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  • Misbah Samir, Nutrification

Prevent Osteoporosis from an Young Age | World Osteoporosis Day| Nutrification

Our bones constantly change and rebuild themselves throughout our lives. The balance between breaking down of old bones and formation of new bones varies depending on the life stage.

For example, In childhood and adolescence, the bone formation is rapid.

During adulthood, the rate of bone formation is the same as the rate of breaking down of old bones

After 40 years, the bone breakdown is faster than bone formation. As a result the bone density goes on reducing. The more bone mass you have when you reach adulthood, the less likely you are to have weak and breakable bones at older age.


What is Osteoporosis?


The word osteoporosis means spongy (porous) bones. Think of the inside of a bone as a honeycomb. In osteoporosis, the spaces in this honeycomb grow larger, and the bone that forms the honeycomb gets smaller. The outer shell of your bones also gets thinner. All of this reduces the overall bone density and makes them weak. Some of the early symptoms are neck or lower back pain. The bones also become easily prone to fractures. Individuals may develop a stooped posture over time resulting in loss of height.

Who are at a greater risk of osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis can occur in both men and women. But, women above 40 years are at a greater risk of osteoporosis as compared to men. This is not because of any gender discrimination, but because of the fact that after women reach menopause, estrogen levels in their body decrease dramatically. Reduction of estrogen levels speeds up the bone loss.

Thus, a poor diet along with reduction of estrogen levels increases the odds of developing osteoporosis in women.


How to prevent the risk of osteoporosis?

  1. Increase your calcium intake

Your bones act as a storehouse of calcium. In case you get adequate calcium from your diet, excess of it will get stored in the bones. But if your diet has little or no calcium rich foods, calcium from bones is sacrificed to maintain the normal blood calcium levels. Hence, adequate intake of calcium rich foods on a daily basis is very important.


Milk and milk products are the best sources of calcium. Calcium from them gets easily absorbed.

Nuts, seeds, green leafy vegetables and some beans are also excellent sources of calcium. For example: sesame seeds, chia seeds, flax seeds, amaranth leaves, drumstick leaves, moth beans, soybean, finger millet (ragi), etc.

However, calcium from these foods is not easily absorbed as compared to milk products.

This is because nuts, seeds, beans and green leafy vegetables contain oxalates and phytates in them. They bind with calcium and inhibits its absorption in our body.

So should you not consume these foods? You definitely should consume them. But you should incorporate some techniques to reduce the oxalate and phytate content of these foods.

This can be done by Soaking, Sprouting, Pressure cooking, Fermenting, Steaming and Roasting.

Now you must have understood why its always better to soak and peel almonds before eating them. Similarly, always soak the beans and pulses before cooking.


2. Get Enough Vitamin D


Eating just a calcium rich diet is not enough. To absorb the calcium in your body, you require Vitamin D. Vitamin D is also known as the sunshine vitamin, as it is produced by the skin on exposure to sunlight. The best time to get maximum amount of Vitamin D from sunrays is 11 am to 2pm. Get 15- 20 minutes of sunlight during this time. You can also get vitamin D from few foods like egg yolk, chicken liver, fatty fishes, fish oils and mushrooms.


3. Avoid inhibitors


Avoid having foods which contain caffeine with your meals. Caffeine inhibits calcium absorption in the body and it increases its removal from the body. Therefore, you should avoid having tea, coffee, cola along with your meals. Smoking and alcohol consumption further increases the risk of osteoporosis. They increases calcium loss from the bones.


4. Maintain regular physical activity


Physical activity and exercising helps in the development of bone mass. It helps in improving your balance, coordination and flexibility. It will also help in strengthening your bone strength and muscle mass. Exercising also slows down the rate of bone loss.


Please NOTE that adults and older individuals should always consult their doctor, physician or physiotherapist before starting any form of physical activity. The type of physical activity will depend upon your age, your current bone density status and other medical conditions. If you already have osteoporosis, you should avoid high intensity exercises, frequent bending and twisting. Remember, vigorous exercise without guidance can further increase the chances of fractures.



Conclusion:

Osteoporosis is not a disease which happens overnight. Your lifestyle choices across the lifespan impact the occurrence of osteoporosis. 90% of your bone mass is developed by 18 years of age and the rest 5- 10% of gain in bone mass occurs during young adulthood. Hence, its best to have calcium rich food from an young age. If you have missed that phase, you can still maintain adequate calcium intake so that bone loss is prevented to a certain extent. Indulge in exercise and activities that improve balance, posture, coordination, and muscle strength.


On this World Osteoporosis Day (20th October), spread awareness about osteoporosis, its signs and symptoms and how to prevent it. Share this article with all your loved ones.


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