Simply put, Osteoporosis is a degenerative disease that tends to make bones less dense and therefore weaker and more susceptible to fractures. Calcium is what we generally think of when it comes to bone health but recent research has shown that isoflavones, which are found in soy foods, may also be important.
Osteoporosis is particularly seen in post menopausal women but can occur in men and with other causes such as cancer treatments.
Surprisingly, or maybe not, osteoporosis was seldom seen less than 100 years ago. So it would appear that our environment and especially our diet habits are what is affecting the prevalence of osteoporosis.
Here are some ways to help prevent osteoporosis and to keep your bones in good condition.
1. Optimize levels of Vitamin D
You need vitamin D in order to absorb calcium properly, which is why it is often a component of a calcium supplement, but sun exposure is a good way to get the optimal amount, as well. Early morning hours are best because the sun’s rays are less intense. Keep in mind that sunscreen blocks out up to 90% of the ability to produce vitamin D, so if skin cancer is a concern, a supplement may be best.
2. Stop smoking.
3. Decrease foods that are processed.
Breads, sugars and other processed foods should be eaten in moderation. Limit the use of soybean, corn and canola oils (these have omega 6 fatty acids rather than the better omega 3 fatty acids).
4. Increase your intake of foods that contain Omega 3 fatty acids.
This includes fish like salmon and sardines. (3 ounces of sardines also has slightly more calcium as one cup of milk – but seriously, who wants to eat that many sardines?) Nuts, olives, olive oil, fish oil and avocados are also good sources.
5. Increase your vitamin K intake.
Spinach, collard greens, and other green leafy vegetables are good sources for this vitamin.
Other fresh veggies to include as part of a healthy bone diet are tomatoes, cucumbers, bok choy, kale, chinese cabbage and garlic, parsley and green onions.
6. Raw white onions have high levels of famma-glutamyl peptides that have been shown to increase bone density.
7. In PRE-menopausal women, it’s a good idea to avoid gluten – which is found in wheat, oats, barley and rye.
Overall – adopting a low glycemic index diet is a good way to include many healthy food items.
8. In POST menopausal women, don’t overdo the calcium supplements.
Do not take calcium carbonate; a better choice would be calcium citrate or calcium hydroxyapaptite because they are absorbed more readily. Excess calcium can cause kidney or gallbladder stones and can interfere with the absorption of other important elements.
The supplement should be taken on an empty stomach and only 500mg at a time. (1000-1200 mg per day is the recommended dosage for menopausal women.)
9. Cut down on the acid reducers, as well.
Over the counter medications like Nexium, Prilosec, Prevacid, tagamet, etc. are recommended for a 6-8 week course only! When used long-term, they inhibit the absorption of minerals such as calcium, magnesium, and zinc which are all vital for good bone health.
10. Opt for less Pop
Carbonated beverages leach calcium from the bones and it is then discarded in your urine. They contain phosphates which like to bind with calcium and thus increases calcium loss.
11. Caffeine is another big culprit when it comes to decreasing the calcium in your bones.
12. Reduce stress.
Stress increases cortisol levels which can cause bone loss when the levels remain elevated for extended periods of time. Yoga, Tai Chi, meditation, massage (don’t we all love a good massage?), prayer, enough sleep, VACATIONS and support groups are good ways to decrease stress levels.
Strength training and resisitance baed exercise such as walking, bicycling, weight lifting (and I’m going to add ballet) as little as 15-30 minutes a day can aid in bone health. Move it! Move it! Move it!
14. Have your hormone levels checked.
It’s a good idea to know whether or not you are deficient in any or your hormone levels because a deficiency can be a risk for bone density loss. There may be more ways to combat a hormone deficiency than just by hormone replacement therapy.
Remember, it’s never too early or too late to begin practicing ways to maintain healthy bones.