You don’t have to choose between conventional or alternative medicine when it comes to treating osteoporosis. Trying a holistic approach could be the best option for your bone health.
As we get older, it’s a fact of life that bones become less dense and more fragile.
For some of us, this becomes a serious issue. Over three million people in the UK have osteoporosis – when bone density decreases much faster than it should.
There may not be any symptoms of this condition until a bone fractures, but a DEXA body scan can check for it.
It’s estimated that one in two women over 50 and one in five men will develop osteoporosis and suffer a fracture.
Despite the sobering statistics, there is hope.
Top osteoporosis specialist
Dr Stephanie Kaye-Barrett, Consultant Rheumatologist at Twenty-five Harley Street Private Day Clinic says: ‘Treatment of osteoporosis reduces fractures by a substantial amount, and for anyone with osteoporosis or a high clinical risk of fracture, integrated treatment is highly recommended.’
In other words, when it comes to this debilitating condition, a holistic approach which includes both natural, preventative strategies, as well as cutting-edge medicine is the best way forward.
How to stop osteoporosis in its tracks
There’s plenty of evidence to show that a healthy lifestyle can help prevent osteoporosis.
For example, regular exercise helps strengthen bones.
- Adults under the age of 64 should be doing two and a half hours of activities such as cycling or fast walking every week.
- Resistance work-outs, such as using weights can also protect against osteoporosis.
- Doctors also recommend ‘weight-bearing exercises’, for example, jogging or dance classes (think Zumba), to increase bone density.
Exercising to build bone density
You’ll need to rethink your exercise regime if you’ve been diagnosed with osteoporosis.
Stretching and more gentle weight-bearing exercise are usually advised – walking, dancing or low-impact aerobics.
However, sit-ups, touching the toes and jogging may not be suitable for those at high risk of fracturing.
Ask your specialist what is off-limits for you.
Don’t use osteoporosis as an excuse to dodge exercise completely – research has shown patients with the condition who do exercise have less back pain, better health and a decreased risk of falling.
Just make sure it’s the right kind of work-out.
Nutrition for bone health
A good diet with plenty of bone-strengthening nutrients is a must for those concerned about osteoporosis.
However, don’t go overboard with calcium supplements. This might sound a little surprising – but new evidence suggests that consuming too much of this mineral may increase the risk of heart attacks and strokes.
- Aim for an overall intake of 700 grams per day of calcium, that’s equivalent to a pint of milk (either skimmed or semi-skimmed is just as good as whole fat milk).
- Do consume plenty of vitamin D-rich foods. Oily fish, such as mackerel and salmon, as well as eggs and cheese are all brilliant for bone-boosting vitamin D.
- Much of our Vitamin D comes from sunshine – so consider supplementing in the winter months.
The latest research shows that adults may need to take an additional 400 -1000IU of vitamin D from the diet or as a supplement.
Already diagnosed with osteoporosis? Ensuring your Vitamin D intake is optimal is even more important.
Your doctor should ensure your levels are balanced correctly, and will advise on a supplement.
Drug treatments for osteoporosis
As well as making lifestyle changes, having expert medical advice about the best drugs for osteoporosis can ensure that fractures are avoided.
The first line of defence are the bisphosphonates, such as alendronate and risedronate, which have few side-effects.
Other medication can also help osteoporosis. The drug teriparatide, can even stimulate new bone formation.
This treatment is not widely available on the NHS, but can be prescribed by a private consultant.