Bone diseases may not get as much attention as other major diseases, including cancer, diabetes and heart disease, but they are common in the United States.
Osteoporosis is a bone health disease that affects one in two Americans over age 50. Roughly 4 in 10 white women over 40 will experience a spine, hip or wrist fracture sometime in the remainder of their lives. Nearly 10 million individuals over 50 years of age have osteoporosis of the hip, while an additional 33.6 million over 50 have low bone density or “osteopenia” of the hip, thus putting them at risk of osteoporosis and associated complications later in life.
Osteoporosis causes bones to become brittle and weak. People with osteoporosis are more susceptible to injury. For example, fall risk is more significant in people with osteoporosis as bone fractures are more likely. A mild stress from sneezing or coughing can cause a fracture as well.
Fractures can happen in any part of the body but for those with osteoporosis, the wrists, hips and spine are the most commonly affected areas.
What Causes Osteoporosis?
Our bones are comprised of collagen (protein), calcium salts and other materials. There is an outer shell covering an inner mesh of bone that looks like honeycomb, known as trabecular bone. The bones in our bodies are alive and change over the course of our lives.
When bone is worn out, it is broken down by cells called osteoclast cells and is replaced by cells that build bone known as osteoblasts. This process occurs pretty quickly when we are young, as it only takes two years for the whole skeleton to renew itself, but by the time we are 35, our bones begin to lose their density, weakening gradually as we age. This can lead to osteoporosis in some people.
Several factors can lead to the development of osteoporosis, including:
- Alcohol consumption
- Malabsorption problems
- Thyroid problems
- Inflammatory conditions
It has been said that osteoporosis only affects people who are older; however, bone damage can begin at an early age as well. This is why it is important to take extra care of your bone health. One way you can do this is by eating the right diet.
Diet and Osteoporosis
Although medication is typically the primary treatment for osteoporosis, diet can play a critical role in the prevention and treatment of the condition. The food you eat can have an impact on your bones. Foods rich in vitamin D, calcium and other nutrients can keep your bones healthy. Making the right food choices every day can make a world of difference when it comes to bone health and osteoporosis, whether you have been diagnosed with the condition or are at risk of developing it.
Calcium is an important mineral for building strong bones – and strong teeth. The human body contains around 2.2 pounds of calcium with 99 percent of it being found in the bones.
Most adults need at least 1,00mg of calcium every day. The recommended upper limit, however is 2,500 mg each day for adults 19 to 50, while those 51 and older should not exceed 2,000 mg each day without consulting with a doctor.
It is fairly easy to get the recommended amount of calcium each day through diet alone, although some people may be recommended to take calcium supplements.
Strive to incorporate the following foods in your daily diet to ensure you get the right amount of calcium.
Foods like milk, cheese, yogurt, cream, etc. are brimming with bone-strengthening calcium, which is a critical nutrient for building bones that are healthy.
Opt for orange juice that is fortified with calcium for the best bone-health-boosting benefits.
Leafy greens are filled with calcium. Try to incorporate greens, such as broccoli, spinach, cabbage, fennel, okra and methi into your diet for optimal benefits.
Other foods to add to your diet for more calcium include:
- Dried apricots and figs
- Sesame seeds
- Soy products
- Fish with small edible bones, such as sardines
- Calcium-fortified breakfast cereals
Vitamin D is an important mineral as it helps the body absorb calcium. Most of the vitamin D that humans get is made by the body when skin is exposed to sunlight. Try to get about 10 minutes of sunlight twice a day without sunscreen, while the sun is shining.
You can also get vitamin D by incorporating the following foods in your diet for osteoporosis:
- Fortified breakfast cereals
- Powdered milk
- oily fish like salmon and sardines
- Vitamin D supplements
Other Foods for an Osteoporosis Diet
There are plenty of other foods in addition to the above that you can add to your diet to ensure better bone health.
Ragi can increase calcium levels in the bones. It contains about 330 to 350 mg of calcium per 100 grams, improving your bone health overall.
Dates are filled with not only calcium but also copper and manganese, each of which play a significant role in your overall health, including your bone health.
Fresh fruits, including oranges, pineapples, bananas, strawberries, bananas, grapes, guavas and more are filled with vitamin C, which work hard to strengthen your bones.
Foods to Limit for Osteoporosis
In addition to ensuring you get a balanced diet of foods that are bone-healthy, there are many foods you should avoid if osteoporosis is a concern in your life.
Eating too much salt can lead to a loss of calcium, which weakens your bones over time. Furthermore, diets high in salt can lead to heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure.
Although it is not as damaging as salt, caffeine can have a detrimental effect on bone density. Strive to limit your caffeine intake to about 300mg each day – but be sure to make certain you get enough calcium daily as well.
Many carbonated beverages (especially soft drinks) contain phosphoric acid, which is known to increase calcium excretion during urination. This is especially problematic for people who have an already low calcium intake.