Osteoporosis: It Can Happen to Anyone
Osteoporosis has become an epidemic in the United States. About 10 million people—80 percent of them women—suffer from the chronic condition that leads to debilitating and life-threatening fractures. What’s worse, the number of people with low bone mass—high risk for osteoporosis development— keeps growing. Some 34 million people now have low bone mass, and by 2025, osteoporosis-related fractures are expected to cost approximately $25.3 billion. The reasons for the increase are not yet clear, but research points to lifestyle and diet. The bony structure is built in childhood—and weight-bearing physical activity and proper nutrition are essential. Today’s children, however, spend most of their time sitting in front of TV sets or computer monitors and drink calcium-robbing sodas, instead of calcium-rich milk. The inactivity and calcium imbalance makes them more likely to develop osteoporosis.
Osteoporosis Screening: One of the most common bone diseases, osteoporosis is also one of the most preventable. Because osteoporosis is painless until a fracture actually occurs, bone density screening should be used to help diagnose the disease early on. The screening should be done every 2 years, especially in people with the following risk factors for osteoporosis development:
• Small frame
• Ovary removal or menopause by age 45
• Prolonged hormonal imbalances
• Known calcium and vitamin D deficiencies
• Insufficient physical activity
• White or Asian ancestry
• Excess caffeine intake (more than 3 cups per day)
• More than 2 alcoholic drinks per day
• Regular use of certain medications (glucocorticoids, thyroid hormone, anticonvulsants, and aluminum-containing antacids)
• History of eating disorders
The American Chiropractic Association recommends these tips for preventing and managing osteoporosis:
Exercise: Start a regular exercise program. Exercise puts stress on the bone and helps it strengthen and remodel. Exercise for at least 20 minutes 3 times a week. However, if you have had a fracture, fall frequently, or have osteoporosis, consult with your health care provider before starting any exercise program.
Tai Chi and other weight-bearing activities, such as jogging, walking, stair climbing, playing racquet sports, aerobics, and dancing, can be beneficial. These exercises improve flexibility and balance, reducing the risk of falling and fractures.
Resistance exercises that increase muscle mass and strengthen bones, such as weight lifting, are generally recommended.
Safety Precautions: Be careful when bending and lifting heavy objects, including children. When lifting, bend from the knees, not the waist, and try to avoid hunching over while sitting or standing. Remove throw rugs, electrical cords, and other objects you may trip on from the areas where you walk. Falls from a standing position for an osteoporosis patient often mean fractures.
Nutrition and Supplementation: Decrease consumption of foods high in phosphorus, such as soda, potato chips, hot dogs, bacon, beer, biscuits, crackers, white rice, liver, bologna and peanuts. Too much phosphorus decreases absorption of calcium and other minerals and weakens the bone. Calcium is essential to building and protecting the bones. Good sources of calcium are milk, cheese, yogurt, broccoli, kale, spinach, and rhubarb. A glass of milk and a cup of yogurt add 600mg of calcium to your daily diet.