Being diagnosed with osteoporosis may be grazed with a negative feeling, but there are a lot things you can engage yourself to help preserve your bone health and reduce bone loss as you age. Indulging in healthy lifestyle habits like consuming a balanced diet rich in calcium and vitamin D, workout regularly, keep a healthy weight, quitting smoking, and limiting your alcohol intake are effective ways to manage osteoporosis, but they can also boost your overall health and well-being. Below are six lifestyle approach to keeping your bones strong and promoting your general health.
Stay Physically Active
Workout can assist with osteoporosis in a number of ways: It stimulates bone remodeling, strengthen muscles, and promotes balance, coordination, flexibility, and a good posture. It can also up your mood and mental health. Experts recommend getting 30 minutes of workout each day to boost bone health — walking, weight-bearing activities, and strength- and balance-training exercises are all good options. Keep in mind, though, that you should be especially careful if you’ve already broken a bone, have very low bone density, or are otherwise at increased risk for a fracture, as it may be necessary to avoid activities that require bending forward from the waist or twisting your spine. “We want to be sure we’re choosing safe movements that won’t increase the risk of falling,” says Singer. “You should speak with your health care provider before embarking on a new exercise program to ensure that you’re making the right choices.”
Quit Smoking and Moderate Your Alcohol Intake
In addition to the many health problems that smoking and over imbibing can cause, these two lifestyle habits can also affect the health of your bones. Because cigarette smoking can interfere with calcium absorption, it can increase your risk of bone loss. In women, it may jump-start an early onset of menopause, after which declining levels of estrogen contribute to thinning bones. Studies also suggest that smoking can increase your risk of fracture and hamper the bone’s ability to heal after a fracture. Alcohol abuse can have similar effects, lowering bone density and raising your fracture risk. The NOF recommends avoiding smoking altogether and limiting your alcohol consumption to no more than 2 to 3 drinks a day.
Get Enough, Calcium, Vitamin D and Protein
To get the nutrients we need for good health, we should all be eating a well-balanced diet. If you have osteoporosis — or if you’re a man older than 70 or a postmenopausal woman — it’s especially important to make sure that you’re getting adequate amounts of protein, calcium, and vitamin D from whole-food sources like lean meats, fish, beans and legumes, eggs, vegetables, fruit, dairy, and foods fortified with calcium and vitamin D, which are essential nutrients for bone health. “We’re not looking for people to overshoot,” says Andrea J. Singer, MD, FACP, the director of women’s primary care and bone densitometry in the department of obstetrics and gynecology at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital in Washington, DC, and the clinical director of the National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF). “But we do want them to meet their daily requirements of protein, calcium, and vitamin D.”
Maintain a Healthy Weight
Maintaining a healthy weight is an important part of staying healthy overall. With osteoporosis, weighing too little or too much can interfere with your bone health and increase the risk of fracture in different parts of your body, according to a study published in the January 2013 issue of Osteoporosis International. Being very thin (or having a small frame) may also leave your body with less bone mass to support you as you age. Until recently, it was believed that obesity offered protective effects against fractures, but a growing body of research is not only beginning to debunk that claim but suggesting that obesity raises fracture risk. Eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia can contribute to bone loss too. Additionally, stomach surgeries, weight-loss surgeries, and certain health conditions associated with lower body weight can affect the body’s ability to absorb calcium. If you’re having trouble maintaining a healthy weight, seek help from your doctor or get a referral to a nutritionist or another specialist who can help address your individual needs.
Ask Your Doctor About Nutrition Supplements
It’s always best to get your nutrients from food, but if you can’t meet your daily requirements from your diet alone, you may benefit from supplements. Getting enough vitamin D can be particularly challenging because you can’t get it from many foods other than fatty fish, egg yolks, liver, and vitamin D-fortified products. Your body can make vitamin D from sunlight, but if it’s winter or you’re housebound, or you’re protecting your skin from skin cancer, you may not be producing enough. Getting enough calcium can be a problem for people who become less tolerant to dairy products as they get older. With age, your tastes can change and nutrient absorption can become more difficult. “We need to be conscious of these factors,” says Dr. Singer, adding that although you might not have to turn to supplements, it may be necessary for you to look for other dietary sources of bone-health nutrients, or at least to discuss supplementation with your doctor.
Lean on Your Doctor
Your doctor and members of your health care team are valuable resources when it comes to managing osteoporosis. They can advise you about your lifestyle habits, including your diet and your level of physical activity, and help you make the best decisions for your bone health. Be sure to keep your doctor informed about any new medications you begin taking, including herbs and supplements, so he or she can let you know if they’ll interact with any other medications you take, if they’re associated with bone loss, or even if they could increase your risk of falls.