Misty Williams 00:01
Hey, sister, this is Misty Williams, founder of healing rosie.com. And I’m so excited to welcome you to Rosie radio. Tune in to find clarity, direction and hope for your healing. New episodes drop every Tuesday, we created this show to empower you to regain control of your life and feel like yourself again. Yes, sister, it is possible.
Misty Williams 00:21
Hey, everybody, so excited to have my friend Kevin on today. Many of you know that my mom whom I adore has osteoporosis. And I have been really digging in with her over the last year to figure out what we can do to begin to support her body and actually healing.
Misty Williams 00:38
If you haven’t had an osteoporosis diagnosis, you know that there are a couple of drugs that could get prescribed to you. If you’ve done research on those drugs, you might be a little concerned about taking them. But the truth is, most of the conventional medical treatments for osteoporosis really don’t help you rebuild your bones. And that’s what we ultimately want to figure out how to do if we are given an osteoporosis or osteopenia diagnosis, we want to strengthen our bones so that we don’t deal with the breaks and you know all the things that can happen to us as we get older.
Misty Williams 01:08
So I’m super excited to have my friend Kevin Ellis with us today. He is known as the bone coach. You guys probably remember him from the interview I did on radical healing with Kevin. But I want to really peel back the layers on this osteoporosis, osteopenia, conversation because knowledge is power. Man, when you start hearing the things that you can do to actually move the needle to create healing for your body.
Misty Williams 01:30
It is the most empowering thing I think about the different diagnoses that I’ve had on my journey and the times that I felt like when I’ve heard that we don’t know what causes it, you can Google it.
Misty Williams 01:43
The best we can do is manage the symptoms of this when you actually find out that there’s something you can do while it’s incredible. And that’s what I want for this interview. I want you guys to listen to this interview. And I want you to feel confident and certain that there is something you can do and I also want you to check out Kevin’s work. He’s got lots and lots of resources on this topic. If you’re feeling like I would love to work with a team that knows how to help rebuild your bones, I want you to feel clear about who is the person that can help you with that as well.
Misty Williams 02:13
So, Kevin Ellis, better known as the bone coach, is a certified Integrative Nutrition health coach, podcaster, YouTuber, bone health advocate, and the founder of bone coach.com. Through a unique three step process and world class coaching program, he has helped people with osteopenia and osteoporosis in over 1500 cities around the world get confident in their stronger bones plan.
Misty Williams 02:31
His mission is not just to help over 1 million people around the globe build stronger bones. It’s to help our children and grandchildren prevent osteoporosis and other diseases in the future. So they can lead long, active lives. Welcome, Kevin.
Kevin Ellis 02:42
Misty, thanks so much for having me. It’s good to be here.
Misty Williams 02:44
Yeah, I’m excited for this conversation. Always. Yes, I’m thinking about the practical things that I’ve learned helping my mom navigate this terrain. And I’d love for you just to kind of start. I know you actually have your own experience with osteoporosis. Surprisingly, it’s not typically a disease that shows up on the doorstep of men who are really young.
Misty Williams 03:05
But why don’t you tell us just a little bit about your story so people can get a sense of where you’re coming from. And then I’d like to just dive into what happens after you get a diagnosis. What do you do?
Kevin Ellis 03:15
Absolutely. Yeah, cuz it’s usually not the average at the time, you know, 30 year old male osteoporosis, that’s pretty shocking. It was shocking for me. I had some other health issues that were taking place at that point in time, I had high stress, poor sleep, chronic fatigue, you know, a lot of depression, things like that.
Kevin Ellis 03:33
I was taking a lot of different medications, 800 milligram ibuprofen three times a day, antidepressants, sleeping pills, antibiotics, you name it, I was taking it in that time period. And all these health issues just came to fruition. And it was at that time, I was told I had celiac disease, which is an autoimmune disease that damages the small intestine when you consume gluten.
Kevin Ellis 03:55
And then I was subsequently diagnosed with osteoporosis, which is low bone density. And you know, at that point in time I was actually kind of scared about what the future was gonna look like, just because of the picture that was painted for me.
Kevin Ellis 04:07
I had to go confirm after I was diagnosed with osteoporosis actually was, and then I realized, okay, it means porous bone, and weak bones increase the risk of fracture. So I was a little bit worried about that. So when and I had a conversation with the doctor just to confirm because they actually just sent me a letter in the mail and said, Go on a gluten free diet, you have osteoporosis, and I was like, Are you kidding me?
Kevin Ellis 04:27
You would think, a little bit more than that. And I was like, There’s no way that this is. That’s just the end of it. So I went in, I had another appointment. And they in fact, confirmed it was osteoporosis. And the future that was painted for me was taking bone medication and potentially having fractures at some point down the road.
Kevin Ellis 04:45
That was not the future I envisioned. Right. I thought I was going to be traveling, going on adventures, hanging out with my kids, spend time with my loved ones doing all that stuff. And here I am 30 years old, faced with this bleak future so I went on this path of doing a lot of reading and research, consulting with people spend a lot of money figuring things out.
Kevin Ellis 05:05
I started making progress and improving my health and my bones. And then I became a health coach because I wanted to help other people. And then I found a bunch of experts in their field. And I said, Hey!, this is what I’m doing. I want to help a bunch of other people do this, will you be on board?
Kevin Ellis 05:20
A lot of people in the field of women’s health actually were like, Yeah!, I love what you’re doing. Let’s do it. And we work together to build out these amazing programs for people. That is helping people all over the world, address bone loss and build stronger bones. So quite the journey compressed into a short timeframe there. But that was kind of my journey to how I got to this point.
Kevin Ellis 05:42
Usually, it’s the average 40 to 45 year old woman plus that is diagnosed with osteopenia and osteoporosis. And in that office, when they’re diagnosed, what they’re told is, take some calcium, take some vitamin D, go for a walk, and here’s your selection of bone medications that you can take. And we’ll check back in on you in a year for your next bone density scan.
Kevin Ellis 06:04
I will tell you right now, that is not going to work, right, that’s not enough for people, there’s so much more that has to be done at that point. And unless you know how to be your own best advocate, you’re gonna have a really hard time navigating that and you’re probably gonna make an emotionally charged decision versus an educated and informed decision.
Misty Williams 06:23
So talk to us a little bit about what you did. I don’t know if I’ve asked you that question like, what specifically moves the needle for you?
Kevin Ellis 06:30
Well, the first thing that actually moved the needle was we had a kid on the way and my father, he passed away. When my mother was five months pregnant with me, my father was told that he had cancer. And two months after I was born, he passed away.
Kevin Ellis 06:44
So my whole life, I had this fear that I was going to follow in his footsteps to an early grave and not be there for my kids. So when we had a child on the way, and I got this diagnosis, and then I realized what that diagnosis potentially meant, in the future, I felt like I was living the nightmare that I never wanted to live.
Kevin Ellis 07:04
That turned into the greatest and strongest impetus for me to do anything, the research, staying up late, even though you probably shouldn’t be staying up late, if you’re trying to address your health, like, just trying to do everything I possibly could. And I went hard trying to figure all this stuff out, addressing the diet, the lifestyle. All those different factors that play into that we can talk about the specifics of that here in just a minute, too.
Misty Williams 07:32
So you addressed the diet and lifestyle. What else did you do? Well, what were the needle movers?
Kevin Ellis 07:36
Yeah, the biggest things were first addressing those root cause issues. Right. So going and getting different health testing done. First is that’s one of the first things you have to do. So I went and I got a different panel of lab testing results. So just some of the labs that are really important to get up front that I’ve made sure I got were bone turnover markers.
Kevin Ellis 07:54
That’s one of the first set of tests that you have to get because when you get a bone density scan, which is what tells you have osteopenia or osteoporosis, that’s not going to tell you right then at that point in time, if you’re still losing bone density, so you got to take it a step further.
Kevin Ellis 08:09
You have to get these bone turnover markers that can tell you if you’re actively losing bone right now. So the one test that you need to get is a serum CTX, C-telopeptide test. And that test is going to tell you the activity level of cells that are breaking down bone. And if that activity level is elevated, that can be an indicator of active bone loss.
Kevin Ellis 08:28
then you have to go further and explore the root causes of that bone loss, you got to get to 24 hour urine calcium test, it doesn’t tell you the activity level of cells that are breaking down bone, but it tells you how much calcium you’re paying out in a 24 hour period, the primary mineral constituent of your bone, just calcium. So if that’s elevated also, that can be another indicator of active bone loss, you get a complete blood count.
Kevin Ellis 08:53
Most people get that when they go to their doctors, a comprehensive metabolic panel, which is going to contain your electrolytes, kidney function, liver function, and your alkaline phosphatase. But it’s also going to include serum calcium, which is an important marker to look at. You need to get your Vitamin D done, because a low vitamin D level is gonna be a risk factor for osteoporosis. And you want to make sure you get the 25 hydroxy vitamin D. And then at the same time you’re getting the calcium, the 25 hydroxy, vitamin D, you also want to be getting something called PTH or parathyroid hormone.
Kevin Ellis 09:26
And that test is actually you want to get that test with the calcium, the vitamin D in the serum ionized calcium, and that’s a condition if you have hyperparathyroidism that’s a condition that’s going to pull calcium from the bones and also contribute to bone loss. So and then one of the other major tests that you need to get tested to rule out is celiac disease.
Misty Williams 09:45
That was one of my primary contributors to bone loss was I was consuming foods that even if it wasn’t gluten, maybe it was some kind of food that had molecular mimicry and was mimicking gluten and was causing damage to my villi In my small intestine, and I couldn’t absorb those nutrients anymore, so you need to rule those things out first, that’s probably going to be your starting point. And if you find other things, you can investigate and explore a little bit further. So that has a starting point.
Misty Williams 10:14
So In your case, the celiac disease was kind of your root cause trigger, that was the main thing that was
Kevin Ellis 10:20
the primary one. Yeah, primary one. And by the way, for celiac disease, it’s not just a malabsorption of nutrients. That’s what a lot of people think, a lot of people think that if you have celiac disease, that’s going to cause osteoporosis just because the malabsorption of nutrients, that’s not always the only thing, yes, it can be the malabsorption of nutrients.
Kevin Ellis 10:37
But if you have digestive issues, they can be a source of inflammation. And if you’ve got inflammation, that’s going to kick up the bone loss, okay!, that’s going to contribute to bone loss. Then you can also have an autoimmune attack on your bone cells, too. So those are the big issues there.
Kevin Ellis 10:54
And that’s why it’s really important to from a diet and lifestyle perspective, if you have an autoimmune condition, you’re probably going to want to go that route of a paleo autoimmune protocol or something like that, to get that autoimmune disease into remission, so that you can reduce that inflammation, and then start moving forward and making progress and slowly adding things back in.
Misty Williams 11:13
Yeah. Awesome. All right. So that was a great rundown of tests, I’m actually going to have these listed in the show notes. If you guys are intrigued by what Kevin has just shared about the tests, I think it’ll be really convenient for us to have as in the show notes for everyone.
Misty Williams 11:28
So let’s see, uncover the root cause of Osteoporosis obviously, is step one, and then talk to us more about rebuilding. Alright, we’ve uncovered, we know that we’ve got an autoimmune condition, we’ve cleaned up our diet and lifestyle. Now we want to reclaim the ground that we’ve lost.
Kevin Ellis 11:46
Yeah, so you’ve already addressed the underlying root cause issues. You are starting these diet nutrition back, that’s super important. In terms of diet, nutrition, one thing I didn’t touch on is, you want to make sure you’re getting enough protein.
Kevin Ellis 11:58
You need to get good protein in those meals because your bones are 50% protein by volume, they need amino acids. So it’s not like, if you’re losing bone, that bone loss is just coming in and selectively plucking out the calcium, it’s actually tearing down that protein structure that has the calcium with it.
Kevin Ellis 12:18
So in order to rebuild, then you have to have not just the minerals, but enough protein as well. So I would suggest, just for almost insurance purposes, if you’re getting 30 grams of protein and a meal, that’s going to be great, right! That’s a great starting point for somebody to make sure you’re getting 30 grams of protein in a meal.
Kevin Ellis 12:36
And then, you want to be like if you’re eating animal proteins, those are obviously complete proteins, if you’re also incorporating, and if you’re trying to consider just plant proteins is going to be enough, I often find that a lot of people fall short. Right? They think that they’re getting enough protein, but they’re actually not. So incorporating animal products can be an important part of your plan. Right?. So that’s super important, too. So
Kevin Ellis 13:00
That’s from a diet nutrition perspective. And then from a gut health perspective, let’s talk about that for a second. Because even if we’re not talking about celiac disease, if you have something like small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, or maybe dysbiosis, or some kind of gut infection, you have to figure that out first and address that root cause issue. So you can always do gut health testing. Some of my favorite tests are the GI map, but you could do the Genova diagnostics has a good test that you can do for that also.
Kevin Ellis 13:31
And then when you get the results of that back, you’re probably going to work with a functional medicine practitioner, or a naturopathic doctor or Functional Diagnostic practitioner, you know, somebody like that, to help you start addressing the root cause issues of your digestive problems, that is then going to lead to being able to heal the gut, which is going to help you improve nutrient absorption, which is obviously only going to help your body and your bones heal. So that kind of has to be the next area that you focus on addressing.
Kevin Ellis 13:58
In terms of exercise, let’s talk about the actual building component of that and the stimulus that’s needed to improve your balance. So there are a couple different types of exercise that your bones need in order to grow and become stronger. And you need different stimuli with those exercises. So you need muscle pulling on bone, and you need impact.
Kevin Ellis 14:18
So when the muscle pulls on bone, you have a mechanical signal that sends a chemical signal that tells those bones to become stronger. Okay? And then the impact is also important for helping rebuild those bones. A lot of times people are just told, Hey!, go do some weight bearing exercise, go for a walk. I’m going to tell you right now, that’s not going to be enough. Even if you’ve addressed your underlying root cause issue, going for a walk every single day is only going to help you maintain, probably at best. Okay, so you have to incorporate resistance training.
Kevin Ellis 14:49
And I’ll talk a little bit more about specifics in just a minute. So but in terms of weight bearing exercise, that’s okay to incorporate also, so what does that include? Could be running, jogging? You hiking, dancing, could be gardening, playing tennis, high impact aerobics, jumping rope, climbing stairs, playing soccer, you know, any of those things can be considered weight bearing exercise.
Kevin Ellis 15:13
What is not going to be helpful is the non weight bearing exercise, that would be things like cycling, or, you know, paddling and canoeing or kayaking, or swimming, that’s a big one. Because with weight bearing exercise, what that is, is where your bones and muscles, they’re working against gravity to keep you upright. And so you’re doing things on your feet, that’s placing stress on your bones. When you’re in those non weight bearing exercises, like swimming, or kayaking, or cycling, you don’t have that stress, right!, so you’re not putting that stress in the ball.
Kevin Ellis 15:46
That’s one of the challenges that astronauts have too. When they go in space, you don’t have, you’re not working against gravity, you don’t have that stress, that can actually reduce their bone density. So they have to actively work to address them. So what are some other things that people can do to address that, add in the resistance training, and the muscle and strength training piece is super, super important.
Kevin Ellis 16:04
So you can use heavy resistance bands. That could be one approach to this. You can use free weights, you can use barbell weights, but some of the most important lifts to be doing are those major compound lifts, right? The deadlifts, the squats, the overhead presses, those lifts, and some of the other ones, those are the really important ones that you need to be incorporating. If you don’t know how to do those exercises, I would go find somebody who knows how to help you do that, right?
Kevin Ellis 16:35
The next part of this is you have to be doing those exercises at an intensity that’s going to stimulate muscle and bone growth. And that the studies show that the five to 10 rep range is what’s most effective. So if you’re somebody that does not have a background in exercise, and just hears this, you know, podcast and says, I’m gonna go, jump into the dead list, let me pause you right there and say, Don’t do that.
Kevin Ellis 17:00
I would suggest you go work with somebody or find somebody who can evaluate your body mechanics, figure out if you know how to move properly, and maybe you’ve got some joint pain or some knee pain or something like that, that’s going to have you moving awkwardly through those movements. And how can you work around it or address that, then you slowly start progressing up to those heavier intensity exercises. So super, super important.
Kevin Ellis 17:26
The last note I want to make about the exercise piece is, especially with bone health, bone remodeling is a slow process. It is not like if you go in the gym and crank out a hard workout for two weeks that it’s going to turn things around like that. Your turnaround time, there’s a reason bone density scans are only done every one and a half, two years. It’s because bone remodeling is a slow process.
Kevin Ellis 17:49
So I would just take it slowly. Work your way up, be patient with yourself, don’t get frustrated, if you miss a day or whatever, just stick with it. And it’s really those things that you’re doing over time that are going to make the greatest impact. So especially if you’ve already addressed the root cause issue part of the whole picture.
Misty Williams 18:08
Yeah. Talk to us a little bit about hormones. You know, a lot of women are getting osteoporosis after they go into menopause. Right? Yeah, so there’s a hormonal component to this, too, that I think is really important if especially for women to address their bone loss, post menopause.
Kevin Ellis 18:25
Yeah. So I mean, there are two different types of osteoporosis, right? There’s primary osteoporosis that’s associated with a decrease in estrogen. Well, you know, in postmenopausal women, estrogen has a protective effect on bone. When estrogen levels decrease as they do during menopause, that’s going to cause an increase in the activity level, those cells that break down bone.
Kevin Ellis 18:41
Then there’s a whole other cause of osteoporosis, which is secondary conditions. Those are behaviors, diseases, disorders, medications, things like that hormones play such an important role. And what I always encourage people to do is, I would be open to considering bioidentical hormone replacement therapy, but you want to work with a practitioner that understands your specific situation, and they’re gonna go in and do their lab analysis, and they’re gonna help you specifically based on your health history.
Kevin Ellis 19:11
Do you have a history of breast cancer? Or do you ever have history, blood clotting, things like that, and then they’re going to help you determine what’s going to be the right approach for you to move forward. So I would definitely be open to considering that. And I think that can be a really important part of the plan.
Misty Williams 19:25
In your experience based on what you’re saying. It seems like maybe the silver bullet to be building bones really comes down to the exercise, would that be accurate?
Kevin Ellis 19:33
exercises? Yeah, it’s gonna be super, super important. If somebody’s doing everything else. Even if you’re taking hormones, but you’re not exercising, you’re not going to see a significant impact or that great of an impact over time, especially so you have to be doing exercise. And, if you have to have accountability with that, or you have to have somebody else that does with you or whatever, that’s great. Figure out who that person is to help guide you and stick through that with you, but it’s gonna be super, super important.
Misty Williams 20:03
So you talked a little bit about the length of time it takes, they’re doing these bone scans over a year or two. Is it safe to assume that it’s going to take a good six months to a year to start seeing a reversal? Once you’ve, once you’ve gotten everything stabilized, and you’re not losing bone anymore?
Kevin Ellis 20:20
Yeah, this is probably one of the more common questions that I get, which is like, how long does it take to reverse osteoporosis? And I actually reframe people’s thinking around the whole reversal term, because that can be really misleading in some situations. So I actually tried to shift people away from that. And I tried to focus people on what are the leading indicator things we can do to give ourselves the best shot of improvement.
Kevin Ellis 20:45
What are the objective near term markers we can look at, to see if we’re headed in the right direction, because, again, we need a near term marker in that three, six month period, to know if we’re heading in the right direction, because we’re not gonna have a bone density scan done for one year, one and a half years, two years, right?, don’t want to do is not look at the leading indicators, and just hope that we’re doing the right things and get to the lagging indicator, the bone density scan a year and a half, two years later, and realize, oh, no!, we weren’t doing the right things. Yeah!.
Kevin Ellis 21:16
So what are those leading indicators? Well, are you improving? These are obvious, but they’re not obvious for everybody. Is your sleep improving? are you reducing your stress? are you actually seeing improvements in your digestive symptoms? Are you having regular bowel movements? You know, are you actually eating full meals? Are you getting enough of those nutrients in those meals?
Kevin Ellis 21:39
Are you exercising in a way that’s not leading to injury, kind of like we just talked about, we talked about setting up and structuring an exercise plan. Are you being consistent with that, that’s going to be super important. But then now we need to look at objective markers in your blood too and that would be those bone turnover markers that we talked about in the beginning. The serum CTX, okay, that is the C-telopeptide test the activity level cells that are breaking down bone, have we seen that, if we started out with a baseline that was a little bit more elevated, have we seen those numbers come down, that can be an indicator of slowing, stopping, preventing more bone loss, okay.
Kevin Ellis 22:16
There’s also bone formation markers that we can look at, you can look at the level of activity level cells for bones breaking down, but you can also see the bones improving. And there are markers for that P1NP, a pro collagen type one internal probe peptide, that’s one of them. Another one is called Osteocolson and another bone formation marker is called Bone Specific alkaline phosphatase, you can look at all those different markers.
Kevin Ellis 22:39
Those can help you understand the other side of the picture, the bone formation picture too. So you look at those at the three month and six month periods. Especially if you took them the first time you got that baseline and something was off, or you had elevated levels of bone loss, you make sure you retest those again in three to six months. And they do it again at the one year mark, if you just want to be confident and you have the additional budget to do that, go for it.
Misty Williams 23:05
Yeah. Are these tests pretty standard blood tests? Are the urine tests? What kind of test studies are you describing?
Kevin Ellis 23:10
Great question. So for the CTX, the serum CTX, that is a blood test. Okay, there’s another bone loss test or bone marker test called an MTX. And we would want the urine MTX for that. And that’s an empty low peptide test. And you would use the second urine of the day. Okay. But the other question that you were asking was, are they more common tests? And the other question I usually get is, will my doctor actually even order these tests, a lot of times, you can get them covered by insurance.
Kevin Ellis 23:43
Sometimes your doctor will order like we give our people resources to help them in those conversations. But you can still have that conversation and say, hey, look, I’m not saying no to your bone medication, you don’t want to shut that down. Because if you do, you just put a wall between you and that practitioner, and they’re not going to help you move forward. Right?
Kevin Ellis 24:00
But if you just say, hey!, I’m not saying no, I’m just saying Not yet. Can you help me make a more educated and informed decision? If you approach it like that, and you’re not damaging an ego, you’re not doing any of that stuff, and you’re helping move yourself forward too, they may be more inclined to order some of those tasks for you. If they can’t, you can, there are still workarounds if they can’t, or if they want to order them.
Kevin Ellis 24:22
Sometimes a doctor won’t order the bone marker tests, especially if their general practitioner a doctor might not order a test. Because if they don’t know how to interpret that test, it may become a liability for them. Right? So if you ever encounter those situations, just know that may be one of the other reasons why they won’t order a test.
Kevin Ellis 24:40
And then in those situations, you can just say, Hey!, can you refer me to somebody who does understand the interpretation of these tests, and usually what they’ll do is assign you to an endocrinologist, or they’ll send you to a rheumatologist or somebody else who may have a specialty in that area because bones are an endocrine organ. And that’s why a lot of times they’ll send you to an endocrinologist and that’s usually who’s gonna be the prescriber of herbal medication as well.
Misty Williams 25:04
Yeah. Awesome. My head is spinning, I’m obviously thinking of my mom and some things that I want to do with her, we are going to put a lot of these details in the show notes. And make sure if you just go to healing rosie.com You’ll be able to find this interview with Kevin. But we’ll have good notes for you there. Kevin, won’t you tell us where we can find out more information online?
Kevin Ellis 25:24
Well, you can always find me at bonecoach.com If you go there, we’ve got some awesome resources for building stronger bones addressing your bone loss, we have a free seven day kickstart, we’ve got recipe guides. And then we’re on all the major social channels too. YouTube. We’ve got some great interviews. Misty we did an interview with you also. We’ve got awesome interviews over there. We’ve got recipe videos, and just good stuff. So bonecoach.com is probably the easiest place to find us.
Misty Williams 25:50
Awesome. All right, you guys go check Kevin’s website out if you have questions about osteoporosis osteopenia. If you have someone you love that has a question. So it’s such a great resource. And I feel really excited that we get to bring this resource to our listeners, because it’s a common thing to deal with bone loss. And it can feel overwhelming. And especially when you hear a doctor saying, we don’t really know what causes that. Here’s a couple of drugs you could take, I want to be more empowered than that. And I know you guys do too. So thank you so much for the work you’re doing, Kevin. I really appreciate it. All right. Thanks for tuning in everyone. We’ll talk to you soon.
Misty Williams 26:23
That’s it for this week’s episode. Thank you for listening. I hope you’re feeling more empowered to overcome your flabby foggy and fatigued and to reclaim your life. If you haven’t subscribed yet, don’t forget to hit that subscribe button right now so you don’t miss any of our episodes. We have some awesome shows coming right up. I love reading your reviews and comments too. They inspire me and encourage other Rosie’s to hang out with us and learn all these amazing strategies for healing and living our best lives. Till next time sister. Bye