6 Life­style Choices You Will Feel in Your Bones

Sur­pris­ing rea­sons your os­teo­poro­sis dan­ger rises—and how to re­duce the risk

Reader's Digest - - Contents - TINA DONVITO

1 YOU SPEND TOO LIT­TLE TIME ON THE MOVE

“Bone is a liv­ing tis­sue,” says Jonathan Lee, MD, an at­tend­ing physi­cian of or­tho­pe­dics at Mon­te­fiore Health Sys­tem in New York City. “The more you use it, the more it will adapt and strengthen. Like­wise, if it is not sub­jected to load­ing, it will waste away.” The so­lu­tion? Weight-bear­ing ex­er­cise—even just walk­ing. Strength train­ing counts too.

2 YOU EAT SALTY SNACKS

A study from Ja­pan showed that post­menopausal women who

had high sodium in­takes were more than four times as likely to have a frac­ture as those with low sodium in­takes. That’s be­cause as the kid­neys ex­crete the sodium, cal­cium is drained from the blood­stream.

3 YOU SHUN SUN­LIGHT

“Vitamin D is re­quired for the body to suc­cess­fully ab­sorb and use cal­cium,” Dr. Lee says. “Most Amer­i­cans do not get enough sun ex­po­sure to gen­er­ate enough nat­u­ral vitamin D, and thus sup­ple­men­ta­tion is es­sen­tial.” Ac­cord­ing to the Na­tional Os­teo­poro­sis Foun­da­tion, adults un­der 50 need 400 to 800 IU of vitamin D daily and adults 50 and older need 800 to 1,000 IU. Talk to your doc­tor about your spe­cific needs based on where you live, what time of year it is, and which vitamin D–rich foods you eat.

4 YOU’RE LOS­ING TONS OF WEIGHT

Reach­ing a healthy weight is good, but los­ing too much weight can harm your bones. A body mass index (BMI) of less than 18.5 is con­sid­ered a risk fac­tor for os­teo­poro­sis. Ac­cord­ing to a study from the Har­vard T.H. Chan School of Pub­lic Health, just a one­u­nit in­crease in BMI (ap­prox­i­mately five to eight pounds) de­creased the risk of bone loss by 12 per­cent. Dr. Lee also points out that “those who are un­der­weight might be suf­fer­ing from mal­nu­tri­tion, which could con­trib­ute to os­teo­poro­sis.”

5 YOU UN­WIND WITH WINE

Low lev­els of al­co­hol con­sump­tion may be good for your bones, ac­cord­ing to a study from Ore­gon State Univer­sity, but more than a cou­ple of drinks a day has the op­po­site ef­fect. “Too much al­co­hol can make it harder for the GI tract to ab­sorb cal­cium,” says Dr. Lee. Al­co­hol can also in­crease cor­ti­sol lev­els, which can lead to lower bone min­eral den­sity. Fur­ther­more, “in women in par­tic­u­lar, higher al­co­hol con­sump­tion can de­crease es­tro­gen lev­els, and this can also lead to os­teo­poro­sis,” Dr. Lee says. “To top it all off, al­co­hol is di­rectly toxic to os­teoblasts, the cells that be­come bone cells.”

6 YOU LIVE IN AN AREA WITH DIRTY AIR

In a study re­cently pub­lished in the Lancet Plan­e­tary Health, re­searchers crunched hos­pi­tal ad­mis­sion data for 9.2 mil­lion Medi­care par­tic­i­pants in the North­east and mid-at­lantic be­tween 2003 and 2010. They found that even a small in­crease in lev­els of am­bi­ent par­tic­u­late mat­ter— itty-bitty specks of pol­lu­tants in the air—may lead to an in­crease in bone frac­tures and os­teo­poro­sis in older adults. If you live in a smoggy area, use an air pu­ri­fier with a high­ef­fi­ciency par­tic­u­late air (HEPA) fil­ter at home, avoid ex­er­cis­ing out­doors when the air qual­ity is bad, and get screened for os­teo­poro­sis.

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