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Preventing Osteoporosis with Diet and Exercise

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Certain lifestyle practices could be putting you at increased risk for the bone degenerative disease knows as osteoporosis. About one in three women over the age of fifty will experience osteoporotic fractures, as will 1 in 5 men. Although osteoporosis is often a genetically linked condition, lifestyle factors play a major role in its progression. Preventing osteoporosis is all about a good diet and lifestyle programme.

 

The strength of our skeleton is determined by the mass of the bones, which is dictated by the degree of bone mineralization. Bone mineral density (BMD) increases throughout childhood and adulthood and reaches its peak between the ages of 30 and 35 years. After that, it begins a decline. From the ages of 55 to 70, women typically experience a 30-40% BMD loss.

 

In osteoporosis the BMD is reduced, bone micro architecture is disrupted, and the amount and variety of proteins in bone is altered. Osteoporosis is defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) in women as a bone mineral density 2.5 standard deviations below peak bone mass.

 

Osteoporosis is most common in post-menopausal women, because of the link between estrogen depletion and bone loss. Osteoporosis in men is often due to the presence of particular hormonal disorders and other chronic diseases or as a result of medications, specifically glucocorticoids.

Most women with osteoporosis do not know they have the disease until a minor accident causes a broken bone, often a wrist or hip. Osteoporosis is thus often refereed to as the “silent thief”. Preventing osteoporosis is about both optimising peak bone mass and slowing the decline. Lifestyle and nutrition play a very important role in preventing osteoporosis.

Are you at Risk for developing Osteoporosis?

Certain risk factors for osteoporosis such as family history, being female, being small boned, being of white or European decent, or being over the age of 50 are non-modifiable. Menopause and post menopause is a major risk factor for osteoporosis, and women in this stage of life need to be particularly vigilant about osteoporosis treatment. Other risk factors and risky behaviours include:

A low calcium diet

Most of the bone matrix is composed of calcium, and calcium deficiency has been linked to bone loss and osteoporosis. The National osteoporosis foundation recommends 1000mg calcium per day for adults under fifty years and 1200mg calcium per day for over fifties.

 

Dairy products are the richest sources of calcium but are not always the best choice for preventing osteoporosis. Dairy however, is low in magnesium, which is needed for optimum calcium absorption Combining dairy with magnesium rich foods like wholegrains (for example, cereal and milk) or green vegetables (for example, broccoli and cheese sauce), will enhance its absorption. Nuts, such as almonds and sesame seed contain calcium as do animal sources such as salmon and sardines (fish tinned with bones). Soya products are also a good source of calcium. Vegetables sources of calcium include spinach, broccoli, kale and turnip greens. However, the calcium found in vegetable sources is less available due to the presence of substances called oxalates, which can interfere with calcium absorption. An example

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