Nutrition and paying attention to your diet can help alleviate or prevent conditions and ailments, including osteoporosis. This, together with a range of natural therapies, is becoming increasingly popular as a complement to traditional medical treatments.
Dietitians, nutritionists and everyone else in the healthcare industry agree that diet is crucial in enabling the body to fight infection and keep the body's immune system functioning at its optimum. Including the necessary vitamins and minerals in your diet is also crucial in enabling essential processes and cell growth to occur.
What is Osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is a disease characterised by a gradual deterioration of bones, losing their ability to regenerate and becoming brittle. It is a notoriously difficult condition to diagnose, as there are often few or no symptoms. The first sign is typically after a patient breaks a bone after a fall or an accident. Women are more susceptible than men to the condition, which is thought to result from reduced levels of hormones in the blood after menopause.
What is Nutrition?
Nutrition is essentially paying attention to your diet and the type of foods that you consume on a regular basis. This is typically referred to as a balanced diet, and it includes selected portions of certain food groups while limiting or avoiding others. Foods to include in your diet include fresh fruit and vegetables, wholegrain cereals and breads, pulses, lean meats, dairy and plenty of fluids―especially water. Foods to avoid or limit in your diet include refined sugars, sodium, alcohol and saturated fats.
How Can You Protect Your Bones and Prevent Osteoporosis?
Although osteoporosis is considered a geriatic disease, health organisations dedicated to preventing the disease and promoting bone health claim that ageing and broken bones don't have to come in tandem. Building strong bones through diet, exercise and lifestyle modifications reduces your risk of losing bone mass later in life, plus it will maintain the structural integrity of your body,
The six steps below will help keep your bones strong and healthy, and osteoporosis as far away as possible. Suppose you've already been diagnosed with the condition, fret not because these good habits can curb its progression.
1. Include Calcium in Your Daily Diet
Calcium is responsible for bone development and skeletal mineralisation. It's important that you take the daily calcium requirement which corresponds with your age, gender and state of health. Milk and other dairy products, green leafy vegetables, okra, sardines, chia seeds, tofu, orange juice and mineral water are all rich sources of calcium.
2. Enjoy 15 Minutes of Sun Exposure
Calcium and Vitamin D go hand in hand. You need the first to develop strong bones and the second to aid your body in absorbing calcium. Spending 10 to 15 minutes outdoors every day allows your skin to produce vitamin D for your whole body to utilise. Fatty fish like salmon and tuna, beef liver, egg yolks, mushrooms, cereals and soy milk are also high in vitamin D.
3. Exercise Regularly
Performing weight-bearing exercise such as walking, jogging, hiking, dancing or tennis, will increase bone density. It would be best to consult your doctor before engaging in any form of exercise to ensure that it's safe for your health and fitness level.
4. Limit Your Alcohol and Coffee Intake
Excessive consumption of alcohol and coffee will reduce the calcium levels in your body and lead to weakened bones. Drink moderately or, better yet, eliminate both drinks altogether and switch to something more healthy like a glass of water or freshly squeezed juice.
5. Avoid Foods High in Salt
Too much salt intake causes calcium loss and weakens the bones over time. Apart from increasing your risk of acquiring osteoporosis, a high-salt diet is also the culprit of many chronic conditions. It's best to limit your salt consumption to one teaspoon or 2,000mg a day. Also, you want to stay away from processed foods as they contain heaps of salt.
6. If You Smoke, Quit
Scientific studies show that smoking tobacco is one of the contributing factors for osteoporosis. Nicotine slows down the body's ability to regenerate new bones and increases the risk of fractures. If you've been meaning to quit smoking but aren't sure how to get started, you may seek the help of a counsellor or a hypnotherapist.
Although there are conventional treatment options available for osteoporosis, such as dietary supplements and hormone replacement therapy (HRT), you may want to consider natural osteoporosis treatments that pose fewer if no side effects.