Recent data shows that half of the women in the United States over the age of 50 will break a bone because of osteoporosis. Millions of people have osteoporosis, which means that they have low bone density, increasing the risk of fractures.
The good news is that lifestyle factors can strengthen the bones and prevent osteoporosis. Regardless of your age, it’s important to be proactive about protecting your bones to minimize the risk of this bone condition.
Can You Stop Osteoporosis?
Yes, there are things that you can do to stop the progress of osteoporosis. Some of our patients also ask: can you rebuild bone density? It’s possible, especially if you start early and implement a proactive approach with specific lifestyle factors.
Additionally, different medical therapies can slow, maintain, or even improve bone density. For example, your orthopedic doctor might recommend the use of specific medications that can help with rebuilding bone density.
Osteoporosis Risk Factors
Certain risk factors, such as gender, can’t be changed. Understanding osteoporosis risk factors is essential to be proactive about working with a bone specialist to prevent fractures and breaks.
Common risk factors include:
- Medical Conditions: Certain types of medical conditions can also increase your risk of developing osteoporosis. Examples include thyroid disease, kidney disease, liver disease, rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease, and other inflammatory bowel conditions affecting nutrient absorption.
- Medication Usage: Prescription medications can affect bone density as a side effect. One example is the use of corticosteroids that are often used for autoimmune conditions like asthma and rheumatoid arthritis.
- Hormonal Factors: Early menopause (occurring before a woman turns 45) or a loss of menstrual period because of hormone changes affect bone health.
- Gender: Women have a higher risk of osteoporosis than men.
- Family History: You are at a higher risk for osteoporosis if you have a close relative who has been diagnosed with this condition.
Dietary Factors for Preventing Osteoporosis
A healthy, balanced diet is key to providing your body with the essential building blocks that are needed for maintaining strong bones. Calcium is one of the most important nutrients that affect bone health, which is why orthopedic doctors often talk about eating plenty of calcium-rich foods.
Most adults need about 1,000 milligrams of calcium each day. This recommendation increases to 1,200 milligrams daily for women over the age of 50 and men over the age of 70.
What Are 5 Foods That Can Help Prevent Osteoporosis?
The best sources of foods to prevent osteoporosis include:
- Dairy: Choose low-fat or fat-free dairy products, such as milk, yogurt, and cheese. Also, avoid dairy products with a lot of additives, such as sugar.
- Leafy Greens: A salad a day is a great way to boost your calcium intake. Enjoy leafy greens such as spinach, kale, collard greens, Swiss chard, and beet greens. Not only do these veggies provide calcium, but they also contain other bone-supporting nutrients like vitamins C, E, K, and B.
- Cruciferous Veggies: Also include cruciferous vegetables in your diet to strengthen your bones. Examples include cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, brussels sprouts, and bok choy.
- Salmon: It’s hard to find foods that are high in vitamin D, but salmon is one delicious option to add to your meal plan. Salmon has calcium and vitamin D, which is a powerful combination for bone health.
- Eggs: Eat one egg yolk, and you get 5% of your daily recommended value for vitamin D. Eggs are also an excellent source of other bone-strengthening minerals like zinc, magnesium, and calcium.
Dairy products are the highest source of calcium, but there are other options if you prefer a plant-based diet. You can also find fortified foods, such as orange juice that has been fortified with calcium.
Boost Vitamin D Levels for Bone Health
Did you know that your body needs vitamin D to absorb the calcium you consume? This combination is one reason why many milk brands are fortified with vitamin D.
The best way to get vitamin D is by spending 15 – 20 minutes a day in the sunlight. When sunlight hits your skin, the kidneys and liver can make the vitamin D you need.
Most people can’t get sufficient vitamin D from sunlight due to being inside all day and seasonal changes. Another option is to take supplements. If you choose to supplement with vitamin D, it’s best to consult with your doctor regarding dosages and frequency.
Weight-Bearing Exercises to Prevent Osteoporosis
Not only is exercise good for fitness and overall health, but it is an important lifestyle factor that affects bone density as well. For example, when you are moving your body, it stimulates the cells that build your bones.
The ideal type of exercise for bone health should be focused on resistance and/or weight-bearing exercises. Use opposing forces such as body weight, elastic bands, or fitness weights to strengthen the muscles and bones.
In addition to strengthening the bones, exercise is also important to improve muscles and balance. When your body is strong, it minimizes injury by reducing the risk of falling.
Healthy Life Habits for Strong Bones
Other lifestyle factors can affect the health of your bones. These choices are important in all ages of life. When you are proactive about healthy habits in the younger years, it helps to maintain good bone density for the later years of life.
Lifestyle recommendations for osteoporosis prevention include:
- Limit alcohol
- Don’t smoke
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Hormone management
- Avoid soda consumption
Your orthopedic doctor can help you identify any other lifestyle factors that might be influencing your bone density.
Osteoporosis Treatment Options
If you have already been diagnosed with osteoporosis, then it’s time to talk to an orthopedic specialist about treatment options. Treatments can supplement your dietary improvement, exercise routine, and lifestyle changes,
Common osteoporosis treatments include:
- Medications: These prescriptions can be in the form of a weekly or monthly pill or IV infusions. Bisphosphonates are the most commonly prescribed type of osteoporosis medication.
- Hormone Therapy: This treatment is more commonly considered for menopausal women, although hormone therapy can also be used for younger women as well.
- Injury Treatment: When a person has osteoporosis, it increases the risk of bone fractures which require emergency treatment when they occur. Your orthopedic doctor can help with immediate treatments, so these injuries heal correctly.
Osteoporosis Diagnosis, Treatment, and Prevention
Healthy bones are critical for a thriving lifestyle, which is why it’s essential to work with a bone specialist if you have osteoporosis. At Orthopedic Associates, we help our patients with medical treatments and lifestyle changes to slow, reverse, or prevent the risk of osteoporosis.