On Saturday December 28 2013, Anderson Silva did something he has done thousands of times in the course of his MMA (mixed martial arts) career, and that is kick his opponent. Except this time his leg snapped in two pieces!
It’s noteworthy that it was a routine move; a half hearted preamble to the real blitzkrieg Silva is capable of, struck with much less force than the more aggressive roundhouse or crescent kick. Yet his leg broke like dry kindling.
Suffering a fracture from a common activity that you have done countless times before is one of the main signs of osteoporosis (click here to read more on this). In fact doctors know that is a key warning sign and is when they usually suggest to the patient to get a DXA (Dual Energy X-ray Absorptiometry) exam to confirm or deny their suspicion of thinning bones.
But Isn’t Osteo For Older Women?
Most people do not think of men getting osteoporosis, and certainly not muscular athletic ones in their 30s, like Silva. It is usually associated with elderly women, as they have thinner bones in the first place. Women tend to suffer more from porous bones because the lack of estrogen after menopause actually increases bone loss beyond the 1% annual average decrease we all experience after age 35.
However, Silva’s sensational and well publicized break may serve as a needed wake up call to all ages and genders to pay greater attention to bone health. Our skeletons being out of sight, often are out of mind. Yet under your surface, millions of bone cells are forming, and decaying every single day. You can’t affect that, but what you can influence is the amount of bone that is being made vs. the amount of bone you are losing.
Nature or Nurture?
One of the indicators that can predict the chance of osteoporosis is genetics. If immediate family members had or have it, unfortunately your chance of getting it increases.
But it’s not so dire because most of the influencing osteo factors happen after birth; they are environmental/lifestyle related. What you eat, if you smoke or drink alcohol, if do or don’t exercise regularly, how much vitamin D you get and more, will affect the balance between the amount of new bone built and bone resorption (breakdown).
Silva’s fracture is so fresh that as I write this no test results have been made available regarding his bone density. But I will go out on a porous limb and predict that his bone density results (if they’re ever made public) will come back as osteoporotic, or osteopenic.
Let’s examine the factors that might have contributed to an in shape middle aged man suffering such an extreme break, from a routine move he’s done his whole life.
Mineral Depletion: Intense activities that induce profuse sweating (MMA definitely is one such activity) can be problematic for bone health, as minerals exit the body through perspiration. There is a chance Silva may not have made up for the rapid mineral loss that his sport of choice fosters. Athletes that regularly do extreme exercise should take a high quality multi mineral supplement to make up for mineral loss from heavy perspiration.
Fast and Processed Foods
The S.A.D (Standard American Diet) is believed to be a contributing factor to osteoporosis. According to Christiane Northrup, MD and many others, mineral poor, sugar rich fast and processed food and drink as seen in the picture above do very little to strengthen bone, and can actually weaken them. Partly because fast, processed, and refined foods fail to provide needed bone building nutrients, and on top interfere with the absorption of minerals that are provided.
As well, whenever nutrient poor, sugar rich fast foods are being consumed, it’s an occasion of ‘opportunity cost’: filling up at Burger King means you forego the chance to consume nutrient rich food and drink.
We all wish Mr. Silva a speedy recovery and hope that he is not diagnosed at his young age with osteoporosis. If he is, we will definitely let him know how the bones can regrow and bounce back – IF provided the correct balance of minerals and activity.