Osteoporosis is a condition in which the body gradually loses bone mass. For patients who are diagnosed with it, diet and lifestyle modifications are often recommended as part of treatment. The goal is to prevent the condition from progressing and help you remain as healthy as possible.
Board-certified rheumatologists Nathaniel Neal, MD, and Rebekah Neal-Kraal, MD, of Valerius Medical Group & Research Center in Los Alamitos, California, are experts in treating osteoporosis. In this blog, they explain how lifestyle changes and medical treatments can help you live well if you have osteoporosis.
There are many things you can do on your own or with the help of a medical professional that can help you stay strong and live well. Here are some of them.
Calcium is the most important mineral for achieving bone mass. Adult calcium intake should range between 1,000-1,200 mg per day. This varies depending on your age.
Adding calcium-rich foods to your diet can help ensure that you get enough calcium to protect your bones. Low-fat milk, yogurt, cheese, sardines, soy foods, and collard greens are all good choices. Calcium is also added to a variety of foods, including orange juice, breakfast bars, and cereals. If you’re still not getting enough, you should ask your provider if you should add a calcium supplement.
You should also be aware of things that can deplete calcium. Consuming a diet high in protein, caffeine, or salt may lower your calcium levels. However, for those who get enough calcium, this may not be a problem.
Your body makes vitamin D as a result of sun exposure on the skin. However, 42% of American adults are deficient in this crucial nutrient. You’re even more likely to have a vitamin D deficiency if you have dark skin. Roughly 82% of African Americans are deficient in vitamin D.
To complicate matters, few foods are rich in vitamin D. The richest sources include salmon, herring, canned tuna, cod liver oil, and egg yolks. It’s crucial to monitor your vitamin D levels and discuss supplementation if dietary modifications aren’t enough to keep your levels within an optimal range.
Staying active is beneficial for managing weak bones, and it’s good for your overall health, too. Strength training and aerobic weight-bearing exercises have been shown to improve bone density in people with osteoporosis.
Strength training entails using free weights, resistance bands, or your own body weight to strengthen your major muscle groups, particularly your spinal muscles, which are important for posture. When it comes to weight-bearing aerobic activity, try walking, dancing, elliptical training machines, stair climbing, or other forms of low-impact aerobics.
Both strength training and aerobic exercises can help increase range of motion, build muscle, and slow mineral loss. These exercises can also help improve the health of the heart and circulatory system.
Before you start a new exercise regime, make sure to consult with your provider. Your exercise training should be tailored to your ability and tolerance.
One of the most important things you can do is reduce your risk of falling. Once you sustain a fracture, you’re at an increased risk for another. You can help eliminate home hazards by doing the following:
Furthermore, an occupational therapist can evaluate your home and recommend changes you can make to reduce your chances of falling. If you live alone and are at risk of falling, you can also consider having an alert system installed, so you can get help if you fall and can’t move.
Before designing a treatment plan, your provider evaluates a number of factors, such as your age, bone density, and any preexisting conditions. Depending on the results, your provider may recommend medications, such as the following:
Bisphosphonates inhibit the activity of osteoclasts, which are bone cells that break down and reabsorb minerals, such as calcium. Limiting the activity of osteoclasts can allow bone-building cells to work more efficiently.
RANKL inhibitors also reduce the activity of osteoclasts, which, in turn, can help reduce the chances for fractures.
The team at Valerius Medical Group & Research Center are here to guide patients with osteoporosis through treatment options and lifestyle changes that can help them manage their condition and improve their quality of life. To learn more, call 562-294-6533 to book an appointment today.