2019 New Year predictions for bone health

Since 2010, I’ve sat down each year and tried to foresee what’s coming next in bone health. What new advancements and understandings can we expect to see in 2019? I recently turned to my crystal ball to once again give you a glimpse into the future of bone health.

1. Your doctor will no longer be able to tell you that it is impossible to reverse osteoporosis. By the end of 2019, several studies will have documented the reversal of osteoporosis through a combination of nutritional supplementation and osteogenic loading exercises.

2. Bone density testing will fall out of favor due to its inability to predict fracture. Muscle mass testing and new technologies to measure bone strength will replace in part today’s bone density testing.

3. Osteoporosis will be widely accepted as an inflammatory disorder, rather than dismissed as a product of the aging process. Sophisticated markers of inflammation will be used to monitor the success of bone therapies, both natural and pharmaceutical.

4. Acupuncture and tradition Chinese herbal medicine will become scientifically documented as powerful therapies for building and rebuilding bone strength in people of all ages. New research reports will document the effectiveness of ancient traditional Chinese herbal formulas for bone health, and acupuncture treatments to tonify the kidney meridian will be encouraged for those age 45 and older.

5. The bone-building power of “mindful” exercises like yoga, tai chi, and qi gong will be found comparable to moderate strength training. These exercise modalities, while building bone, will also be found to reduce inflammation, decrease cortisol, and enhance the “rest and digest” parasympathetic nervous system.

6. It will be shown that it’s possible to stimulate bone growth using pulsed electromagnetic field therapy devices. These devices will be available for home use and valued also for enhancing circulation through the 70 miles of capillaries within the human body.

7. Bone strength will be shown more dependent on the health of the living protein collagen matrix than on bone mineralization. Remember, today’s bone mineral density testing only looks indirectly at the mineralization of bone. New tests of bone strength are on the horizon. One such test will be a simple test of muscle mass, which is associated with greater bone strength.

8. Doctors in the U.S. will follow the lead of Japanese researchers and begin checking for vitamin and mineral deficiencies as a major risk factors for osteoporotic fracture. While Japanese researchers have began assessing the status of only a few nutrients (vitamin D, vitamin K, and the B vitamins), new research will look at all the 20 key bone nutrients and show deficiencies clearly linked to increase fracture risk.

9. Bone health will be recognized as a marker of and predictor of overall health. Heart and cardiovascular health, in particular, will be linked to osteoporosis to such an extent that those with needless fractures will be tested for cardiovascular health, and those with severe cardiovascular disease screened for bone weakness.

10. The US organic food market grew by 6.4% in 2017, but will reach new heights in 2019 expanding by 25%. This explosion in the demand for organic food will be based on a growing public awareness of the carcinogenic nature of glyphosate (Round-up®), which contaminates the vast majority of our food supply.

11. Bone drug advocates will return to suggesting that bone drugs should be prescribed for women with an “osteopenic” bone density, not just those with a diagnosis of osteoporosis. Brace yourselves for this one and push back — because while it’s true that many fractures occur in those with only “osteopenia” and even 20% of osteoporotic fractures occur in persons with “normal” bone density, the real predictive value comes from looking at multiple risk factors, not bone density.

12. The 5 or so pounds of bacteria in our gut, known as our microbiome and “Second Brain”, will be proven a key player in the regulation of bone growth, maintenance and decline. Specific probiotics and bacteria-feeding prebiotic fibers will be prescribed to enhance the diversity and health of one’s microbiome.

13. Potassium will be promoted as more important for bone health than calcium. While many of us consume near enough calcium, few, if any, consume the 4700 mg of potassium recommended daily. The daily requirement for potassium is nearly 5 times that of calcium, yet little attention is paid to this mineral found in vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds, which is positively associated with bone density and body chemistry pH.

14. Markers of both bone breakdown (as the urine NTX test) and bone formation (as the osteocalcin test) will be commonly used to assess the success of natural bone-building programs. Bone density testing will be more limited, and more attention will paid to changes in the markers of bone formation and bone breakdown.

15. This one is too juicy of a topic to only give two lines to! Stay tuned for a major bone health revelation in 2019 that is going to change the way women are being treated with bone drugs in the future! 

There's a lot to be excited for on the horizon, but whatever comes our way, my best wishes are for you to have a happy and healthy 2019!