Many people think that the bone disease osteoporosis, which causes weak bones, is part of normal aging and cannot be prevented. But this is not correct. There are things you can do to protect your bones throughout your life. No matter your age, whether you’re young or old, you should take steps to improve the health of your bones. Taking steps for osteoporosis prevention should begin in childhood and continue through all stages of life. But whatever your age is now you can take action. Adopting the right habits can affect your bone health for the rest of your life.
Osteoporosis is a real bone disease that causes a loss of bone density and increases your risk of painful fractures. For this reason, it is important to know the treatments, prevention and nutrition to follow to combat it.
Osteoporosis means “porous bones”, with osteo meaning related to bones and porosis meaning porous which is defined as having holes through. The condition occurs when bones lose minerals such as calcium quicker than the body can replace them. When affected the bones lose density and strength, making them more prone to fracture.
Osteoporosis is a disease that affects both genders but in particular women after menopause, that is when the hormones change and disrupt the body. Other risk factors for osteoporosis include aging, low body weight, low sex hormones, smoking, and some medications.
When someone has osteoporosis it makes their bones weak and fragile which, consequently, will make it easier to suffer bone fractures, in particular of the thigh and wrist bones. According to official estimates, 1 in 4 women will suffer from osteoporosis after menopause and will have a 30-40% chance of suffering a fracture in their lifetime due to the disease. Men, on the other hand, have 13%.
Cause And Treatment
It is important to note that bones do not remain in one static state forever, they change over time. Bones constantly remodel themselves throughout life by growing and thinning. Bones are made up of cells that breakdown or “reabsorb” parts of old bone and others that regenerate collagen fibers to fill the missing tissue. In osteoporosis, normal bone remodeling goes awry and bone loss exceeds bone growth, causing bones to become thin and weak.
Osteoporosis is a common condition that affects people worldwide. Poor diets, sedentary lifestyles and aging appear to be the main drivers behind the prevalence of osteoporosis.
Treatment for osteoporosis is mainly based on a healthy diet and active lifestyle as well as taking medications prescribed by a doctor. There are many medications available to treat osteoporosis and reduce the risk of bone fracture. These drugs fall into two basic categories: antiresorptives and anabolics.
- Antiresorptive drugs work by slowing down the resorption part of the remodeling cycle.
- Antiresorptive drugs include bisphosphonates, denosumab, and calcitonin.
- Anabolics work by stimulating the formation part of the remodeling process.
- Proper use of a combination of the two types of medication should result in more bone growth and less bone loss, which would produce stronger bones that are less likely to break.
A Diet Rich In Calcium And Vitamin D Is Essential
No matter the medication prescribed to you for treating osteoporosis, it won’t work if you don’t have enough calcium and vitamin D in your body. Calcium is a key building block for your bones. Vitamin D helps your body to absorb calcium. It is always better to get your calcium from food, but supplements can be taken when you can’t get enough from the foods you eat. Because there are not as many food sources of vitamin D, supplements are generally recommended for most people. There are calcium-based supplements, with or without vitamin D available.
Prevention Is The Key
Some people have the misconception that osteoporosis is an inevitable consequence of human aging. While it is true that as we age, bones become more fragile and more prone to fractures, in many cases, osteoporosis is a disease that can be prevented.
Building a strong and robust skeleton system from an early age is now recognized as the key aspect of osteoporosis prevention. Most people reach their peak bone mass, which is the maximum quantity of minerals contained in the bones, in their mid 20s to early 30s. The higher the bone mass, the stronger the bone. Maximizing your peak bone mass, when there is still time, would determine your level of risk of suffering from osteoporosis in old age. In fact, the higher your peak bone mass is, the lower the risk of bone fractures will be.
To make your peak bone mass as high as possible, it is necessary to follow a proper diet containing various nutrients essential for bone health and practice moderate but regular physical activity. These are the basic rules for preventing the onset of osteoporosis.
The food that you eat can affect your bones. It’s important to learn about the foods that are rich in calcium, vitamin D and other nutrients that are essential for your bone health. And when you make healthier food choices every day for your bone health it benefits your overall health as well.
You already know that to prevent and counter osteoporosis, the different types of food you should be eating need to contain calcium and vitamin D. However, while calcium and vitamin D get the most attention, there is growing evidence that wholefoods and other micronutrients play roles in primary and secondary osteoporosis prevention.
Until recently, calcium and vitamin D were regarded as the main nutrients essential to bone health but now there are emerging roles for iron, copper and selenium, among others. A balanced diet that contains various food groups and nutrients needed for bone health throughout all stages of life would help to prevent osteoporosis.
Osteoporosis nutrition includes:
- Calcium (milk, cheese and other dairy foods)
- Vitamin D (oily fish, liver, egg yolks)
- Magnesium (bananas, whole grains, hazelnuts, peas, beans) and
- Manganese (avocado, chestnuts, spinach, ginger)
- Copper (peanuts, wheat germ, honey, mushrooms) and phosphorus)
- Iron (seafood, beans, dark green leafy vegetables, such as spinach)
- Potassium (bananas, oranges, cantaloupe, honeydew, apricots, grapefruit)
- Avoid margarine, cold cuts, aged cheeses, tea, coffee, sugar.
It is very important to take the necessary steps to maintain healthy bones through all stages of life. By adopting the right nutrition and lifestyle habits you can build strong bones and maintain them as you get older.