Boning up on the skeletal-cardiac link
The health of your heart is directly related to the health of your bones. Let’s take a deeper look into the body to unveil some of the physiological, metabolic,and psychological connections between hearts and bones.The heart is our strongest muscle, responsible for life itself. It is composed of muscle fibers that act involuntarily. The heart works under the control of an “instinctual” center in our nervous system that commands basic functions.Our bones provide structure and framework. Bones act as levers in a fascinating system directed by the contraction of muscles and constrained by the positioning of connective tissue. Bones are active. Part of their function is as “storage facilities” for nutrients. They contribute to our metabolic processes.So, from a physiological standpoint, both the heart and the bones are metabolically active. They both have important job descriptions, and both assist circulation. They facilitate the exchange of nutrients and gases.How are they interdependent on a physiological level? Bone health requires circulatory health, and vice versa. If our heart is not functioning at full power, then our circulation is compromised. When this happens, we borrow nutrients from our “storage lockers,” our bones. Furthermore, if our bones are moving, then our heart is moving. Physical stress is good. When bones and muscles are inactive, the heart does not get the physical stress it needs. Activity in one promotes health in the other. The American Council on Exercise encourages us to stay active daily, to not solely depend on our gym workouts for activity.An example of their metabolic interdependence is seen when calcium is depleted in the body. Since most Americans do not consume enough raw, leafy vegetables, which contain a highly absorbable form of calcium, many are calcium-deficient. When calcium is depleted, muscle fibers, including cardiac muscle fibers, cannot function optimally. When the body’s internal sensors detect calcium deficiencies, the bloodstream borrows calcium from the bones to temporarily resolve the shortage. Over time, this cycle leads to osteoporosis, or porous bones.Nutritional biochemists have been linking bone loss to acidic conditions in the body. Sugar, caffeine, alcohol and processed foods increase acidity in the diet. Calcium is used by the body to neutralize acidic conditions. If our diets are calcium-poor, the body borrows calcium from the bones. If we practice poor dietary habits, we can expect to see increased rates of health problems associated with calcium deficiencies.The connection between hearts and bones also extends to our psyche. Our hearts and our bones are so vital to life that we liken them to personality traits. Expressions like “I can feel it in my bones,” and “tender-hearted” remind us of our symbiotic relationship with life’s circumstances. Our bodies are not independent of how we perceive the world around us.If you embrace the holistic health, or wellness model, you might observe that the formula for great health is always the same, regardless of body part or system! Seeking amazing health in one area of the body will only improve the overall health of the entire body!Nina Schnipper provides Massage, nutrition and weight control programs, and fitness training. Her column, “Anti-Aging Secrets” occasionally appears in the Glenwood Springs Post Independent. Contact Nina at 948-0179.
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