Want Stronger Bones? Think Gut First!
Want Stronger Bones?
3.5M people in the UK are currently living with Osteoporosis in the UK. One in two women and one in five men will break a bone due to osteoporosis in the UK: https://theros.org.uk/
But there is positive news. In the past decade, there has been growing evidence that the gut and its microbiome can positively influence bone health.
You will hear me talk frequently about the impact the gut microbiome has on all areas of health. The amount of research has been staggering. We now know that 90% of disease starts in the gut, so it is no surprise that bone health is also influenced by the gut too.
Gut Microbiome and Bone Mass
The gut microbiome has been shown to play an important role in regulating bone mass. Bone is continuously remodelling- breaking down and building back up again.
We know beneficial “good” bacteria ferment food and produce different metabolites that have various important roles – from feeding other gut bacteria, maintaining the health of the gut wall and passing into the systemic circulatory system and influencing health elsewhere in the body.
Short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) are metabolites produced by fermentation of complex carbohydrates by gut bacteria. These metabolites influence bone growth and bone remodelling, helping to maintain bone mass.
Leaky gut and bone health
The health of the gut wall is critical to prevent non-digested food passing into the bloodstream. Intestinal permeability (also known as leaky gut and weakened gut barrier function) can allow substances into the bloodstream that may create an inflammatory immune response, and inflammation can increase bone breakdown.
Gut Microbiome Diversity and Bone Health
The microbiome should consist of many different bacterial strains – diversity and abundance of these strains is key to good gut health.
And research has indicated a link between gut microbial diversity and bone health. Interestingly, as diversity of the microbiome tends to reduce in later life, it coincides when there is an increase in osteoporosis.
Is there a role for probiotics to support good bone health?
Probiotics are now being targeted to support specific health conditions using unique bacterial strains. It’s no longer about taking a “probiotic” and think they all work the same. They don’t! It depends on the strains within the probiotic.
There have been promising studies with several Lactobacillus strains. In one study on post-menopausal women with a mean age of 76, after one year of taking a probiotic, bone mineral density loss was less than those taking the placebo. It’s important to note that bone density does decline in later years, the aim is to prevent significant loss of bone density that it causes breakages to occur.
In another trial using a probiotic with three Lactobacillus strains over one year, there was an improvement in lumbar bone loss. And in another study using a Bacillus strain for six months, bone mineral density in the hip increased.
Whilst more research is required to truly attribute probiotics to supporting bone health, why wait? Taking care of gut health and its microbiome should be top of your health wish list.
Supporting the gut microbiome, the beneficial bacteria, its diversity and abundance can be achieved when we start to think about feeding the gut just like we think about feeding the body: Prebiotic fibres; soluble, insoluble fibre and resistant starch; “10 a day” and “40 plant types a week”; fermented foods; bone broth.
The health of the gut and its microbiome should be considered alongside important bone nutrients like calcium, magnesium, protein, vitamin K and vitamin D. And also ensuring weight-bearing exercise (such as weights, dancing, and trampolining) are carried out throughout life.
Please also see my blog on dietary approaches to help prevent osteoporosis:
To read how you can support your gut microbiome, you may find my blog on brain health and the gut microbiome of interest as it provides a more in-depth guide:
https://www.peytonprinciples.com/blog/how-a-healthy-gut-supports-a-healthy-brain-and-how-to-achieve-both/For those interested in the research studies discussed here, this link is a good place to start:
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