Tips to prevent Osteoporosis

crop2_240x240_17oct14Osteoporosis is a progressive disease that decreases bone mass and density; reduces muscle mass and strength; impairs mobility and neuro-muscular coordination and in most cases leads to falls and fractures. Globally, osteoporosis ranks as the second most common health affliction, right after coronary heart disease. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the total number of patients worldwide is set to double over the next two decades.

In India, osteoporosis affects 1 in 3 women and 1 in 5 men typically above the age of 35 years. The total number of sufferers is estimated at 36 million – more than a quarter of the population – and with little awareness of the disease and of its prevention and treatment, osteoporosis has come to be considered a ‘silent’ epidemic.

Osteoporosis literally means ‘porous bones’. Bones that were once strong have become fragile. It is a metabolic disease which disturbs the continuous interplay of bone formation and bone resorption. Bone resorption is the process by which osteoclasts break down bone and release the minerals, resulting in a transfer of calcium from bone fluid to the blood. When the balance between bone formation and resorption is upset it causes bones to become progressively weaker.

“Real men build their strength from within”
Earlier, osteoporosis was thought to occur only in the elderly and women. But everything has changed. It is becoming common even in men. This is why the International Osteoporosis Foundation has come up with a slogan, “Real men build their strength from within” to celebrate the World Osteoporosis Day 2014 (October 20). It calls on men to focus as much attention on their bone health as they do on their strong physical appearance. It plays on the stereotypes of what men perceive as important, asking them to question whether they are as strong on the inside as they are on the outside.

Lack of exercise, an unhealthy lifestyle (tobacco, alcohol), lack of vitamin D and calcium, oestrogen deficiency and various drugs (especially thyroid hormones and cortisone) can contribute to the development of osteoporosis. Acidosis – an excess of acid in the body – is another factor that impairs bone stability.

Be alert
Osteoporosis goes unnoticed at the start and is often not discovered until a late stage when bone fractures occur. These fractures are very painful and severely restrict a sufferer’s mobility. This in turn leads to muscle weakness and circulatory problems. As a result, patients with osteoporosis suffer from progressive deterioration of their general health and well-being. One important means of diagnosis is measurement of bone density.

How to prevent osteoporosis
For strong and solid bones, you need enough calcium, vitamin D, sufficient exercise and necessary hormones e.g. estrogen, a female hormone that plays an important role in the health of women. One of its benefits is that it protects your bones and helps keep them strong and healthy. When estrogen levels drop, many women lose bone density. Calcium is supplied to the body via food. If you are not consuming calcium-rich foods, your body draws on its calcium deposit from the bone resulting in bone loss and instability. After years of chronic pain, bones often break without any external cause. Vitamin D is synthesized mainly in the upper layers of the skin through the action of ultraviolet radiation from the sun. Patients with osteoporosis should promote this regulation process in their bones by eating in the right kinds of food.

Exercise: the road to stronger bones
Regular exercise helps to support the preservation of bone structure and directly and positively influences bone strength. Moreover, exercise strengthens the surrounding muscles to protect the vital bone.

The right amount and varieties of exercise and sunlight in moderation refuels stores of bone mass which helps prevent osteoporosis. In a variety of people affected, the bone disease could have been prevented by timely action.

Make a pledge on World Osteoporosis Day 2014
Let’s celebrate World Osteoporosis Day 2014 (October 20) by highlighting this vital issue and do everything we can to prevent this menace. We can win the war against osteoporosis.

Prevention and Treatment by AktivOrtho
For prevention, you should focus on two main factors: a healthy diet and sufficient exercise. The latter is a powerful stimulus that induces bones to incorporate for greater stability. Proper nutrition and a well-balanced metabolism can be achieved easily and effectively by means of the metabolic balance® program– an innovative, all-natural nutrition program that brings balance to hormones, optimizes health and leads to a new invigorating lifestyle resulting in successful long-term weight management. In India, the metabolic balance® program is exclusive to AktivOrtho.

AktivOrtho, in collaboration with the Institute of Osteology and Biomechanics at the University of Hamburg, Germany, follows a basic three-stage approach in its treatment plan: assessment, exercise and diet. A systematic physiotherapy plan has proven to increase overall bone density by 1% per year. Based on an individual’s needs and physical fitness level, we devise a systematic training package that includes exercises for strength and balance, aerobic and resistance training and postural correction.

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Dr. Gerd Mueller,
Chairman and MD, AktivOrtho

The author is a former surgeon, Chairman and MD, AktivOrtho, a comprehensive orthopedic rehabilitation and medical fitness centre.

Image: Getty Images

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