Osteoporosis is a debilitating, bone-cracking disease that afflicts millions of older people. It usually strikes as people reach their 60s. It affects both women and men, although it is more common in women.

The stats and osteoporosis

One in three women and one in five men will suffer a bone fracture caused by osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is called “the silent thief,” because you can’t feel your bones weakening and the first sign of the disease is often a fracture. This indicates the disease has already progressed extensively. Osteoporosis does not happen overnight, both men and women begin to lose bone at an equal rate in their mid-30’s. After menopause, however, women lose bone at a greater rate than men, from 2 to 3 percent per year.

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There are certain areas of the body that are much more prone to bone loss. The most common sites of osteoporosis bone fracture are the wrist, spine, shoulder and hip.

Prevention of osteoporosis

The good news is that osteoporosis can be prevented and treated with lifestyle changes. Medication can help considerably, but simple exercise programs are equally effective in preventing and restoring bone density. The best types of exercises are weight bearing types of exercise. These exercises put a stress load on the bones that functions to promote growth. It is also important to note the effect of diet upon bone density. Nutrition works in tandem with daily exercise to maintain bone density.

There are plenty of actions you can take to keep those bones healthy and strong as you age.

How to prevent and treat Osteoporosis

Here are a few tips:

1. Perform strength training exercises at your local gym–exercises that are proven bone-builders: squats, leg press, military press, standing overhead arm press.

2. Perform weight-bearing cardio exercises daily, such as: walking jogging, jumping rope, stair stepping.

3. Perform balance exercises daily. The most significant risk for people with low bone density is falling. This could lead to bone fractures and breaks. Balance exercises such as using a balance board will help.

4. Make sure to bone-up daily on calcium-rich foods such as non-fat dairy, almonds, canned salmon (with bones included), spinach, figs, butternut squash and spinach to name a few.

5. Take a calcium and vitamin D3 supplement (more on this later)

6. Avoid soda—a calcium-draining food.

7. Eat a more plant-based diet.

Calcium supplements: What to do?

We all want strong healthy, osteoporosis-proof bones, but we also want a healthy heart! With all the hoopla over calcium supplements potentially increasing the risk for heart attacks, what should one do? Your best bet is to aim for getting in your bone-building calcium from FOOD FIRST.  Supplement only when you fail to get in the recommended 1000 to 1200mg of calcium per day. Vitamin D should also be included in your calcium regimen. Vitamin D is obtained from sun exposure as well as dietary intake. As it is very hard to get enough Vitamin D from food alone—I suggest supplementing with 1,000 IU per day (under your doctor’s supervision).

Dr. Janet’s Rx:

• Aim for a calcium intake (supplements plus diet) of greater than 1,200 mg/day.

• Have your doctor assess your vitamin D status. If low, take 1,000 to 2,000 IU vitamin D3 daily (under your doctor’s supervision).

Strong bones are the hallmark of healthy ageing. To ensure that your golden years are truly golden, start today to practice the bone building tips described above!

 

(Image credit: parvuscenter, motherearthliving)

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