Your orthopedic physicians at The Medical Group of South Florida in Jupiter, Florida, are thoroughly familiar with the bones that support your body, because that’s what makes us experts in maintaining bone health. We are also well versed in what happens to your bones as you age.
The problem is, too often people tend to take their bones for granted until it’s too late.
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), more than 53 million Americans either have been diagnosed with osteoporosis or are at risk of developing it. But one myth about osteoporosis is that it is a “normal part of aging.” Osteoporosis and the broken bones that result from it can be prevented.
Osteoporosis is a bone disease in which the body loses too much bone, makes too little bone, or both, causing bones to become weak and brittle. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that more than 300,000 Americans ages 65 and older are hospitalized each year for hip fractures. More than half of those never fully recover from the break; many die as a direct result of the fracture.
However, although osteoporosis is often thought of as a disease confined to older white women, men and women of all ages and races can contract it. Not only is it often referred to as a “silent disease” without any noticeable symptoms, sometimes you can even break one or more bones in the spine without any accompanying pain. The only tip-off in such cases will be a loss of height.
This Friday, October 20th, is World Osteoporosis Day, so what better time to focus on the health of your bones?
Many people tend to think of bones as something hard and brittle. Actually, they are porous, living tissue that can be influenced and strengthened by diet, exercise, and a healthy lifestyle. Throughout your life, old bone is replaced by new bone, which will be much more resilient if you adopt healthy habits as early as possible.
The National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF) recommends that osteoporosis prevention begin in childhood, because studies have shown that stronger bones in youth result in better bone health later in life. But it’s never too late to begin better practices to preserve the health of your bones.
So what steps can you take to ensure this?
Start with exercise. Both muscle-strengthening and weight-bearing exercises contribute to better bone health. Such activities as climbing stairs, jogging, dancing, tennis and other racket sports, running, walking, tai chi and yoga, aerobics, strength training (weight training or resistance bands) . . . basically any moves that use your own body weight or external weights are good. And all it takes is 30 minutes daily to ensure better bone health.
Diet plays another important role, especially foods heavy in calcium and Vitamin D. Leafy green vegetables are loaded with calcium and Vitamin K, which has been shown to increase bone density. Nuts contain high amounts of beneficial calcium. We obtain Vitamin D from sunlight, fortified milk and dairy foods, fatty fish, liver, egg yolks, and supplements.
And avoid salt and especially sodas, whether regular or caffeine-free. These lower bone density by leeching calcium from your bones.
Finally, these lifestyle tips: Avoid smoking, limit alcohol to fewer than three drinks per day, avoid stress when possible, and be sure to get enough sleep, seven or eight hours per night.
If you follow these simple recommendations, there’s no reason you can’t dance well into old age.