Osteoporosis can be explained as an age related ailment which is responsible for robbing away the density of your bones thus making them less capable of holding your body up in addition to increasing their susceptibility to fractures. Basically, the bones get weak and brittle during osteoporosis. There are numerous risk factors responsible for the disease, like family history, being female, and ageing. However, the disease can be avoided through a proper diet and mineral intake.
Putting it simpler, it can be said that bones with osteoporosis are characterized by the following features:
- Osteoporosis affected bones do not contain sufficient phosphorous and calcium, and, thus, gradually lose the sustaining protein framework.
- The bones affected by osteoporosis get more fragile and thinner than normal.
- Osteoporosis affected bones are more susceptible to breakage, specifically wrist, hip, and spine.
Interesting osteoporosis facts
Here are some interesting facts that can add to your knowledge about osteoporosis:
- Also known as “bone-thinning disease,” osteoporosis can be referred as a common condition affecting around 25million people every year.
- About 80% of osteoporosis patients include women.
- About 80% of women exceeding the age of 65 suffer from osteoporosis.
- Women have the tendency of losing about 1-2% of bone density every year after menopause.
- In addition to a large number of women suffering from osteoporosis, 1.5million men, approximately, also suffer the disease. Furthermore, additional 3.5million are at high risk.
- Reaching the age of 80years, almost 50% of women show a fractured spine on x-ray. However, many of them are unable to recall any incident or injury leading to the fracture.
Causes of osteoporosis
Osteoporosis is not a result of any single cause. Human body has a tendency of removing older bones and building new ones. During childhood, the rate of building new bones is higher than the rate of removing older ones. Thus, the bones grow their size. However, after you exceed 30-40years of age, the cells responsible for building new bones are unable to cope up with those indulged in bone removal. Therefore, the total amount of bone decreases thus developing osteoporosis.
Before menopause, the bone loss rate is quite small in men and women. However, after menopause, the rate of bone loss in females rises to about 1-2% per year. The underlying reason is fall in the level of production of estrogen falls significantly. Basically, the estrogen hormone performs the function of protecting your skeleton by aiding the bone-forming cells in performing their function. When this level of estrogen decreases after menopause this protection gets reduced.
Some other factors responsible for increasing the chances of osteoporosis include:
- Being underweight
- Lack of exercise
- Family history with osteoporosis
- Use of medications for diseases like arthritis, asthma, allergies, and lung diseases
- Medical problems
- Low percentage of vitamin D or calcium in the diet
How to prevent osteoporosis
There are numerous ways to treat and avoid the chance of osteoporosis. Let’s have a look.
The production of estrogen in the body decreases significantly after menopause or surgical amputation of ovaries. This leads to an increase in the women being more susceptible to chances of osteoporosis. However, the chances of osteoporosis can be reduced by taking estrogen supplements either in the form of tablets or in the form of a skin patch which is replaced at regular intervals. This is known as HRT (hormone replacement therapy).
It has been proved through studies that osteoporosis can be avoided or, at least, delayed if HRT is started during the initial years of menopause. In addition to restoring bone loss rate, HRT has also shown effective results in replacing some amount of bone that has been lost already. Besides, it also helps in controlling vaginal dryness, hot flashes, and other similar symptoms that can occur near menopause.
Usually, HRT is given as a combination of progesterone and estrogen. The underlying reason is that if estrogen is given alone it can increase the possibility of uterine cancer. However, progesterone is not required by women who have undergone hysterectomy.
Women who do not opt to go for HRT can alternatively opt for taking different medications projected to avoid osteoporosis. However, these medications do not help with menopause symptoms or avoiding heart ailments but are helpful in avoiding the chances of osteoporosis. But, if you are not going through any obnoxious symptoms of menopause or any symptoms of being at risk of heart ailments, you may go for other options to maintain the health and strength of your bones.
Diet modification is really essential to avoid osteoporosis. Leading a life with healthy bones requires ample consumption of calcium and vitamin D through your diet. Calcium makes your bones strong and vitamin D aids the absorption of calcium by your bones. A calcium rich diet is signified by incorporation of soy substitutes or dairy products, broccoli, almonds, spinach, tuna, cooked kale, canned salmon including bones, sardines, and egg yolks. The basic aim is taking variety in calcium rich foods. However, if the diet still remains insufficient, you may be advised to take calcium supplements by the physician.
Also, it would be good to include ample vitamin D in your diet. This can be done through sun exposure, preferably during the morning hours to have a natural doze of the same. Alternatively, you can also go for taking an effective supplement for vitamin D if you are living in colder climates or are not able to spend sufficient time outdoors.
It is also important to include sufficient amounts of Omega 6 and Omega 3 fatty acids in your diet. Some of the best sources include food such as corn, soybean, and canola oil.
Furthermore, vitamin K is also important for maintaining the strength and health of bones to avoid osteoporosis. It is essentially important to increase the amount of vitamin K in your diet to avoid the chances of pre-menopausal osteoporosis in women aging 40s. Collard greens, spinach, and other green leafy vegetables carry high levels of vitamin K.
Add more of raw white onions in your diet. These carry good amounts of gamma-glutamyl peptides which are helpful in increasing the bone density naturally. Other good diet sources include amino acids contained in good quality protein of organic eggs. Besides, grass fed animals can also be included as an internal part of your diet to avoid the chance of osteoporosis.
If you wish to prevent pre-menopausal osteoporosis, try to avoid intake of gluten as it may be a reason for considerable bone loss. Some sources of gluten include oats, barley, wheat, and rye.
If you are, however, worried about the postmenopausal osteoporosis, try going easy on special calcium supplements as excessive calcium intake as it can lead to stones in kidney and gallbladder in addition to preventing the absorption of other important elements essential foe strong bones.
Try to include sufficient amounts of fresh vegetables in your diet, such as cucumbers, garlic, tomatoes, parsley, plus green onions. These food sources contribute largely to maintaining the bone density in a more effective way than calcium does.
In addition to these diet modifications and inclusions, it is also advisable to cut on the amount of smoking and alcohol intake. Excessive consumption of caffeine can also be harmful for bones. Also read a separate article on “Food Good for Bones“.
Osteoporosis is one of the diseases that affect bone health in men as well as women, specifically women gone through menopause for estrogen is a hormone that helps in bone protection. Osteoporosis makes your bones weak and brittle in addition to increasing the risk of fractures. Actually, the word osteoporosis literally means “porous bones,” i.e. bones filled with holes.
As proved by research, bone development is largest during childhood and tapers off at the age of 18 or 20. It is, therefore, important to begin exercising in young age too avoid being a victim to osteoporosis as an adult. Try and encourage activities which involve jumping, running, and skipping. Children with a routine for exercise tend to persist in it and have the chances of avoiding bone loss as an adult.
Besides proper diet and HRT, osteoporosis can also be avoided through regular exercise. Exercise is also helpful in preventing falls and fractures by boosting the strength and balance of your bones. Strength training exercises, involving resistance movements which can be executed either in water, or using rubber resistance bands, or even with weight machines or dumbbells, are helpful in improving the condition of muscles on your spine and back. However, these should be performed in the form of a proper regimen as advised by a health-care practitioner or professional trainer. Overdoing these exercises can raise the level of your being at risk of osteoporosis.
The most important exercise for healthy bones is weight training, also known as load-bearing or weight-bearing exercise, as it improves the strength and balance of bones in addition to providing protection against falls and fractures. This happens when tendons and muscles pull on the bones thus stimulating the bone cells to increase the production of new bones. This load on your bones can be produced through the bodyweight itself, like during jogging or running, or even through external weights such as gym machines or dumbbells.
Additionally, it has been suggested through studies that high impact exercises can also prove helpful in preventing osteoporosis. This implies passing on a jolt to muscle as well as bone as in you would while positioning a foot with force on ground while lifting, running, or pushing suddenly a weight. Exercising regularly is helpful in enabling the bones to bear up force thus strengthening the surrounding muscles. Besides, it also boosts stability thus diminishing the risk of falling to fracture your hip or wrist. Some appropriate workouts include sports like bowling, tennis, or golf. Safety is, obviously, the primary concern in such exercises.
Adding further, there are also some low-impact exercises which can help preventing osteoporosis. These exercises are projected for those who already suffer the disease or those with certain physical limitations. These exercises include dancing, walking, or low-impact aerobics. However, some poses of yoga can prove harmful. It is, therefore, better to stay away from them or go for specially projected classes for patients with osteoporosis.
Another option to go for to maintain the health and strength of the bones includes stretching as a way of maintaining flexibility. These stretching exercises help in relieving the stress form bones thus improving the equilibrium. There is a series of such gentle stretching workouts which can be executed after a hot shower or an exercise session for optimum results. Stretching becomes even more enjoyable when gravity is allowed to do the job. one of the simplest realignments of the body can be done through deep breathing and then relaxing while lying flat on floor. Stretching is an effective way of reducing stress and also the risk of osteoporosis.
Well, every exercise is beneficial for general body fitness. It is, however, noteworthy that leg-based or running exercises primarily act on the lower body. Additionally, as most of the disabling influence of bone loss is experienced in the spine and hips, it is equally important to exercise the upper body with load bearing exercises. Furthermore, broken arms and wrists are also common from falls with growing age.
Wrapping up, I would just advise that it is never too late to fight any disease with just a few modifications to your lifestyle. Take a proper diet housed with effective exercises suiting your body type. Also try and avoid smoking and alcohol intake to get healthy and strong bones.