Osteoporosis is a disease that causes the bones to become weak, brittle, and porous. Weak bones are susceptible to fracture and, among the elderly, broken bones can have serious repercussions for overall health. As older people spend time recovering, their activity level typically decreases. This can result in weight gain, loss of muscle strength, depression, and other health problems.
Women are more susceptible to osteoporosis than men, and the risk increases with age. According to the International Osteoporosis Foundation, postmenopausal women will spend more days in the hospital as a result of osteoporosis than due to diabetes, breast cancer, and heart attack.
The most common fractures due to osteoporosis occur to bones in the back, forearm and hip, all of which can be seriously debilitating. Because there are no symptoms of bone loss prior to a fracture, many fail to take action to prevent it. A broken bone may be the first indication that osteoporosis has already progressed to a level that has weakened the entire skeletal structure. At this point, may be too late to return to really good bone health. That is why women especially should take action early to prevent “brittle bone disease” or reduce its severity before it becomes a lifestyle-threatening issue. It is imperative to begin preventive measures before the age of 45, when the likelihood of osteoporosis sharply increases.
Diet and Exercise
Many risk factors associated with osteoporosis are controllable, including especially:
- a diet low in calcium, iron, and Vitamin D
- alcohol consumption
- lack of exercise
Women should adopt a diet rich in calcium and iron. Calcium is an easy and especially appealing nutrient to add to a diet, being present in large amounts in yogurt, cheese, milk, and frozen dairy desserts. Good sources of iron include red meat and seafood, beans and peas, dark green leafy veggies, and dried fruits. Your body will synthesize its own Vitamin D if you give it lots of sunshine, but supplements are recommended nonetheless. (Many calcium supplements contain Vitamin D as well.)
Exercise also reverses the trend toward bone loss. Keep your bones strong or strengthen weak ones with weight-bearing exercises such as walking, hiking, dancing, or tennis. It is also advised that older women begin lifting weights regularly.
Hormones and Osteoporosis
Lowered estrogen levels, which typically occur with menopause, are correlated with the onset of osteoporosis in women. This gives us a clue about medical treatments that can halt or reverse the condition.
The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism published findings of a decade-long double-blind study that monitored the bone density of postmenopausal women who received growth hormone injections for osteoporosis. During those 10 years, the incidence of fracture decreased by an impressive 50% compared to the control group. The growth hormone appeared to affect bone mineral density, the effect of which lasts years after the last treatments were administered. Growth hormone therapy stimulates cell regeneration, and it just might be capable of turning back the biological clock to keep the body strong as it ages.
To learn about hormone replacement therapy for osteoporosis and other conditions in the San Francisco Bay area, contact Evolved Medical. We offer free consultations to discuss your situation, and we’ll work with you to help you maintain an active, healthy lifestyle at any stage of life.