EAT HEALTHILY TO REDUCE THE RISK OF OSTEOPOROSIS!
Dietician Banu Suzen
Osteoporosis is a metabolic skeletal disease characterized by reduced bone mineral density and impaired bone tissue, which lead to an increased risk of bone fractures. Osteoporosis, a disease that affects 200 million people in the world, affects approximately one fourth of the individuals over 50 years of age in our country. The quality of life is getting worse due to the increasing rate of osteoporosis that is the result of the aging population, and also due the consequential increase in bone fractures caused by the decrease in bone density.
As with every chronic disease, there are many changeable and unchangeable factors that cause a decrease in bone density. Genetic factors, such as menopause and old age are unchangeable factors, whereas physical activity, smoking and alcohol habits and dietary habits are changeable factors.
Developing awareness about lifelong healthy nutrition is important for reducing the risk of osteoporosis. International guidelines emphasize the importance of healthy nutrition, maintaining the ideal body weight, and physical activity. A well-balanced, healthy diet and regular physical activity are recommended for ensuring a strong bone structure and prevent bone loss.
Changing the dietary habits with healthy options reduces the risk of many chronic diseases. It has been proven by many large-scale studies that ensuring every meal to contain all the nutritional groups in a balanced manner is healthier than eating diets containing predominantly a single nutrient. Benefiting from all the nutritional groups in a single meal will increase the diversity and will also be adequate to meet daily vitamin-mineral requirement. Dietary intake of nutrients, calcium, magnesium and vitamins is important in reducing the risk of osteoporosis.
In order to ensure a healthy and balanced diet in case of osteoporosis:
- Maintaining the ideal body weight protects from both osteoporosis and other chronic diseases as well as side effects. In people at a high risk of osteoporosis, an increased body weight increases the risk of bone fractures, affects unfavorably the healing process of the fractured bones, restricts the physical activities, and leads to a sedentary life. Proper nutrition planning for overweight people protects the bone mineral density and ensures a healthy and conscious nutrition.
- Besides being a prominent mineral for bone health, calcium is also important for all body functions and should be kept at a certain level. Any failure to meet adequately the calcium requirement means that the bones, which are the calcium deposits in the body, will be used to fill the deficiency, and this leads to a decrease in bone density. Although calcium requirement varies depending on the gender, age and the risk of osteoporosis, it is 1000 to1500 mg per day especially in adolescent period, when bone development peaks, pregnancy period, breastfeeding period and postmenopausal period.
- Foods rich in calcium should be consumed on a daily basis to meet the requirement. Milk and dairy products are the best sources of calcium. A cup of milk or yogurt contains approximately 220- 240mg calcium, and 50g white cheese contains approximately 50mg calcium. Dark green leafy vegetables, dried fruits, legumes and oil seeds can be used as the other sources of calcium.
- Increasing the calcium intake alone is not adequate for reducing the risk of osteoporosis It is also necessary to ensure the availability of adequate amount of vitamin D, which is synthesized by solar rays in the skin, and is hard to supply adequately with dietary intake. A very small portion (approximately 10%) of vitamin D requirement is met with dietary intake. Fish is the best source.
- High level of animal protein intake increases the urinary calcium excretion. Therefore, dietary options ensuring a well balanced protein intake should be preferred to dietary programs containing only one type of foods.
- Excessive amounts of coffee consumption increases calcium excretion, and excessive alcohol consumption leads decreased calcium absorption. It is recommended not to consume fizzy drinks.
- Regular physical activity is important for maintaining muscle mass and bone mass, as well.