Osteoporosis is a bone disease in which the bone tissues break down faster than they are replaced. When this happens, the bones become weak, brittle, and susceptible to fracture. Over 54 million Americans have osteoporosis, and it results in about two million broken bones and $19 billion dollars in related expenses each year. Since the signs of osteoporosis are often not seen until it is too late, you may want to be aware of habits that could be increasing your chances of developing this condition.
8. Drinking Soda
The morning kick or afternoon pick-me-up of cola might seem like a refreshing way to get through your day. However, could the soda habit be leaching calcium from your bones? It has been suggested that the phosphoric acid or phosphate used in the manufacture of sodas could be doing just that. Caffeine is also suspected of contributing to bone loss. The National Osteoporosis Foundation states that the levels of phosphorous in your favorite soda probably will not harm your bones. Nonetheless, if you are drinking sodas rather than consuming calcium-rich beverages like milk, you could be depriving your body of the calcium it needs for strong and healthy bones.
7. Being a Couch Potato
You make think that resting your weary bones on the couch is doing them a favor, but the opposite is true. Just like your muscles, bones require exercise to stay healthy. The living tissues that make up your bones respond to the forces exercise places on them by growing and becoming sturdier. Continued bone growth is important in preventing the weak fragility of bones thinned by osteoporosis. Get off your couch and participate in weight-bearing exercises such as walking, jogging, dancing, and jumping rope. Grab some friends and head out on a hike or play a game of tennis or racquetball.
6. Overindulging in Red Meat
While moderate amounts of red meat can be good for your body, excessive protein from special high protein diets can deplete your body’s supply of calcium. Limit red meat to two or three times a week and include low-fat milk, yogurt and cheese in your diet for calcium-rich sources of protein. Canned sardines and salmon are other good sources of protein and calcium.
5. Snacking on Salty Foods
Sodium is another substance that leaches calcium from your bones. Pretzels, chips, and salty popcorn are temptations that contain a lot of salt. Breads and rolls may contain more salt than you realize. In addition, deli meats, soups, sandwiches, and cheese are all surprisingly high in salt. Check out the labels on snacks and processed foods. Keep in mind that the American Heart Association recommends consuming no more than 2,300 mg of sodium per day. Choose unsalted snacks whenever possible and treat your body to fruits and vegetables instead of savory items. Experiment with flavorful herbs and spices in your cooking in place of salt.
4. Shunning the Sun
It is important to protect your skin from the ravages of the sun, and sunscreen is a must for extended sun exposure. However, vitamin D provided by the sun is crucial for absorbing calcium in order to build strong bones. Aim to get 10 to 30 minutes of sunlight several times a week, keeping in mind your own skin’s sensitivity. If you live in a climate with limited exposure to winter sun, check with your doctor about vitamin D supplementation.
3. Feeding Your Coffee Addiction
The jury seems to be out on whether the caffeine in coffee impacts bone density. What does seem clear is that if you are drinking too much coffee and consuming too little calcium, bone loss can occur. As with so many of the pleasures of life, moderation is key. Limit your caffeine consumption to less than 400 mg per day. Feel free to enjoy your morning cup of joe, but also treat your body to calcium-rich foods. Indulge in low-fat milk, almond milk, almonds, or a cup of yogurt for a boost of calcium.
2. Imbibing Too Much Alcohol
As you know, your bones break down without enough calcium. Alcohol can affect your body’s calcium levels in several ways. First of all, excess alcohol can affect your stomach and its ability to absorb calcium. Secondly, alcohol interferes with the absorption of calcium and vitamin D in the pancreas. Alcohol also affects the liver and the activation of vitamin D. Alcohol may also decrease estrogen, resulting in bone loss. Osteoblasts, the cells that build new bone, can be destroyed by excess alcohol as well. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans defines moderate alcohol consumption to be up to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men.
1. Losing Extreme Amounts of Weight
We are bombarded with information about the dangers of obesity. It turns out that being underweight can also be bad for your health. According to Harvard Health Publishing, a weight of less than 127 pounds or a body mass index (BMI) of less than 19 are risk factors for osteoporosis. Furthermore, losing weight during the late years of perimenopause and the first few years after menopause can result in bone loss as well as fat loss. If you need to lose weight, choose a plan that allows a variety of healthy fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains. Include foods that are rich in calcium and vitamin D in any diet plan, and use weight-bearing exercises to strengthen your bones.