Dr. Achal Saradava, Orthoscopic and joint replacement surgeon, HCG Hospitals Rajkot
From protecting organs to providing a structure to the body to holding muscles stronger to storing calcium, bones play a crucial role. This is why keeping one’s bone health intact is essential. Bones in the body are continuously changing. While old bones are broken down, new bones are made in the body. At a younger age, one’s body makes new bones at a faster rate compared to the rate by which it breaks down the bones. As a result, bone mass increases. This usually happens until 30 following which the bone remodelling continues, but one loses the bone mass at a slightly faster rate than it gains.
When one loses bone mass at a severe rate and has not gained enough bone mass until 30, osteoporosis occurs. It is a condition in which bones become weak and brittle with increasing age. To attain the adequate bone mass in the first 30 years of life and avoid getting bone related issues, it is important to be cautious of one’s bone health. Not many may know, lifestyle plays an important role in preserving bone health. Here’s how a poor, inactive lifestyle, improper diet and unhealthy habits affect bone health.
Lifestyle related factors that affect bone health
A low calcium diet: A diet low in calcium can decrease bone density and amp up the risk of early bone loss and that of fractures. Those who do not eat calcium rich foods like milk, cheese, dairy products, green, leafy veggies, etc, can suffer from various bone related issues as they age.
Physical activity: Having a sedentary lifestyle is one of the most common risk factors of developing osteoporosis in later stages of life. Those who are physically active have better bone mass and bone density compared to those who do not exercise on a daily basis.
Smoking and drinking: Excessive smoking has an adverse impact on bone health as tobacco causes bones to weaken. Also, having more than one alcoholic drink per day for women and more than two drinks per day for men may enhance the risk of osteoporosis.
Other factors affecting bone health Gender: Osteoporosis is more common among women and affects them more compared to
men. This is because women have less bone tissue than men.
Body size: Bone health can be weaker among those who are extremely thin, with a body mass index of 19 or less or have a smaller body frame. Such people have less bone mass as they age and are at a greater risk of developing bone related disorders.
Age: With increasing age bones become thinner and weaker and one becomes more prone to developing bone related disorders.
Race and family history: Those who are white or of Asian descent are at a greater risk of developing osteoporosis. Also, those with a family history of osteoporosis are at a greater risk compared to those without a family history of osteoporosis.
Hormone levels: Hormones play a crucial role in determining bone loss. Excessive thyroid can result in excessive bone loss. A drop in the oestrogen levels also significantly increases bone loss. That’s why women following their menopause are at a greater risk of developing
bone related disorders. Low testosterone levels among men can result in bone loss.
Eating disorders and certain medications: Severely restricting food intake, following a stringent diet and being underweight can lower bone density. Also, certain medications like long term use of corticosteroid medications can severely impact bone.
Keeping bones healthy
Following a healthy lifestyle and being mindful of certain things can make a huge difference in keeping up bone health.
Loads of calcium must be added to the diet: It is recommended to have 1,000 mg of calcium everyday for adults ageing 19 to 50 and men ageing 51 to 70. The recommendation increases to 1200 mag a day for women who are above 51 and men who are above 71.
Good sources of calcium include dairy products, almonds, broccoli, kale, canned salmon with bones, sardines and soy products, such as tofu.
Being mindful of Vitamin D is important: Vitamin D is extremely essential for good bone health. Oily fish, mushrooms, eggs and fortified foods like milk and cereals are good sources of Vitamin D and must be included in the diet. One must get adequate exposure to sunlight
as that is the main source of Vitamin D for us.
Being active is crucial: Exercising on a daily basis is essential for healthy bones. Weight bearing exercises like walking, jogging, climbing stairs can enhance bone strength and lower bone loss.
Smoking and excessive drinking must be stopped: One must give up smoking and moderate alcohol intake in order to keep bone health strong.
Some healthy lifestyle changes are needed to keep up bone health, restore bone density and prevent osteoporosis and other bone related issues, the risk of which increases with increasing age.