Yes, you read that right … if you are a woman over 50 years of age, your chances of osteoporosis are high at 1 in 3. Men can become afflicted by it as well with 1 in 5 expected to develop osteoporosis. Osteoporosis indicates a progressive weakening of the bones and unfortunately, can result in a fracture from a fall or even a sudden movement. A fracture or break in the bones can limit your daily activity and even shorten your life.
So how do you know if you have it? How do you get it?
There are risk factors that may predispose you to osteoporosis. You may have had a previous fracture at a young age on the playground or as an athlete in school. One or both of your parents may have osteoporosis. Those are all things you cannot control at this point in your life.
Some medications such as Heparin, Warfarin, cancer drugs, and thyroid hormones may put you at risk and you may not be able to avoid those. You can, however, control lifestyle habits. Obesity can put you at high risk for developing osteoporosis. Smoking and/or drinking alcohol are also contributing culprits that raise your risk level. If you are at high risk there are tests available to catch osteoporosis early so that you can make necessary changes in your life.
How can you avoid it or lessen chances of osteoporosis progressing?
- Diet is a huge factor in keeping your bones healthy. Calcium taken along with Vitamin D may slow bone loss. Getting sunshine will help as well, however, don’t forget your sunscreen and limit your exposure.
- Here are some calcium rich foods to add to your daily diet:
- Seeds pack a big punch, particularly poppy, sesame, and celery seeds. Sprinkle them on just about anything!
- Hard cheeses like parmesan are higher in calcium than softer ones. They’re also easier to digest if you’re lactose intolerant.
- Yogurt is a great choice however make sure it’s not the Greek style which has approximately 1/3 less calcium. Low fat plain yogurt is your best choice and you can make it a treat by adding fresh fruit and almonds. By the way, almonds are another great choice and have the highest calcium content of all nuts.
- Mom always told you to eat your veggies and she was right, especially the leafy greens. Kale and spinach are high in calcium and can be added to soups and salads.
- While mostly known for being high in fiber, beans and lentils pack a punch of calcium.
- The most well-known calcium supplement is milk. You can choose whole or non-fat as both contain similar amounts of calcium as well as Vitamin D.
Exercise is also important to lessen your chances of developing osteoporosis. If you already have severe osteoporosis, it’s important to avoid high impact routines and stick to exercises like yoga, Tai Chi, or Pilates that emphasize strengthening muscles and improving balance.
If your osteoporosis is not severe, or, if you have osteopenia (a pre-cursor), weight bearing exercise will help strengthen bones and slow the degeneration process. Some suggestions:
- Step aerobics
- Tennis or Pickleball
- Walking/Stair walking
- Weight training/curls
Always check with your physician prior to attempting a new diet or exercise routine.
There’s no time like today to begin taking better care of yourself and living life doing what you love. Do you have thoughts or feedback? Let us know.
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