Osteoporosis is a very common bone disease. In fact, an astonishing 54 million Americans are affected by this disease. People with osteoporosis either lose a lot of their bone mass or make too little of the new bone tissue. Some people actually have both these problems. Although we slowly start to lose bone mass after the age of 40 as part of the normal aging process – mostly in women due to their decreased levels of estrogen – there are ways we can help reduce the chances of developing osteoporosis and maintain natural bone health.
Avoiding Certain Foods and Drinks
Certain foods can cause, or help to cause, osteoporosis. Avoiding these foods can lessen your chance of developing the disease. Sweetened beverages, like soda, for example, can remove calcium from your bones, as well as increase inflammation. Sugar increases inflammation, so it is best to avoid it.
Processed, red meat is another food that may result in bone loss, as well as excessive caffeine intake. Alcohol has also been seen to cause inflammation that leads to calcium decreases.
Vitamin D is something our body makes naturally when we are outside in the sun. However, our bones need more than what is produced from being in the sun just to get into our car, go to the grocery store, and come back home. Vitamin D is important to prevent osteoporosis and bone health because it helps your intestines absorb calcium and helps your bones become more dense and strong.
It is recommended for adults up to the age of 70 to consume at least 600 IU of vitamin D per day, and up to 800 IU for adults older than 71. If you do not get enough vitamin D in your diet, say, with cheese, milk, and orange juice, you can take an over-the-counter vitamin D supplement.
Not getting enough calcium can cause the loss of bone mass and development of osteoporosis, so it is essential you get enough calcium in your diet. A lack of calcium that causes a decrease in bone mass can lead to fractures and even disability. It is critical to eat foods with calcium, like oranges, cheese, okra, kale, almonds, and broccoli. Many people prefer yogurt, and that works, too! If you do not get enough calcium in your diet, you should take it in supplement form. There is even a chewable form if that makes it easier for you!
Vitamin K also helps reduce the chances of osteoporosis developing. Vitamin K works with vitamin D to regulate the production of osteoclasts. Osteoclasts are cells whose purpose is to remove old bone so the new bone can replace it. There are specific foods with vitamin K you can add to your diet: green beans, asparagus, green peas, spinach, and broccoli. Even some cooking spices, like parsley, oregano, and basil, are rich in vitamin K.
Osteoporosis has also been associated with low magnesium levels. Many studies have shown that a lack of magnesium in the body promotes osteoporosis, further suggesting that magnesium is a contributing factor to bone health. Whole wheat is one way you can consume magnesium. Use whole wheat instead of white flour when baking and buy whole wheat bread instead of white sandwich bread. Spinach, quinoa, almonds, cashews, and black beans are other sources of magnesium. As with most other vitamins, it also comes in an over-the-counter form.
That’s right! Exercise plays a big part in bone health. Physical activity is very important in terms of building and maintaining healthy bones. Why are school-aged children made to exercise in school? Partly to build strong bones. As we age, it is important to keep our bones strong, not only to avoid osteoporosis but to avoid falls that result in fractures as well.
Exercising makes our bones stronger, just like it makes our muscles stronger. There are several types of exercise you can participate in: weight-bearing exercise, which is an exercise that works your bones against gravity, like brisk walking, jogging, stair climbing, and playing tennis; and strength-training exercise, like push-ups, using weight machines, and using free weights.
Osteoporosis can put a real strain on all aspects of your life. It is not only important to build strong bones in childhood but to maintain that strength into adulthood and old age. The more you exercise and eat healthy foods, rich in the vitamins that your body and bones need, the smaller chance you have of developing this painful condition.