(As you know, I am not a medical professional and anything I talk about is my own opinion and I may back it up with information from the sites I frequent. Please make sure you talk to your medical team for any professional opinions you may need.)
What is Osteoporosis and how can I avoid getting it?
According to Healthline.com, Osteoporosis is a bone disease where the bone loses strength and density because the spaces have increased within the bone (as seen in the images above). This often occurs in people of any age, but is more common in adults (especially women) over the age of 50 and some men over 70. These people have the unfortunate possibility of breaking bones, especially hips, ribs, wrists and spine. Not something any of us want to experience! Hips, in particular, are a serious issue as once the hip is broken other conditions can set in which can have fatal results.
Unfortunately, you probably won’t know you have osteoporosis unless something happens to a bone, but there are some early symptoms that might appear, such as receding gums, weakened grip strength, and/or weak and brittle nails. And without some kind of treatment, it can worsen because bones will get thinner and weaker, increasing the risk of fracture.
Some causes of this disease are: age, menopause, medical conditions, and medications. Your risk factors increase if you are: female; an older adult; Caucasian or Asian; have a family history of osteoporosis; poorly nourished; inactive; a smoker; on certain medications; someone of low body weight and small-boned framed. Improving your diet and starting an exercise program can have positive effects on your bone health.
There are many medications that can help, but those things I leave up to you and your medical team to both suggest and take appropriate action with. Your doctor/medical professional may suggest increased intake of calcium and vitamin D. Please be careful with the addition of calcium to your diet as there are known unwanted side effects that can happen with this supplement, including additional risk of heart attack/stroke, and kidney stones. The prescription medications can also have some nasty side effects, so it is prudent on your part to make sure to discuss these with your medical team.
There are also natural treatments for Osteoporosis in the supplement area, such as red clover, soy (maybe not for ladies in particular), and black cohosh. Make sure to speak with your medical team/pharmacist to ensure you aren’t taking something that could either interact with these supplements, or that could have other unwanted side effects.
To check for osteoporosis, you can have a bone density test that your doctor can arrange. The test is called a bone densitometry, or dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) that uses X-rays to measure your bone density in your wrists, hips, or spine. The test only takes about 10-30 minutes and is totally painless. I’ve had several of these over my life time.
Dietary wise, you can help strengthen your bones by including natural calcium and vitamin D from your food sources, as well some other nutrients to help bone health are protein, magnesium, vitamin K, and zinc. You can go to Dr. Axe’s web site for an Osteoporosis diet plan with the appropriate foods and some natural treatments to help you. Some of the foods include: raw cultured dairy like Kefir, yogurt, raw cheese; wild-caught fish such as salmon; sea vegetables like nori, wakame, agar, or kombu that are high in minerals critical for bone formation; green leafy vegetables that are full of vitamin K and calcium; and alkaline foods such as plenty of fruits and vegetables because your osteoporosis could be caused by an acidic body environment and these promote a more alkaline environment. I regularly consume collagen in my water to help with bone, skin, hair and nails.
Exercise is vital in helping maintain your bone density. Some of these include: climbing stairs; resistance training like leg presses, squats, push-ups; weight training using resistance bands, dumbbells, or resistance exercise machines. But, please make sure to check with your medical team to ensure it is OK to do these or any type of exercise.
How can you prevent osteoporosis? Unfortunately, once this disease gets started, it’s not that easy to correct, if at all. It can be prevented by getting plenty of calcium and vitamin D; do weight bearing exercises, stop smoking (if you currently do); and for women in particular, find out if hormone therapy is appropriate for you.
Update – Feb. 2019: With stem cell therapy becoming more common these days, it seems it might provide a solution for some people with this condition. Always check with your medical team when thinking of doing anything with your body!
I hope this information is of some value to you. I know it sure is for me and some of my friends and family.
Have a wonderful rest of your day and week ahead.