Osteoporosis means porous bones, literally. Hence, being diagnosed with the disease means that the bone interior has lost so much density that there’s not much left to hold them together. This puts those with osteoporosis at a much greater risk for bone breaks and fractures than others. While some risks of osteoporosis are unavoidable, there are natural treatments everyone can do to strengthen bones.
The Reality and Risks
Everyone loses bone density, starting around age 30. The inside of bones is a honeycomb-like material called trabecular bone, which is typically the place to lose critical density. The hard outer part of the bone called cortical, which is about 80 percent of your bone mass, declines too, but much slower.
Many women – and men – are unaware of their loss of bone density until a concerned doctor orders a test. Or, a fall or bump into something surprisingly results in a fracture because the bones are now more brittle.
There are several risk factors that people cannot do anything about:
- Women are vastly more likely to develop osteoporosis than are men.
- Caucasians and Asians develop osteoporosis more than Blacks.
- Small or petite people are at greater risk because of their small bones.
- The earlier a woman experiences menopause (naturally or surgically), the greater her risk of osteoporosis.
- Family history of osteoporosis.
The best remedies for osteoporosis are lifestyle habits. If you have strong bones, a healthy lifestyle can help keep them that way. If you already have declining bone mass, you can keep it from getting worse. Here are some things you can do to mitigate density loss and some bone boosters in your kitchen:
- Exercise Regularly. Exercise, particularly weight-bearing exercise, is one of the most important ways to fight osteoporosis. Forcing a bone to carry a load or work against gravity signals the body to produce more bone cells, thereby increasing the mass and making the bone stronger. Walking, jogging, dancing, strength training and aerobics are some exercise modes that fit the bill.
- Drink Some Alcohol. Yes, you read that right. It has actually been shown that small amounts of alcohol, about three to six drinks per week, helps your body retain calcium and prevent osteoporosis by raising estrogen levels. But don’t go overboard; too much alcohol damages your overall health.
- Moderate Caffeine Consumption. Caffeine from coffee or other caffeinated drinks can lead to some calcium loss. The amount isn’t that high — the caffeine in a cup of coffee reportedly cancels the calcium in about one tablespoon of milk. So, enjoy some caffeine, but keep it in moderation.
- You Can Be Too Thin. Osteoporosis may be one of the few conditions where being overweight actually offers some protection. Could it be that walking about with the extra weight strengthens bone? While too much extra weight causes other health issues, this suggests that it is equally important to avoid being model thin is as important as avoiding being obese.
- Limit Protein Consumption. In the U.S., we generally eat more protein than we need for our health. Too much protein causes calcium to be excreted. Over time, if not compensated for with a greater calcium intake, this loss will affect the bones.
- Consume Magnesium. Studies show that magnesium, a mineral present in relatively large amounts in the body, is vital for strengthening, preserving, and rebuilding bones. In fact, half of the magnesium in the body is in the bones. However, many people, particularly women, do not get enough magnesium in their diet. Nuts (especially almonds), whole grains and broccoli have magnesium, but an easy way to add some is peanut butter (in many brands 50 mg in 2 tablespoons).
- Soak Up Some Sunshine. Vitamin D helps the absorption of calcium from the intestine, but production of Vitamin D by the skin depends on exposure to sunlight. An estimated 50 percent of elderly women consume far less vitamin D in their diet than is recommended. In colder areas, it is even worse because production of vitamin D is markedly diminished in the winter, especially for the elderly. In that population, dietary vitamin D becomes very important. For the rest of us, getting outside when the sun is shining really helps.
- Add Vinegar to Dishes. Vinegar helps pull calcium out of food and into you. Add a splash when you are cooking a soup with meat will help pull calcium out of the bones. It does the same thing for salad greens and other foods.
- An Apple a Day … Apples contain boron, a trace mineral that helps your body hold onto calcium. It also acts as a mild estrogen replacement. Estrogen and calcium are important for bone strength. Boron is also found in pears, grapes, dates, raisins, peaches and many nuts.
- Get More Calcium (But Not Too Much). I saved calcium for last, because calcium consumption is the most familiar recommendation people make for bone building. Yet, most of us don’t come close to the recommended amounts. Milk and yogurt are good sources of calcium, so are figs. Many people take calcium supplements. Just many sure you are not taking in more non-dietary calcium than needed. Excess calcium from supplements is excreted through the kidneys can increase the risk of kidney stones. To play it safe, only supplement what you do not get through your diet.
Frequently Asked Questions – National Osteoporosis Foundation
Osteopenia Treatment – Web MD
Vitamin D for Osteoporosis – Web MD
Is there a natural cure for osteoporosis? – Daily Mail
26 Home Remedies for Osteoporosis – How Stuff Works