It is estimated that over 200 million people have osteoporosis, a chronic metabolic bone disease that is marked by weak bones that lead to fractures and falls. Since there are strong correlations between genetics and osteoporosis as well as between aging and osteoporosis, many people wonder what they can do to prevent or prolong the condition from forming in their bodies. May is National Osteoporosis Awareness Month, so this article will explore what you can do now to boost your bone health with nutrition and exercise to fight off this debilitating condition.
What Is Osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is a condition that involves the deterioration of bone tissue and progressively lower bone density. These are major issues for the body because strong bones are needed to give the body strength and prevent fractures and serious injuries. It is most common among women, Caucasians, and older adults. The onset of the disease is often subtle and not even noticeable until a broken bone occurs.
Can Osteoporosis Be Prevented?
Certain aspects of life, such as getting older and going through menopause, inevitably lead to osteoporosis, even in individuals who are otherwise healthy. So, instead of trying to prevent osteoporosis from forming, a better strategy is to do what you can do delay its onset and lessen its severity. You can do this maintaining a strong and healthy body that is resistant to fractures from an early age. Some health professionals recommend medication for osteoporosis prevention and treatment as well, including calcium supplements, hormone treatments, and bisphosphonates available by prescription.
Improving Bone Health with Nutrition
Although you can’t necessarily prevent osteoporosis by just eating healthy, you can definitely help strengthen your bones with certain foods. Calcium is important for bone health and found most prevalently in dairy products. While many plant-based foods contain calcium too, it’s important to understand how well these sources of calcium are absorbed in the body.
For example, the body absorbs the calcium from kale and collard greens better than it does from spinach because spinach contains oxalic acid that decreases calcium absorption. It’s also important to get vitamin D in your diet because it aids the absorption of calcium in the body. If you have a dairy sensitivity, good sources of calcium are almond milk, calcium-fortified orange juice, and pumpkin seeds. Fish and nuts are great foods for bone health too.
The Role of Exercise and Bone Health
Exercise is also a key component to promoting bone health and preventing fractures associated with osteoporosis. Exercises that promote good posture and balance are useful in this regard and can go a long way if practiced regularly. Some of the best exercises for bone health are walking, climbing stairs, and dancing. Weight-bearing exercises that involve you putting body weight on your own bones are typically best for bone strengthening.
Also, incorporate strength training exercises that involve lifting weights to put strain on your bones and enhance their long-term strength. Meanwhile, Pilates and yoga are great for improving your balance and reducing your fall risk. Ultimately, the important thing is to get moving in a way that you are comfortable with and can have fun doing. Just check with your doctor to determine whether high-impact or low-impact exercises are best for strengthening your bones based upon your age and physical condition before starting a dramatically different exercise routine.