Osteoporosis, just what exactly is it? You probably have heard it as the reason why your elderly grandmother or other relative began to walk with a more stooped posture. The word osteoporosis is from the Greek terms for “porous bones”. It basically is when the creation of new bone does not keep up with the removal of old bone. It is a disease where increased bone weakness increases the risk of a broken bone. It is the most common reason for a broken bone among the elderly. Osteoporosis-related fractures most commonly occur in the hip, wrist, or spine. This disease affects men and women of all races, but white and Asian women - especially older women who are past menopause – are at highest risk. Osteoporosis becomes more common with age.
Your bones are in a constant state of renewal. New bone is made and old bone is broken down. Your body makes new bone faster than it breaks down old bone and your bone mass increases. Most people reach their peak bone mass by their early 20s. As you age, bone mass is lost faster than it is created.
There are typically no symptoms in the early stages of bone loss. Once your bones have been weakened by osteoporosis, you may have signs or symptoms that include: back pain caused by a fracture or collapsed vertebrae, loss of height over time, a stooped posture, or a bone fracture that occurs much more easily than expected.
The best way to try and prevent osteoporosis is good nutrition and regular exercise. Make sure you are getting enough protein in your diet and maintaining a proper body weight. Being underweight increases the chance of bone loss and fractures. Calcium is also important for your bone health as well as getting enough Vitamin D in your diet to help absorb the calcium and also improve your bone health. Regular exercise can help you build strong bones and slow down bone loss. Try to combine strength training exercises with weight bearing and balance exercises. These will improve not only your bone health, but also help reduce your risk of falling as you get older.
The “best medicine” to help prevent any illness, disease, or condition is to always take good care of yourself. Eat a healthy diet, try to maintain a healthy weight, get exercise on a daily basis, and get enough sleep. These basic wellness steps will go a long way to help you stay healthy as you age.