Osteoporosis is a metabolic disease of the skeletal system, whose main characteristic is low bone mass per unit volume and structural disturbances in bone tissue, condition in which the bones become brittle and fragile.
Osteoporosis is characterized by loss of calcium in bones and reducing bone density and loss of tissue. This leads to a gradual reduction of elasticity of bone and the occurrence of fractures, especially in the area of the thigh and wrist. These fractures occur at low exercise or injury.
Bone is live tissue. It’s built mostly from collagen (protein that forms a soft mesh) and calcium phosphate (mineral that strengthens and reinforces the bone structure). The combination of collagen and calcium makes bone both flexible and strong. More than 99% of calcium in our body is located in bones and teeth. The remaining 1% is found in the blood.
In the human body there are bone cells which are called “osteoclasts” and they task is to absorbs bone tissue during growth and healing and other cells called “osteoblasts “, whose task is to produce and secrete matrix proteins and transport mineral into the matrix and osteoclasts. People will have a strong and healthy bone tissue only when there is a balance in the work of “osteoclasts” and “osteoblasts“.
Osteoporosis is a major health problem, especially in the elderly population. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), osteoporosis occupies fourth place after cardiovascular disease, cancer and stroke. Today with osteoporosis and low bone mass (people with increased risk of developing this disease) are infected nearly 55 million U.S. women and men, mostly women. 10 millions are with osteoporosis and 45 millions with low bone mass.
To prevent the proliferation of cases, doctors warn to consume more calcium and to have more physical activity. They note that only prevention can reduce the number of people suffering from this disease. Proper diet sufficient in calcium and vitamin D and regular physical exercise are contributing to maintain bone density and reduce bone loss.
The danger of osteoporosis is higher in women who are not physically active.
Osteoporosis Signs and Symptoms
According to doctors, osteoporosis is a disease which is quite often but it’s rarely revealed, because the disease itself at early stages it’s not showing any symptoms, but gradually it reduces the elasticity of bones, making them fragile, especially in the area of the thigh and wrist. Osteoporosis is often called the “silent disease” because bone loss occurs without symptoms.
Certain risk factors are associated with the development of osteoporosis. However, in a number of cases there are no known risk factors which contributed for disease to occur.
There are certain risk factors for developing osteoporosis that can be controlled and in which we can act and thus to prevent or to lower the risk for this disease.
Diet Risk factors
- Consuming high amounts of caffeine may increase the risk (more than 5 coffees a day)
- Excessive intake of salt may increase the risk (more than 5 grams per day)
- Diet without enough calcium and vitamin D can (long-term insufficient intake of calcium and vitamin D makes bones weak and prone to osteoporosis)
Lifestyle Risk factors
- Physical inactivity – the risk of osteoporosis is higher in people who are not physically active,
- Excessive consumption of alcohol – alcohol increases the risk of bone loss and fractures,
- Smoking – smoking is bad for the bones, just like the heart and lungs,
- Consummation of drugs – long-term use of certain drugs such as corticosteroids and some antiepileptic drugs may lead to loss of bone tissue.
Diagnosis of osteoporosis
General medical examination has an important role for diagnosis, which involves taking a detailed history from the patient and physical examination.
Diagnostic procedures for osteoporosis include:
- Laboratory tests
- X-rays of bones,
- Dexa-Scan (Dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry),
- Bone density scan.
Osteoporosis, can be prevented with adequate nutrition, by entering the sufficient quantities of calcium with food and also regular physical activity after 50.
Prolonged inadequate calcium intake contributes to the development of osteoporosis. Many clinical studies suggest that low calcium intake is associated with reduced bone mass, rapid bone loss and frequent fractures. Human body has an even greater need for calcium in childhood and adolescence, when the skeleton is growing rapidly, then during pregnancy and lactation. Of course, older men and postmenopausal women also have a greater need for calcium. Keep in mind that vitamin D plays an important role in calcium absorption and maintain bone health.
High calcium foods are dark leafy greens, green beans, broccoli, dairy products such as cheese, low-fat milk and yogurt, fortified tofu, almonds then okra and fish. Daily value for calcium is 1000 mg.
When we exercise beside our muscles, our bones also become stronger. Daily moderate physical activity reduces the risk of osteoporosis.
How to lower the risk for osteoporosis (Recommendations)
- Quit smoking. Cigarette smoke triggers the liver to destroy estrogen and block the use of calcium, which weakens bones,
- Reduce the consumption of alcohol,
- Lower your coffee consumption to two cups a day,
- Avoid drinking soft drinks (either with sugar or caffeine) in this case, because of the large presence of phosphorus,
- Consume more dairy. Dairy products are a good source of calcium,
- Regularly consume freshly squeezed juices, fresh vegetables and fresh salads.
- Postmenopausal women should take a certain amount of calcium as a product, but only with consultation with physician.
- Drink enough fluids (1.5 liters).
- Regular physical exercise and other physical activities.