This is a FACT.
It may surprise you to discover that not all dairy products are created equal when it comes to strengthening your bones. While yogurt can contribute to higher bone mineral density (BMD) – some of your favorite dairy products could cause the opposite effect.
Dairy with higher levels of fat and sugar – heavy cream, ice cream, butter and some cheeses – even though delicious aren’t as nutritious and don’t contribute to overall bone health.
Low bone mineral density increases your risk of fractures – especially fractures of the spine, wrists and hips. A shocking one-quarter of those who suffer hip fractures die within one year of sustaining the fracture; women are in greater danger as 1 in 3 women over 50 will experience osteoporotic fractures versus 1 in 5 men.
Researchers from the Institute for Aging Research found that those who regularly consumed milk and yogurt – particularly low-fat varieties – had better bone health than those who chose higher fat/higher sugar dairy.
- Women – Asian and white women in particular –have a higher risk factors for osteoporosis. Once you have osteoporosis, the statistics are worse. 75% of all osteoporosis-related hip fractures happen to women.
- Being thin or having a slight bone structure puts you at greater risk. Experts believe it is because you naturally have smaller bones – and less to lose.
- Abnormal menstruation, being menopausal or post-menopausal – can affect your natural hormone levels and in turn impact bone density.
- Too little calcium and vitamin D in your diet means your body does not have the basic building materials to keep your bones strong.
- Excessive alcohol consumption and tobacco use interfere with your body’s ability to absorb calcium. That means you could be eating plenty of calcium-fortified foods but your bones aren’t getting the benefits.
If you already have osteoporosis, you cannot completely reverse it but there are steps you can take to slow the age-related deterioration of your bone density, strengthen what you have and increase your chances of preventing osteoporosis-related fractures.
Top 3 Steps to Take to Prevent or Slow Osteoporosis
#1: Get Your Daily Exercise
Sedentary people have a much higher risk factor for osteoporosis. Your bones are constructed of living tissue. If you exercise, your body responds by getting stronger.
Not just your muscles – your bones as well. Doctors recommend half an hour of physical activity daily.
Low-impact activities such as yoga, water aerobics, tai chi, walking and dancing force your body to work against gravity.
Excellent yet gentle methods to build muscle and strengthen bone include using ankle and wrist weights, elastic resistance bands and your own body weight, such as going up and down stairs. If you decide to join a gym, speak with a trainer about the exercises best for your current physical condition.
#2: Make Sure You Have Adequate Calcium And Vitamin D
This is the key to preserving bone health and it begins in childhood. Calcium is the most abundant mineral in your body and 99% of our supply is found in our bones and our teeth.
The National Institutes of Health recommend food sources over supplements – your body absorbs calcium and vitamin D from food more efficiently.
There are many natural and delicious sources of calcium. Cheese – stick with Romano, Swiss, American, cheddar and part-skim mozzarella — low-fat yogurt, herbs – basil, thyme and dill, sardines, salmon, collard and turnip greens, kale, spinach, molasses and sesame seeds.
If you aren’t getting enough calcium in your diet, consider supplementing the difference. Both genders need 1,000 mg of calcium daily from 19-50. After age 50, women need 1,200 mg and 1,300 mg after age 70.
Don’t forget vitamin D – your body cannot absorb calcium without it. There are D-fortified foods but your best source is the sun. We make vitamin D naturally but it lies dormant beneath our skin until it is activated by the sun.
Exposing your face and hands to the sun for 15 minutes in the mornings three days a week will give your body this essential nutrient. If you plan to be out longer, wear sunscreen and a hat.
During colder months – or if you are unable to get any sun exposure – both genders need 600 mg per day.
#3: Put Down That Cola
These carbonated beverages in particular have been found to contribute to bone loss. There is a growing trend to drink cola products in place of milk products, and there is speculation that the ingredients in brown soft drinks prevents your body from absorbing the calcium you do get.
A study done by Tufts University found that women who regularly drank colas showed 4% less bone density in their hips than those who didn’t. Non-cola products – such as lemon lime and orange drinks – had no measurable impact on bone density.
Since heavy soda drinkers may not be able to kick the habit entirely, scientists suggest switching to non-cola varieties. If that isn’t possible, cutting out 1-2 cans per day can make a big difference.
Another choice is alternating calcium-fortified beverages with your sodas – drinking a glass of milk or a glass of orange juice for every 12 ounces of soda. If you aren’t a milk or juice drinker, you’re going to need a supplement – 1,000 to 1,300 mg of calcium daily depending on your age — and 600 mg of vitamin D to ensure your absorption.
No matter your age, bone density is crucial.
Children given an abundance of calcium have a much lower risk factors for osteoporosis in their elderly years. And it is never too late for adults to slow or stop bone loss.