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Around 25 percent of people in Germany suffer from osteoporosis. The proportion of women is over 70 percent. A healthy diet and sufficient exercise are important for prevention.
Osteoporosis has long developed into a so-called common disease. According to estimates, around 25 percent of the population nationwide suffer from osteoporosis, and the trend is rising rapidly. In international comparison, Germany is in the middle, behind Scandinavia and the USA, but ahead of China and the African countries. On the occasion of World Osteoporosis Day, we took a closer look at the causes, origins and preventive measures.
What happens to osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is a disease that is associated with bone loss and loss of skeletal stability. Doctors refer to this as a bone metabolism disorder, which is characterized by the loss of bone mass, bone structure and bone function and is associated with broken bones, in particular vertebral fractures and femoral neck fractures. Women are particularly affected by osteoporosis: around 70 percent of those affected are women. Women mostly fall ill from the age of 50 and often after the menopause. Men are often affected after the age of 60. However, many people fall ill after the age of 40, and orthopedists then speak of a so-called “juvenile osteoporosis”. Osteoporosis is often recognized too late, namely when a bone is already broken due to the instability. For World Osteoporosis Day on October 20, the Techniker Krankenkasse (TK) in Baden-Württemberg informed about the risks and prevention of the disease.
Symptoms of osteoporosis
The symptoms often show up initially under stress, which results in chronic back pain, low back pain and body aches. The pain arises less in the bones themselves, but primarily through muscle tension in the affected body regions. Some of the sufferers suffer from very severe pain, even in the advanced stage without strain on the musculoskeletal system.
Women are more affected
Women from the age of 50 have the greatest risk of osteoporosis. Genetic dispositions (in the family the osteoporosis already occurred in the first degree) play an important role. A second indicator of risk is in women who have been underweight all their lives. Other pre-existing conditions and certain medications, among others with the active ingredient cortisone can influence the density of the bones.
Mitigate osteoporosis risks from diet and exercise
Negative lifestyles and diets are also significant risks. Those who exercise little, eat unhealthily and smoke also have an increased risk of getting sick. However, the last-mentioned risks can be avoided. "This is where prevention should start," explained Nicole Battenfeld, a nutritionist at TK. Because if you move actively and sufficiently, you can stimulate bone growth, for example. Active movement also makes sense if the maximum bone mass has already been reached after around 30 years. Nevertheless, according to Battenfeld, exercise can have a positive effect on degradation into old age if you exercise enough and regularly.
Sensible types of exercise are sports that can be practiced in the fresh air. These include cycling, fast running (jogging), fast walking (walking) and regular long walks. With an active movement, the important vitamin D is formed, which is extremely responsible for the bone metabolism. If you move outdoors, the body can use the UV rays to produce and store vitamin D itself.
An ideal and balanced diet can also prevent osteoporosis. Numerous dishes contain the very important vitamin D. Especially fish (especially sea fish), milk, cheese, eggs, spinach and mushrooms contain a lot of vitamin D. Vitamin supplements in the form of tablets should be avoided as far as possible, because ideal interaction can only be achieved through the interaction of natural active ingredients.
Another important preventive factor is a calcium-rich diet. Calcium, like vitamin D, promotes the development and maintenance of bones. “The daily ration of an adult should be 1,000 to 1,500 mg calcium,” is the recommendation of the TK expert. In children and adolescents, pregnant women and during breastfeeding, the need for the mineral calcium is even higher. Much of the important mineral can be found in milk and milk products such as cheese. A lot of calcium is also found in green vegetables such as spinach or fennel. Calcium can also be found in tofu and nuts. According to the WHO, the recommended daily amount of calcium in adults is between 450 to 1000 milligrams (mg). Here, too, additional preparations are not absolutely sensible, since half a liter of milk and two slices of cheese can cover the daily requirement. New studies have also found that supplemental calcium supplements can increase the risk of heart attack. Therefore, such additional preparations should only be taken in close consultation with the doctor. “Calcium supplements should only be taken after consulting your doctor. Too much can also have negative effects, ”as the TK health expert advises.
What diet should be avoided for osteoporosis prevention?
However, some foods can also withdraw the important minerals. This includes larger amounts of coffee (caffeine) and alcohol. These two substances cause calcium to be excreted in large quantities via the kidneys. Large amounts of sausage, processed cheese, meat and soft drinks are also negative because they contain phosphates that prevent calcium from being stored in the bones. "If you want to avoid phosphate-containing foods and ready meals, you should look for the number E 338 to 341 and E 450 on the package," the nutritionist advised. Since aluminum has recently been suspected of promoting osteoporosis, aluminum pots and cauldrons should not be used.
Early diagnosis is important for successful treatment
If osteoporosis is identified in good time, there are numerous treatment options and therapies to alleviate the symptoms or stop the effects of the disease. For this reason, it is very important to see a doctor with minimal symptoms. The painful symptoms can only be stopped with timely treatment. (sb, October 13, 2010)
Disease description of osteoporosis
Calcium supplements only in consultation with the doctor
Bone softening: osteomalacia and rickets