More common in older adults and postmenopausal women, osteoporosis is a condition that weakens your bones. Osteoporosis causes bones to lose their density and strength, making them more brittle and prone to fractures. Your bones can become so weak that even a misstep or minor fall can cause serious fractures and breaks.
Osteoporosis develops over the span of several years, so it usually occurs later in life. However, anyone is susceptible to developing the condition, especially if they:
- Smoke cigarettes
- Drink excessive amounts of alcohol
- Have an eating disorder
- Are malnourished
- Are of Caucasian or Asian descent
- Have Crohn's Disease
- Are small in stature
How strong your bones are at age 30 will determine your bone density for the rest of your life. After this age, your bones will naturally start to lose their density.
Most people in their 20’s don’t give a lot of thought to their later health. It’s hard to imagine the side effects of ageing when you’re young, vibrant, and healthy. So, if you didn’t spend time strengthening your bones in your 20’s and early 30’s, not all is lost. You can slow down the natural progression of bone loss at any age by adopting a healthy lifestyle. A balanced diet and moderate exercise can do wonders for improving your bone health and for reducing your risk of osteoporosis.
Best Diet for Osteoporosis
One of the best ways to improve your bone health is by getting enough calcium in your diet since calcium is an essential part of your bones. You should aim to consume at least 700-1000mg of calcium per day.
Foods rich in calcium:
- Milk, cheese, yoghurt, and other dairy products
- Leafy greens like curly kale
- Flour tortillas
- Edamame beans
Vitamin D is another essential vitamin for bone health because it helps your bones absorb calcium. The best and most cost effective source of vitamin D is through exposure to natural sunlight, but you can also get vitamin D from food sources.
Foods rich in Vitamin D:
- Oily fish
- Egg yolks
- Fortified cereals
- Beef liver
You should also include 5 portions of fruits and vegetables every day in your diet. Vegetables are an incredible source of 2 vitamins that protect bone cells from damage, vitamin C and vitamin K. These vitamins also improve bone mineral density and prevent them from becoming too brittle. Fruit and veg high in vitamin C and K are blackberries, pomegranates, tomatoes, onions, cabbage, and broccoli.
If you are unable to get enough calcium, vitamin K, or vitamin D into your diet from food alone, you can take supplements to help. Many cereals and dairy products are fortified with calcium, vitamin D, and other nutrients so you can start your mornings with a healthy boost for your bones.
Best Osteoporosis Exercises
Certain forms of exercise and physical activity can greatly strengthen your muscles and bones, while also improving your stability. It’s always beneficial to exercise regularly whether you’re at risk for osteoporosis or not, but it can be essential for post-menopausal women to improve their bone health.
Regular physical activity can increase your bone density and bone strength, improve your balance so you’re less likely to fall, reduce your risk of bone fracture, improve a stooped posture, and provide pain relief.
You don’t have to get a gym membership or go through gruelling exercise programmes to get these benefits. With bone health, low-impact activities can be quite beneficial. Many of these are enjoyable so they will end up being more like a hobby than a necessary chore. If one of these exercises doesn't work for you, there are several others you can try. The more you enjoy the activity, the more likely you are to stick with it.
Ideal exercises for bone health include:
- Strength training exercises
- Stability and balance exercises
- Weight-bearing exercises and aerobics
- Flexibility exercises
Strength training can be done with free weights, resistance bands, or your body’s own strength. You can also use weight machines at the gym. Be careful to not twist or tweak your spine with these exercises and ask for help to adjust any machines.
Weight bearing activities like walking, dancing, stair climbing, and gardening are perfect for bone health. At the gym, you should use the elliptical machines. These exercises improve the strength of your bones and will slow down any density loss. There are also great cardiovascular benefits to these exercises.
Stretches before and after exercise will improve your flexibility and will prepare your muscles for activity. Do them slowly, carefully, and avoid jumping or bending at the waist.
Because falls can cause serious damage to people with osteoporosis or weak bones, you should also try to improve your overall balance. Tai chi and certain balance exercises can help with this.
Before starting any exercise programme, speak with your GP. They will have a better understanding of what form of exercise would be best for your condition as well as which ones could be harmful. The advice of a physical therapist and personal trainer can also guide you.
If you have been diagnosed with osteoporosis or have been advised you’re at a high risk for developing it, there are several medications you can take to improve your bone density. For maximum results, you should continue with a bone-healthy diet and exercise routine alongside medication.
The most prescribed medications for osteoporosis are called bisphosphonates like Bonviva/Ibandronic Acid and Alendronic Acid/Fosamax daily. Bisphosphonates work by slowing down the progression of bone loss. You should have a noticeable increase in bone density after taking a bisphosphonate for at least 6-12 months.
You’ll need to have regular check-ins with your GP to monitor how well your medication is working. The average course of treatment is 3-5 years. After you stop taking bisphosphonates, your bones will still have up to 5 years of protection against severe bone density loss.
You can buy Bonviva/Ibandronic Acid Tabs and Alendronic Acid/Fosamax daily online in the UK from Pharmacy Planet.