Osteoporosis is far more of an epidemic in the US than most people think. Currently, there is an approximated 10 million people in the US suffering from osteoporosis. Around 80% of them are women. This chronic, debilitating condition can lead to disabling and even life-threatening breaks and fractures. Women over 80 are especially vulnerable to severe recourses from osteoporosis.
The frightening thing is that the numbers of osteoporosis sufferers keep growing. While the reasons are not fully understood, many indicators point to poor lifestyle and dietary habits. The inactivity of a society of children more engaged in television and video games than outdoor activities, combined with soft drinks and junk food, is seen as a large part of the increase in numbers.
While it is one of the most common bone diseases, it is also one of the most preventable as well. However, since osteoporosis does not typically show symptoms until a fracture or break occurs, the most effective way to prevent it is to get regular screening. The earlier the diagnosis, the easier it is to eliminate the concerns. Screening should typically be done once every two years or so, particularly in people who have risk factors, such as:
- Small body frame
- Ovary removal or menopause
- Calcium or vitamin D deficiency
- White or Asian descent
- Smoker or regular drinker (more than two drinks per day)
- Hormonal Imbalances
- Regular use of medications that may lead to osteoporosis
The reason screening and prevention is so important is because after the bone loss from osteoporosis sets in, it is irreversible. While it can be stabilized, improvement can only be made at that point through medications.
Preventing and Managing Osteoporosis
Per The American Chiropractic Association, they recommend the following tips to both prevent and manage the disease:
Exercise – Exercise puts various forms of stress on the bones and help to strengthen them. Exercise should typically be done for a minimum of 30 minutes 3 times each week. Of course, if you have osteoporosis already and have recently suffered from a break, fracture, or experience frequent falls, you should consult your healthcare provider prior to starting (or continuing) an exercise routine.
Moderate aerobics classes, such as yoga or Tai Chi, can be great ways to start out a routine. If you prefer outdoor activities, things such as walking, moderate jogging, or tennis can be great way to get the body active and improve bone density. You can even find things in your own household, such as climbing stairs or dancing to music. This type of exercise not only helps manage or altogether prevent osteoporosis, but it also improves balance and range of motion at the same time. This can help prevent future falls and bone fractures.
Foods such as soda, chips, hot dogs, bacon, beer, liver, bologna, and peanuts should be avoided, as should any other food that is high in phosphorous.
Increase your calcium intake. Good sources are milk (ideally low-fat), yogurt, cheese, spinach, broccoli, and kale.
In addition, while vitamin D is also good to increase, the best form of vitamin D you can get is from the sun. Spending as little as 10-15 minutes a day out in the sun can provide most people with adequate amounts of this vital nutrient.