Millions of people suffer from debilitating osteoporosis. Statistics show that over 54 million men and women in the United States — and 200 million worldwide — either already have osteoporosis or are at risk for developing the condition due to low bone mass.
Osteoporosis literally means “porous bone” and is a disease in which the quality and density of the bone are reduced, increasing your risk of fracture.
According to Everyday Health, there are some genetic risk factors like family history, age, and ethnicity that can increase your risk for osteoporosis, but there also are lifestyle choices that you can control. And some may surprise you.
- Consuming green drinks. Green smoothies are trendy these days, but Jayson Calton, Ph.D., and his wife, Mira, authors of “Rebuild Your Bones,” warn that they may contribute to osteoporosis, high blood pressure, and kidney stones. “Raw greens — such as Swiss chard, spinach, and beet greens — contain anti-nutrients called oxalates which bind to calcium, magnesium, and iron in foods and block their absorption,” say the experts. “Our advice is don’t eat them raw.” Boiling the greens, and then chilling before blending, reduces oxalate content by almost 90%.
- Being sedentary. Laila S. Tabatabai, M.D., an assistant professor of clinical medicine at Houston Methodist and the Weill Cornell Medical College, says that her sedentary patients are at more risk for bone loss because they aren’t reaping the benefits of bone-strengthening physical activity, according to Everyday Health.
- Following a low protein diet. Your bones need protein — either from animal or plant sources — to help bind with calcium. “In order to rebuild bone, we must give any ingested calcium a structure to hold on to,” say the Caltons, adding that a 130-pound person needs at least 71 grams of protein spread over four meals for the most dramatic bone-building benefits. A chicken breast contains about 54 grams of protein and Greek yogurt has about 17 grams per cup.
- Skipping supplements. Calcium and vitamin D are essential for bone health, but since most adults don’t eat enough dairy or expose themselves to enough sunlight to absorb these nutrients naturally, experts tell Everyday Health that supplementation is a good idea.
- Eating too much salty food. According to Dr. Frederick Singer, M.D., director of endocrinology and bone disease at the John Wayne Cancer Center in Santa Monica, California, “There is absolutely a correlation between high salt intake and lower bone density.” The American Heart Association recommends consuming less than 2,300 milligrams daily.
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