A recent study published in the journal Bone indicates that bone fracture rates are likely to increase in the coming decades. The predictions are largely related to the incidence of osteoporosis among a large segment of the population that is aging, as well as an increase in sports-related fractures among young and active people. When it comes to any type of bone fracture, especially one involving the spine, the most common and debilitating symptom is severe pain.
First, it should be understood that osteoporosis is NOT just a normal part of the aging process in humans. Rather, it is an irreversible and degenerative disease that results in bone loss over time. So when it comes to prevention, the younger one starts, the better off they’ll be later in life. But the truth is that it is NEVER too late. In order to protect your bones, one of the most important things you can do is to focus on what you eat. Unfortunately, the American diet falls far short of the recommended daily values of calcium and Vitamin D, both essential for strong bone health and density.
In addition to a well-balanced diet, regular exercise is important to help reduce the risk of osteoporosis and to keep bones strong. Focus on exercises that are both weight-bearing (think high-or-low-impact aerobics or walking/jogging) and muscle-strengthening (think weightlifting and exercise bands). Yoga and Pilates can also help to improve strength, balance and flexibility – essential ingredients in the prevention of bone fracture due to falls.
Finally, while it is important to incorporate a healthy diet and regular exercise into your osteoporosis prevention routine, there are some items to fully exclude or limit. These include smoking and alcohol. The chemicals in cigarettes have been widely studied as a significant contributor to bone loss as does heavy alcohol consumption. Talk to a doctor about a smoking cessation program if you need one and limit alcoholic beverage intake to no more than 2-3 drinks per day.
While this study may predict a rise in osteoporosis-related fractures in the coming years, the situation isn’t hopeless and there is plenty each of us can do to reverse the trend.