Healthy Bones to Last a Lifetime: Avoiding Osteoporosis
Our bones are living tissue and constantly change overtime. As we age, the goal for bone health is to keep as much bone as possible for as long as you can without deterioration, and prevent the development of a bone disease called osteoporosis.
To keep bones strong, your body breaks down old bone and replaces it with new bone. Sometime around age 30, your bone mass stops increasing, and as you continue to age, more bone may be broken down than is replaced. If bone loss happens too rapidly, or if your body isn’t building new bone fast enough, bones can become weaker and more likely to break, a disease called osteoporosis.
Osteoporosis can occur at any age, but is most common among older people, especially older women. There are a variety of other factors that may put you at risk for developing osteoporosis. Some of those factors include personal or family history of fractures, or long-term use of certain medications such as corticosteroids.
Can I have my bones tested for osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is often referred to as a silent disease. Since we can’t actually feel our bones weakening, it often goes undiagnosed until bone breaks. If you're concerned about your bone health or your risk factors for osteoporosis, including a recent bone fracture, talk with your doctor. He or she might recommend a bone density test.
A bone density test is a quick and painless screening that measures bone density and determines the rate of bone loss. The most accurate test is done on a dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) machine. Your doctor can discuss the findings with you, and help you to decide on a treatment plan that works best for you.
How do I keep my bones healthy and strong?
Bad health habits, including poor diet and lack of exercise can also contribute to bone loss over time. Fortunately, there are lifestyle changes that you can do to prevent bone loss and keep you bones strong, these include:
- Engaging in regular weight-bearing and resistance exercises
- Eating a balanced diet rich in Calcium, Vitamin D and Vitamin K
- Consuming foods that are good for bone health, such as protein, fruits and vegetables
- Avoiding smoking and limiting alcohol to 2-3 drinks per day
According to Mary M. Wahbah MD, internist at PIH Health’s Whittwood Medical Office Building, “Regardless of age, taking on healthier habits can stimulate bone production to build and maintain stronger bones to last a lifetime. Remember to discuss with your doctor before starting any new diets, taking additional supplements or participating in new exercises. Your healthcare team is always here to work with you on developing a personalized plan to protect your bones.”