Harden up bones with soft yoghurt, keep osteoporosis at bay.

Login to Health December 21, 2017 Bone Health 634 Views


25 year old Surabhi was a confused little girl. She had her Smartphone and her personal dietitian’s recommendations stored for easy access. But while Surabhi was recommended less dairy to shed those pounds quickly before her fast-approaching wedding, she was unaware about the wholesomeness of certain foods such as a banana milkshake or a herb dip; and how if complemented with exercise would greatly enhance her health. Not that it was just round the corner, it was a good 10 months away. Like all Indian would-be brides, Surabhi too wanted a glowing complexion on her special day and was very concerned about getting rid of her under eye circles, lest they would be seen through her makeup in the wedding photographs!

Surabhi was serious about adhering to her diet chart but this created a terrible misunderstanding between her and her mom who was slightly over 50 years of age, and had been diagnosed with osteoporosis.

Surabhi’s mom, Vijaya, despaired as she knew for a fact that calcium is required for healthy bones and not having the traditional curd rice daily or enough yoghurt would lead to brittle bones. She would insist on packing some curd with Surabhi’s salad for lunch, but Surabhi would return home with it, untouched. Vijaya tried in vain to convince Surabhi, but the latter would not have any cottage cheese or icecreams either. Surabhi, like everyone else in her age group would read and research a lot, over the net, with her palm-sized device. She had also read about osteoporosis being an inherited condition and volumes on bone density, foods that aid calcium absorption and developing healthy bones. She was going to address her concern to the dietician after a long tug-of-war between having yoghurt on alternate days and not having it at all! Even her coffee was without milk and she shunned the occasional chocolate bar which she had reserved for herself as rare treats.

Vijaya, on the other hand used conventional wisdom to reduce the impact of osteoporosis on her bones, as much as possible. It was too late to reverse the thinning of bones and she regularly consulted her orthopedist. This is what she uncovered:

Food that is bad for bone health:

  • Excessive salt intake:  Ensure that you do not exceed 2,300 miligrams of sodium daily, instead of trying to cut it out altogether. Vijaya was used to sprinkling freshly cut cucumber with a liberal dash of salt and pepper. She restrained herself from adding a pinch here and there and curbed consumption of bread. How does this work? More salt implies more calcium flushed out of the body.
  • Alcohol: Abstaining from it significantly stops bones being drained of calcium, as alcohol consumption slows down your body’s calcium absorption.
  • Caffeine and colas: Tea, coffee, sodas do not help much  don’t opt for them over calcium-rich milk. Phosphorous present in certain beverages can wreak havoc by depriving the bones of calcium.

Vijaya was at a loss as to how to convince her daughter regarding calcium intake as she did not want Surabhi to also go through bone loss. She had to somehow earn Surabhi’s trust and decided to change her approach. She enlisted Surabhi’s help to unearth more facts about how osteoporosis affects menopausal women. Her ploy worked. Surabhi was keen to help her mom and be her confidante. Surabhi didn’t mean to alarm her mom but had to share with her, certain facts and bust few myths:

Myth 1: Osteoporosis can be prevented with calcium intake.

Fact 1: Orthopedists say, provided adequate calcium intake is ensured during teens. After this age, one can only delay or reduce the impact of osteoporosis through Vitamin D. Normally after age of 30 years, body begins to lose more bone than it produces or can be replaced with new bone. While this process of bone turnover, starts at 30 years, it accelerates at the age of 50.

Myth 2: Only women are prone to osteoporosis after the age of 50 years.

Fact 2: Osteoporosis implies high risk of breaking a bone. Studies show women with osteoporosis are at greater risk of breaking a bone (1:2) than men

Myth 3: You know you have osteoporosis, when you feel the pain on breaking a bone.

Fact 3: No, no and no again. How can you come to know about your bones losing density? So usually, you do not know you have osteoporosis. Besides, certain bones in the spine can break even without causing pain.

This did it! Surabhi insisted her mother accompany her for daily morning walks almost dragging her at times. This served a two fold purpose. Being in the sunshine meant her body would benefit from Vitamin D, whereas weight-bearing exercise would strengthen her legs, preventing the loss of bone density to a certain extent.

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