Osteoporosis is a progressive disease which causes bones to become weak, brittle and prone to fractures. Approximately 9 million Americans have osteoporosis, and another 43 million have low bone density which places them at increased risk of developing osteoporosis in the future. The month of May is National Osteoporosis Month, a nationwide campaign that encourages everyone to learn about the risk factors associated with this debilitating disease and take proactive steps to build healthy bones. Regardless of where you are in life, it’s never too late to make healthy lifestyle changes that will preserve bone health and reduce your risk of fractures.
Stay physically active
Weight-bearing exercise stimulates the formation of new bone tissue to make bones stronger. Any exercise that causes your body to work against gravity is considered weight-bearing, so feel free to try new activities and switch up your routine. Walking, jogging, dancing, aerobics, hiking and playing sports are excellent options that will help you build a stronger skeleton.
Smoking negatively impacts nearly every system in the body, including the skeletal system. Cigarette smoke produces free radicals which damage blood vessels, upset hormonal balances and kill osteoblasts, the cells that create new bone tissue. The good news is that your body starts to heal itself almost immediately after you give up smoking. The sooner you decide to quit, the better your chances of preserving healthy bone tissue.
Evaluate your diet
There are two key nutrients you need in your diet to maintain healthy bones: calcium and vitamin D. Adults under the age of 50 need 1,000 milligrams of calcium and 200 international units (IUs) of vitamin D daily. Adults aged 50 and older need 1,200 milligrams of calcium and 400 to 600 IU of vitamin D (Source: Health). The best way to get these nutrients is through natural food sources. Try kale, spinach, soybeans, milk, and yogurt to get your daily dose of calcium. Foods that are rich in vitamin D include orange juice, egg yolks, salmon, tuna, and cheese.
Limit alcohol and soda
Studies have found that both alcohol and soda can contribute to bone loss. Occasional drinks are fine, but deration is key. Women should limit themselves to one alcoholic drink per day or 7 drinks per week, and men should have no more than two alcoholic drinks per day or 10 drinks per week. Keep soda drinking to a minimum and rely on water or low-fat milk to keep you hydrated.