Diet for prevention and control of Osteoporosis
by Manjit Saluja
Normal Bone/Osteoporotic bone
Osteoporosis is the thinning of the bones. Due to which bones become fragile & fracture easily. Bone loss begins in the later years of life - usually after the age of 40. This process is accelerated in women at the time of menopause. This is part of the normal aging process. For some individuals the loss is high & results in fragile bones. Fragile bones increase the risk of fracture. It is upto you to prevent the risk of developing fragile bones by a nutritious & healthy diet which would keep your bones healthy & strong.
The World Health Organization (WHO) defines osteoporosis as a skeletal disorder characterized by compromised bone strength predisposing a person to an increased risk of fracture. As there are no symptoms of osteoporosis it is also referred as the silent disease.
Several medicines are used to treat and prevent Osteoporosis. Treatment is focused on controlling and slowing the bone loss process. Besides medicines, diet plays a important role in controlling and preventing bone loss. This article focuses on Diet and Lifestyle modifications which can be incorporated in your daily schedule.
Nutrients that look after bone health:
Calcium is responsible for the health of the bones. Calcium deficiency leads to osteoporosis. Calcium not only strengthens bones and teeth but also aids in the smooth functioning of muscles and nerves. As our body does not manufacture calcium it is essential that we get required amount of calcium through our diet.
Diary products are a good source of calcium. Milk, curds, Cheese, Paneer are some of the most popular sources of calcium. Some leafy vegetables & fruits are also a good source of calcium , including Soya , almonds.
If you are not milk loving [which most of us are] or are allergic to milk which is termed as lactose intolerance, you may include curds, paneer in your daily diet. Grains are also a popular source of calcium especially Ragi.
Vitamin D also plays an important role in building our bone health. The vitamin D requirement of our body is made available to us in a very simple way by getting at least 15 mins a day of sun exposure. But in these modern times most of us spend the sunny hours inside the house, offices, shopping malls, hence the lack to sun exposure. Deficiency in vitamin D results in weakening and softening of the bones. The dietary source of vitamin D is eggs, curds and soy products such a Tofu.
Protein also plays a crucial role in bone health. The best protein sources are chicken and eggs. For vegetarians, beans, pulses, nuts, legumes and curds are popular.
Fruits and Vegetables:-
Regular consumption of Fruits and vegetables has a positive effect on your overall health, as they are low in calories with more of fiber and antioxidants.
Nutrients hampering bone health are:-
Alcohol: Studies have proved that consuming alcohol is a deterrent to bone health.
Salt : High salted (sodium) foods hinders calcium absorption. Avoid foods with high sodium, salt content such as pizza's, burgers, fries, chips & salted nuts.
Only lifestyle changes are not sufficient to prevent osteoporosis.
Certain risk factors for osteoporosis which cannot be changed are :
Being a woman
Having a family history of osteoporosis
Certain risk factors are with in our control
Reduce alcohol consumption
Have an active lifestyle with daily exercise
Good nutritious diet
[Source - National Inst of Health]
Some of the suggestions for preventing and controlling Osteoporosis are:
Incorporate atleast 15-20 mins of physical exercise daily like walking
Sun exposure daily for 5 - 1 0 mins
A well balanced diet including fruits & vegetables
Consuming dairy food products daily
Reduce salt intake
In some cases you may be advised to take a calcium supplement as prescribed by your doctor. And above all maintain a healthy weight and a positive attitude.
The best way to prevent osteoporosis is to maximize bone density during our growth years - ideally during adolescence and the 20s. However it is never too late to start. So begin today.....