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The health debate is on…

Dr. Jaromir Bertlik N.D.
Chairman of Scientific Advisory Board

One cannot deny the fact that good nutrition results in better health.  We are familiar with the dangers of trans-fats, preservatives, additives, coloring and high-sugar consumption in our diets; now, researches are pointing fingers to yet another potential health risk: the correlation between drinking cola and the weakening of bones.  Can the classic all-American refreshment be responsible for weakening our bones?  Research conducted in recent years leads to some surprising results…

In a Wall Street Journal article (October 16, 2007), Betsy McKay writes that some studies have linked the consumption of cola, the most popular soft drink, and poor bone-mineral density”.  A 1994 study based on 127 teenagers published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, and a 2000 study based on 460 high school students published in the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, both showed a connection “between consumption and bone fractures in physically active teen girls.  The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition published a Tufts University study, which reported to have “measured bone density and analyzed eating habits” and which found a “significant impact on women who drank more than three colas a week”.  On the other hand, the researches in this study, which was funded by the US Department of Agriculture and the National Institute of Health, also showed “no evidence” that bone tissue is harmed by the “occasional” cola.

Taking all this research into account, the bottom line is best summarized by Katherine Tucker, an epidemiologist at Tuft University’s USDA Nutrition and the lead author of the cola study.  Tucker has simplified by stating “the more cola that women drank, the lower their bone mineral density was”.

Is Cola the Culprit?
While so many studies have found a correlation between cola consumption and weak bone density, scientists cannot agree on why this is the case.  Some argue that the caffeine, sugar, phosphoric acid and carbonation in cola impair calcium absorption in the bones.  One can take into consideration the sugar-factor alone; an average can of soda contains about ¼ cup of sugar!  Another reason cola is the culprit is due to its effect on insulin levels, which is augmented by the fact that sugar (along with caffeine) drains the body of B vitamins, magnesium and zinc.  Based on recent studies, certain B vitamins are thought to promote stronger bones by lowering homocysteine (an amino acid) levels, which would otherwise impair collagen’s ability to hold bones together.  Magnesium plays a role in calcium metabolism and zinc aids with collagen formation.  Together, the interruption of these functions sets the stage which results in the reduction of bone health.

The Ugly Truth…
The truth is that everyone is at risk of developing osteoporosis, irrelevant of gender.  This can be a debilitating disease and the resulting pain can lead to depression, restrictive ling disease (shortness of breath due to poor posture and squashed lungs) and ultimately, even pneumonia.  An estimated 52 million men and women aged 50 and above will have osteoporosis or be at an increased risk of having low bone mass by 2010 and by 2020, that number will skyrocket to 61 million.  In addition to osteoporosis patients are more likely to sustain hip fractures that those without the condition and further, “Approximately 20% of individuals with hip fractures will die the year after the fracture usually from surgery complications, such as pneumonia or blood clots in the lung”.  In fact, a woman’s risk of hip fracture is equal to her combined risk of developing breast, uterine and ovarian cancer.  Below are some important health statistics, related to men and women:

Men

  • Approximately 2 million men live with osteoporosis and there are still 12 million more at risk of developing the disease 
  • Osteoporosis progresses 12 years slower in a man than in a woman
  •  The medical community tends to ignore the prevalence of osteoporosis in men and are therefore less likely than women to be diagnose
  •  ¼ of all men over the age of 50 will experience an osteoporosis-related bone break

Women

  • While by their late 60’s men and women lose bone mass at similar rates, women face higher bone loss in their 50’s than men do
  • ½ of all women over the age of 50 will have an osteoporosis fracture before they die
  • After menopause, the risk for women – especially white and Asian with small0thin frames – of developing osteoporosis increases
  • 2% of college-aged women may already have osteoporosis and another 15% of women in this age group may have already lost significant bone density

True for both men and women

  • Smoking and excessive alcohol increases the risk of developing the disease.

How can you reduce the chances of osteoporosis?

  • The chances of developing osteoporosis can be sharply reduced through dietary restrictions and lifestyle changes – all of which would essentially     promote better health
  • The increased consumption of vegetables will positively result in increased antioxidants in the body
  • Always opt for low-glycemic nutrition
  • Exercise regularly and maintain a healthy weight because fat cells generate more inflammation
  • Akuna offers a comprehensive, preventive approach to health aging for men and women – see which products are right for you.

 

Until next time…Stay Healthy

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