Did you know that osteoporosis; a bone disease has caused more disabilities than many cancers and chronic conditions? A decrease in bone density and reduction in bone quality can increase your risk of fractures. Fracture rates have gone up three fold (over the last 30 years) in Asia and India tops this chart!
World Osteoporosis Day is observed every year on October 20 and is organized by International Osteoporosis Foundation to raise awareness on the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of osteoporosis and metabolic bone disease worldwide. Osteoporosis causes a reduction in the density and quality of the bones, which increases the risk of fractures.
Are you at risk?
Being aged above 50 years, menopause, family history of osteoporosis, being underweight or thin, deficiency of vitamin D and calcium, inactive lifestyle, smoking and too much alcohol, high protein, caffeine and sodium intake are some risk factors which can expose you to developing osteoporosis.
Protect your bones while you can
Although we cannot do anything about some of these risk factors, lifestyle and diet are modifiable and can help in reducing the risk of osteoporosis and strengthen our bones.
1. Exercise Regularly: Practise moderate impact weight-bearing exercises like jogging, hiking, brisk walking and high impact weight-bearing like rope skipping, racquet sports for at least 30 minutes, 3-5 days per week.
2. Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle: Stop smoking, reduce your alcohol intake and maintain a healthy weight to reduce the risk of fracture.
3. Consume Bone Healthy Nutrients: Regular intake of dairy foods such as milk, yogurt, and cheese, some vegetables like broccoli, apricots, fish like sardines keep your calcium and protein levels to maintain a good bone health. Vitamin D is another important nutrient obtained from sunlight and some foods like egg yolk, salmon, and tuna.
Since nutrition is an important “modifiable” factor in the development and maintenance of bone mass and in the prevention of osteoporosis, we list here some dietary modifications which are advised for healthy and strong bones:
- Dairy foods: Dairy foods are an excellent source of several essential nutrients that work together to help protect bones, including calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, proteins, and vitamin D. Three servings of low-fat or fat-free milk, yogurt or cheese every day as part of an overall healthy diet is ideal for bone health and can reduce the risk of osteoporosis.
- Vegetables: Getting enough calcium is necessary for stronger bones. Vegetables that are rich in calcium include green leafy vegetables, mustard greens, broccoli, fennel, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, asparagus, peppermint leaves, and garlic.
- Pulses and cereals: Pulses and cereals are also essential for bone health as these are rich sources of minerals and proteins. These include soy foods, green beans, white beans, black-eyed peas, baked beans, and sesame seeds.
- Salt: Salt speeds up the body’s loss of calcium. The recommended limit of salt consumption is 6 g/day, which is just a teaspoonful. Crisps, cheese, cooking sauces and processed foods such as pies, pizzas, and soups are all high in salt. Hence, it is ideal to stick to the recommended limit of salt consumption for bone health.
- Alcohol: Long-term alcohol consumption can interfere with bone growth and replacement of old bone tissue (remodeling), resulting in decreased bone density and increased risk of fracture. Hence, limiting alcohol consumption is beneficial to keep the bones strong and healthy.
- Caffeine: Coffee, tea, and soft drinks (sodas) contain caffeine, which may decrease calcium absorption and contribute to bone loss. Drinking more than 3 cups of coffee every day may interfere with calcium absorption and cause bone loss. Therefore, moderate consumption of these drinks is ideal for bone health.
The simple dietary and lifestyle changes can increase energy levels, enhance mobility and bone mass, and help keep the bone healthy!
- World Health Organization. Accessed Oct 7, 2015.
- International Osteoporosis Foundation. Accessed Oct 8, 2015.
- National Institute Of Health. Accessed Oct 8, 2015.