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Healthy Bones, Healthy Body: How to Prevent Osteoporosis

Prevent osteoporosis and those dreaded creaks and cracks by working out, drinking milk and getting some exposure to sunlight.

Osteoporosis is one of the most neglected ailments in the Middle East, and lack of awareness and poor nutrition, coupled with growing demographic and socioeconomic changes, mean the number of osteoporosis cases and bones fractures is rapidly rising. In fact, the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Jordan have the highest rates of hip fractures in the world, according to the International Osteoporosis Foundation (IOF). 

As it’s a silent disease, you might not know you have osteoporosis, a serious medical condition in which the bones become delicate and fragile from loss of tissue, until you break a bone. It typically strikes as a result of hormonal changes, or deficiency in calcium or vitamin D.

Moving Along
Invest in the care of your bones, because how you treat them now is going to have an effect on them in the future. Bone density reaches its ultimate peak when we’re around 30 and then starts to decline. So the more you save during your younger years, the more you’ll have to spend later. Felicia Cosman, MD, Clinical Director of the National Osteoporosis Foundation says, “When you have more money in the bank prior to bone loss, you won’t reach a level of deficiency that sets you up for fracture.”

 It is important to know smoking, a sedentary lifestyle and other unhealthy habits can negatively affect bone health and increase the risk of developing osteoporosis. So working out is one great way to ward off osteoporosis. Exercise frequently, run, dance, or perform any other activity that moves your muscles. In fact, a combination of weight bearing, resistance training and flexibility exercises is what you really need. This will stimulate your bones to accumulate more minerals so they get stronger and become denser.

The Right Fuel
The general conception is that osteoporosis affects post-menopausal women, but most women fail to recognise it has another cause, which can start as early as adolescence if a woman’s diet lacks the sufficient amounts of calcium necessary for maintaining bone health. “Good nutrition and exercise are essential for building strong bones in childhood and adolescence and for maintaining bone density throughout adulthood. Young women should be aware of the risks associated with osteoporosis and should take steps to prevent fractures,” Sarah Kanaan, Market Nutritionist at Nestlé Middle East, said.

Therefore, when you’re aiming to look slim for the summer, remember a body deprived of essential nutrients and vitamins can lead to osteoporosis. Kanaan advises a diet rich in calcium, phosphorous and vitamin D. She also says you should aim to include low fat protein sources, whole grains, complex carbohydrates and a good variety of vegetables in your diet. When it comes to eliminating things from our shopping list, make sure carbonated drinks are included because they are rich in phosphoric acid that might lead to calcium bone loss, especially if your diet is not adequate in calcium. One of the best ways to ensure your bones stay strong is to avoid diets that induce severe weight-loss and cause loss of nutrition. Real beauty lies in being physically fit, healthy and taking pride in your body as well as your personal values.

Tasty foods that will boost your bone health:
·Milk: A superstar when it comes to battling osteoporosis, milk is crucial for building healthy bones.
·Salmon: This oily fish helps you pack in a healthy dose of vitamin D.
·Almonds: These nuts are full of calcium, magnesium and protein-essential nutrients that help build strong and healthy bones.
·Fortified breakfast cereals: These cereals are rich in vitamins and minerals, such as calcium and vitamin D.

Osteoporosis Symptoms:
1- Back pain
2- Loss of height over time
3- Arched posture
4- Bone fracture

Risk Factors:
Sex:
Women develop osteoporosis more than men.
Age: As we get older, the chance of suffering from osteoporosis increases.
Race: You’re more likely to get osteoporosis if you’re white or of Asian descent
Family history: Osteoporosis is a hereditary issue.
Body frame size: Small sized people are at a higher risk because they have less bone mass to draw from as they age.

Get a Dose of the Sunshine Vitamin
During the last 20 years, international medical research departments have become aware of the dangers of Vitamin D deficiency and its possible role in causing many serious diseases, including various cancers and osteoporosis. Vitamin D regulates the immune system, which has a main role in the treatment of bone and muscle rheumatic disorders. It also helps in forming blood cells, raises the body’s immunity level and plays a vital role in maintaining insulin levels in the body. Vitamin D scarcity  is attributed to a lack of exposure to the sun, as sunrays are the source of 80 to 90 percent of the body’s need of this vitamin. “We have started noticing significant cases of the disease in Dubai, which at first sounds surprising in a sunny city like Dubai, especially since Vitamin D deficiency is mainly related to non-exposure to the sun,” Dr Osman El-Labban, Consultant and Family Practitioner at Al Zahrra Hospital, said. The hospital has initiated an ongoing awareness campaign as 73 percent of adults in the Middle East suffer from a severe deficiency of the vitamin, having less than 15 ng/m, raising major concerns.

Top tip: When the weather permits, plan a picnic instead of going to the mall (again)! As well as being in the great outdoors surrounded by nature and fresh air, the benefits include

Promoting healthy eating habits: Meals prepared for a picnic are usually more nutritious and healthier than those served at malls. The classic portrait of picnics presents a wicker basket full of fruits, vegetables, dairy and grains. These foods provide nutrients such as fibre, calcium and essential vitamins.

  • Staying active: Picnics can foster a family ritual where young ones are introduced to sports and games. Adults are also encouraged to participate in physical activities.
  • Boosting your mood: Eating lunch outdoors is a natural humour enhancer. There’s something about fresh air, sunshine, or a soft breeze that just does wonders and motivates you to perform some exercises.
  • Building stronger bones: A simple walk in the sun will help greatly. The vitamin D we get from sunlight is needed for maximum absorption of calcium from the intestine, which helps build strong bones and teeth.


Research indicates osteoporosis affects one in three women worldwide and approximately one in two women over age 50 will break a bone because of osteoporosis.

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