Osteoporosis afflicts over 5 million people 50 and over in the United States alone, including both men and women. In simple terms, osteoporosis is lost bone density over time; the resulting brittle, inflexible bones crack and break easily and may not heal properly. While osteoporosis can be treated with bisphosphonates, the treatment has a number of potentially serious side effects. These natural treatments or remedies generally can’t cure osteoporosis, but they may help delay onset or progression of the condition.
Take in dietary phytoestrogens
Higher estrogen levels appear to encourage activity in the osteoblasts, or the cells that are responsible for creating bone. Naturally occurring phytoestrogens, such as those produced by fava beans, soybeans and velvet beans, may play a similar role. While it’s impossible to replace all of the estrogen loss in, say, menopause or the removal of ovaries with just dietary phytoestrogens, a habit of including them in your everyday diet may benefit your bone health.
Eat calcium-rich food
Calcium supplements are great, but your body can’t always absorb a whole big pill. Leafy greens, milk, fortified cereals and more are good sources of dietary calcium. If you don’t already get the recommended amount of calcium every day – which is higher for women than men, due to the high rate of osteoporosis in women – then make it a point to add it. Doctors recommend that calcium supplements be taken between meals so that it doesn’t compete with iron or other molecules for absorption.
Make sure your vitamins are balanced
Loading your body with calcium won’t do much good if your body can’t absorb and use it. You also need Vitamin D, zinc, boron, and other essential vitamins and minerals to ensure that your body can properly process all of the building blocks for your bones. Take a daily multivitamin, and make sure to eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables.
Reduce or eliminate tobacco and alcohol
At any stage in osteoporosis, tobacco and alcohol can cause serious issues. Tobacco reduces estrogen production, and reduces the intestinal ability to absorb calcium. Alcohol also reduces the body’s ability to absorb calcium, and may directly interfere with the body’s bone-building capabilities. Impairment from alcohol consumption can also increase your risk of injury from falls.
Get rid of fall hazards
While falls don’t cause osteoporosis, they can make the condition a lot worse very quickly. Make sure that you wear comfortable, low-heeled shoes to reduce the risk of falls. Get a good night’s sleep, and make sure your home has safety rails and clear walkways. If you have pets, take extra care on stairways and hard floors to make sure you don’t trip over them.
Do recommended exercises at any stage
No matter how old you are or your current health status, it’s still crucial to exercise. If you already have osteoporosis or other health issues, you may not be able to do some exercises. That doesn’t mean you can’t or shouldn’t do doctor-recommended exercises on a daily basis. The right exercises can help take the stress off your joints, improve bone density, and increase your body’s ability to absorb nutrients.
Osteoporosis prevention and treatment starts early. Women should assume they’re at risk and take preventative measures as early in life as possible, and maintain healthy habits throughout old age. Men get osteoporosis much less often – about 2% of men over 50, as opposed to 10% of women – but they’re still at risk, especially if they smoke or drink. Discuss your risk factors with your doctor to determine which natural treatments or lifestyle changes might benefit your overall health.