Because osteoporosis is a “silent” disease, we need to be prepared ahead of time for the precursors of the disease. We cannot change the risk factors for the disease like ethnicity, gender, family history, age, or body size, but there are a few things that we can do to reduce the chances of developing osteoporosis, including:
- Be mindful of your medications. This is always a good idea. So many medications interact in a harmful way with each other, but they can also interact badly with some foods and herbal remedies, as well. Some medications can increase the risk of osteoporosis by interfering with the hormonal and nutrient transporting processes of the body.
- Stay active! Your activity level affects your bone health. The pounding that our bones take during exercise like walking or running helps them to build more bone cells called osteoclasts, which strengthens our bones.
- People suffering from anorexia nervosa are especially at risk because they are not getting enough of the nutrients that help build bones such as calcium, magnesium, vitamin D, phosphate, protein, and phytoestrogens.
- Avoid smoking. Smoking is harmful for bones as well as the heart and lungs.
- Keep your alcohol consumption to a moderate level. A drink a day will not harm your bones, but an overconsumption of alcohol will cause deteriorating bone density, which can lead to broken bones or bone cell loss.
- Find ways to keep your estrogen or testosterone levels high. Use foods to do this, because unnatural hormones can be harmful to the body.
- Take into account the things we can do every day to protect our bones: be careful when walking; get your eyes checked; keep rooms free of clutter; use handrails when climbing stairs; and don’t walk on slippery surfaces. These may seem obvious, but we can often forget these simple things because we are too busy. We usually don’t discover that we have osteoporosis until we have fallen and gotten an abnormal bruise, a fracture, or a completely broken bone.
Osteoporosis sneaks up on you silently. If you are unlucky enough to have developed it despite your best efforts, you may experience back pain from a fractured or collapsed vertebrae, a loss of height, stooped posture, or bones that fracture with only slight pressure.
Osteoporosis may be unavoidable, but you are not alone in having this condition. The National Osteoporosis Foundation states that, in the United States, low bone mass and osteoporosis affect 44 million men and women who are age 50 and older. Call the National Osteoporosis to find support groups in your area.