November marks Osteoporosis month but amid the cooling temperatures, shorter days and thoughts about preparing for the Holidays it’s possible that it will come and go without much attention. If that occurs, it will leave many more Canadians at risk from a very dangerous disease.
Dubbed ‘The Silent Thief’ because most people are unaware about the risks of bone density loss, it means awareness may only occur after a catastrophic injury.
Osteoporosis is usually a very gradual reduction of bone density that puts sufferers at risk of fractures particularly in the spine, hip and wrist.
Just to give some context, approximately 2 million Canadians are affected by Osteoporosis many in either silence or ignorance.
1:3 Women will break a bone from Osteoporosis
1:5 Men will break a bone from Osteoporosis
30,000 Canadians will suffer a hip fracture every year
Women are more likely to have an osteoporotic fracture than have a heart attack, a stroke or breast cancer COMBINED! And while it is most often seen as a “women’s disease” the facts stress that men also need to pay attention. So why is it largely ignored?
Bone density occurs during the first half of our lives, hence the constant push for children to drink milk because it provides calcium. They are also encouraged to spend time outside playing because the sun delivers, the much needed, Vitamin D.
As we move through adulthood the process of bone-building ends and from this point it needs to be about focussing on bone maintenance to offset osteoporosis. To understand the risks of the disease, we have to consider certain lifestyle and genetic factors.
A family history of Osteoporosis, having certain medical conditions, smokers and heavy consumers of alcohol or caffeine are all at greater risk.
The good news, according to Heart to Home Meals’ Consultant Dietitian Andrea Olynyk, it is never too late to make the changes to your diet and lifestyle that can help support bone maintenance and improve your overall health.
Andrea says now is the time to stub out the cigarettes and find ways to stay active: “Any weight-bearing exercises, like walking, dancing or low-impact aerobics will make a difference as will regular stretching exercises or yoga.”
And according to research published this year, diet is even more important than exercise when it comes to preventing bone loss and strength.
If you are over 50 years of age you should aim for 1200mg of calcium every day. One cup of milk, for example, gives you 300mg of calcium. And because the Heart to Home Meals are specially designed for seniors, some of the meals have substantial calcium content.
Cauliflower and Broccoli Cheese Casserole – 429mg
Macaroni and Cheese – 405mg
Vegetable Hot Pot – 366mg
Chicken Divan – 349mg
Omelette with Hollandaise Sauce – 230mg
Rice Pudding – 165mg
In recent years, clinical practice guidelines have put more of the emphasis on preventing fragility fractures rather than treating low bone density. For seniors, it is important to take heed of the advice from the experts: if you eat well, you will live better.
Sticking to a good diet will make a difference, as will asking questions about Osteoporosis. A recent survey out of the UK found 61% of women aged over 60 have little or no knowledge about Osteoporosis and almost the same number believe that fragility fractures in older age are most likely a result of an unlucky fall or accident rather than an underlying bone condition
The survey also found that seniors rely on their healthcare worker to raise the topics that are pertinent to them. Maybe it is time to ask about Osteoporosis during the next visit to your doctor? Having that discussion could be one of the most important you have for your own well-being.
And just a reminder, this is also a good time to arrange to have a flu shot.
Learn more about Heart to Home Meals, request a menu, or place an order at www.hearttohomemeals.ca