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  • Writer's pictureThorunn Bacon

Stress can affect bone health

It might seem surprising to find that there is increasing evidence that stress can have negative effect on bone health. Stress and how it affects our mental and physical health is becoming better understood, and scientists are finding that stress has direct effect on many different health conditions. The way this happens in still being researched but in terms of bone health and Osteoporosis, it seems to be the effect of the hormone Cortisol which the body produces naturally.

Stress also seems to have an effect on increasing inflammation in the body possibly also due to Cortisol and other hormones, and this may affect such diverse conditions as furring of the arteries, arthritis and IBS.

When we are under a lot of stress Cortisone levels increase and that has various negative effects on our health, one of them being that bone break-down increases making our bones more fragile.

Stress feels different to different people; we have different mechanisms to deal with stress and it effects us in different ways, but however differently we experience it, the effect it has on our body and our bones is the same. When we're under stress, whether it's due to work pressure, difficult personal circumstances, bereavement or relationship breakdown, it can lead to depression, anxiety and lack of sleep.

Other factors that can increase cortisol levels and increase break-down of bone are:

  • high alcohol consumption

  • smoking

  • lack of exercise

Increasing regular exercise has been shown to improve depression,reduce stress and improve sleep so just increasing exercise levels and making it a part of our daily lives is a great way to start trying to manage stress better and lessen the effect it's having on our mental and physical health.

Taking up meditation or mindfulness might be the way for you to improve your emotional and mental wellbeing either alone or by finding a class or a group.

Doing things that make you happy and allowing yourself a bit of 'me time' can be invaluable too, taking care of yourself when you probably spend you time looking after others.

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