“Like mother, like daughter” the saying goes. Unfortunately, that saying extends beyond an inherited mischievous streak or knack for picking up languages — it’s true when it comes to our bone genetics too. May is Osteoporosis Awareness Month: Prevent bone loss naturally
In fact, a study published in the medical journal Nature Genetics showed as many as 32 genes linked to osteoporosis and likelihood of fractures. What’s more, several studies share the common finding that measures of bone health — like bone mineral density — have a 60–80% likelihood of being explained by heredity.
So if your mother or your family in general suffer from weak bones, it’s highly likely that your bones will thin faster than normal.
Of course, we’re stuck with the genetics we’re blessed with. But if you could influence your children or grandchildren’s bone health for the better, even just a little, would you do so?
After all, if you’ve felt the fear from osteoporosis or osteopenia, and know how it’s limited your daily life, you wouldn’t wish the same on your loved ones. So the best thing you can do is simply talk to them. Let them know about the importance of maintaining strong, healthy bones. Warn them about the consequences of weak bones and how they rob you of your independence.
If your loved one’s under 40, they can still get a head start on osteoporosis before they begin to lose on average 1% of their bone each year. And for those over 40, there’s more bone loss to make up, but they can still come out ahead!
Remember, the best “cure” is prevention. If a family member can avoid osteoporosis in the first place, they won’t have to battle it for control of their own bones. So they should take the necessary steps to avoid it early.
May is National Osteoporosis Month. And it presents us with an opportunity to promote prevention, early detection, and treatment of osteoporosis. The following are science-backed ways you can take care of your bones. No matter your age.
Get Tested. To measure your bone health, it’s recommended to get a bone mineral density test – commonly referred to as a DXA scan. If you’re a women it’s recommended to get tested at age 65 or older. However, if osteoporosis runs in your family or you have one or more of the risk factors below, it’s best to err on the side of caution and get tested at age 60 or earlier! In fact, if you’re in your 20s or 30s and have the opportunity to get a DXA scan, this can be a great baseline to refer to as you get older.
Exercise. As stated above, once you reach peak bone mass you begin to lose about 1% of your total bone mineral density every year. The same goes for muscle mass as it starts to decline too! So as you age, it’s crucial to continue to exercise regularly. In turn, you will reduce your risk of falls and fractures, cardiovascular diseases, high blood pressure, cancer, and cognitive decline.
What are the best exercises for bone health? Weight bearing (walking, running, hiking, dancing, and jumping are all examples) and resistance training (free weights, weight machines, and resistance bands are all examples).
Nutrition. Most people know that calcium is essential for bone health. But it’s not the only nutrient we need! Our bones require a multi-nutrient approach to strengthen, that includes magnesium, vitamin C, D3, K2, boron and trace minerals too. And you can get these nutrients by including fruit and veggies, seafood, dairy and protein into your diet.
Speaking of protein, it’s particularly beneficial for your bones. It actually increases the amount of calcium you can absorb, helping to maintain strong and healthy bones.
So there you have the foods to include, but what should you be cutting out? Well, it seems obvious, but avoid refined carbs, sugary foods and drinks, and highly processed foods. These are all highly inflammatory – and inflammation has been recognized as a risk factor for diseases like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease as well as osteoporosis.
Omega 3 fatty acids actually help to support your body’s inflammatory response. So that’s even more reason to include seafood like mackerel, salmon and sardines in your diet!
Avoid or Limit Risk Factors. Unfortunately, there is a long list of causes and risk factors that can increase your chances of osteopenia or osteoporosis. Genetics is one, environmental toxins (like pesticides, synthetics), excessive alcohol use, smoking, emotional stress, and even common prescription medications like thyroid medications, anticoagulants, and blood pressure drugs, to name a few, contribute to bone loss. If you must take one of these prescription medications, be sure to take extra care in eating well, exercising, and supplement with the right nutrients.
Although we don’t talk about osteoporosis as much as more high profile diseases, it causes more than 8.9 million fractures worldwide annually…resulting in an osteoporotic fracture every 3 seconds. In the time it will take you to read this post, there will be approximately 75 osteoporotic fractures.
It’s easy to think, ‘that won’t happen to me or my loved ones,’ but every woman in my family before me has died from an osteoporosis-related incident.
So let’s do something about osteoporosis. Let’s spread the word during National Osteoporosis Month. Let’s change those statistics.
Whatever you tell your loved ones, you should be proud of yourself for taking the time to do it. Because few will.
By Lara Pizzorno, MDIV, MA, LMT
Lara Pizzorno is the author of “Your Bones: How You Can Prevent Osteoporosis and Have Strong Bones for Life – Naturally” and a member of the American Medical Writers Association with 29 years of experience specializing in bone health. Lara is the Resident Bone Health Expert at AlgaeCal, the Editor of Longevity Medicine Review, a Senior Medical Editor for SaluGenecists Inc., and Integrative Medicine Advisors, LLC.sis
May is Osteoporosis Awareness Month: Prevent bone loss naturally May is Osteoporosis Awareness Month: Prevent bone loss naturally May is Osteoporosis Awareness Month: Prevent bone loss naturally May is Osteoporosis Awareness Month: Prevent bone loss naturally May is Osteoporosis Awareness Month: Prevent bone loss naturally May is Osteoporosis Awareness Month: Prevent bone loss naturally May is Osteoporosis Awareness Month: Prevent bone loss naturally May is Osteoporosis Awareness Month: Prevent bone loss naturally May is Osteoporosis Awareness Month: Prevent bone loss naturally May is Osteoporosis Awareness Month: Prevent bone loss naturally
As a co-owner of Senior.com, Kimberly Johnson is passionate about providing Seniors with the resources and products to live well. Kimberly is a seasoned caregiver to her family and breast cancer survivor. Her father battled ALS, Lou Gehrig’s disease, for 13 months before passing. Today Kimberly lives in Southern California near her 102 year old grandmother, widowed mother, a mentally disabled sister and second sister who is also a breast cancer survivor. She is happily married to her husband of 22 years and they have 3 children.View All Articles