Osteoporosis means “porous bone.” If you looked at healthy bone under a microscope, you would see that parts of it look like a honeycomb. If you have osteoporosis, the holes and spaces in the honeycomb are much bigger than they are in healthy bone.
This means your bones have lost density, or mass. It also means that the structure of your bone tissues has become abnormal. As your bones become less dense, they become weaker.
For some people affected by the disease, simple activities such as lifting a child, bending down to pick up a newspaper or even sneezing can cause a bone to break.
Many of the choices you make each day can affect your bones. By making healthier choices you can help to reduce your risk of osteoporosis as well as the painful fractures it can cause.
a) Calcium. Calcium is a mineral that is important for healthy bones. It is a building block of bone.
b) Vitamin D. Vitamin D is important because it helps your body use calcium. If you don’t get enough vitamin D or if your body does not absorb it well, you are at much greater risk for bone loss and osteoporosis.
c) Phosphorous. Like calcium, phosphorous is a part of the bones. Because this mineral is naturally present in many foods, most people get enough phosphorus. It is sometimes added to processed foods and soft drinks in the form of phosphate or phosphoric acid. While some experts say that Americans may be getting too much phosphorous, many experts believe that phosphorous intake is not a problem as long as people get enough calcium.
d) Other Minerals and Vitamins. Magnesium, vitamin K, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12 are some of the many minerals and vitamins that are important for bone health. If you eat a well-balanced diet, you should be getting enough of these nutrients. Most experts recommend multivitamins or supplements for people who do not get what they need from foods.
e) Protein. Eating foods that supply protein is important for your health. But a very high protein diet, particularly animal protein, causes a loss of calcium through the kidneys. You can make up for this calcium loss by getting enough calcium to meet your body’s needs.
f) Caffeine. Found naturally in coffee and tea, caffeine is often added to soft drinks. Caffeine may decrease calcium absorption. One study suggests that drinking 330 mg of caffeine, or about four cups of coffee, daily increases the risk of fractures. To protect your bones, try not to have too many drinks with caffeine each day. You can also offset the calcium lost from drinking caffeine but increasing your calcium intake.
g) Soft Drinks. Some people are concerned that the phosphorous and/or caffeine in certain soft drinks may harm bone health. Other experts suggest the harm to bone is caused by people substituting soft drinks for milk and calcium fortified juices. In other words, when soft drinks take the place of milk and other sources of calcium, bone health may be affected.
h) Sodium (salt). Eating foods that have a lot of sodium may decrease your body’s ability to retain calcium. Eating too much sodium is bad for your bones and can cause bone loss. Try cooking without adding extra salt, and limit the salty snacks and processed foods that you eat.
i) Spinach. Spinach contains high levels of oxalate. Oxalate prevents the body from absorbing calcium from spinach. The body can absorb calcium found in most other green vegetables such as broccoli and kale. Although spinach can be part of a healthy diet, it just can’t be counted as a source of calcium. It does not affect calcium absorption from other foods.
j) Wheat Bran. 100% wheat bran is the only food that appears to reduce the absorption of calcium in other foods that are eaten at the same time. If you are taking calcium supplements, you may want to take your supplement two or more hours before or after eating any foods with 100% wheat bran. Although wheat bran may interfere with calcium absorption, foods with wheat bran are still considered a part of a healthy diet.
Courtesy: National Osteoporosis Foundation