If you are on the cusp of menopause (perimenopausal) or already there it is essential you keep in mind the health risks specific to your age group.
Most health risks are reduced if you have lead a healthy life up until this point but we cannot turn back the hands of time. If you haven’t been as conscientious about your health as you should have been, take note. It may catch up with you.
Some Baby Boomers have engaged in activities over the years – smoking, consuming too much booze, eating a poor diet, failing to remain active – putting them in jeopardy for various health hazards, including osteoporosis.
The odds are stacked against females, who are four times more apt to acquire osteoporosis than men. The danger zone includes the menopausal years because females lose up to 20 percent of their bone reservoir in the first five to seven years after the commencement of menopause.
This happens because estrogen, the hormone that protected bones, goes missing in action before and during menopause and stays that way. Because of this hormonal loss, fifty percent of women over the age 50 will experience an osteoporosis-related fracture or break sometime in their life. That’s an alarming statistic.
What is Osteoporosis?
As we age, our bones become thinner and breakable leading to osteoporosis, which is characterized by weak and brittle bones that are effortlessly fractured.
Bone is in an unceasing state of regeneration because it is living tissue. It is constantly absorbed and substituted. New bone is fashioned and old bone breaks down.
When young, a person makes new bone faster than old bone breaks down which leads to an upsurge of bone mass. When older, bone mass disappears quicker than it is made. When new bone formation doesn’t keep up with the removal of old bone, osteoporosis occurs.
You are at higher jeopardy if one or both of your parents has this condition and if you are of European or Asian ancestry. African Americans are at lower risk. If you are a slightly built woman you are at higher risk, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Those who are sedentary are in peril because they haven’t kept their joints and bones sufficiently strong.
Smoking is a risk factor as is alcohol because it hinders calcium absorption. Eating disorders put a person in jeopardy for this condition.
Undergoing gastrointestinal surgery puts a person at higher peril because the surface area needed for absorbing nutrients and calcium is restricted as an outcome of the surgery.
Those who take medications for gastric reflux, seizures, depression, transplant rejection and cancer are more likely to acquire this condition as are those who use corticosteroid medicine, which interferes with the bone-rebuilding procedure.
Thyroid problems as well as thyroid medication can increase your risk. An excessive amount of thyroid hormone enhances bone loss.
If you eat a diet rich in calcium, vitamin D and phosphorus you are lessening the risk of acquiring osteoporosis. It’s never too late to augment your diet, make sure you are eating healthily and getting sufficient amounts of these components. Vitamin D reinforces bones.
The Dangers of Osteoporosis
The slightest fall or bump can lead to a broken bone. For a youngster or even a middle age person, a fall isn’t typically a big deal, but it can lead to devastation in an older person.
How many times have you heard about so-and-so’s mother or grandmother sustaining a broken hip? Probably a lot. This leads to hospitalization, surgery, as well as physical therapy and a lengthy recovery time. Sometimes the elderly person doesn’t make it out of the hospital or nursing home alive after a fall.
What Should You Do?
Your physician can give you a bone density test to determine if you are in trouble or about to be. But don’t wait to find out.
• Start now by eating better, including leafy green vegetables, whole grains, beans, legumes and plant-based foods that are sources of calcium including kale, beans, broccoli, collard greens and Brussels sprouts.
• Take a daily vitamin containing calcium and vitamin D.
• Protein causes loss of calcium, so back away from it.
• Eat iron rich foods such as lean red meat, almonds, lentils, dark poultry, iron-fortified cereals and spinach.
• Modify or eliminate altogether alcohol consumption and smoking as well as caffeine, which prompts calcium loss. (Everyone is groaning at this point.)
• You need some fat in your diet because it is crucial for maintaining mental acuity and a good mood. Good fat is found in seeds and nuts. Fat assists in the absorption of vitamins A, D, E and K.
• Omega 3 and Omega 6 essential fatty acids are advantageous to your health.
• Some women opt to take bisphosphonates to treat this condition, which help maintain strong bones by slowing down the natural breakdown of bone, according to the Mayo Clinic. However, there are side effects including muscle-, joint-, bone- and/or stomach pain as a result of taking bisphosphonates. Additionally, some experience swallowing issues, heartburn, nausea or irritation of the esophagus. Discuss this option with your physician.
Do not underestimate the importance of exercise, which keeps bones strong. Go to a yoga class. This is the ideal work-out for a post-middle aged person. Regularly take walks. Take a dance class. Go to the gym. Get a pair of hand weights and use them while watching TV.
About This Blogger: Cindi Pearce
Cindi Pearce has been writing professionally since the days of manual typewriters. Armed with a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Ohio University, Cindi is especially interested in women’s health concerns. She teaches yoga, is an amateur belly dancer, loves mowing her five acres of land with her beloved zero turn mower, has three grown children, one granddaughter and five large dogs. Cindi has managed to stay married to the same man for 35 years.