The Silent Disease
Osteoporosis is often called a silent disease because the condition commonly does not cause symptoms until a bone breaks. With this in mind, both men and women should aim to minimize risk factors for bone loss early in life. One of the ways people can do this is by eating foods that are good for osteoporosis prevention.
What is osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is a condition that causes bones to become more brittle and fragile. The disease is most common in women over 60. However, bone loss can occur at any age. Additional risk factors include low body weight, over-exercising, early menopause, being a smoker, and not getting enough of the right nutrients.
Nutrients to prevent bone loss
Calcium and vitamin D are the two significant nutrients for bone health. Calcium is found in dairy products, leafy green vegetables, fish, and nuts. For many people, getting enough calcium through diet alone is a challenge. In these cases, taking a calcium supplement at the recommendation of a healthcare provider may be beneficial.
Vitamin D is crucial for calcium absorption. The vitamin can be found in fish, egg yolks, fortified foods, or can be produced in the body as a result of exposure to UV rays. People who live in rainy climates or who eat a vegetarian or vegan diet often don’t get enough vitamin D. In these cases, a supplement may be recommended.
Foods that pack a punch
Some specific foods are chock-full of osteoporosis-preventing nutrients. For example, almonds are filled with calcium, magnesium, and protein. These are all vital nutrients for bone health. Experts recommend eating one handful of raw almonds daily. If someone can’t have or doesn’t like almonds, try sunflower seeds or pistachios instead.
While natural foods often offer the most dietary benefits, some processed foods can still be a healthy addition to a person’s diet. Certain cereals, breads, and juices are fortified with vitamins and minerals, including vitamin D and calcium.
Foods to avoid
Just like adding certain foods to a daily diet is helpful for osteoporosis prevention, so is avoiding certain foods. For example, eating too much salt can cause calcium loss, which leads to loss of bone strength. People are also advised to avoid excess caffeine and carbonated beverages. While the occasional soda or cup of coffee is fine, many Americans consume far more than the recommended daily amounts.
Building better bones
Building strong bones starts early. However, lifestyle changes at any time can improve bone health and decrease the risk of osteoporosis. Speak with a healthcare provider for more information regarding diet, lifestyle changes, and osteoporosis prevention.