Throughout our lifetime, bone tissue is continually broken down and rebuilt. Estrogen is a crucial player in the rebuilding phase of this lifelong cycle. Once estrogen production declines during menopause, bones are breaking down at a faster rate than they rebuild. This is why women have a higher risk of developing osteoporosis than men, especially during and after menopause.
Fortunately, women can take steps to help their bones rebuild, despite calcium loss, many of which are as simple as making healthy lifestyle choices.
5 Things You Can Do To Prevent Osteoporosis
According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF), 80% of the patients diagnosed with osteoporosis in the United States are women, and roughly 50% of all women will eventually break a bone due to bone loss.
The sooner you take these steps to prevent osteoporosis, the healthier your bones will be:
1. Speak to your OB/GYN at your next appointment.
The tendency towards developing osteoporosis is genetic as well as a matter of diet and lifestyle choices. Speak to your physician at your next appointment about your interest in learning more about cultivating and maintaining strong, healthy bones.
S/he’ll review your family and personal medical history and make recommendations. For example, if you fall into a “higher-risk” bracket, your physician may recommend specific supplements or medications that increase calcium absorption and bone matrix rebuilding.
2. Exercise at least 30-minutes a day (focusing on weight-bearing/muscle resistance)
When muscles encounter resistance or need to lift/push/carry extra weight, it triggers the bones to “get stronger” by adding more bone mass. Hitting the gym and working with a personal trainer to cultivate a healthy weight-lifting/resistance routine is one solution. There are plenty of other exercises you can do for 30-minutes a day that also support strong bones:
● Water exercising
● Stair climbing
Try to balance both upper- and lower-body resistance for best results.
3. Eat a healthy (calcium-rich) diet.
The dairy industry took the world by storm with its “milk does a body good” campaign. And, while milk is a good source of calcium, there are plenty of other foods and veggies that are calcium-rich as well. These include:
● Cottage cheese
● Leafy greens
● Fortified bread, pasta, and cereal
● Most daily vitamin supplements (always speak to a doctor before taking a vitamin or mineral supplement)
● Fortified orange juice
● Sesame, poppy, and chia seeds
● Beans and lentils
If you aren’t already, we recommend observing an anti-inflammatory diet. In addition to supporting a healthy, reasonable calorie diet, it focuses on nutrient-dense foods that inhibit inflammation, supporting overall health. In addition, anti-inflammatory diets are proven to reduce the symptoms of common reproductive issues such as endometriosis and PCOS.
4. Reduce alcohol consumption (and quit smoking)
Alcohol exacerbates a myriad of medical and health conditions, including the symptoms of menopause (such as hot flashes, insomnia, and depression). Heavy alcohol consumption further increases your risk of osteoporosis, so we recommend limiting drinks to no more than three per day.
If you smoke, you also increase the risk of reduced bone density. Nicotine is a highly addictive substance, and we understand how hard it is to quit. However, the health benefits are exponentially worth your effort. Speak to us about your habit, and we’ll work with you to get the information, support, and cessation tools you need to quit the habit once and for all.
5. Increase vitamin d stores
Again, you should always check with your physician before taking any new supplements. That said, vitamin D is essential for calcium absorption. So, women who have low vitamin d levels also tend to be calcium-deprived. Ideally, post-menopausal women should get somewhere between 1000 and 2000 IU of vitamin d per day.
Talk to your doctor about running a blood panel to determine your baseline, and then make dietary or supplementation changes accordingly. Getting a little dose of sunshine each day is a good start. Even as little as 10 to 15 minutes of daylight exposure (via a walk or bike ride – as part of your new exercise commitment) boosts natural vitamin d stores.
You can get vitamin d from other food sources like salmon, herring, sardines, egg yolks, tuna, mushrooms, and vitamin d fortified food products.
Now’s the time to create healthy bone-building habits that reduce your chances of developing osteoporosis down the road.
Would you like to visit an OB/GYN that takes a big-picture look at reproductive health at every age? Then, schedule your next appointment with OB/GYN Associates of Spokane.