Bones need calcium and other minerals to stay healthy. Old bones are constantly replaced by new ones. Bone loss happens when the body does not create new bones as fast as it reabsorbs old bones. Especially after menopause, women often faced with bone problems due to hormone changes. Estrogen is a key hormone which helps in increasing the absorption of calcium and prevent calcium loss from bones. Post menopausal Estrogen production declines. As a result of this women lose up to 20% of bone mass in the years immediately after menopause. This is one of the reasons why women are more prone to bone related problems than men are and why they are prone to more fractures than men.
As already mentioned in our previous blog post on osteoarthritis, it can be defined as “degeneration of joint cartilage and the underlying bone, most common from middle age onward. It causes pain and stiffness, especially in the hip, knee, and thumb joints.”
Although menopause is inevitable, diseases such as this can be prevented or its progress controlled. Here are some tips to work towards strengthening bone health:
- Exercising: Like muscle health, bone health also improves with more use. Exercises like walking, jogging and climbing stairs help keep your bones stronger for longer. It can strengthen the muscles that support the knees and hips which in turn reduces the stress on the joints.
- Diet: As far as bone health is concerned calcium is indispensable. It is important to include calcium rich food like greens, milk etc. Omega-3 fatty acids which are present in fish, Flaxseed, nuts etc can help joints to become stronger.
- Control weight: Obesity can seriously damage the joints such as knees, hips and toes that help carry body weight. The excess weight may accelerate the wear and tear of the cartilages leading to osteoarthritis. Hence it is essential to maintain a healthy weight.
A study by NHANES (National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey) reveals that obese women are four times more likely to develop osteoarthritis than women who are not.
- Keep blood sugar under control: Recent study has revealed a co-relation between blood sugar and joint damage. High levels of blood sugar may make cartilages rigid making regular movements more difficult. If you have diabetes, keep it under check.
- Get injuries treated: Injuries to joints during adulthood or adolescence may increase the risk of developing osteoarthritis in that joint. It is impossible to be careful all the time to avoid injuries, however one should get prompt medical attention to help heal the joint as soon as possible and avoid any further damage to it. Certain precautions may be taken while exercising to avoid further injury like wear well-fitting shoes, avoid walking on tar or concrete and avoid stressing the joints.
- Vitamin D: This vitamin is easily available to us all; our body gets vitamin D by simply getting some sunlight. Vitamin D helps in calcium absorption and enables bone growth and repair. Although there may not be a direct connection between osteoarthritis and vitamin D, it is essential for overall health of the body, including the bones. There are Vitamin D rich food like egg, fish and foods fortified with Vitamin D like milk, cereals, orange juice etc. In case of deficiency, supplements could be considered to fill the gap.
The bottom-line is that, a healthy diet, regular low-impact exercises and some sunlight can help you to prevent osteoarthritis and lead a carefree life. For more information, contact One Life’s team of doctors and nurses who will give you the guidance you’re looking for.