Osteoporosis: A Women’s Disease
Osteoporosis affects 53 million people in the U.S. alone. There is also another bone weakening condition, called Osteopenia, often confused with Osteoporosis. The main difference is that Osteopenia occurs when the bone density is below the normal acceptable levels—Osteoporosis involves a much more severe condition of bone loss. “Estrogen plays a role in bone reabsorption and new bone growth. As estrogen levels decrease during menopause, the risk of osteopenia increases.”  With this rapid decrease in the estrogen hormone, the bones are no longer protected in the way they once were.
Even though this condition is generally found in women, there are 2 million men in the U.S. that are also affected by Osteoporosis and Osteopenia. Women are more likely than men to suffer form this condition because their bones are smaller and thinner than that of a man. It has been shown that ‘Asian and Caucasian women also have a higher risk of osteoporosis and osteopenia than other ethnicities’.
Because it is often difficult to know if you are suffering from Osteopenia or Osteoporosis, there is a special x-ray-based scan (DEXA) that is often used for diagnosis. Weakening of the spine or the beginning of some curvature, stoop or bone pain may indicate that this condition is present.
There are, in fact, ways to help avert or slow the progression of this disease.
One of the best ways is to participate in a regular exercise program to help build muscle. This can be accomplished by engaging in weight-bearing exercises and muscle strength training; push-ups, leg squats, weight lifting, weight machines, walking and even swimming can all help to build muscle and increase strength. It is also recommended that balancing exercises be incorporated into the exercise program. The Sarah Meeks method for treating Osteoporosis suggests using a foam roller.
Other factors include eating a healthy diet high in Vitamin D, Magnesium and Calcium. Note that smoking and high levels of alcohol consumption interferes with the absorption of these nutrients, speeding up the bone loss. Consider introducing supplements into your diet to be sure you are getting enough of these nutrients.
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