We have all read the varying reports that indicate how stress in our lives can greatly compromise our physical health. It can impair our immune systems, raise our blood pressure and cholesterol levels, contribute to weight gain, and even make us emotionally drained. In doing some research, I discovered another aspect of how stress affects our health that I never really considered. Stress can weaken our bones.
Stress is frequently linked to depression or depressive behaviors. Now studies are revealing that people experiencing major depression in their lives have a lower bone mass density than their non-depressed counterparts. Additional studies go on to note that extended periods of no social interactions and lack of pleasurable activities can impact one’s bone density, as well, according to the sources at www.inspire.com/groups/national-osteoporosis-foundation/discussion/new-info-on-how-stress-weakens-your-bones.
Do you know what is really happening inside your body as a result of continual high-stress living situations? When you are under constant stress, your body increases its cortisol levels and reduces its serotonin levels. When your cortisol levels are high, it results in total body inflammation, reducing its ability to absorb calcium. In fact, your body will show a significant increase in excreting calcium. The bone-building cells called osteoblasts are reduced in number and inhibit the bones’ abilities to renew what is needed to maintain healthy and normal bone density.
According to the article, “Keep Stress from Weakening Your Bones,” by Woody McMahon, chronic stress can now be traced as the main player in the creation of osteoporotic bones. Bone growth and repair is altered. When treating patients for osteoporosis, stress reduction techniques must be taken into consideration so bone formation and repair can return to normal.
Sure, it is important to bring in the components of diet, exercise, supplements, and medication for the treatment of osteoporosis, but the research shows that we have to think about ways to reduce the negative effects of stress on our bodies. In doing so, the cells that are responsible for healthy bones begin to function at normal levels again. In essence, the time spent focusing on good mental well-being is just as important as energies spent focused on good physical health. The two definitely go hand in hand.
I have to admit, I believe I harbor a lot of stress in my life. Fortunately, I do temper that with a great amount of physical exercise, at least 90 minutes a day, seven days a week. As I gain speed in my 40s, though, I am more vigilant about recognizing how chronic stress certainly affects many aspects of my body. I guess this just gives me a good excuse to chill out for a bit each day and sit on the back porch or take a stroll along the walking trail. Now, if only someone could just tell me how to do that with all of the work I have to do!
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Hi Ann- Thanks for the article. Always important to look at all aspect of the effects of stress! I have two articles I would like to share.
The first is more on stress: http://healthandnutritionexperts.wordpress.com/2009/06/19/the-effects-of-stress/
The second is on calcium: http://healthandnutritionexperts.wordpress.com/2009/05/08/may-health-tip-calcium/
To your health!October 14, 2009 - 10:30pm
Thanks for sharing! It is so amazing how stress can do a number on us! It is such a challenge to eliminate it from our lives. I keep telling my husband that a twice weekly massage for me might help a bit! He never comments back on that one! Wonder why?October 15, 2009 - 6:58am
At one time I worked with a film producer from India that received massage every day... now wouldn't that be fabulous! :-) Maybe if you suggest daily, your husband will be willing to help out on two a week!October 15, 2009 - 11:07am
Ann - This is fascinating data, and it made me curious. Did your research have any information on whether women are more susceptible than men to bone density damage from stress? Look forward to hearing from you. PatOctober 14, 2009 - 5:40pm
You know what...I did not see anything to that effect, but I am certain there would have to be differences. Men and women take on stress differently. I think I will write another article from that perspective! Thanks for the insight!
AnnOctober 15, 2009 - 6:57am