5 ‘Harmless’ Habits That Could Give You Osteoporosis
You know you need calcium for healthy bones. But is your lifestyle reducing its proper absorption? THE INCIDENCE OF OSTEOPOROSIS
in the Asia-Pacific region is expected to surge in the coming decades. In fact, it is expected that by 2050 more than half of the world’s hip fractures will occur in Asia. Osteoporosis is a bone disease that occurs when you lose bone mass and bone quality – and leads to an increased risk of broken bones. Globally, an osteoporosis fracture occurs every three seconds. These fractures impact one in five men aged over 50 years, and one in two women. But osteoporosis is not
inevitable. There are habits you can change now to reduce your risk.
1 TOO MUCH TIME ON THE COUCH
A sedentary lifestyle can inadvertently increase your chances of osteoporosis. “Bone is a living tissue and responds to load and stress placed upon it,” says Greg Lyubomirsky, CEO of Osteoporosis Australia. “For bone, the more you use it, the more it will adapt and strengthen.” Studies in astronauts and people with prolonged bed rest have proved this. The weightlessness
of space actually causes astronauts to lose bone mass. The solution for us here on earth? Weight-bearing and resistance exercise. “Make sure that the exercise you choose actually loads your skeleton,” says orthopaedic specialist Dr Jonathan Lee. “An activity such as walking might be better than swimming for osteoporosis prevention.” 2
EATING SALTY SNACKS
When it comes to bone health, focusing on calcium is key. Bones act like a storage bank for calcium which is also used in other parts of the body. It’s recommended adults consume 1000 mg of calcium daily and this increases to 1300 mg for women over 50 years of age and men over 70.
A habit to avoid is a high-salt diet, as too much sodium is bad for bones as well as blood pressure. When your kidneys excrete sodium, your body also removes calcium.
3 YOU CAN’T GO WITHOUT CAFFEINE
Coffee seems to be good for you one month, but not the next. Dr Lee says that how caffeine affects bones really seems to be more of a potential issue for older women. “Researchers who studied why caffeine might contribute to bone loss seem to conclude that effects really only occur in the absence of significant amounts of estrogen, so it might be more of a problem in post-menopausal women,” he says.
4 UNWINDING WITH WINE
Low levels of alcohol consumption may be good for your bones, according to a US study, but more than a couple of drinks a day has the opposite effect. “Too much alcohol makes it harder for the GI tract to absorb calcium,” says Dr Lee.
A WEAKNESS FOR SOFT DRINK Some research has shown that soft drinks have been linked with bone loss because of caffeine or the levels of phosphoric acid in them – which can leach calcium from bones. However, according to Dr Lee, “Most experts now feel it’s more likely that soft drink is replacing healthy calcium intake, rather than causing the problem.”
A milky coffee, smoothie or glass of milk are much better alternatives.
Weight-bearing exercise and calciumrich drinks are good for bone health