top of page

How does our gut affect our bones?


Unravelling the gut-bone connection

In this month’s blog, we’re going to look at some of the intricate pathways in our bodies and explore the connection between gut health and bone health. It’s particularly appropriate as the month of May has World Digestive Health Day and robust digestive health is vital for just about every function in our body, including how our bones are made, broken down and remade over the course of a lifetime. We’re going to unravel the mysteries of the symbiotic relationship between the gut and the bones and discover the pivotal role that gut health plays in building and maintaining resilient bones.


The gut microbiome: a hidden ecosystem

Within the depths of our digestive system lies an active ecosystem known as the gut microbiome. This complex community of microorganisms includes bacteria, fungi, and viruses, and plays a crucial role in digestive health. However, the influence of the gut microbiome extends far beyond the confines of the digestive tract, reaching into every corner of our bodies, including our bones.

Research has shed light on the complex interaction between gut health and bone metabolism. We have discovered that the gut microbiome exerts a profound influence on bone health through several mechanisms, including nutrient absorption, controlling inflammation, and hormone regulation.


Nutrient absorption: The gut microbiome plays a vital role in the absorption of key nutrients essential for bone health, including calcium, magnesium, and vitamin D. Certain bacteria in the gut produce enzymes that enable the breakdown and absorption of these nutrients, making sure they reach their intended destination – our bones.


Controlling inflammation: Chronic inflammation is a known risk factor for bone loss and osteoporosis. The gut microbiome helps control inflammation by influencing the balance of pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory compounds in the body. A healthy gut microbiome promotes a balanced immune response, reducing the risk of chronic inflammation and its harmful effects on bone health.


Hormone Regulation: The gut microbiome also plays a role in hormone regulation, particularly oestrogen metabolism. Oestrogen is a key hormone involved in bone remodelling and maintenance – as levels of oestrogen drop significantly during menopause, this is one main reason that bone density reduces quickly for women at that stage, be it a natural menopause or a surgical one. Dysbiosis, or an imbalance in the gut microbiome, can disrupt oestrogen metabolism, leading to alterations in bone turnover and density.


Nourishing your gut for stronger bones

Now that we understand the critical connection between gut health and bone strength, let's explore practical steps we can take to nourish our gut microbiome and support optimal bone health.

  1. Eat a diverse diet: A diverse diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fermented foods promotes a healthy gut microbiome. These foods provide a variety of nutrients and fibre that feed beneficial gut bacteria, fostering a balanced ecosystem within the digestive tract.

  2. Include prebiotic foods: Prebiotic foods, such as onions, garlic, leeks, asparagus, bananas, and whole grains contain fibres that serve as fuel for beneficial gut bacteria. By incorporating prebiotic-rich foods into your diet, you can promote the growth of beneficial microbes that support gut and bone health.

  3. Consume probiotic foods: Probiotic foods, such as yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, miso and kimchi contain live beneficial bacteria that can help populate the gut microbiome. Including these foods in your diet can help maintain a diverse and balanced gut microbiome, supporting optimal nutrient absorption and controlling inflammation.

  4. Manage stress: Chronic stress can disrupt the gut microbiome and contribute to inflammation, which negatively impacts bone health. Incorporating stress-reducing practices such as Qigong, meditation, yoga, and deep breathing exercises can help support a healthy gut microbiome and promote overall well-being.

  5. Consider probiotic supplements: In some cases, supplementing with probiotics may be beneficial for supporting gut health, particularly after antibiotic use or in individuals with digestive issues. However, it's essential to choose a high-quality probiotic supplement with strains that have been studied for their efficacy in promoting gut health. Also remember that if you are taking other medications, you need to check with your health provider before adding in supplements of any kind, including probiotics.

  6. Stay hydrated: Drinking plenty of water and some herbal teas (see April’s blog for more information) helps maintain the mucosal lining of the intestines and supports a healthy gut environment.


At the end of this blog is a recipe for a Gut-Boosting Bone Broth. Bone broth is an amazing substance that is rich in collagen, amino acids (the building blocks of life) and minerals. All of these support digestive health and bone strength. You don’t have to just eat the broth as it is – you can drink a cup of it for all the richness it contains or as an alternative to tea or coffee, or you can add whatever you want to it. For instance, you can add vegetables, beans, miso, meats or pulses like lentils to make a really substantial soup. You can also use it as a base for other soups and stews. It is really versatile and healthy.


Shiatsu for digestive and bone health

Shiatsu may also help in the battle to support digestive health and bone strength. By applying pressure to specific points along the body’s meridians, shiatsu may help balance energy flow and promote overall well-being. For gut health, consider focusing on the Large Intestine 4 acupressure point.


Large Intestine 4 (LI4) can be found in the webbing between the thumb and index finger on either hand (see video here showing how to find the point). It may help to regulate intestinal function and reduce stress. This point sometimes known as The Great Eliminator. One important thing about this point is that it is contra-indicated in pregnancy so if you are, or may be pregnant, DO NOT use this point.


Qigong for digestive harmony

Qigong is a form of movement involving co-ordinated body posture, movement, breathing and meditation and may also promote digestive health and bone strength. Here is a link to a video showing a form that can be done after a meal to aid your digestion. Try to be as relaxed as you can whilst doing the form and when you have the movement part going, then focus on breathing in a slow, relaxed way. Your intestines may well make some gurgling sounds whilst you are doing this – that’s absolutely fine and shows that things are moving to aid digestion.



By prioritizing gut health through dietary and lifestyle interventions, we can support optimal bone health and overall well-being. Let's nourish our bodies from the inside out, cultivating a thriving gut microbiome that lays the foundation for stronger, more resilient bones.


If you want to find out more about optimising your gut microbiome to support your bones, book a free 30-minute consultation to discuss working together.


Stay tuned for my June blog, where we'll explore the intricate connection between sleep and bone health.


With warmth and wellness,

Ettaline




 

35 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

Comments


bottom of page