How to improve my bone health and prevent osteoporosis?

June 4, 2024
Avatar for Jyoti KinghornJyoti Kinghorn
Walking can prevent osteoporosis

You can prevent osteoporosis by developing strong bones and maintaining good bone health through diet, exercise, and a healthy lifestyle.

What is osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is a condition in which bone mass and mineral density decrease over time, and the bones get thinner and weaker to the point that they can get a fracture from everyday activities and relatively mild stresses.

Our bones are living cells constantly in a state of repair and regeneration. The body continually breaks down old bone cells and replaces them with new ones. Until the age of 30, bones regrow at a faster rate than they deteriorate, and get stronger over time. But gradually as we age, bones deteriorate faster than they are regrown.

When someone has osteoporosis, their bones can get very fragile as they age. Small events such as minor bumps or falls can cause fractures. In severe cases, even mild stresses like coughing can cause fracture. Additionally, bones don’t repair at a healthy rate after fractures. This can result in continuous pain and discomfort. Fractures in the bones and spine in older adults with osteoporosis can be devastating, resulting in loss of mobility and independence.

Osteoporosis is common in older individuals. It affects about half the women (particularly post-menopause), and about a quarter of the men.

Symptoms of osteoporosis

Osteoporosis typically does not have any symptoms and is usually discovered when someone gets a fracture. Many fractures in older men and women, especially postmenopausal women can be attributed to osteoporosis. The hips, vertebrae (spine), and wrists are the most common places where fractures are observed.

A medical provider can diagnose osteoporosis through a bone density check. It is recommended for those over 65, those who have a family history of osteoporosis, and those who sustain a fracture after the age of 50. Treatments include weight-bearing exercises and medications that slow down bone loss or accelerate bone regeneration.

Prevent osteoporosis with weight-bearing exercises such as yoga

Osteoporosis can be prevented by building and maintaining strong bones. This can be achieved through a combination of exercise, a good diet, and healthy living habits.

Exercise to prevent osteoporosis

Generally, bones get stronger upon getting regular weight-bearing exercises. These include walking, running, climbing stairs, and dancing. Yoga, tai chi, and water aerobics are also weight-bearing exercises that can help develop strong bones. In the gym, you can use a treadmill, an elliptical, or a StairMaster. Alternatively, participating in sports such as basketball, baseball, volleyball, golf, and racket sports such as tennis can also help strengthen bones.

It is always a good idea to consult your medical provider before starting a new exercise regimen. If you have osteoporosis, consulting with a physical therapist can help you find the best exercises for your body that will benefit you the most. This is especially useful if you have arthritis which can restrict your movements.

Diet to prevent osteoporosis

Adults generally need 1000 mg of calcium per day from their diet. The calcium requirement for post-menopausal women is about 1200 mg. Calcium not only helps in building and maintaining strong bones and teeth, it is also needed for other vital purposes such as carrying messages from the brain to the body, helping blood vessels move blood throughout the body, and releasing hormones. If there is not enough calcium in the diet, the body gets it from breaking down the bones. Eating a diet rich in calcium, phosphorus, protein, and vitamin D (which helps the body absorb calcium) helps build strong and healthy bones and prevent bone loss.

The main dietary sources of calcium include dairy such as milk, yogurt, and cheese, or calcium-fortified plant-based milk such as calcium-fortified soy milk. Other sources of calcium include almonds, figs, tofu, canned sardines, salmon with bones, vegetables such as broccoli, winter squashes, edamame, and Chinese cabbage, and leafy greens such as spinach, kale, and collard greens.

A healthy lifestyle to prevent osteoporosis

Avoiding smoking, and limiting ingestion of alcohol and caffeine has a beneficial effect on bone health and helps prevent osteoporosis.

  • Long-term alcohol consumption has been associated with reduced bone density and increased risk of osteoporosis.
  • Smoking decreases bone density by decreasing the body’s absorption of calcium while slowing down the production of bone-forming cells.
  • High levels of caffeine (exceeding 8 cups a day) can also increase the risk of osteoporosis.

The information provided in our blog posts is for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this blog.

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