decrease inflammation, which can help reduce a sore throat and other inflammatory illnesses. Ginger may also help decrease nausea. While it's used in many sweet desserts, ginger packs some heat in the form of gingerol, a relative of capsaicin. Ginger may help decrease chronic pain and may possess cholesterol-lowering properties, according to recent animal research .
Poultry - When you’re sick, chicken soup is more than just a feel-good food with a placebo effect. It helps improve symptoms of a cold and also helps protect you from getting sick in the first place. Poultry, such as chicken and turkey, is high in vitamin B-6. About 3 ounces of light turkey or chicken meat contains 40 to 50 percent of your daily recommended amount of B-6. Vitamin B-6 is an important player in many of the chemical reactions that happen in the body. It’s also vital to the formation of new and healthy red blood cells. Stock or broth made by boiling chicken bones contains gelatin, chondroitin, and other nutrients helpful for gut healing and immunity .
In addition to consuming healthy foods, it's also critical to stay hydrated in order to help keep your throat and airways clear, says Maxine Yeung, MS, RD, CDN, NASM-CPT and founder of The Wellness Whisk. But not all beverages help fight illness. "Hot tea is a great way to stay hydrated, provide warmth and comfort to an irritated and inflamed throat and help relieve congestion," says Yeung. "Try to avoid sweetened beverages, like sports drinks and juice, as too much sugar in your body can cause inflammation... which further weakens your immune system ."
When you're trying to fight off an illness, focus on consuming foods that are packed with nutrients. "It's not what to avoid, but what to include in your diet that is important for immunity," says Toby Smithson, MS, RDN, LDN, CDE, spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, and Founder of DiabetesEveryDay.com. And of course, the old adage that "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure" always applies. "The best way to stave off the cold and flu is try to stay as healthy as possible by maintaining a healthy diet, being physically active and practicing good hygiene," says Yeung. "There is no magical food that can help prevent a cold, but lacking in certain nutrients can contribute to a compromised immune system." So for the best cold prevention, focus on eating balanced healthy meals all year-round .
Lastly, supplements can also be used to help boost and maintain the immune system. Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin D-3, Freeze Dried Garlic, Ginger Root, Zinc, Magnesium and Olive Leaf Extract are some of my favourite ones to use to boost the immune system. Whilst i’m not affiliated with any supplement companies, if you require guidance on which brands to use, contact me! If you’re using supplements, make sure they are ethically sourced with organic and food based ingredients and are not filled with fillers and preservatives. You should always take supplements on a short term basis.
In conclusion, I would suggest that staying hydrated, avoiding sugary foods, having foods that are high in vitamins, minerals and different colours as well as having the foods I mentioned above and exercising will help you maintain good, healthy and thriving immune system. Processed foods should be avoided as much as possible. The plate you eat should be rich in colours, such as greens, reds, oranges and whites. If you think you require support with your immune system or require general guidance on nutritional support and how to live a balanced lifestyle please contact me at email@example.com or visit my website by going to www.urbanplatehealth.com
For those of us in the Western part of the world, Autumn and the fall season has started to creep up on us. The days are getting shorter, the weather a lot cooler, leaves have started falling and in the UK especially the rain has started, nothing new there then! For those amongst us that are getting on in their age, it's also the time of year where those bones start aching more and joints start to feel a lot stiffer than they are over the summer months.
Bone health is one of the most common issues for the elderly. With conditions such as arthritis, osteoarthritis and osteoporosis being the most common ones. Of course there are many others, but the ones mentioned above are the most common ones that are diagnosed. So why are so many of the elderly generation suffering from bone issues? We shall explore these (mainly osteoporosis) later in this blog, but first let me go into what is a bone and why it is so important for our long term health to have strong functioning bones.
Bones in our body are living tissue. They have their own blood vessels and are made of living cells, which help them to grow and to repair themselves. Proteins, minerals and vitamins also make up the bone. We are born with about 300 soft bones. During childhood and adolescence, cartilage grows and is slowly replaced by hard bone. Some of these bones later fuse together, so that the adult skeleton has 206 bones .
The major functions of bones are to:
Think of bone as a bank account where you “deposit” and “withdraw” bone tissue. During childhood and the teenage years, new bone is added to the skeleton faster than old bone is removed. As a result, bones become larger, heavier, and denser. For most people, bone formation continues at a faster pace than removal until bone mass peaks during the third decade of life. After age 30, bone “withdrawals” can begin to exceed “deposits.” For many people, this bone loss can be prevented by continuing to get calcium, vitamin D, exercise and by avoiding tobacco and excessive alcohol use .
There are different types of bones in the human body. These are mainly defined by the shape they are. They can be described as long, short, flat, sesamoid and irregular . They all serve a purpose. Some bones are designed for movement, others for protection. As mentioned earlier in this blog, bones are also essential for creating marrow. This is important for creating blood cells. Red blood cells start as immature cells in the bone marrow and after approximately seven days of maturation are released into the bloodstream. The functional lifetime of a red blood cell is about 100–120 days, during which time the red blood cells are continually moved by the blood flow push (in arteries), pull (in veins) and a combination of the two as they squeeze through microvessels such as capillaries. They are recycled in the bone marrow .
Your bones are continuously changing, new bone is made and old bone is broken down. When you're young, your body makes new bone faster than it breaks down old bone, and your bone mass increases. Most people reach their peak bone mass around age 30. After that, bone remodeling continues, but you lose slightly more bone mass than you gain. How likely you are to develop osteoporosis, a condition that causes bones to become weak and brittle — depends on how much bone mass you attain by the time you reach age 30 and how rapidly you lose it after that. The higher your peak bone mass, the more bone you have "in the bank" and the less likely you are to develop osteoporosis as you age .
There are a number of factors that can also affect bone health. The amount of calcium in your diet, the amount of exercise you do, the amount of tobacco and alcohol you consume, your age, hormone levels, eating disorders and use of medications can all have an affect on your bone health . It's clear to see that having bad eating habits with a lack of exercise can be a major contributing factor to the long-term effect of your bones. Note that as your bones get weaker, the amount of blood cells being produced get limited. This then leads to a number of other issues such as a weaker immune system, lack of muscle growth and lack of energy to name a few. What happens then is that the body goes more into a survival mode of protecting its vital organs and blood flow is reduced to the distal parts of the body. You can see how this can have a dramatic affect on the elderly as they clearly complain about joint issues, lack of mobility, lack of energy and concentration.
The ever growing Osteoporosis problem
If you have osteoporosis it means that you have lost some bone material. Your bones become less dense. This makes them more prone to break (fracture). 'Thinning' of the bones (osteoporosis) mainly affects older people but it can affect someone of any age. Some people have an increased risk of developing osteoporosis in later years. In England and Wales, more than two million women are thought to have 'thinning' of the bones (osteoporosis). Women lose bone material more rapidly than men, especially after the menopause when their levels of oestrogen fall. Oestrogen is a hormone and helps to protect against bone loss. At the age of 50, about 2 in 100 women have osteoporosis. This rises to 1 in 4 women at the age of 80. But, osteoporosis can also affect men. Over a third of women and one in five men in the UK have one or more bone fractures because of osteoporosis in their lifetime. There are estimated to be 180,000 fractures every year in England and Wales caused by osteoporosis .
Whist there are many treatment options for osteoporosis, by far in my opinion using nutrition and supplements is the best way of preventing osteoporosis. Although most of the bone strength (including bone mass and quality) is genetically determined, many other factors (nutritional, environmental and lifestyle) also influence bone. Nutrition is important modifiable factor in the development and maintenance of bone mass and the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis. Approximately 80–90% of bone mineral content is comprised of calcium and phosphorus. Other dietary components, such as protein, magnesium, zinc, copper, iron, fluoride, vitamins D, A, C, and K are required for normal bone metabolism, while other ingested compounds not usually categorized as nutrients (e.g. caffeine, alcohol, phytoestrogens) may also impact bone health .
When it comes to osteoporosis, prevention is the best cure. Lifestyle and diet also contribute. Whilst there are a lot of conventional drugs available, the following Naturopathic approaches as written by Kamhi, E  can also help patients to prevent and help improve osteoporosis:
• Effective dietary interventions
- Making consistent healthy food choices to ensure the body is getting sufficient nutrients to build and maintain strong bones.
- Limit alcohol consumption to a minimum amount.
- Avoid or stop smoking.
- Calcium is the most abundant material in the human body. It is well recognized for its importance in the development of bones and teeth in additional to many other functions.
- The best food sources of calcium, other than dairy, include whole grains, beans, almonds and other nuts, and dark green leafy vegetables like kale.
- Magnesium is the second most common mineral in the body, after calcium. It is important for many metabolic processes including building bones, forming adenosine triphosphate and absorbing calcium.
- Dietary sources of magnesium include nuts, whole grains, dark green vegetables, fish, meat and legumes.
- Magnesium deficiency may impair the production of parathyroid hormone and 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D, which negatively affects bone mineralization.
• Vitamin D
- Vitamin D is essential for the formation and maintenance of bone tissue.
- Vitamin D is synthesized when sunlight hits the skin and transforms 7-dehydrocholesterol into vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol).
- Food sources of Vitamin D include fish and fish oil.
- Vitamin D is also available as a supplement in several forms. Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol), vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) and alfacalcidol are 3 common forms.
- Boron is ubiquitous throughout the human body, with the highest concentrations found in the bones and dental enamel.
- Fruits, vegetables, soybeans, and nuts can be rich sources of boron, but the level depends on the soil in which it is grown.
- A safe daily intake is estimated to be between 1 and 10mg.
- Strontium is a naturally occurring mineral present in water and food.
- It is believed to be able to decrease bone re-absorption and increase bone formation which increases bone mass, microarchitecture and strength.
- In the United States, strontium is available as a dietary supplement in the form of strontium citrate.
• Vitamin K
- Vitamin K can help maintain healthy bone mass as it is important in the formation of osteocalcin by osteoblasts.
- Green vegetables, chili powder, prunes, sun-dried tomatoes, blueberries, raspberries and figs are all good sources of vitamin K.
Yoga is another valuable tool for everyone's bone health. Not only is yoga weight-bearing, it's the far greater pressure created by one group of muscles opposing another that makes the difference.
So as can be seen, by having a diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds as well as some good quality supplements and staying hydrated can have a very positive long term impact on your bones and your overall health.
If you think you can benefit from a diet tailored to good bone health or require general guidance on nutritional support and how to live a balanced lifestyle please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit my website by going to www.urbanplatehealth.com
So vitamin D is the latest trend in the news at the moment. Recently the NHS in the UK announced that increasing vitamin D intake, especially in the winter months can help prevent millions of colds and flu cases and possible save lives (1). So why the sudden trend in Vitamin D and its importance? This is mainly due to recent studies that have come out, especially in places where sunshine is not common and linking this to underlying health conditions. Cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, poor semen quality, depression, and osteoporosis. There seems to be no limit to the illnesses that vitamin D can affect. Even though knowledge connecting low levels of vitamin D with severe health issues is available, people are still getting far too little of the vital vitamin (2).
To take a step back what is vitamin D and why is it so important for your health? Vitamin D refers to a group of fat soluble steroids responsible for increasing intestinal absorption of calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphate, and zinc. In humans, the most important compounds in this group are vitamin D3 (also known as cholecalciferol) and vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) (3). This was first made present in the late 1800’s when it was discovered that bathing children in sunshine helped improve bone structure and prevent rickets.
Anyone taking calcium knows that you need to take it with vitamin D. It's needed because vitamin D promotes calcium absorption in the gut and maintains blood calcium levels to enable normal mineralisation of bone and prevent abnormally low blood calcium levels that can then lead to tetany. Vitamin D insufficiency leads to secondary hyperparathyroidism (overactive parathyroid glands) that causes increased bone loss, osteopenia, osteomalacia, osteoporosis, and increased fracture risk (4).
So what is the best way to get vitamin D?
Our body creates vitamin D from direct sunlight on our skin when we are outdoors. From about late March/early April to the end of September, most people should be able to get all the vitamin D we need from sunlight in the UK. We also get some vitamin D from a small number of foods, including oily fish such as salmon, mackerel, herring and sardines, as well as red meat and eggs. Vitamin D is also added to all infant formula milk, as well as some breakfast cereals, fat spreads and non-dairy milk alternatives. The amounts added to these products can vary and may only be added in small amounts. Manufacturers must by law add vitamin D to infant formula milk. Another source of vitamin D is dietary supplements (5).
The most natural way to get vitamin D is by exposing your bare skin to sunlight (ultraviolet B rays). This can happen very quickly, particularly in the summer. You don’t need to tan or burn your skin to get vitamin D. You only need to expose your skin for around half the time it takes for your skin to begin to burn. How much vitamin D is produced from sunlight depends on the time of day, where you live in the world and the colour of your skin. The more skin you expose the more vitamin D is produced.
You can also get vitamin D by taking supplements. This is a good way to get vitamin D if you can’t get enough sunlight, or if you’re worried about exposing your skin. Vitamin D3 is the best kind of supplement to take. It comes in a number of different forms, such as liquids, tablets and capsules, but it doesn’t matter what form you take, or what time of the day you take it.
Different organisations recommend different amounts of vitamin D supplement to take each day. The Vitamin D Council recommends taking larger amounts of vitamin D each day than other organisations, because smaller amounts aren’t enough to give you what your body needs. Most people can take vitamin D supplements with no problems. However, if you have certain health problems or take certain medicines, you may need to take extra care (6).
Can you get take too much vitamin D?
Vitamin D toxicity implies that vitamin D levels in the body are so high that they cause harm. Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin. In contrast to water-soluble vitamins, the body has no easy way of getting rid of fat-soluble vitamins. For this reason, excessive amounts may build up inside the body. The exact mechanism behind vitamin D toxicity is complicated and isn’t fully understood at this point. However, we know that the active form of vitamin D functions in a similar way as a steroid hormone. It travels inside cells, telling them to turn genes on or off. Usually, most of the body’s vitamin D is in storage, bound to either vitamin D receptors or carrier proteins. Very little “free” vitamin D is available. However, when vitamin D intake is extreme, the levels can become so high that there isn’t any room left on the receptors or carrier proteins.
This may lead to elevated levels of “free” vitamin D in the body, which may travel inside cells and overwhelm the signalling processes affected by vitamin D. One of the main signalling processes has to do with increasing the absorption of calcium from the digestive system. As a result, the main symptom of vitamin D toxicity is hypercalcemia – elevated levels of calcium in the blood. High calcium levels can cause various symptoms, and the calcium can also bind to other tissues and damage them. This includes the kidneys (7).
So to summarise, spending more time outdoors with your skin exposed to the sun as well as having eggs and oily fish will ensure that during the summer months you have a good level of vitamin D is your body. IN the winter months when most people spend time indoors and wrapped up in jumpers and hats, I recommend taking a vitamin D3 supplement. Your diet should be vast and should be rich in vitamins, minerals and you should always stay hydrated. Processed foods should be avoided as much as possible. The plate you eat should be rich in colours, such as greens, reds, oranges and whites.
If you think you may have vitamin D deficiency or require general guidance on nutritional support and how to live a balanced lifestyle please contact me at email@example.com or visit my website by going to www.urbanplatehealth.com