Osteoporosis is derived from a Greek word, which means “porous bone”. Osteoporosis is a medical condition that occurs because of the body losing too much bone matter, making too little bone matter or both. Healthy bones look like a honeycomb when viewed under a microscope but when osteoporosis occurs, the holes and spaces in the honeycomb and much larger than in a healthy bone. The bones become less dense, brittle or fragile and may break because of a fall or in serious cases, because of sneezing or minor bumps.
Osteoporosis can pass for a silent health condition, as the process of weakening of the bones is usually not felt until:
- The bone is fractured or broken.
- There is a notice in reduction of one’s height.
- There is chronic pain and decreased ability to go about the normal daily activities occurs after bone is fractured or broken.
- A stooped or curved posture is observed.
The human bones undergo a cycle of constant renewal in which new bone matter are made while old ones are broken down. At a young age, the body makes new bone faster than it breaks down the old ones. This causes an increase in bone mass and thus results in growth. Most people reach their peak bone mass in their early 20s and gradually enter the state of diminishing returns as they age, due to the bone mass being lost faster than it is being created by the body.
The likelihood of a person developing osteoporosis depends partly on the amount of bone mass attained in that person’s youth. The higher the bone mass accumulated before the peak period (usually in one’s 20s), the less likely you are to develop osteoporosis early (more like a reservoir).
Quite a number of factors can increase the likelihood of developing osteoporosis. However, some cannot be controlled. They include:
- Body frame: People who have small body frames tend to be at a higher risk because of the smaller bone mass possessed by them and as they age, they may have less bone mass to bank on.
- Sex: Women are more likely to develop osteoporosis than men.
- Age: The older a person gets, the more prone that person is to osteoporosis.
- Family history: Having a family member with osteoporosis increases one’s risk factor.
- Race: People of Asian or white descent are at greater risk of osteoporosis.
- Health complications: Many health problems and some medical procedures can increase the chances of osteoporosis. These include: Rheumatoid arthritis, Lupus, Inflammatory bowel disease(IBD), multiple myeloma, Parkinson’s disease, eating disorders, weight loss surgery, Gastrectomy, certain medications, to mention a few.
- Hormone levels: People who have too much or too little of certain hormones in their bodies are more prone to osteoporosis. For example; Lowered sex hormone levels weakens bone and the reduction of estrogen levels in women at menopause is a strong risk factor for developing osteoporosis.
- Lifestyle/bad habits: Certain lifestyle/bad habits can increase the risk of developing osteoporosis. They include sedentary lifestyle, excessive alcohol consumption and tobacco use.
How Your Diet Affects It
Your diet plays an important role in the positive or negative impact on bone health. Below are some foods listed that should be avoided due to their negative effects on bone health.
· Salty Foods
Salty foods increase the loss of bone-strengthening calcium because salt is known to cause excessive excretion of calcium through the kidneys. Limiting salt intake will be very beneficial in the maintenance of bone health. Tasty herbs, condiments and spices can be used instead.
- Sugary foods
It is advisable to cut down on excessive sugar intake as sugar inhibits the absorption of calcium and the other necessary minerals that aid the absorption of calcium. Sweet tooth cravings can still be satiated by swapping with pineapples, cranberries and other sweet fruits rich in antioxidant property.
· Carbonated, caffeinated foods and drinks.
The intake of soda or caffeinated foods and drinks contribute to the reduction of bone mineral density, leading to the development of osteoporosis. It is caused by the leaching of calcium from the bones by the content of these products. You should cut down on or totally stop the intake of soda, drink decaf coffees or teas instead of the ones rich in caffeine.
- Raw Spinach
Raw green spinach contains bone-healthy calcium; however, it contains substances called oxalates, which can bind up calcium and make it less available in the body. This vegetable can be balanced by combining with foods that contain calcium easily absorbed by the body.
Your daily diet is very important regarding the prevention of early osteoporosis. The most effective and safest strategy is by eating foods low in salt and sugar, rich in fresh vegetables and fruits as well as rich in calcium, phosphorus and vitamin D. Beware of the foods that are danger-diets to osteoporosis. Encouraged diets rich in calcium, phosphorous, vitamin D and other essential nutrients required for healthy bone growth in infants and adolescents.