Are you looking after your bone health?
Osteoporosis is a condition that affects the bones, causing them to become weak. Most commonly seen in older people, especially women, the condition can cause significant worry. But the risks of developing the disease can be reduced by investing in your bone health from an early age.
So what exactly is osteoporosis, what causes it and how can we best look after our bone health? To mark this years’ World Osteoporosis Day, let’s find out…
What is osteoporosis?
Also known as brittle bone disease, osteoporosis is a serious condition that makes the bones fragile and more likely to break or fracture after trips, falls and bumps.
It’s often a so-called silent disease, as it develops slowly over the years, and often the first sign someone might know they have it, is when they break a bone after a seemingly small fall or knock. Osteoporosis isn’t a painful disease, until a bone is broken.
The most common bones that are broken in someone with osteoporosis are the wrist, hip, spinal, arm and pelvic bones. Sometimes, however, an earlier sign of the condition is a characteristic stoop, or bending forward from the back.
What causes osteoporosis?
Loss of bone density is a normal part of the aging process, especially so after females have been through menopause. Menopause causes a loss of the hormone estrogen, which in turn leads to weakened, more brittle, less dense bones.
Osteoporosis is more common in women over 50, but younger women and men, and children of all ages can still develop the condition.
Other factors that are linked to developing osteoporosis later in life include taking high-dose steroids over a long period of time, certain medications such as those for breast cancer, a lack of regular exercise, smoking, drinking excessive amounts of alcohol and having had anorexia or bulimia. A close family member having the condition can mean that you have a greater risk of also having it.
Can osteoporosis be treated?
Osteoporosis can be treated with bone-strengthening medications that either slow down the rate at which your bone cells are broken down or work in the same way as estrogen to protect the bones.
Your doctor will discuss treatments with you if you have osteoporosis and your treatment will depend on your age and personal circumstances as well as results from blood tests and bone scans.
Can osteoporosis be prevented?
Just like the health of any other part of our body, our bones can be looked after with the right diet and plenty of exercise.
Foods that are rich in calcium and vitamin D, such as low-fat dairy products, fortified cereals and green, leafy vegetables are great bone health supporting foods.
Regular exercise, with a mix of aerobic exercise such as walking, jogging, running, cycling and swimming combined with weight-bearing exercises is ideal. Aim for 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic exercise a week, along with at least two sessions of weight bearing. Weight bearing doesn’t have to mean lifting weights. It can also mean using your own body weight such as during squats and lunges and even yoga practice.
Vitamin D supplements and natural bone health supplements such as BoneBoost from Nature Restore can also help to protect your bones and help to prevent breaks and fractures.
It’s never too early, or too late, to be thinking about your bone health, so follow our tips here and help to protect your future self from developing brittle bones.