Osteoporosis is a condition that makes the bones fragile and more prone to breaking. Osteoporosis is not painful and because of this it often goes undetected until a fall or even a minor accident causes the bone to break, sometimes in such a way that causes disability.
Osteoporosis is usually associated with older people, especially women in menopause because the hormonal change causes the bones to loose their density and become brittle. However, even men and younger people can get it, so prevention is crucial.
The risk factors are different: family history, low level of oestrogen in women and testosterone in men, malfunctioning glands, use of certain medications like corticosteroids used to treat asthma and arthritis, a very low BMI, certain eating disorders such anorexia and bulimia, drinking and smoking, etc.
Treatment for osteoporosis only has minor benefits, usually medication is prescribed to help reinforce the bones but, in the case of osteoporosis, prevention is the best option.
What can we do to prevent osteoporosis?
Mainly two things: exercise more and add some foods to the diet.
Although any type of exercise is good, weight lifting is the best way to reinforce the bones, and I am not talking about heavy weight lifting or bodybuilding which have a different purpose.
By lifting the right amount of weight and at the right intensity, the muscle will contract pulling on the tendon that attaches it to the bone, stimulating the bone to get stronger in order to resist to the constant pulling. You can use machines or free weight, resistance bands or even just body weight. Even daily activities such as climbing stairs, carrying shopping, pushing or pulling heavy items or digging the garden, will help to keep your bones healthy (and will be good on the muscles too!).
Weight lifting is a completely safe activity but it is important that exercises are performed in the correct form to reduce the risk of injury.
If the condition of osteoporosis has already been diagnosed, talk to your doctor before engaging in any weight lifting exercise.
To help bones to remain healthy, we need to eat food rich in calcium and vitamin D. Calcium is found in dairy products like milk, yogurt, cheese etc., leafy green vegetables like cabbage, broccoli, spinach and kale, nuts, soya beans, tofu, sardines and many more.
Vitamin D is found in some foods like egg yolk, fatty fish (salmon, mackerel…) and beef liver however, it is unlikely that people can get the right amount of vitamin D just from food and so it is recommended to integrate with supplements. Also, the only way to absorb vitamin D is through sunlight, so make sure you expose the face and the arms for half an hour a day in the sun.