As shared earlier in GAPS – My Experience, I was diagnosed with osteoporosis at 47 years of age. And, this was before menopause! Normally, women may be diagnosed with osteopenia before menopause and after menopause it progresses to osteoporosis. Not me – I skipped osteopenia and went straight to osteoporosis!
If you are not familiar with osteopenia and osteoporosis and the difference between the two, let me give the definition of each. According to wikipedia:
Osteopenia is a condition where bone mineral density is lower than normal. It is considered by many doctors to be a precursor to osteoporosis. However, not every person diagnosed with osteopenia will develop osteoporosis.
Also according to wikipedia:
Osteoporosis is a disease of bones that leads to an increased risk of fracture. In osteoporosis, the bone mineral density (BMD) is reduced, bone microarchitecture deteriorates, and the amount and variety of proteins in bone are altered.
Diagnosis of these two diseases are based on a mineral bone density test which is a type of low level x-ray performed at the hospital. Measurements are taken of the lumbar spine and hip which measure the amount of mineral matter per square centimeter of bones.
You can see from the definitions that a patient is normally diagnosed with osteopenia which may then progress to osteoporosis after menopause. Estrogen is a hormone which helps hold the calcium in the bones. The body’s production of estrogen slows and eventually ceases during and after menopause and therefore it is more common for osteoporosis to develop at this time – the estrogen is no longer there to help hold the calcium in the bone.
With all this background information, you may be wondering, what in the world does GAPS have to do with osteoporosis?
I was diagnosed before beginning the GAPS diet and I am excited at potentially reversing the progression of the disease.
After seeing a specialist at age 47, I was told to expect a rapid worsening once I went through menopause. That has not occurred! I will not bore you with numbers but the T-score is used in diagnosing osteoporosis. The T-score is a comparison of the bone mineral density at the site (lumbar area and/or hip) of the patient to that of a healthy thirty-year-old of the same sex and ethnicity.The bottom line: I am not losing bone density at the alarming rate which was expected!
Treatment for Osteoporosis, is normally the prescription of various medications aimed at slowing the loss of bone. The drug I was given was to be taken one time per week. Do you know how difficult it is to remember to take a pill one time per week? Besides forgetting to take it, that little pill made me feel like I had the flu! This prompted me to read the side effects – I know, I should have done that first but being an RN, I trusted the conventional medical treatments. Not only did my doctor not want to discuss the side effects, or as he corrected me, “possible side effects”, but at my visit a couple of weeks ago, he was not pleased when I informed him that I had not been taking the medicine for the past two years! I actually stopped the drug even before finding out about GAPS!
Between my first and second bone density test, there was a definite worsening and that was before beginning the GAPS diet. After the second bone density test, I began the GAPS diet and with my last test, a couple of weeks ago, my bone loss had slowed and that is after menopause!
GAPS is part of the treatment for osteoporosis that I have chosen at this time. I am confident that I am not losing bone mass as expected because of my diet – specifically the GAPS diet and the healing which is occurring in my body! For years I have eaten improperly prepared grains which are high in phytic acid. Phytic acid is an anti-nutrient found in most grains that prevents the absorption of minerals, and as you probably have already guessed, especially calcium!
As Dr. Campbell-McBride explains in the “Gut and Psychology Syndrome”, the intestinal lining in GAPS patients (specifically the enterocytes) are not healthy and are unable to complete the last phase of digestion. This causes nutrients to go undigested into the bloodstream causing a host of problems.
As the healing of my gut occurs, physical rejuvenation is also occurring. One of many examples I can give is the ceasing of rheumatoid arthritis symptoms! I am confident that maintaining my bone mass is also evidence that the GAPS diet is working to heal my body. The expected downward spiral after menopause has not occurred! The only change has been the GAPS diet including going grain free, raw milk dairy products (especially kefir and yogurt), probiotic foods (sauerkraut, fermented carrots …) and bone broth.
Please don’t misunderstand – I am not a doctor and I am not suggesting that you to stop your medications. But, I do want to share my experience and what seems to be working for me. According to conventional medicine, I would be a prime candidate for osteoporosis, after all, I have birthed 10 children and I breastfed all of them.
I don’t know about you, but it does not make sense to me that God would bless us with children, allow us to breastfeed those children and then as a result, we as mothers get osteoporosis. There must be something missing to the equation presented by traditional medicine. I am convinced the missing link is to be found in our diet!
My plan of attack to fight osteoporosis is:
- Concentrate on the healing of my gut through the GAPS diet.
- Eat a diet rich in quality animal fats.
- Have plenty of raw milk products including butter, raw whole milk yogurt and kefir. These contain vitamins A and D which are essential for the assimilation of calcium and protein.
- Exercise – weight bearing exercises have been shown to increase bone density.
- Transition to a traditional diet once my gut is healed.
- Once on a traditional diet, minimize anti-nutrients like phytic acid and lectins.