Osteoporosis is a medical condition where the bones become fragile and brittle because of loss of tissue and bone density, with an increased susceptibility to bone fracture. With age, human bones begin to erode- a natural sign of aging. Bone mass starts decreasing after 35 years of age. It is common in older women as it occurs more rapidly in after menopause. At times, the loss of bone density is so much that it leaves our skeletons weak. The bones become abnormally porous and compressible; they become so brittle that even mild a fall or movements like bending or coughing can cause a fracture. These are the signs of Osteoporosis. The fractures caused by Osteoporosis commonly occur in the hip, wrist or spine. In worst case, bones can even crack under the body’s own weight!
The term ‘osteoporosis’ originates from the terms ‘osteo’, which means bone, and ‘porosis’ which denotes thinning or becoming porous. Hence combined, the term osteoporosis literally means ‘thinning of bone’. According to a medical dictionary, “Osteoporosis is a disease of the bone in which the bone mineral density is reduced which means one has a low bone mass and deteriorating bone tissue.” Bones are living tissues. They are constantly being broken down and replaced. Osteoporosis occurs when the process of creation of new bones is slower than the process removal of old bones. As a result, the bone mass is strongly affected. Higher the density, stronger is the bones. Thus, the bones become fragile and brittle.
Causes of Osteoporosis
Osteoporosis occurs when there is an imbalance between new bone formation and old bone resorption.
- Low estrogen in women and low testosterone in men
- Hormonal imbalance like parathyroid and growth hormones
- Deficiency of calcium and vitamin D
- Thyroid conditions (high levels of thyroid increases bone loss)
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Excess smoking and alcohol consumption
- Intake of certain medications like corticosteroids, etc.
- Certain medical conditions like cystic fibrosis, multiple myeloma, etc.
Osteoporosis, can hardly be detected at an early stage since there are no typical symptoms of bone loss. Symptoms and signs start appearing once bones have been weakened by osteoporosis. The symptoms include:
- Back pain, caused by a fractured or collapsed vertebra
- An unexpected bone fracture
- A stooped posture
- Loss of height at early stage
Natural remedies for osteoporosis
Now the question comes, how to prevent osteoporosis. Osteoporosis can be prevented and treated in a variety of ways. Calcium and Vitamin D are keys to bone health. Regular exercise is a key to strengthening bone mass. There are drugs available in the market that slow down the rate of bone erosion and even claim to help building of new bones. Natural remedies for osteoporosis are:
A healthy and cautious lifestyle
Many-a-times, developing osteoporosis depends on the lifestyle we lead. Thus to prevent it, we should follow certain basic rules:
- Quit smoking:Smoking increases the rate of bone erosion. No smoking helps in prevention of osteoporosis.
- Avoid alcohol: Consumption of more than two alcoholic drinks a day may decrease the rate of bone formation.
- Avoid colas and other carbonated soft drinks: They contain phosphoric acid, if consumed in excess amounts, our body starts to excrete calcium.
- Prevention of accidental falls:Cautious movements, avoiding slippery surfaces, wearing low-heeled shoes should be encouraged to avoid an accidental trip or fall which may break our bones.
Regular Exercise to Build Strong Bones
Several research studies have found that regular exercises have a preventive action on osteoporosis. The following examples of weight-bearing and strengthening exercises can help keep our bones strong:
- Aerobics: Twenty minutes of aerobic exercise a day will give us bone-building benefits. These exercises for strong bones should be continued for life, otherwise the bone-building benefits will fade.
- Weight-bearing exercises: Weight-bearing exercises help in prevention of osteoporosis. Thirty minutes of weight-bearing exercise such as walking or jogging increases bone mineral density, and strengthens the major muscle groups in the legs and back, thus reducing the chances of accidental falls. Exercises like running, biking, swimming or aerobic dance classes or the simple activity of climbing stairs will help us to increase bone mineral density.
- Water walking: Walking in chest-deep water for about thirty minutes is a suggested remedy, especially if one already had a fracture before. Water helps to support one’s body weight and takes stress off bones and joints.
- Yoga: Yoga has several bone-strengthening and bone-building benefits which helps in prevention of osteoporosis.
- Racquet sports: Playing racquet sports not only helps in strengthening our muscles, but also helps in increasing flexibility.
- Tai chi: Activities like tai chi can help us to stay flexible and avoid falling.
To complement the above exercises, these muscle-strengthening exercises will not only help us improve our muscle strength, they will also help strengthen our bones and help in prevention of osteoporosis:
- Shoulder blade squeezes
- Back extensions
- Abdominal curls
- Lifting free weights
- Using ankle and wrist weights
- Using elastic resistance band
- Using weight machines
- Using your own weight as resistance
- Workout with barbells
Nutrition and Diet
A poor diet lacking essential vitamins and minerals contributes to osteoporosis. Bones need nourishment from calcium, magnesium, vitamin D, and phosphorous. Calcium rich foods are especially necessary to maintain healthy bones. Deficiency of calcium and its supplements will result in increasing bone loss. We can get ample calcium from of the following:
- Low-fat or fat-free dairy products like milk, cheese, and yogurt
- Calcium fortified juices and food
- Sardines and salmons with bones
- Dark green leafy vegetables and broccoli
- Soy products
- Calcium supplements
Doctors recommend that one should include 1500mg of calcium in one’s daily diet. A human body can absorb only about 500 mg of calcium at one time and so the intake should be spread throughout the day.
Vitamin D helps our body to absorb calcium into the bloodstream. A depletion of Vitamin D causes the level of calcium in our blood to decrease. Along with Vitamin D rich diet, Vitamin D can be obtained through minimal sun exposure.
Bones are not made of calcium alone. They are an amalgam of various minerals such as zinc, boron and copper. A varied and broad-based diet of unprocessed foods, such as whole grains, beans, fresh fruits and vegetables, fish and lean meat are essential for nourishment of our bones. Boron rich foods such as in apples, pears, grapes and other fruits, as well as legumes, nuts and honey are beneficial for those affected by osteoporosis. Another beneficial mineral, manganese can be found in pineapples, nuts, spinach, beans and whole wheat.
Magnesium is essential for good bone growth and density. Its dietary sources include dark green leafy vegetables and nuts. Brussels sprouts provide essential vitamin K which helps to prevent osteoporosis.
As women near menopause, the fluctuating levels of the hormone oestrogen can cause a lot of damage to bones. To help keep estrogen levels from dropping sharply after menopause women need to include soybean, lentils, beans and chickpeas that are a rich source of phyto-oestrogens or plant oestrogens in their diets.
Thus, in the light of the above, the question “how to prevent osteoporosis” has been answered.
Herbs That Can Treat Osteoporosis
Another question arises, are there any osteoporosis natural remedies in form of medical herbs? The answer is yes. Osteoporosis natural remedies can come in form of herbs. They are:
- Osteoporosis natural treatment by Dandelion Tea: It helps to build bone density.
- Osteoporosis natural treatment by Red Clover: It improves bone mineral density
- Osteoporosis natural treatment by Chaste Berry: It contains vitexicarpin and vitricin, which help to balance hormone levels.
- Osteoporosis natural treatment by Black Cohosh: Recent studies have shown that black cohosh may help prevent osteoporosis.
- Osteoporosis natural treatment by Sesame Seeds: A handful of sesame seeds every morning may also help osteoporosis as it helps build bone density.
- Osteoporosis natural treatment by Red Clover: It improves bone mineral density.
Osteoporosis has become more common with age. About 200 million people have osteoporosis. It is more common in women than men. Osteoporosis is a medical condition that cannot be reversed, but can be prevented if taken care from youth. The natural remedies for osteoporosis are easy to follow. Since now you know, how to prevent osteoporosis naturally, next time you plan your diet, keep your bones in mind and walk towards a healthy and painless old age.
All the treatments – medicines, injections and vaccines are for general information of the reader. Please consult a doctor and get a formal prescription before taking any medicines, supplements and injections.
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