5 ‘Harm­less’ Habits That Could Give You Os­teo­poro­sis

Reader's Digest Asia Pacific - - The Digest - BY TINA DONVITO

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.


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


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.


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.


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

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