As people age, their bones begin to lose calcium and become fragile, a condition called osteoporosis. This condition affects the majority of the world’s population over the age of 70, and up until recently, the brittle bones and stooped stature of the elderly were taken for granted. However, prevention of osteoporosis is now a real possibility.
Both men and women lose bone mass as they age. Estrogen is crucial for bones to be able to absorb calcium from food, and as a woman’s estrogen levels drop during menopause, bone loss may increase. Men suffer from the same process as their testosterone level decreases.
Among the earliest observable signs of bone density loss may be a decrease in height. For others, the first sign of osteoporosis is bone fracture. Even though osteoporosis afflicts the elderly, it is important that prevention begin early in life. Bone growth peaks in our late twenties so by starting to build strong bones early in life, one can slow and even prevent bone loss. Osteoporosis is preventable and treatable … the key is to begin now.
Orange Juice Does A Body Good
Calcium and vitamin D are essential for bone health. Calcium is necessary to build and maintain bones and vitamin D is needed because the body cannot absorb calcium without it. Cow’s milk has traditionally been credited as the best food for strong bones, but there are many people who have an adverse reaction to lactose.
New studies show that your body is able to absorb calcium and vitamin D from orange juice as readily as it does from milk. Another bonus? Orange juice is packed full of vitamin C, a potent antioxidant.
Another source of vitamin D is exposure to a healthy amount of sun; the ultraviolet rays of the sun promote the production of vitamin D. Nutritionally, eating a diet rich in dark leafy greens, beans, and legumes can all help you prevent osteoporosis.
Build Up Bones with Exercises
All the calcium and vitamin D supplements in the world won’t make a difference if people aren’t also engaging in activities that exert weight on the bones. Moderate weight-bearing exercises, such as walking 30 minutes three times a week, can sufficiently restore calcium to bones. Herbal supplements, such as Dura-Bone, formulated to be used as a dietary supplement for supporting healthy bone-building function, can also be beneficial. As such, it is appropriate for young people, older adults, athletes requiring extra skeletal bulk, and “weekend athletes” suffering from fatigue and lower back pain.
Consider this: the bone fractures that come with osteoporosis are often due to falling. Aged people often lose their balance because of weak ankles. You can help prevent falls and fractures by exercising the muscles that keep you upright. Here’s how:
Sit in a chair and hold one leg straight out in front of you, parallel to the floor. Flex the top of your foot as far back toward the shin as is comfortable and hold for 15 seconds. Repeat this five times.
Now rotate your foot clockwise in as wide a circle as possible, slowly and with isometric pressure, five times. Repeat with your foot moving in a counterclockwise direction.
Repeat this whole set of exercises with your other foot. Perform these exercises three or four times a week to decrease your chance of a debilitating fall.
Take up tai chi. Researches have shown that practicing tai chi at least three times a week can dramatically reduce falls by increasing balance and proprioception. You can take tai chi classes at your local community recreation center or learn at home from an instructional DVD. Check out my tai chi DVD at wellnesslivingstore.com.
What to Avoid
There are many factors that are known or suspected to accelerate the rate of bone loss. These include lack of exercise, smoking, caffeine, and excessive alcohol, sugar, and salt. Soft drinks and sodas are very high in phosphorus, which in excess actually causes calcium loss from your bones.
Various medications can do the same – steroids, estrogen blockers and thyroid medications to name a few – so if you are taking these, be sure your doctor carefully monitors your bone health. Women are much more prone to osteoporosis than men, so they should take precautions to avoid the pitfalls of bone loss.
May you Live Long, Live Strong, and Live Happy!
Dr. Mao Shing Ni, better known as Dr. Mao is a bestselling author, doctor of Oriental Medicine and board certified anti-aging expert. He has appeared regularly on Dr. Oz, the Doctors and EXTRA. Dr. Mao practices acupuncture, nutrition and Chinese medicine with his associates at the Tao of Wellness in Santa Monica and Newport Beach. Dr. Mao and his brother, Dr. Daoshing Ni founded Tao of Wellness over 25 years ago in addition to also founding Yo San University in Marina del Rey. To subscribe to his tip-filled newsletter please visit www.taoofwellness.com. To make an appointment for evaluation and treatment please call 310.917.2200 or you can email Dr. Mao at [email protected]
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