Every three seconds, someone around the world suffers a fracture due to osteoporosis. In the year 2000, 1.7 million of these fractures were hip fractures, which are associated with poor outcome and early death.
Normal, healthy bones — like normal, healthy skin — continually renews itself. Your body breaks down and eliminates old, weakened bone cells and creates vital new ones to take their place. But if you have osteoporosis, your body no longer creates enough new bone cells to replace the cells that have died.
The result is osteoporosis with bones that lack density in the proteins and minerals that would keep those bones strong. Not only is it easier to fracture a bone when you have osteoporosis, but the bones themselves become so weak that they begin to collapse, particularly in the spine.
That’s why older women and men with osteoporosis are shorter than they were in youth.
At the Rheumatology Center of New Jersey, our board-certified rheumatologists specialize in bone health, including osteoporosis treatment. If you want to protect your bones from further damage and keep them safe from fracture, here’s what you should do.
A diet rich in vitamins and minerals supplies your body with the materials it needs to keep your bones producing healthy new cells. The easiest way to modify your diet is to simply eat more like Mediterranean cultures do, with plenty of fresh vegetables, fish, whole grains, nuts, and seeds.
Make every meal colorful by adding fruits and vegetables. Specific foods that supply your bones with needed nutrients include:
You may also want to avoid certain foods, or modify the way you prepare them, to maximize mineral absorption. For example, leafy greens are full oxalates, which block calcium absorption. But cooking greens breaks down the oxalates so you can benefit from their calcium.
Legumes (i.e., beans and peanuts) are full of a substance called phytate, which prevents your body from absorbing all of the many minerals legumes contain. To reduce the phytates, soak dried beans for at least 24 hours, then discard the water and use fresh water for cooking.
Other foods and beverages that block calcium and mineral absorption include:
High-quality protein, such as that from grass-fed meat and wild-caught fish, builds bones and the muscles that put tension on bones to keep them strong. But too much protein may cause bone loss, so get the right amount for your age group.
While a diagnosis of osteoporosis and increased risk of fracture may make you afraid to engage in physical activities, one of the best ways to build stronger bones is to stress them with exercise. Just as exercise stimulates new muscle growth, it stimulates bone growth, too.
The best exercises for your bones are those that force them to bear weight, either in the form of actual weights or your own body weight. Weight-bearing exercise also makes your muscles stronger and denser, so they continually exert healthy, cell-building pressure on your bones.
You can choose from a number of resistance training and weight-bearing exercises to beef up your bones and muscles. Some fun activities include:
Even if you enjoy cycling or swimming, they don’t help with bone health. You may want to switch out some cycling and pool days with weightlifting or dancing days to stress and rebuild bone cells.
Building strong muscles, particularly core muscles, reduces your risk for fractures, too. When your muscles are strong, your balance is better, and you’re less likely to fall.
Our board-certified rheumatologists can offer a number of medications that may prevent the accelerated loss of bone cells and minerals. There are two types of FDA-approved medications for osteoporosis:
This drug prevents your body from ridding itself of too many old bone cells. It may increase bone density and lower the risk of fractures. Brands include Fosamax®, Boniva®, Reclast® and Prolia®.
This medication builds new bone cells, increases bone density, and lowers the risk of fractures. Brands include Forteo®, Tymlos®, and Evenity®.
If you have osteoporosis, or are at risk for it, contact us by phone or online form at the office nearest you today. We have locations in Monroe, Flemington, and Somerville, New Jersey.