Approximately 80 percent of the nearly 60 million Americans who have osteoporosis or decreased bone mass are women. Bone density naturally decreases with age, and loss of boss mass is even greater for women after they’ve gone through menopause due to changes in estrogen levels. Osteoporosis is a progressive condition that can increase susceptibility to fractures. The trusted Beverly Hills spine surgeons from The Spine Institute have a few tips for women who want to keep their bones healthy and minimize the risk of developing osteoporosis.
The tissues that make up bones need to have access to a steady flow of nutrients to remain healthy. Since smoking can affect circulation, quitting can be an effective way to increase blood flow. The various chemicals in cigarettes can also affect levels of estrogen, a hormone that helps bones retain calcium content.
There’s research suggesting moderate drinking when combined with a healthy diet may benefit the bones of older women. However, excessive alcohol consumption can have the opposite effect and increase the risk of developing osteoporosis. Managing alcohol consumption may benefit women of all ages since bone development and health can be affected by habits established earlier in life. The general recommendation is for women to limit drinks to no more than two a day to maintain optimal bone health.
It’s no secret that exercise can be good for many structures in the body, including bones. Maintaining a healthy weight can also reduce stress on bones during the years when bone density decreases. Exercises that tend to be good for bones are those that offer some type of resistance or involve regular movement. Options include:
• Casual walking or jogging
• Slower, more controlled forms of exercise like tai chi and yoga
• Weight training focused on core muscle groups that support bones
• Water-based exercises that target the same muscle groups
• Fun activities that can also count as exercise (e.g. dancing, swimming, casual bike riding)
When it comes to bone health, staples that should be a regular part of a woman’s diet are foods rich in calcium and vitamin D. Other nutrient-rich foods can be just as good for the bones and the soft tissues that support them. At the same time, it’s best to avoid foods that may contribute to inflammation or affect circulation, like processed meats, refined carbs, and sugary and fried foods and snacks. A “bone-healthy diet” includes:
• Fatty fish (e.g. salmon, tuna, mackerel, sardines)
• Lean proteins such as skinless chicken or turkey
• Foods fortified with calcium and vitamin D (e.g. certain cereals, orange juice, soy or rice milk)
• Low-fat dairy products like milk, cheese, and yogurt
• Green, leafy vegetables (e.g. spinach, mustard and collard greens, kale)
Even with an estimated 12 million men considered at risk for developing osteoporosis, the condition is more common in women because estrogen plays an important role in maintaining a healthy bone mass. Some non-hormone factors may also contribute to osteoporosis, including underlying health issues like diabetes, thyroid problems, certain types of cancer, and some autoimmune diseases. A bone density test is the only way to detect osteoporosis before a fracture occurs.
Osteoporosis can lead to various issues with the back and neck. If you’re experiencing chronic spine pain, you may want to consider a back fusion procedure or minimally invasive neck surgery. Beverly Hills patients can schedule an in-person evaluation at The Spine Institute by calling 310-828-7757.