An estimated 54 million Americans suffer from osteoporosis or low bone density. According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, approximately half of all women and a quarter of all men over the age of 50 will break a bone from this disease. However, the good news is that there are steps you can take to protect yourself against osteoporosis. The staff at Greene County Medical Center want you and your loved ones to live an osteoporosis-free life through simple, proactive prevention. By maintaining awareness, catching and treating the health problems that may cause bone loss, you can improve your overall bone health.
Discover 14 tactics Greene County Medical Center recommends to reduce your osteoporosis risk:
1. Schedule a bone density test. A bone density test is the only test that can diagnose osteoporosis before a broken bone occurs. It will alert you to whether you should be concerned about your bones or if you have osteoporosis. Bone density testing estimates the density of bone in your spine, hip and other bones. These results will allow your health care provider to offer appropriate recommendations to help you protect your bones.
2. Maintain a healthy weight. Managing a healthy weight plays a critical role in maintaining and building good bone health for people in every stage of life. Being overly thin or over-exercising to remain thin weakens your bones and, therefore, puts you at a greater risk of osteoporosis. Speak to your health care provider about what your healthy weight should be.
3. Exercise. Managing a consistent workout routine is crucial in protecting against osteoporosis. Exercise will benefit your bones at every age and stage of life. However, you gain the most benefits when you begin regularly exercising in your younger years and continue to exercise throughout your life. There are two important types of exercise for building and maintaining bone density:
- Weight-bearing exercises. These exercises can be high-impact or low-impact, and include exercises that have you move against gravity while staying upright. Examples of weight-bearing exercises include:
- Jumping rope
- Stair-step machines
- Fast walking on a treadmill
- Muscle-strengthening exercises. Also known as resistance exercises, these workouts include activities where you move your body, weights, or other resistance against gravity. Muscle-strengthening exercises include:
- Lifting weights
- Using weight machines
- Utilizing elastic exercise (resistance) bands
- Lifting your body weight
4. Eat a well-balanced diet. The food that you digest can highly affect your bones. Understanding which foods are rich in calcium, vitamin D and other nutrients is important for your bone health - and your overall health, too. Nutrient-rich foods for a well-balanced diet include plenty of fish, dairy, fruits and vegetables. You should get your necessary daily nutrients through these foods, but if you find you are not consuming the recommended amount, you may need to take supplements or multivitamins to complement your diet.
5. Start a daily yoga practice. Gradually incorporating yoga into your routine can help improve your strength, balance and flexibility, therefore reducing your risk of falls and broken bones. In a pilot study conducted in Topics in Geriatric Rehabilitation, patients experiencing bone loss who integrated 10 minutes of daily yoga for two years saw increased bone density in their spines and hips.
6. Watch your medications. Some medicines can have a strong, harmful impact on your bones. Even if you are taking them for another condition, bone density loss increases while taking medications in high doses or over a long period of time. Speak to your health care provider regarding the risks and benefits of any medications you take, and discuss how they affect your bones.
7. Avoid broken bones. A loss of bone density increases your susceptibility to breaks. Half of arm breaks treated in the ER are for injuries near the top of the bone, often linked to falls. The majority of these breaks are in women 45 and older. There are a variety of home safety measures you can implement to prevent broken bones, such as installing night lights throughout your home and clearing clutter that could cause you to trip.
8. Receive adequate amounts of calcium. It is extremely important to receive the right amount of calcium daily to protect and increase bone health throughout your life. According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, men and women between 18 and 50 years old need 1,000 milligrams of calcium a day. This daily amount increases to 1,200 milligrams once women turn 50 and men turn 70. Good sources of calcium include:
- Low-fat dairy products
- Dark green leafy vegetables
- Canned salmon or sardines with bones
- Soy products, such as tofu
- Calcium-fortified cereals and orange juice
9. Get enough Vitamin D. Vitamin D plays a significant role in absorbing the calcium needed to protect your body and your bones. Adults need vitamin D to keep their bones strong and healthy while children need it to build strong bones. If you do not receive enough vitamin D, you may have lower bone density and become more likely to break bones as you continue to age. There are three main ways to get the vitamin D needed:
10. Skip pop. Studies have suggested that the caffeine and phosphorus commonly found in colas, but not other soft drinks, can be associated with bone density loss. Like calcium, phosphorous works to build strong bones and teeth. Consuming too much, however, can be harmful to your bone health.
11. Reduce caffeine intake. Coffee and tea containing caffeine decrease calcium absorption and contribute to bone loss. Choose these drinks in moderation. It is recommended to have no more than 300 mg a day, or about two or three 8-ounce cups of coffee. Other sources of caffeine include sports drinks, supplements and certain medications.
12. Throw out the cigarettes. Smoking through adolescence and into your 30s and 40s directly affects your body’s ability to produce the right amount of bone mass. Bone density loss becomes more rapid as you age and using tobacco products increases the likelihood of fractures.
13. Limit alcohol use. Heavy drinking contributes to many health risks, including bone density loss. Research has shown that excessive alcohol consumption during the adolescent and young adult years can dramatically affect bone health and increase the risk for osteoporosis later in life. Alcohol interferes with the pancreas, which in turn affects the absorption of vitamin D and calcium. Limit your alcohol intake to no more than 2 - 3 drinks per day.
14. Know what other health conditions affect your possibility of osteoporosis.There are numerous health problems that may increase the possibility of osteoporosis. Speak with your health care provider about the options available to keep your bones healthy if you or a loved one have any of the following conditions or diseases:
- Autoimmune disorders
- Digestive and gastrointestinal disorders
- Endocrine/hormonal disorders
- Hematologic/blood disorders
- Neurological/nervous system disorders
- Mental illness
Osteoporosis and broken bones are not a normal part of aging, and you are never too old nor too young to start protecting and improving the health of your bones. Take the first step by scheduling an appointment with one of our certified radiology technologists today!