What is osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is a metabolic disease that leads to bone loss. In the course of the disease, bone mass is reduced or bone density decreases. The bones become unstable and vulnerable, which causes them to break more quickly. Bone loss is often only detected when the first bone fractures occur, which initially happen for no reason. If such a bone fracture occurs for the first time, it is also called manifest osteoporosis. Incidentally, bone fractures in the vertebral bodies are very typical for osteoporosis, as these are under great stress.
How does osteoporosis develop?
Bones consist of minerals and a structure or tissue (also called matrix) that is responsible for shape and stability. The minerals ensure the stability of this structure. Bone mass increases up to about the age of 40 - provided they are sufficiently supplied with minerals. Calcium and phosphate are especially important. If you do not take in enough of these important nutrients through your diet, this can lead to a reduction in bone mass.
From the age of 40 and generally with increasing age, the hormones change. This can lead to an increased reduction in bone mass and thus decreasing bone density. Other risk factors are a diet low in calcium, too frequent diets, too much coffee and, last but not least, lack of exercise.
Women in particular are especially susceptible to osteoporosis due to the increasing lack of oestrogen and should have a bone density measurement every now and then from the menopause onwards. Based on X-rays and the mineral content in the bones, a specialist can determine whether osteoporosis is present and the degree of bone loss. If the mineral content of the bones is 1 or more below the mean value, this is called osteopenia, the preliminary stage of osteoporosis. If the mineral content of the bones is more than 2.5 units below the average value, this is called advanced osteoporosis. At this stage, there are often already several vertebral body fractures.
Can osteoporosis be prevented?
First and foremost, minimise the risk factors. Since osteoporosis is promoted by calcium deficiency, attention should be paid to a calcium-rich diet - dairy products, calcium-containing water. Vitamin D is also good for strengthening bones. Vitamin D can be produced by the body if the skin receives enough daylight. Alternatively, fatty fish can help. Phosphate should be avoided as much as possible, as it reduces calcium absorption. Excessive consumption of coffee, tobacco or alcohol is also not recommended.
Exercise and osteoporosis
Regular exercise is also indispensable for the prevention of diagnosed osteoporosis. This starts with avoiding sitting for hours in a rigid posture and does not stop with a daily walk. Moderate sports that help the body build muscle in the right places - especially the back and abdomen - are ideal. These include cycling, swimming, walking or even hiking.
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