Body & Fitness

Five ways to prevent osteoporosis

Ward off osteoporosis by making some simple changes to your lifestyle.
Five ways to prevent osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is one of the most debilitating diseases affecting women, yet it can be prevented. We should all know by now how important it is to eat foods rich in calcium and do weight-bearing exercise, but here are some other steps you can take to build strong bones.

Eat canned salmon

Canned salmon is cheap, it can be used in a variety of recipes or just popped into a sandwich, and it has lots of health benefits – including helping to reduce your risk of heart disease thanks to the omega 3 fatty acids it contains. But you may not realise that it is also good for strong bones – as long as you eat the fish bones. These are a great source of calcium and very soft, so if you mash them into the fish flesh you will hardly notice they are there.

Enjoy some sunshine

Vitamin D is vital for strong bones and the sun is the major source of this all-important substance. Spending around 10 to 15 minutes a day in the sunlight can boost your vitamin D levels, but you need to be careful not to get sunburnt. People with dark skin may need to spend longer in the sun. If it’s not practical, then supplements can also help. Food sources of vitamin D include button mushrooms, fresh salmon, sardines, tuna and eggs.

Use lots of olive oil

Research has shown that people who eat more olive oil have higher levels of a hormone called osteocalcin, which is linked to better bone strength. Scientists have realised for some time that women in European countries where a lot of olive oil is consumed have lower rates of osteoporosis compared with women in northern European nations. Studies have shown that after two years on a Mediterranean diet – which is high in fruit, vegetables, fish, nuts, wholegrains and healthy fats – women had far more osteocalcin in their bodies.

Drink wine regularly

Researchers in the US have found the bones of women who are used to having one or two wines a day grow weaker when they cut out the alcohol. The study found that once the women resumed normal drinking, their bone turnover rates (how much bone is lost and replaced) returned to normal. The scientists say this is not an excuse for drinking more – too much alcohol can have a huge range of negative health effects – and they’re carrying out more research to try to work out why wine might be beneficial.

Snack on blueberries

Compounds found in these superfoods help to improve bone development in rats and may have the same effect on humans. A US study has found that the pigments in blueberries that give them their distinctive colour are associated with building strong bones. It is believed they may speed up a process that encourages the cells responsible for forming bones to work faster.

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