Many of us have no clue about the true state of our bone health until a bone breaks. HEALTH investigates osteoporosis and how we can make key lifestyle changes now to avoid this disease.
Osteoporosis, explains Dr. Pamela Leader, a chiropractor in Dubai and Vice President of the Emirates Chiropractic Association, is a skeletal disorder characterized by compromised one strength predisposing a person to an increased risk of fracture. “This is a slow developing condition of the bones, which has no symptoms until it is too late to treat,” she says and in its latter stages, results in fractures of the hip bone, wrist or spinal bones. However, the good news is that it can usually be prevented by lifelong lifestyle measures if you understand and implement them early enough.
Women More Prone
Basically, due to the hormonal changes that begin to occur in the premenopausal years when estrogen levels begin to fall in women, Dr. Leader points out that the effects of bone loss are more marked. “They can lose 20 percent to 30 percent of their trabecular bone and 5 percent to 10 percent of their cortical bone during this accelerated phase and the loss continues slowly thereafter,” she says and even though men also suffer from osteoporosis, because they have larger longer bones to begin with, and no huge hormonal changes, their bones usually weaken later and more slowly.
Lifestyle Factors to Help Achieve Stronger Bones
According to Dr. Leader, from about the age of 35, you gradually lose bone density. This is a normal part of aging, but for some people it can lead to osteoporosis and an increased risk of fractures. Reaching a good bone mass during the late teens, therefore, says Dr. Leader, is paramount and suggests the following tips:
Consume a well-balanced diet, which contains adequate calcium and protein together with enough, but not too much exercise and good rest.
• Many avoidable lifestyle choices also have a huge impact on your bone strength throughout life. Smoking, inactivity, excessive caffeine, or eating disorders like anorexia nervosa and bulimia can also reduce your bone strength in the long run.
• Although exercise is vital for the development of peak bone mass in childhood and adolescence, excessive and elite level exercise undertaken in the adolescent years may have detrimental effects on the attainment of peak bone mass.
• Vitamin D is also crucial in preventing osteoporosis therefore include a little sunshine in the cooler hours of the day for vitamin D production together with regular daily resistance exercise can go a long way towards preventing osteoporosis.
• Get yourself tested for vitamin D deficiency if you are around the menopausal age or have had significant risk factors during your life