• November 26, 2020

STONE: Start early to prevent osteoporosis - Odessa American: Levi Stone

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STONE: Start early to prevent osteoporosis

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Posted: Sunday, June 7, 2020 4:30 am

Similar to how framing and beams offer support to homes and buildings, our skeletal system does the same to maintain support and structure for our bodies. And, just like a building’s structure, continuous upkeep is necessary to ensure bones remain the body’s pillar of strength we rely on daily. Bones also provide protection against otherwise vulnerable internal organs, leverage for movement, storage of vital minerals, and production of red blood cells.

Since bone is living tissue, there is a continual cycle of skeletal tissue breaking down and rebuilding new tissue in its place. When this cycle is altered, either by aging and/or certain medical conditions, bone loss can result and lead to a disease known as osteoporosis.

According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, 54 million Americans have osteoporosis and low bone mass. Approximately one in two women and up to one in four men age 50 and older will break a bone due to osteoporosis. Even if measures are taken to avoid breaking a bone, osteoporosis can limit mobility and overall quality of life. Because optimal bone production peaks in our mid to late 20’s, measures to prevent osteoporosis should start as soon as in our 30’s.

Other factors, besides age, can lead to additional bone loss over time. Common medications, such as aluminum-containing antacids, certain types of heartburn drugs known as proton pump inhibitors and thyroid medications are just a few that may contribute to bone loss. It’s important to visit with your healthcare provider to go over all medications you may be taking (including all prescription, over-the-counter, and herbal supplements) which may need to modified or changed to reduce your risks associated with osteoporosis.

The good news is that there are things we can do to slow down bone loss and minimize the risks for injury associated with osteoporosis. The two major focus areas are through diet and exercise. The concept of “food being our best medicines” holds truth and is no different when it comes to boosting our skeletal system. 

Powerhouse foods that are rich in vitamins and minerals are essential to optimize the bone’s ability to absorb, form, and maintain stronger tissue. Green, leafy vegetables are a great start, which contain higher concentrations of calcium and vitamin K. Other foods include, fatty fishes such as salmon which can have as high as 180 milligrams of calcium per serving, Almond butter (also rich in calcium but also potassium and protein as well). Citrus beverages, such as orange juice, not only contains calcium but are amped up with vitamin C (another bone loss preventer).

Don’t stop with diet alone. Exercise, particularly strength and weight bearing training, plays a pivotal role in maintaining bone density and strength. If there is any one thing that is the “fountain of youth” strength and weight bearing exercises are the closest thing to it. Just like your muscles, bones get stronger when you work them out.

Exercises that work against gravity when you move prompt the body to made more bone. The good news is you don’t have to be Mr. or Ms. Olympia to achieve beneficial results. Weight bearing exercise can include taking the stairs, walking, dancing, water aerobics, and even yoga.

Strength training encompasses activities such as weight lifting (which doesn’t always have to be in a gym), using elastic resistance bands, and/or doing moves that utilize your own body weight such as push-ups, squats, dips, and pull ups.

Lastly, take advantage of the time you do spend at appointments with your healthcare provider. Ask them if a bone density test may be needed to get a better understanding of what the current state of your bones might be in. This can also open up a conversation on what may be the best plan for you to ward off osteoporosis, prevent injury, improve mobility, and thus quality of life. Take these measures today to ensure osteoporosis doesn’t sneak up on you!

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