Each year on October 20, the world comes together to observe World Osteoporosis Day—a global healthcare event marked by diverse awareness campaigns and activities.
This year, 2023, the World Osteoporosis Day Theme is “Build Better Bones”, intending the significance of leading a bone-healthy lifestyle as the foundation for strong bones and a fracture-free future.
What is Osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is a medical condition in which bones become very weak and brittle. Usually, it doesn’t show any symptoms unless the fracture happens. In the case of osteoporosis, the bone becomes so fragile that a fracture can occur with a minor fall, bump, or sudden movement. The chances of osteoporosis prevail more with aging. It is one of the most common causes of fractures in the elderly. Because of the asymptomatic nature of this bone disorder, it is essential to look after bone health to prevent complications related to bone fractures.
Our bone mass reaches its peak when we’re around age 30, and it remains steady for about the next two decades. But after menopause, we lose bone more quickly than our bodies can replace it. And aging in general can prompt our body to leach calcium from bones.
Habits to Build & Maintain Better Bones
Building better bones requires not only specific dietary and lifestyle choices but also the development of long-term habits that promote bone health. Here are some habits you can adopt to help build and maintain strong bones:
- Balanced Diet: Incorporate a well-balanced diet rich in calcium, vitamin D, and other bone-healthy nutrients. Include foods like dairy products, leafy greens, fish, nuts, seeds, and whole grains.
- Exercise Portion Control: Be mindful of portion sizes to avoid overeating. Excess body weight can strain your bones and increase the risk of fractures.
- Limit Caffeine and Soda: High caffeine intake and sugary sodas can leach calcium from your bones. Limit your consumption of these beverages.
- Protein Intake: Ensure you get enough protein from sources like lean meats, poultry, fish, legumes, and low-fat dairy products. Protein is essential for bone formation and repair.
- Reduce Sodium Intake: High salt intake can lead to calcium loss in the urine, potentially weakening bones. Limit your consumption of processed and high-sodium foods.
- Hydration: Staying properly hydrated is essential for overall health, including bone health. Aim to drink enough water each day.
- Weight-Bearing Exercise: Engage in weight-bearing exercises like walking, jogging, dancing, and strength training. These activities help stimulate bone growth and maintain bone density.
- Balance and Flexibility Exercises: Include balance and flexibility exercises in your routine to reduce the risk of falls and fractures, particularly as you age.
- Strength Training: Incorporate resistance training exercises using weights or resistance bands to build and maintain muscle, which supports bone health.
- Adequate Vitamin D: Ensure you get enough vitamin D through sunlight exposure, dietary sources, or supplements, as it’s essential for calcium absorption.
- Quit Smoking: Smoking can reduce bone density and increase the risk of fractures. Quitting smoking is a significant step toward better bone health.
- Moderate Alcohol Consumption: Limit alcohol intake, as excessive alcohol can weaken bones. If you consume alcohol, do so in moderation.
- Regular Health Check-ups: Schedule regular check-ups with your healthcare provider. Discuss your bone health and consider bone density testing, especially if you have risk factors for osteoporosis.
- Medication Management: If prescribed medications, such as corticosteroids, that can weaken bones, follow your doctor’s guidance, and discuss potential bone-protective measures.
- Adequate Sleep: Ensure you get enough quality sleep. Sleep is essential for overall health, including the regeneration of bone tissue.
- Fall Prevention: Take steps to prevent falls, such as keeping your living space clutter-free, using handrails, and wearing appropriate footwear.
- Stress Management: Chronic stress can negatively impact bone health. Practice stress-reduction techniques such as meditation, yoga, or deep breathing exercises.
- Supplement your body: If you’re unable to get enough calcium or vitamin D from your diet or sunlight, consider supplements as recommended by your healthcare provider.
- Bone-Healthy Habits for Children: Encourage children to adopt bone-healthy habits early by providing them with a well-balanced diet and encouraging physical activity.
- Regular Check-ups: If in doubt or facing risk factors, seek a second opinion from a healthcare professional for early diagnosis and appropriate treatment.
Remember that building better bones is a gradual process, and it’s never too late to start implementing these habits. Consult with a healthcare professional or a registered dietitian for personalized advice based on your specific needs and circumstances.