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How to have healthy bones

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In a practice that specializes in women’s health in Kansas City, we see many women with osteoporosis. Many of them are unsure as to what they could have done to prevent the loss of bone.  As a women’s health physical therapist, I spend a lot of time educating my patients about healthy living so they might maintain healthy bone density.  There are many things that can contribute to bone loss even when we are very young.  Let me fill all of you in.  

Normal bone is constantly being broken down and replaced my new cells. When too much bone is broken down or not enough bone is built, osteoporosis results. Osteoporosis is a disease in which the bones become thin, weak and brittle. If not prevented or if left untreated, osteoporosis can progress painlessly until a bone breaks. These broken bones, also known as fractures, most often occur in the hip, spine, and wrist.

Any bone in the body can be affected by osteoporosis, but of concern are fractures of the hip and spine. Approximately 300,000 hip fractures – 3 times more common in women than men – occur annually because of thinning bone. One third of all women over 50 years old will have broken bones in the spine due to osteoporosis.

There are several factors that you cannot control which place you at increased risk for osteoporosis:

Gender – Women are at greater risk than men

Family history – Blood relative(s) with disease

Age – Older adults have increased risk

Race – Asians and Caucasians have an increased risk

Two factors you can control are diet and exercise.  Weight bearing exercise, such as walking, yoga and strength training can prevent bone loss by building up bones and making them stronger. In addition to exercise, you should eat a diet full of calcium and vitamin D for prevention of osteoporosis.  However, just because you eat a diet full of these nutrients doesn’t mean the bones are getting stronger. The more salty foods you eat, such as processed foods and condiments, the more bone-strengthening calcium you lose.  The American Health Association suggests taking less than 1,200-1,500 milligrams of daily sodium intake.

Excess sugar also inhibits calcium absorption and depletes bone growth.  According to the documentary Fed Up, a person’s sugar intake should be limited to 35-40 grams of sugar a day (1 teaspoon of sugar equals 4 grams of sugar).

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In Fed Up, Dr. Reece Halter compared the effects of sugar versus cocaine on the brain.  They found sugar is a highly addictive substance and is more addictive than the drug cocaine. Did you know that a typical 20-ounce bottle of soda contains 16 teaspoons of sugars from high fructose corn syrup? That’s 64 grams of sugar!!! When you have a sweet tooth, they suggest reaching for a piece of fresh or frozen fruit instead of a processed, sugary food for natural nutrients.
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When the sugar is combined with caffeine (chocolate, sodas, sugary coffee drinks, etc.), it has detrimental effects on bone health.  According to kidshealth.org, an adult should limit caffeine intake to under 100 mg per day. An 8 oz. cup of brewed coffee contains 95mg, while 8 oz. of cola has 35mg of caffeine!! So, to promote bone health over the next 10 days, keep track of your daily sugar intake and keep it less than 35 grams.  Remember, if you have a sugary, caffeinated beverage, it is not a smart choice for healthy bones!

Keep me updated with how your 10 day challenge is going by emailing me at amanda@foundationalconcepts.net .

Amanda Fisher, PT, DPT

–This blog is here for your help. It is the opinion of a Licensed Physical Therapist. If you experience the symptoms addressed you should seek the help of a medical professional who can diagnose and develop a treatment plan that is individualized for you.  If you enjoyed this blog, check out our website at foundationalconcepts.net for more blog entries and to learn more about our specialty PT practice, Foundational Concepts.  Follow us on Twitter @SarahpelvicPT or @Jenn_pelvic_PT or @AmandaFisherPT and like us on Facebook/Foundational Concepts for updates.

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