Last year our family began a grand tradition of harvesting sap to make our own maple syrup.
In the fall while the leaves were still on the trees, we hunted for maple trees, marking each with a pink curly ribbon. Then we waited the winter out and looked forward to the spring thaw when sap starts to flow.
As the weather warms in late winter, sap-collecting season begins. We get out hammer, drill, spiles, tubing, and buckets. And bundle up for a hike through the woods to hunt for our pink-ribboned trees.
Much like blood in the human body, sap serves trees by transporting nutrients throughout - circulating nourishment and hydration from roots to trunk to leaves and back again. It's a vital system for the tree to be strong, healthy, and to thrive.
Likewise, the human body must have good blood circulation in order to be nourished and have strong immunity. If there is poor blood flow in any part of the body, it is a sign of illness or disease.
Turns out, body temperature is actually a risk factor for developing and worsening osteoporosis.
As we age, the core body temperature gradually decreases.
Another thing that decreases is bone mineral density (BMD) which is a measure of the strength and toughness of bones.
Are these things related? The evidence points to yes.
In fact, a lower body temperature has been directly correlated to less bone cell generation and more breakdown of existing bone cells (source). Likewise, for sap to flow well in trees the temperature must be above freezing.
When our bodies are colder than they should be, our bones gradually become more brittle and less able to handle weight-bearing loads needed for life’s activities.
Basically, the colder we are, the less bone we make and the more bone is broken down which leads to a lower BMD.
It's the perfect storm for osteoporosis.
Makes sense doesn't it? Is a tree as flexible in the winter as it is in the summer?
Neither are cold bones.
Ok, so maybe you're not at the age that your body temperature is lowering.
But think about it. When you get dressed in the morning, what part of your body do you put the most clothing on? Usually your torso (or trunk) right?
In the summer especially, the arms and legs are often left bare or with fewer layers than the rest of the body.
Our trunks are already the warmest part of the body due to larger blood vessels and therefore more abundant amounts of blood in the area. However, the arms and legs (and feet and hands) are the most susceptible to chilling as they are farther from the big blood vessels of the trunk.
It takes more effort for the heart to pump blood into the areas farthest away from it, like the legs and feet. If those areas are underdressed, the blood vessels naturally constrict in response to being colder in order to conserve heat for the vital organs.
Doesn't it seem logical that we should have at least as much, if not more clothing covering the parts of our body that are farther away from the trunk in order to maintain a balanced overall body temperature?
A simple solution for stronger bones is warm bones.
Good blood flow and warmth are necessary to build strong and healthy bones.
And one way to maintain balanced warmth throughout the body is to dress in even layers, arms and legs included.
Is your wardrobe bone-friendly?
- Patel, J.J., Utting, J.C., Key, M.L., Orriss, I.R., Taylor, S.B., Whatling, P., et al. (2012). Hypothermia inhibits osteoblast differentiation and bone formation but stimulates osteoclastogenesis. Experimental Cell Research Elsevier Inc., 318, 2237-2244.