Put Your Best Foot Forward This National Osteoporosis Month!

Along with May flowers comes National Osteoporosis Month, and we want to take some time to discuss bone health and the important information you should be aware of when it comes to osteoporosis. In the United States, 53 million Americans have an increased risk for bone fractures, and the scary thing is, most of these people have no idea.

Without a bone density test, it’s hard to know how your bones are faring. Many people don’t know that they have low bone density until they fracture their foot or suffer another serious bone injury. It’s time that we all learn the risk factors of this bone disease and how we can protect our body from the harmful effects of osteoporosis.

Diet and Exercise

If you haven’t figured it out yet, a healthy diet and frequent exercise can help you rule the world. With each healthy snack and step you take, you can reduce your risk of osteoporosis and strengthen your bones.

Exercise and osteoporosis preventionMost people link strong bones to calcium-rich foods like a glass of milk or almonds. But by actually avoiding certain foods, you can do more for your bones than you would just eating more yogurt. For example, a diet filled with process foods is also full of sodium, and research has shown that sodium works against your best efforts of a calcium-rich diet. If you are looking for a diet plan to follow, consider the DASH diet. While originally meant to reduce hypertension, this low-sodium diet is a great way to ensure that you are eating all the nutrients important to improving bone health.

Exercise is just as crucial as a healthy diet when it comes to bone health. People who lead a sedentary lifestyle tend to gain weight, lose important mobility functions like balance and stability, and are more prone to injury because of it. For healthy bones, add weight-bearing exercises into your daily life. From running to walking, there are aerobic exercises of every intensity to help keep your bones strong at any age or physical health. Strength training exercises that build muscle are also recommended to work against osteoporosis. Consider resistance training to build muscle and gain balance and stability in your joints. We might dismiss stability training in our youth, but a strong and stable ankle could be key to reducing injuries when we fall or trip.

Medications

Imagine taking a prescription medication only to learn that while the medication was effective at resolving your initial health issue, it has weakened your bones in the process. Many people find it surprising when they learn that osteoporosis and low bone density can be drug-induced, but it’s absolutely true.

Medication for Osteoporosis TreatmentA good example of this is the SGLT2 inhibitor Invokana prescribed to treat type 2 diabetes. While it is a great solution for a diabetic looking to regulate their blood glucose levels, many patients have suffered adverse side effects of the drug including a heightened risk of bone fractures, below-the-knee amputations, and an increased risk of falls.

We often see the results of drug-induced osteoporosis in elderly patients, but anyone taking certain kinds of medications are at risk no matter their age. Some other medications that contribute to bone deterioration include, corticosteroids, antiepileptic drugs, heparin, and progestins. If you are worried about the risk you might be taking with your current medications, talk to your doctor about the effects your prescription medications could have on your overall bone health.

Smoking

At this point, the harmful effects of smoking can be named by even the youngest in society. School children are taught the damaging side effects of smoking, such as lung disease and cardiovascular issues, but many times we forget that smoking also has an effect on bone health. Smoking has been linked to an increased risk of osteoporosis as well as serious bone fractures.

To protect your bones and your vital organs, make every effort to quit smoking.

Age

Unfortunately, age is a significant risk factor for osteoporosis and one that we have no control over. We typically hit our peak bone density in our late twenties, and from there our bone density will decrease little by little over time. This combined with a loss of coordination and balance in our later years makes falls and injuries even more precarious.

Age and OsteoporosisA sprained ankle in our twenties could be a fractured ankle in our sixties thanks to a loss of bone mass. Understanding that bone loss is inevitable can be a motivating factor in working to protect our bones as we age.

No matter what age you are, it’s time to start thinking about your bone health and doing more to protect yourself against osteoporosis. Take this month to educate yourself as well as your friends and family on the importance of healthy, strong bones, and ensure a more stable and less injury-prone future for the ones you love.

Caitlin Hoff

Health & Safety Investigator at ConsumerSafety.org

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