For women, the estrogen hormone presents many joys: menstrual cycles, random emotions, and eventually menopause. It also increases your risk for developing osteoporosis as you age.
According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, about 80 percent of osteoporosis patients are women, thanks to the estrogen hormone and our naturally smaller, thinner bones. The good news is that osteoporosis isn’t inevitable.
You can prevent it, but you must act before the warning signs of the disease hit. Here are seven suggestions for ways to delay the onset of osteoporosis as you grow older.
1. Focus on Diet
The biggest key to preventing osteoporosis right away is to be found in the diet. By increasing your intake of certain vitamins and nutrients, you can send osteoporosis packing.
Bones need nutrients such as calcium, vitamin K, vitamin D, and protein to keep them strong and healthy. Increasing your intake of these items will keep your bones strong; any deficiency of these nutrients will likely lead to brittle bones that will easily break.
Focusing on internal factors is the first step toward preserving your bones from osteoporosis.
2. Exercise Regularly
Weight-bearing exercises are extremely useful for building muscle and losing weight. As your muscles get stronger and you reduce pressure on your bones and joints through weight loss, you will experience stronger bones as a result.
Walking, jogging, and climbing stairs are the best forms of exercising for strengthening bones, but any form of resistance training can help to maintain your bone density to a certain degree.
3. Stop Drinking Soda
Not only does sugar provide zero nutritional value to the body, but it reduces the amount of healthy foods you include in your diet. The most prolific form of sugar intake in Americans is soda, which can wreak havoc on your bones all by itself.
Studies have shown that elevated sugar levels and acidity contribute to bone atrophy and can reduce calcium absorption.
4. Boost Protein Consumption
Nuts, lean meat, and milk are excellent sources of protein that can fight osteoporosis. These foods are also high in calcium, which is essential for boosting your bone density. Particularly as you age, a diet loaded with protein and calcium will aid in maintaining a healthier skeletal system.
5. Go Outside
There are many benefits to being outside for an hour or more every day, and exercise is only one of them. Another benefit is exposure to the sun, which increases vitamin D absorption.
Vitamin D deficiencies are a primary cause of osteoporosis in women, particularly among those who live in cold climates. Research suggests that as little as 15 minutes in the sun, three times a week, can boost your vitamin D absorption to adequate levels.
6. Moderate Sodium Intake
Countless studies have indicated that excess sodium is responsible for calcium loss, and therefore bone-density loss. The National Osteoporosis Foundation recommends that Americans strictly limit sodium intake, and cut out foods that contain more than 20 percent of the daily recommended dose of calcium in them.
7. Cut Back on Coffee
There are many solid reasons to reduce your daily dose of caffeine. Strong bones is one of them.
Some studies have shown a direct correlation between high doses of coffee and hip fractures in older women. More than 300 mg a day of caffeine is especially ill advised.
That goes for sodas, sports drinks, supplements, coffee, teas, and even some forms of medication. It might be a sacrifice to limit these drinks, but it will be well worth it for strong bones.