(NaturalNews) (NaturalNews) For countless years, natural health advocates, who suggested caution at the near hysterical and highly advertised push to put women on anti-osteoporosis prescription drugs, were looked at as unscientific health "nuts". But now some mainstream scientists are in total agreement and are even sounding the alarm about those medications. Instead of popping side effect loaded pills, say University of Illinois (U of I) researchers, an effective first course of action to keep bones strong should be to simply increase calcium in your diet and vitamin D or take calcium and vitamin D supplements.
But, you may say, you just had a bone density scan and your doctor claims your score shows you are at high risk for the bone-robbing condition known as osteoporosis. Shouldn't you follow your physician's dictate to start taking a widely advertised bone-building prescription medication?
"Not so fast!" stated the U of I scientists in a media statement.
"For many people, prescription bone-building medicines should be a last resort," said Karen Chapman-Novakofski, a U of I professor of nutrition and co-author of a literature review published in a recent issue of the journal Nutrients.
The researchers also pointed out that bone density scans are anything but accurate measures of bones. Bone density tests only measure quantity, not quality, of bone. "Although the test reports that you're fine or doing better, you may still be at risk for a fracture," said Dr. Chapman-Novakofski.
Lead author Karen Plawecki, director of the U of I's dietetics program, and Dr. Chapman-Novakofski investigated the impact of dietary, supplemental, and educational interventions over the last 10 years and reached their conclusions after reviewing 219 articles in scientific journals.
So what should you do to protect and build healthy bones? The study concluded that adults who increase their intake of calcium and vitamin D usually increase bone mineral density and reduce the risk for hip fracture dramatically. While these results can be accomplished through supplements, the researchers also found that food is a good source of these nutrients, Dr. Chapman-Novakofski stated.
The scientists also warned that prescription bone-building medications not only are expensive but they are also loaded with potentially serious side effects including, ironically, an increase in hip fractures and jaw necrosis (dead bone tissue).
"Bisphosphonates, for instance, disrupt normal bone remodeling by shutting down the osteoclasts - the cells that break down old bone to make new bone. When that happens, new bone is built on top of old bone. Yes, your bone density is higher, but the bone's not always structurally sound," Dr. Chapman-Novakofski said.
The researchers noted that a low-sodium diet seems to have a positive effect on bone density and, in particular, they advised staying away from smoked or processed meats, bacon, lunch meat, processed foods and many cheeses because they all contain a lot of sodium and could sabotage bone health. In addition to making sure you take in extra calcium and vitamin D for bone health, the U of I scientists urge eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, too. They stated that consuming adequate protein, less sodium, and more magnesium and potassium is a great way to protect bone health.
Another way to avoid osteoporosis naturally is physical activity, specifically a combination of aerobic, strength, balance, and flexibility exercises. Weight bearing exercises help build strong bones, and fit muscles can keep you flexible and prevent falls as you age, too.
Sherry Baker is a widely published writer whose work has appeared in Newsweek, Health, the Atlanta Journal and Constitution, Yoga Journal, Optometry, Atlanta, Arthritis Today, Natural Healing Newsletter, OMNI, UCLA's "Healthy Years" newsletter, Mount Sinai School of Medicine's "Focus on Health Aging" newsletter, the Cleveland Clinic's "Men's Health Advisor" newsletter and many others.