Osteoporosis in the Over 50s
One of the main concerns when reaching the 50s age group is that of Osteoporosis, or brittle bone disease. It does however, occur in those under the age of 50, but is much more common once you hit those tender years.
You actually start losing bone density once you are in the 30+ age group, with women more at risk than men, due to the decrease in female hormones. There is some belief that osteoporosis can be hereditary, but there are many more concerns relating to lifestyle issues.
What are the Contributing Factors?
- Long term birth control pills, followed by cessation of dosage
- Early menopause (causes low production of oestrogen)
- Excessive dieting (and diet related diseases such as bulimia, anorexia)
- Excessive exercise
- Dietary imbalance – lack of essential vitamins and minerals
- Excessive alcohol or tobacco consumption
- Previous bone breakages or operations such as hip replacements
- Osteoporosis in men can mainly be attributed to low testosterone levels
- Again, excessive use of alcohol and tobacco products
- Dietary imbalance and excessive production of glucocorticoids (emanates from the adrenal glands) or certain oral medications or steroidal drugs. Your GP can advise on this, or you should question the contents of any medications you receive.
There are many other medical conditions that can affect both men and women in terms of risk factor for osteoporosis. Your GP will always have leaflets available for help and advice on remedial work, diet and other factors that will alleviate the problems associated with osteoporosis in the over 50s.
Help to Avoid Osteoporosis
Osteoporosis cannot be ‘felt’ or predicted and sometimes before it is too late and broken bones occur even after the slightest ‘knock’ or ‘slip’, the damage has been done.
However, one of the main ways to prevent osteoporosis, or maintain bone strength even if you have acquired brittle bones, is by a healthy diet. Whilst milk and other dairy products have been promoted due to their high level of calcium, foodstuffs high in alkaline production fit the bill even more.
Focal points of a healthy diet are keeping processed foods to a minimum, minimum required salt intake and plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables. Adequate calcium and Vitamin D derived from foodstuffs will also aid healthy bone production. Avoid caffeine as much as possible – opt for decaffeinated drinks and keep the carbonated and fizzy drinks to a minimum.
Some of the best foods for you to consume are:
- Cruciferous Vegetables – leafy greens such as cabbage, spinach, kale, lettuce and broccoli.
- Herbs – parsley is particularly good
- Asparagus – a host of great properties for bone maintenance and growth
- Peas – Fresh peas are often maligned, and certainly the frozen ones are. They contain high levels of Vitamin K, B6 and a combination of folates most of which have protein offshoots that anchor calcium to the bones, thereby strengthening the bone density.
- Green Tea – contains a vast list of alkalising properties and is certainly an aid to bone health – make your own, don’t buy pre-made green tea, it is often deluged with additives and sugar!
REMEMBER – Bones are approximately 50% protein. Healthy bones require a regular and steady amount of amino acids (dietary). Whilst calcium, which is heavily promoted for bone health, does provide help for bone density and structure, protein is a close second on the list.
For more essential information on best foods for your over 50s diet, please see our article Manage Your Weight with a Balanced Diet.
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