Friday, 28 February 2014

Reducing Your Risk of Getting Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is a condition where your bones weaken. Rather than being dense and sturdy structures, they become porous and fragile. This leads to fractures. The most common fractures are the hips, the spine, and the wrists. Hip and spinal fractures, as you might imagine, can be debilitating and take years to recover from.

So what are you doing to make sure your bones are strong and healthy all through your life? As we age, we begin to lose bone mineral density. This puts our bones at a greater risk for fracture and we’re talking about life threatening fractures like the hip and spine.

If you’re under 30 you may not think much about your bone health and osteoporosis. However, now is the perfect time to take action. You can increase bone strength and density up to age 30. After age 30, you start to lose bone density. 

There are certain populations that are at a greater risk for osteoporosis. If you’re in these risk groups then it’s even more important to take action to build strong bones or to take steps to reduce bone loss.
  • Female – Women get osteoporosis more often than men.
  • Age – You start losing bone mass after age 30. After age 40 the loss increases to around .5% a year.
  • Body Type – If you weigh less than 127 or have a small frame, you’re at a greater risk.
  • Ethnicity – Caucasian and Asian women are at highest risk.
  • Family history – There is a genetic link for osteoporosis. If a family member has been diagnosed with osteoporosis, you have a greater chance of being diagnosed as well.
  •  Eating disorders - Anorexia nervosa and bulimia can both lead to osteoporosis.
  •  Smoking – Studies have shown that cigarette smoking reduces bone density.
  • Alcohol consumption – If you have more than two alcoholic beverages a day, there’s a link to osteoporosis.

The good news is that you can take simple and easy steps to strengthen your bones. The two key nutrients to focus on are calcium and vitamin D. The following foods are jam packed with both and make a nice addition to your daily diet.
  • Dairy Products – Cow’s milk dairy is high in both calcium and vitamin D. If you cannot have dairy, look for fortified non-dairy products like soy milk and almond milk.  Cheese and yogurt are good dairy sources too.
  • Fish – Many types of fish have both calcium and vitamin D. Herring, trout, tuna, salmon, sardines, and mackerel are just a few to consider trying.
  • Beans – Beans are a good source of calcium. Try lentils, navy, black, and pinto.
  •  Nuts and Seeds – Nuts and seeds like hemp, almonds, and walnuts are very nutrient dense foods. They not only contain calcium but also many other essential minerals and healthy fats.
  • Dark Leafy Greens – If you enjoy salads then you’ll be pleased to learn that the kale, collards, and spinach you’re eating also contain calcium.

Remember that any food that is fortified will also likely contain a good amount of both vitamin D and calcium. Fortified orange juice is a tasty way to start your day and strengthen your bones.

Adding a few of these foods to your daily diet isn’t difficult. Choose your favourites and enjoy delicious meals and stronger bones. 

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