Tips to Prevent Osteoporosis
An estimated 54 million Americans have osteoporosis and low bone mass. Osteoporosis, which means “porous bones,” refers to a bone disease that occurs when the body loses too much bone, doesn’t make enough bone, or both.
Peak bone mass is typically reached between ages 25 and 30. Whether we reach our full bone mass potential is largely determined by genetics and lifestyle factors such as diet and exercise. Most people will begin to lose bone mass beginning around the age of 40, however, there are some tips that can help slow or prevent osteoporosis.
Lifestyle factors in your life decide how much you could be at risk of osteoporosis. However, genetics plays a dominant role in determining whether you are more prone to osteoporosis or not. The lifestyle factors include the diet, health conditions and physical activities which are going to affect your bone health and development. The lack of nutrients also leads to serious damage to bones from your body.
Here are tips which help you to prevent osteoporosis.
1. Healthy Eating Habits
One of the best ways to prevent osteoporosis is to focus on healthy eating habits and proper nutrition. Most of the stagnant bone development and malnutrition comes from the fact that people are not aware of the nutrients that bones need. Here are some changes you can implement into your daily diet:
- Drink milk: It’s no secret that milk is an excellent source of calcium–an essential mineral for bone health. You don’t have to consume whole milk to reap the benefits, low-fat and skim milk can also help. You should also mix in milk products like non-fat yogurt and cheese to your diet. Many milk products also contain vitamin D which helps the absorption of calcium in the body.
- Eat green vegetables: It is recommended to consume three servings of vegetables of each day. At least one of these servings should include raw, leafy vegetables like spinach or kale. These vitamin-rich green leafy vegetables are packed with potassium and vitamin K which contribute to bone health. For this type of vegetable, one serving is considered 1 cup.
- Avoid too much protein: There’s a lot of misconception about how much protein we actually need to consume. Excessive protein intake either through foods or supplements can increase the excretion of calcium in your body which can be harmful to your bones. When it comes to meat, the most popular source of protein, one serving size is only considered 2 to 3 ounces.
- Don’t pick out the onions: Women have a greater risk of developing osteoporosis, especially those over the age of 50. This is likely due to the tendency for women to have smaller, thinner bones compared to men and the decrease in estrogen that occurs with menopause. A recent study revealed that women who ate onions daily had 5% more bone mass than those who ate them once a month or less.
- Consider soy products: An alternative source of protein, soy contains a high amount of calcium and plant estrogens which helps to maintain your bone density. You can incorporate soy flour in recipes you already make or consider giving tofu a try.
2. Lifestyle Changes
While you cannot alter your genetics, you can make simple lifestyle changes to help prevent or slow the development of osteoporosis.
- Quit smoking: Smokers tend to be having 10% lower bone densities than non-smokers. It also increases the chances of hip fractures in cases of osteoporosis. Not to mention the other adverse effects that tobacco products can have on your body.
- Prioritize your mental health: Depression and other mental health disorders can affect your body in many ways and manifest into physical symptoms. For example, depression triggers the creation of cortisol, a stress-related hormone that takes away minerals from the bones.
- Limit alcohol consumption: Alcohol prevents the absorption of calcium into your body and intoxication increases your risk of slips, trips and falls. If your bone health is already compromised, even a minor misstep can lead to bone fracture. This doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy an adult beverage on occasion, but you should definitely limit your alcohol consumption to protect your bone health.
- Get moving: This may involve beginning to exercise regularly or changing up your current routine to include activities that improve your posture and flexibility. Weight-bearing exercises such as walking, hiking or playing tennis, force you to work against gravity and promote bone health. Resistance exercises like lifting weights can help strengthen bones. Regardless of how you decide to do it, the important thing is that you get moving for at least 30 minutes each day.
- Taking vitamins and supplements: There are a lot of vitamins and supplements that can help maintain the nutrient levels in your body, but before taking them you should always consult with a licensed healthcare professional who can test for deficiencies and evaluate your bone density. For most, 1,000 mg of elemental calcium is recommended on a daily basis to prevent osteoporosis.
3. Annual Wellness Exam
It’s just as important to visit the doctor when you are well as it is when you are sick or experience an injury. Annual wellness exams, or physicals, can help establish a baseline for comparison and make it easier to identify changes or trends. Over time, it also helps you build a relationship with your doctor which leads to more personalized care and a positive patient experience. If you are concerned about your risks of developing osteoporosis, a doctor can perform several tests to identify any current bone problems or signs that may indicate future development.
When to Seek Help
Unfortunately, there is a limited timeframe that we can influence the development of peak bone mass. The best time to build bone density is during periods of rapid growth such as childhood, adolescence and early adulthood. But, old bones are constantly being broken down and replaced by new ones so it’s never too late to learn about how to protect bone structure and strength to prevent osteoporosis.
When diagnosed early, osteoporosis often responds well to treatment. Treatment may involve implementing the tips outlined above, but may also include treatment for fractures that may have resulted and medications to slow bone loss or increase bone production.
If you or a loved one is currently suffering from osteoporosis, call (503) 885-9391 to schedule an appointment with Pacific Spine Specialists. Dr. Timothy Keenen is a board-certified and fellowship trained orthopedic spine surgeon with nearly 40 years of extensive experience in treating a wide variety of spinal conditions including osteoporosis.