As we age, the topic of osteoporosis is discussed more regularly. If you’re a woman around the age of menopause or older, your doctor has likely mentioned this disease to you in passing. Or maybe you’ve heard of others exhibiting the early signs of osteoporosis. But what exactly is osteoporosis? Is it preventable? And why is it more common in women? Let’s dive in!
Osteoporosis is when your bones lose strength over time. It’s easy to think of bones as big and solid, but they have porous interiors similar to a honeycomb. Osteoporosis is when those “honeycomb” structures get more extensive; therefore, the bones get weaker and more prone to injuries.
Older women are more at risk for osteoporosis because women go through menopause. The hormonal changes during menopause can accelerate bone loss. Women with a small frame, poor nutrition, and a family history of osteoporosis have a higher risk of developing weakened bones.
Osteoporosis can affect any bones in your body but is usually found in the wrist bones, the spine, and the hips. Symptoms like brittle nails, receding gums, and weak wrists are all early symptoms of osteoporosis. It can lead to life-threatening problems like blood clots, broken bones, and pneumonia, which makes it even more critical to prevent.
All this information probably sounds overwhelming, but there’s good news! There are ways that you can help slow and even prevent osteoporosis.
Methods for Preventing Osteoporosis
Bone health is so crucial for combating osteoporosis. Diet changes supporting bone health are vital to ward off weakened bones. There are a couple of supplements I take daily to enhance bone health. Calcium is essential for maintaining bone density. Women 50 years and younger should aim for 1,000 mg of calcium daily, and women 51 years and older should aim for 1,200 mg daily. Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium, so I also take a liquid vitamin D supplement (Thorne Health is one of my favorite brands!).
I take a magnesium supplement to prevent muscle injuries, support my sleep, and help me relax. And vitamin C is a super-vitamin that helps immunity!
Exercise is another vital aspect of maintaining healthy bones. In particular, yoga is excellent for improving flexibility and protecting your joints. It’s gentle enough to prevent injury but also helps build muscle. And make sure not to skip the gym! According to several studies, weight-bearing exercises, like walking or weight training, slow bone density loss and stimulate new bone growth.
Maintaining adequate gut health is one of my favorite ways to support my bones. Did you know good gut bacteria can help to increase bone mass and fight already-forming osteoporosis? Research suggests that gut microbes can increase bone mass and improve osteoporosis by inhibiting the formation of osteoclasts – the cells that degrade bone. And osteoporosis prevention doesn’t stop there. Inflammation plays a big role in the formation of osteoporosis.
Inflammation and Osteoporosis
Lowering inflammation levels can reduce and even prevent your risk of osteoporosis. If you’re looking for an easy listen, Dr. Mark Hyman has a recent episode on the topic on his podcast, The Doctor’s Farmacy.
High inflammation levels can drive osteoporosis and weaken bone density. Chronic inflammation is one of the leading causes of osteoporosis. Those with chronic inflammatory conditions like arthritis, leaky gut, and gluten sensitivity are more at risk for osteoporosis.
An anti-inflammatory diet that keeps the gut healthy can decrease inflammation and the risk of osteoporosis. Eating fewer processed foods and increasing green leafy vegetables, sardines, and herring are all great methods that can help build bone mass, which prevents osteoporosis. Sugar, alcohol, caffeine, and salt can dissolve your bones, so it’s important to eliminate those foods from your diet or consume them in moderation.
Unlike what most people think, dairy is not necessarily the answer or best treatment for preventing osteoporosis. Tahini and chia seeds are higher-quality sources of calcium that are easier to absorb and contain vitamin K, too.
Maintaining muscle mass and activity can dramatically reduce the risk of osteoporosis. Resistance exercise is excellent for supporting muscles, balance, and bone health. Not only is movement great for your bone health, but it’s also great for your entire body.
Osteoporosis and gut health go hand in hand, and it’s essential to support your bone health in every way possible. I am offering an exclusive new Gut Cleanse edition of the S.O.U.P. Cleanse! This powerful whole-food cleanse can help to eliminate joint inflammation triggers and floods your body with potent plant nutrition. If you’re interested in my SOUP Cleanse, you can sign up now!