Freeman Cebu Lifestyle

Standing Up to Osteoporosis

Archie Modequillo - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines — Older women who are increasingly bent with age are a hint that the other women in their family have a high chance of having the same deformity in the future. If it’s in the genes, there may be little that can be done about it. Yet the chances of developing the disease can be lessened or its gravity minimized.

Osteoporosis, or brittle bones, is a disease that afflicts ageing women. It has recently gained public awareness primarily due to the marketing efforts of manufacturers of special calcium-enriched food supplements. For a long, long time until now, women were totally ignorant of the threat and, thus, of ways to control it.

Without early precaution, osteoporosis will not only take inches off the woman’s height, it can also take years off her life. It can drain her later years of comfort and enjoyment – the prizes she deserves after long years of toil. Fortunately, the future no longer have to be bent for women; steps can be taken, now, to help ensure an upright tomorrow.

It can help for women to check even on their most innocuous-looking activities. For instance, dieting, which has become so common among younger women, can have grave consequences when done recklessly. In adopting a diet program, for health and aesthetic purposes, it is important to include calcium-rich dairy products in the menu. Skim and low-fat alternatives are available if full-cream milk and cheeses are being avoided for their fat. Calcium is, so far, the best single known builder of strong bones.

Exercise is also very important. Activities that put stress on the skeletal system help a lot in strengthening the bones by allowing the body to produce more bone tissue. Even simple brisk walking can bring great benefits when done regularly, and it can be done by most people at any age.

It is doubly good to exercise under the sun. Sunshine is a great source of vitamin D, which is essential for the body’s efficient absorption of calcium from foods. A simple 10- to 20-minute walk in the morning or afternoon is sufficient enough to supply the body with the required amount of vitamin D.

The time before 10 in the morning or around 4 in the afternoon is ideal for sun exposure. If the sunlight is still especially strong at these times, applying sunscreen on any exposed skin will help in preventing sunburn.

A healthy lifestyle is key. Smoking suffocates the body with nicotine, which lowers estrogen levels in women. In turn, low estrogen levels can result in a sparse bone mass. Antacids, especially the type that contains aluminum, can drain away the calcium reserves of the body. The same is true with diuretics and drugs that contain prednisone or cortisone.

Again, women with history of osteoporosis in the family have a harder time in standing up to the disease. They, therefore, need to double their efforts against it. Parents shall begin protecting their daughters by making sure the girls get lots of calcium in their diets – now while they are still young. Studies show that older women whose calcium needs were adequately met early in life enjoy greater bone strength later in life.

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