Yogurt for breakfast, salmon for dinner and a jog around the block all could help you fend off osteoporosis.
May is National Osteoporosis Awareness and Prevention Month — the perfect time to think about how you can best take care of your bones.
Here are some simple strategies for preventing osteoporosis:
Put Calcium on Your Menu
Osteoporosis occurs when your bones become weak and brittle, leaving you at risk of fractures that could be debilitating. Food plays a big role in bone health. You want to make sure you get enough calcium — low calcium intake can lead to low bone mass, rapid bone loss and high fracture rates, according to the National Institutes of Health. And you need vitamin D along with that calcium to absorb it best.
The National Osteoporosis Foundation suggests a diet that draws from these different areas:
- Calcium-rich foods: Low-fat dairy products, leafy greens, tofu, almonds, and salmon with bones are rich in calcium.
- Vitamin D foods: Fatty fish, egg yolks and liver offer good sources of vitamin D.
- Fruits and vegetables: Some do contain calcium, but even the ones that don't can benefit bones. Magnesium, potassium, vitamin C and vitamin K all contribute good nutrients.
- Fortified foods: Many foods, such as orange juice, cereals, snacks and bread, have calcium, vitamin D or both, which has been added to make them more nutritious.
A well-balanced diet should give you plenty of opportunities to meet these nutritional goals; however, if you have concerns, you may want to incorporate a multivitamin or supplement.
Avoid Food and Drink Saboteurs
Some foods and drinks can work against you and make it harder for your body to absorb calcium, the National Osteoporosis Foundation says. Beans, for example, are a healthy choice but contain phytates that interfere with calcium absorption. Soaking them and cooking them in fresh water can counter this.
Protein in meats also is good for bones, though too much can cause the body to lose calcium. You also want to avoid excess salt, which causes calcium loss as well.
For drinks, watch your intake of alcohol, caffeinated beverages and colas. Alcohol in particular can be dangerous because it may lower your calcium supply, and you also risk fractures if you fall while intoxicated.
Put Your Bones to Work
Exercise is great for bone health. Bone is living tissue that will become stronger when you work out, says the National Institutes of Health. Weight-bearing exercise is the best choice because you work against gravity. Try walking, hiking, jogging, stair-climbing, weight training, tennis or dancing.
Balance exercises also are good choices, because they will build muscle strength and help you prevent falls and potential fractures. The osteoporosis foundation provides instructions and examples of various exercises online.
We offer osteoporosis screening at Plantation General Hospital, and our Orthopedic Center provides a cutting-edge, comprehensive approach to treating injuries. If you have questions about osteoporosis or would like to make an appointment with a doctor, please call Consult-A-Nurse at 1-888-256-7724.