|The Bone Age (by NESHMIA)
Women are never too young to start thinking about their bone health
Osteoporosis becomes more of a risk for women after menopause, but younger women can take action now to reduce the impacts of osteoporosis later.
However, most women aren't getting this message and the lifestyle of many younger women is adding to their risk of fragile bones. Younger women see osteoporosis as an older woman's problem and something they don't need to worry about. But the most effective time to increase our bone bank is at puberty, and after that women need to maintain that bone bank to avoid osteoporosis.
Why Women Are More At Risk
Women are at a greater risk than men of developing osteoporosis because of a drop in oestrogen after menopause. Oestrogen is a key hormone for healthy bones and, after menopause, women experience bone loss of one to five per cent annually.
Bone mass starts to decline from our early 20s, and the first stage of this is osteopenia where there is mild thinning of the bone. The next stage is osteoporosis.
What You Need To Do
1. Stop Smoking And Cut Back On Caffeine
Caffeine can deplete bone density and having about three cups of coffee a day is linked to bone loss. Smoking cigarettes also increases the risk of osteoporosis.
Smoking is one of the worst things you can do for your bones. Caffeine also speeds up bone loss and caffeine drinks contain phosphates that may make bones more acidic, which is probably worse for your bones, too. So seek help to quit smoking, and have no more than three coffees or caffeine energy drinks a day.
2. Eat Low-Fat Dairy Products To Boost Calcium
Women may give up dairy products to cut kilojoules, but this also reduces their calcium levels. Low-fat dairy products are rich in calcium but contain fewer kilojoules than full-fat products.
Adequate calcium in pregnancy is also important because a baby takes calcium from its mother's bones across the placenta for its own growing skeleton. Calcium is also important when breastfeeding. Calcium is sucked from the mother's skeleton to go into breast milk, but not all women are aware of this. The bone loss that occurs during pregnancy is usually transient, so when women stop breastfeeding, most of the bone lost during pregnancy and lactation will go back. But in some women it doesn't, and to combat that women need good calcium intake.
3. Don't Diet Excessively
Being underweight is a risk factor for osteoporosis, with very low body weight linked to lower bone mass in young women.
A study found the risk of hip fracture almost doubled in people who had a body mass index (BMI) of 20, compared to a BMI of 25.
Lowering your body weight to the point where your periods stop causes your oestrogen levels to switch off and that lowers your bone density. This can be like experiencing a premature menopause. The longer you experience this, the greater the impact on your bones.
4. Exercise - But Not To Excess
Weight-bearing exercise builds bone strength and slows bone loss. Bones strengthen when they carry weight and when some impact is placed on them, so exercise is important. Jogging, walking, playing tennis and netball are all good for bones with more benefits gained from higher impact activities. So a fast-paced 20-minute walk is better for your bones than an hour-long stroll.
Lifting weights is also good as it places strain on the bone that the muscles are attached to and this also increases bone strength. But excessive exercise can cause fractures and lower bone density. Excessive, repeated exercise can cause stress fractures in bones because it places too much wear and tear on them.
If you exercise too much it can also switch off your periods, which reduces oestrogen.
Doing around 15 to 30 minutes of exercise, four times a week, is ideal for maintaining bone health.
5. Get Some Sun
Vitamin D helps increase our body's absorption of calcium and the most effective source of vitamin D is the sun. But fears over skin cancer and long working hours indoors can limit the amount of time people spend outside and in the sunshine. We can get incidental exposure to sun in summer when we're walking outside and that builds vitamin D levels, but those levels only stay in the body for three months or so during spring and during winter vitamin D levels can be low.
Around six to eight minutes of sunlight, four to six times per week will boost vitamin D. Fair-skinned women should get their dose before 10am or after 2pm during summer.
Where To Get Your Calcium
Women aged 19 to 50 need 1000mg/day of calcium and women over 50 need 1300mg/day of calcium
250ml regular milk contains 285mg calcium. The same amount of skimmed milk contains 320mg, 250ml calcium-enriched milk contains 408-500mg of calcium.
200g plain yogurt contains about 340mg calcium. The same amount of plain low-fat yogurt contains up to 420mg calcium.
40g cheddar cheese contains 327mg calcium. 1/2 cup low-fat cottage cheese contains 69mg.
100g cooked spinach contains 100mg calcium.
1 cup cooked broccoli contains 45mg calcium.
2 slices of bread (30g) provides 200mg calcium.
1/2 cup tofu contains 258mg calcium.
1/2 cup canned salmon contains 402mg calcium.
15 almonds contain about 40mg calcium.
100ml calcium fortified orange juice has up to 80mg calcium.
40g calcium-fortified breakfast cereal contains up to 200mg calcium.
Everyday Foods That Can Make You Sick
Check your packet of microwavable popcorns for diacetyl. Inhaling this powder-like compound can cause severe lung problems. It makes sense to avoid breathing in the fumes from freshly popped popcorns.
Kidney beans contain the toxin phytohaemagglutinin, which can make you fall extremely sick unless the beans are boiled for 10 minutes before cooking.
The ubiquitous potato is fine till it turns green or starts sprouting. Potatoes, on exposure to light, especially fluorescent light, start growing a toxic substance called solanine. Eat too many and you will get severe digestive problems.
Apples, cherries, apricots, peaches, plums. What's wrong with these yummy fruits? They contain cyanogenic glycolsides that can create cyanide in the pits. Swallowing a pit or two won't harm, but it may be dangerous if you chew a whole lot.