What is Osteoporosis – And Am I At Risk?
Osteoporosis is a bone disease that affects roughly 10 million adults over 50 in the US. It is more common in older age and can be genetic – but can also be caused by lifestyle choices. This post explains more as to exactly what osteoporosis is and what causes it.
What is osteoporosis?
Just like our skin cells, our bone cells are constantly regenerating. Osteoporosis is a condition which causes our bones to regenerate at a slower rate, causing us to lose bone mass faster than our body is able to replace it.
This causes our bones to become weaker and more brittle. Small knocks and falls that might have once led to a bruise can end leading to painful fractures. Exercise can become more difficult and every day tasks like carrying heavy bags may even become more challenging. There is even a link between hearing loss and osteoporosis caused by the breakdown of small bones in the ear.
There is no treatment for osteoporosis and it typically gets worse over time. Most people who have osteoporosis have to learn to live with it.
Who is at risk?
Women are more likely to develop osteoporosis – especially white and Asian women over the age of 50. Osteoporosis is also more likely to develop if you have a family member who suffers from this condition.
However, your lifestyle could also increase your risk of developing osteoporosis. Poor diet, lack of exercise, lack of sunlight and bad habits like smoking and heavy drinking can all increase one’s risk.
How to prevent osteoporosis
There is no certain way to avoid developing osteoporosis. However, there are lifestyle changes that you can make to reduce the risk of contracting this disease…
Exercise doesn’t just help to strengthen your muscles, but also your bones. If you live a sedentary life, you could be more at risk of developing osteoporosis. Those that are physically active and are more likely to have strong bones long into old age.
Smoking is damaging to literally every part of your body. It can help speed up osteoporosis by restricting blood flow to bones, slowing down bone cell regeneration. Quit smoking in order to save your bones.
Watch how much you drink
Heavy drinking is also bad for pretty much every part of your body. Alcohol interferes with the production of vitamin D and testosterone, which are both necessary for bone mass regeneration. This in turn leads to osteoporosis. By drinking in moderation, you could prevent this.
Get some sun
Vitamin D is an important nutrient for our bones. Exposure to the sun causes our bodies to naturally produce vitamin D. If you’re not going outside regularly, you won’t be producing enough of this vitamin, leading to weakened bones. Try to spend some time outside during daylight hours every day if you can..
Eat calcium-rich foods
Calcium is also an important nutrient for our bones. It’s important that you’re getting enough calcium in your diet so that your bones stay strong. Dairy is the best source of calcium, but if you don’t consume dairy you can still get your fix of calcium by consuming plant-based milks with fortified calcium or eating lots of leafy greens (specifically curly kale and okra).