Osteoporosis is a health condition that weakens our bones and leaves us at high risk for fractures. Osteoporosis causes the spaces inside the bones to lose strength and density, and the bone becomes thin and weak. Hip, spine, and wrist fractures are among the most common.
As you get older, your risk of osteoporosis increases. But this isn’t an illness that only affects the elderly—it can actually strike at any age. In fact, osteoporosis is often referred to as a silent disease because it slowly weakens bones over time. It leaves many unaware of its presence until experiencing a broken bone. Your doctor may discover that your bone mass is lower than it should be (this is sometimes referred to as osteopenia). In this case, you’re going to want to incorporate some diet and lifestyle changes to strengthen your bones and prevent the onset of osteoporosis.
Whether your bones are healthy or not, it’s never too late to be proactive about your bone health. No matter how old or young you may be, there’s a lot you can do to prevent the onset of osteoporosis. Here are a few areas to focus on:
Exercise is crucial to keeping your bones healthy and strong, while also strengthening your muscles and improving balance. All of which are important for preventing injury and avoiding falls. Aim to do weight-bearing and resistance exercises at least three to four days per week. You have a lot of options for weight-bearing exercise, including walking, running, hiking, dancing, tennis, yoga, and stair-climbing. You can use free weights, weight machines, elastic resistance bands, push-ups, bodyweight exercises, or even exercise in water.
To prevent osteoporosis, it’s important to eat a well-balanced diet that includes plenty of foods that are rich in calcium and vitamin D. Calcium is a mineral that helps the body build and maintain strong bones. If there isn’t enough calcium in your diet, your body may take calcium from your bones. Yogurt, milk, sardines, collard greens, beans, tofu, and whey protein are all great sources of calcium to include in your meals and snacks.
Vitamin D is important to bone health because it helps your body absorb and regulate calcium levels. Salmon and other fatty fish, egg yolks, mushrooms, cheese, and fortified milk are all good sources of vitamin D.
Being underweight puts you at risk for osteoporosis, so you’ll need to make sure you’re eating enough and maintaining a healthy weight. Repeated weight loss and restrictive diets that aren’t high enough in calories, calcium, vitamin D, and protein can stress and weaken your bones.
Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle
Eating a well-balanced diet, maintaining a healthy weight, and staying active are all important in lowering your risk of osteoporosis. You’ll also want to stay away from smoking and heavy drinking, as drinking more than two alcoholic drinks each day and smoking both put you at risk for bone loss.
Pay Attention to Risk Factors
Some factors increase your risk of developing osteoporosis. These include, but aren’t limited to:
- A family history of osteoporosis or broken bones
- Early menopause
- Breaking a bone after age 50
- Long periods of physical inactivity or bed rest
- Having a small frame
It’s important to speak with your doctor about these risk factors and to make an effort to incorporate healthy practices that might minimize your risk of developing the disease.
If you would like to meet with a knowledgeable doctor, consider contacting Women’s Health Arizona. As Arizona’s largest ObGyn group, we’re trained and solely dedicated to delivering the best ObGyn experience in convenient and comfortable settings around Phoenix.