What is osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis technically means “porous bones.” It is a condition in which one’s bones slowly lose density, making them fragile and more likely to break. It usually occurs because you have low levels of calcium and other minerals that are important to bone health. The spinal column, wrist, and hips are the most common fracture sites, and even mild stress can cause an injury to a person with weakened and porous bones.
Symptoms: Stooping posture (widow’s hump), gradual decrease in height, back pain, broken bones. By the time these symptoms occur, it may be too late to recover.
Defend against the disease
It may surprise you to learn that, at least in women, low bone density appears to go hand in hand with hardening of the arteries. So, if you’re fighting one disease, you might as well fight them both. Follow these safety steps for a healthier heart and stronger bones.
Boost your bones with exercise
Take a dancing class and improve the thickness of your bones by up to 10%. Or, do it up and hit the gym to add up to 30% to your bone mass. Very simply, the more you exercise, the more you boost your bone density.
Of course aerobics means strengthening legs but it doesn’t help your upper body. That’s where strength training comes in. You need both.
Consume calcium-rich foods
Calcium is required for strong bones. Therefore, you need to consume calcium so it’s available for those bones. The latest thinking is if you’re over 50 you need 1,200 milligrams (mg) a day. Click here for the USDA nutrient list for calcium.
On top of the list are calcium fortified cereals. They are followed by milk products. If you don’t eat fortified cereal or milk products, you want to consider supplements.
Don’t overdo the salt
In your body, calcium and salt compete in a race to get absorbed. Also, if you eat too much salt, your kidneys have to work especially hard to flush it out, and they could flush out other important minerals too, like calcium.
Dose with “D”
Another way to ward off thinning bones is to get plenty of vitamin D. Vitamin D boosts your body’s ability to absorb calcium. If you live where you don’t get plenty of sunshine, then salmon and canned tuna are good sources of “D.” Of course you can take supplements, and they should be called “D3.”
Getting adequate vitamin D is necessary for your body to absorb and use calcium. See our article on Vitamin D under Vitamins.
Pick out fruit and veggies from your grocery store’s produce section
Orientals haven’t had the advantage of enriched cereal or dairy products, but they have also historically had strong bones. It could be the produce.
A group of men increased bone density and lowered their risk of breaking a hip with every extra vegetable or fruit serving they ate per day. It’s possible that magnesium and potassium are behind these surprising results. Your body needs these two essential minerals to take advantage of calcium and build bones.
Apricots, avocados, dried figs and prunes are potent potassium stores.
For magnesium, munch on nuts, beans, cereals, bananas and oranges.
If you drink fortified soy milk in lieu of cow’s milk bear in mind that you absorb about 75% less calcium. The problem lies within certain chemicals in the soy milk called anti-absorbers. They seem to limit how well your body takes in and uses calcium.
If you don’t get enough calcium, magnesium and potassium from the food you eat, then supplement. You need these minerals. However, make sure that they are absorbable by the body, and don’t overdo it. Check with your doctor on what is safe.
Do what British women do and grab a cup of tea. Scientists found the British women who regularly drink tea have stronger bones than women who don’t. Apparently this benefit comes from the antioxidants in tea. British women prefer black tea, but green or black tea should do the trick.
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