What’s Osteoporosis and how do you manage it?

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We hear about osteoporosis, sometimes on TV, in magazine ads, or online, but what is it exactly and what is causing it?

It’s a condition that plagues 54 million Americans, according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation. It’s a disease that occurs due to too little bone creation or too much bone loss. It’s especially harmful to older people with the disease, as a slight bump or fall can result in the breaking of bones.

The term Osteoporosis means “porous bone”, and when viewed under a microscope it does not appear solid, but rather spacious like a honeycomb.

understanding-osteoporosis-infographic

From NJhealth.org

What Causes Osteoporosis?

There are many factors that can affect bone loss from cancer to blood disorders to autoimmune disorders. Medicines like antiseizure medicine Dilantin, chemotherapy drugs, Lithium, and prednisone have been known to cause bone loss.

Things like genes, age, and sex can also be factors for a risk of osteoporosis.

Autoimmune Disorders

  • Rheumatoid arthritis (RA)
  • Lupus
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Ankylosing spondylitis

Digestive and Gastrointestinal Disorders

  • Celiac disease
  • Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
  • Weight loss surgery

Medical Procedures

  • Gastrectomy
  • Gastrointestinal bypass procedures

Cancer

  • Breast cancer
  • Prostate cancer

Hematologic/Blood Disorders

  • Leukemia and lymphoma
  • Multiple myeloma
  • Sickle cell disease

Neurological/Nervous System Disorders

  • Stroke
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • multiple sclerosis (MS)
  • Spinal cord injuries

Blood and bone marrow disorders

  • Thalassemia

Mental Illness

  • Depression
  • Eating disorders

Endocrine/Hormonal Disorders

  • Diabetes
  • Hyperparathyroidism
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Cushing’s syndrome
  • Thyrotoxicosis
  • Irregular periods
  • Premature menopause
  • Low levels of testosterone and estrogen in men

Other Diseases and Conditions

  • AIDS/HIV
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), including emphysema
  • Female athlete triad (includes loss of menstrual periods, an eating disorder and excessive exercise)
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Liver disease, including biliary cirrhosis
  • Organ transplants
  • Polio and post-polio syndrome
  • Poor diet, including malnutrition
  • Scoliosis
  • Weight loss

List provided by the National Osteoporosis Foundation

How Can You Prevent It?

There are several activities you can take part in to help prevent your risk for Osteoporosis. These include changing your nutrition, and exercising.

Foods that are good for your bones:

  • Dairy products (low fat, non-fat milk, yogurt, cheese)
  • Fish (salmon, sardines, tuna)
  • Fruits (Plantains, strawberries, oranges, pineapples, papaya)
  • Vegetables (Broccoli, kale, okra, turnip greens, sweet potatoes, spinach, red peppers, etc)
  • Foods fortified with Vitamin D and Calcium

Foods to eat less of:

  • Beans (Can interfere with body’s ability to absorb calcium contained in beans, might help to soak beans in water for several hours)
  • Meat/High protein foods (Eat enough, but not too much)
  • Salty foods (Causes body to lose calcium)
  • Alcohol (Limit to 2-3 drinks per day)
  • Caffeine (Drink in moderation)
  • Soft Drinks (Colas)

As for exercises, The National Osteoporosis Foundation has a great list of specific exercises you can do that may help strengthen your bones. Check out the list here.

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