We have all at heard of Osteoporosis. The term literally means “porous bones”. It is a disease that sets in when your bones become fragile and more likely to break. This happens when the habitual bone building ceases to happen in out body. The bones in our body have a thick shell and a strong inner net filled with collagen, calcium salts and other minerals. And healthy bones are ever changing. Our bone structure has an intricate mechanism by which cells called oseteoclasts break down the old matter and replaces with bone building cells called oseoblasts.
You might not be aware that you have Osteoporosis until you accidentally fall or get hit and in turn easily break a bone. Osteoporosis silently stops the bone changing mechanism in your body and thus makes the bones in your body brittle. These bones will be easily broken by the slightest fall. But of course there are symptoms, if properly noticed and treated could prevent any breaking of bones and ensuing pain and discomfort.
Granted that osteoporosis is more likely in the elderly. But diet and lifestyle changes have made the younger generation also as susceptible to the onset of this disease. Just one example is the risk that many children & teens put themselves in to when they prefer their fizzy drinks to a glass of good old milk.
When Osteoporosis sets in it can affect any bone in your body. But mostly the high risk bones are typically in the hip, spine, and wrist. Among this hip and spine fractures cause concern, as a hip fracture almost always requires hospitalization and major surgery. It can impair a person's ability to walk unassisted and may cause prolonged or permanent disability or even death. Spinal or vertebral fractures also have serious consequences, including loss of height, severe back pain, and deformity.
Although men also suffer from osteoporosis, women are four times more likely than men to develop the disease. Among women those who are nearing menopause and those who have had an hysterectomy are extremely vulnerable as there are major hormone changes happening in the body during this time and the body is slowly stopping the production of female hormone Oestrogen which helps in healthy bones.
The good news is that through prudent diet and special exercises you can prevent this disease.
The all important Calcium
Calcium is very important for everyone especially women. Its importance increases as we grow older. Calcium is needed for a number of important body processes and therefore it is important to retain adequate calcium in the blood. Our body is created smart. If we don't consume enough calcium, our bodies will steal it from our bones.
Experts recommend at least 1,000 mg of calcium a day for Premenopausal women. More intake of calcium is required if they are pregnant or nursing. 1,200 mg of calcium is needed for perimenopausal women and 1,500 mg for postmenopausal women. Another point is that Women need 800 IU of vitamin D which is the hormone that promotes calcium absorption.
The calcium rich food sources are particularly cheese, yogurt, and milk. Other food sources include canned sardines and salmon (with the bones), shellfish, almonds, and foods like orange juice that have been "enhanced" with calcium. Fresh fish are better as a calcium source as they have Vitamin D, which as earlier mentioned is a necessary element to effective calcium absorption. Calcium is also found in many green leafy vegetables like spinach. But this calcium is less readily absorbed because they also contain oxalate, which binds to calcium and makes it harder to absorb.
Exercise is imperative for health and well being. It also helps in making the bones stronger. So go ahead and give your body what it deserves. Be consistent in your exercise regime. Select whichever activity that suits you. Be it jogging or even simple push ups; swimming or even dancing.