Your Healthiest You 40, 50, 60 and 70+
Date of publishing: 3rd Oct 2018
Your Healthiest You 40, 50, 60 and 70+
Source: Jessica Brown, Prevention, Pfizer Get Old Team
Help keep your bones in tip-top shape with this complete science-backed plan.
"Bone is a dynamic tissue," explains Andrea Singer, clinical director of the National Osteoporosis Foundation. "Old bone is constantly being broken down and replaced with new bone." Until your 40s, the rates of breakdown and formation are relatively balanced; after that, bone loss exceeds the rate of new growth. While you can never regain the peak bone mass of your earlier years, you can significantly slow the loss, Singer says. These strategies can help.
- Know your osteoporosis risk. Your odds of developing the condition are determined by a variety of factors, so it's important to talk with your doctor about any circumstances in your life that could accelerate your bone loss. Family history and the level of peak bone mass you built in your youth have a major effect on your risk, but so do certain illnesses and medications. "Conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, celiac disease, and Crohn's disease can speed bone loss, as can medications such as corticosteroids," says Wayne Johnson, a spokesperson for the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Race is also a factor: Women of Caucasian and Asian descent have the greatest risk.
- Focus on calcium and vitamin D. These two work in tandem to protect your bones: Calcium helps build them and slows the rate of loss; while vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium. "Getting enough of both is essential to keeping your bones strong and healthy as you age, but, unfortunately, too many Americans fall short," Singer says.
- Women in their 40s should get 1,000 mg of calcium a day, ideally from foods such as yogurt, milk, fatty fish like salmon, and leafy green vegetables. "As long as you're eating three or four of these foods each day, you're probably getting enough calcium," Johnson says. If you suspect you aren't getting enough, talk with your doctor about taking a supplement.
- Vitamin D, on the other hand, is difficult to get from diet alone because few foods contain it (fish, eggs, and fortified products such as milk and cereal are good sources). You can get some or all of the 600 IU you need daily from sun exposure, but because so many factors (such as sunscreen use and season) can interfere with the process, it's not a reliable source. If your diet doesn't include vitamin D-rich foods, you don't get outdoors often, or you wear sunscreen when you go outside, ask your doctor whether you should have your vitamin D level tested to see if you would benefit from a supplement.
- Choose bone-strengthening exercises. Strength training using a set of weights or just your body weight and weight-bearing exercises such as walking, jogging, and stair climbing are the best activities for protecting your bones, Johnson says. These moves put stress on your skeleton, which causes new bone tissue to form. The AAOS recommends that women do 30 minutes of weight-bearing exercise four or more days a week, along with at least two strength- training sessions, for optimal bone health.
- Boost your calcium intake. The requirement is higher in this decade: Women ages 51 and older need 1,200 mg daily (up from 1,000 mg for younger women). It's best to get calcium through diet if possible (see advice on the previous page). It's also wise to limit your intake of alcohol, salt, and caffeine, since all three can speed bone loss, Singer says.
- Follow a low-inflammatory diet. Add "stronger bones" to the many benefits of anti-inflammatory eating plans such as the Mediterranean diet. A 2017 Journal of Bone and Mineral Research study of women ages 50 to 79 found that those with the least inflammatory diets—high in fish, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains—lost less bone density over 6 years than women with the most inflammatory diets..
- Ask your doctor about bone-density testing. A DXA scan is used to measure bone mineral density (BMD) and assess the risk of bone fractures2. Your doctor may recommend that you have a DXA scan if you are considered to be at high risk of developing osteoporosis. For example2:
- if you have had a fracture after a minor fall or injury
- women who have an early menopause or have had their ovaries removed and do not have hormone replacement therapy (HRT)
- post-menopausal women who smoke or drink heavily, have a family history of hip fractures, or have a body mass index (BMI) of less than 21
- men or women who have a disease that leads to low bone density, such as rheumatoid arthritis
- women who have large gaps (more than a year) between periods
- men or women taking oral glucocorticoids (a type of steroid that treats inflammation) for three months or more, as these medicines can contribute to weakening bones
- Family history of osteoporosis o Maternal history of hip fracture o X-ray evidence of osteopenia
- Get a bone-density test. All women 65 and older should have their bone density measured, according to the US Preventive Services Task Force. If the test shows you do have low bone mass, it doesn't mean you'll necessarily develop osteoporosis or break a bone. But it does place you at a higher risk and gives your doctor an opportunity to help you head it off. "Depending on how advanced your bone loss is, your doctor may recommend medication to help slow or stop it or to rebuild bone," Singer says.
- Minimize your risk of falling. About 1 in 3 people over 65 fall each year, and many of these falls result in broken bones. A few simple steps can prevent them, Singer says: Wear shoes with nonslip soles indoors, remove throw rugs that you could easily trip over, keep hallways and corners well lit, and take extra care with medications that can affect your balance or make you drowsy.
- Re-evaluate your exercise routine. Singer and Johnson recommend having a discussion with your doctor about which types of exercise are safest for you now. Low-impact activities such as walking and swimming are a better option than high-impact activities, particularly if you have musculoskeletal conditions such as arthritis. "This is also a good time to try tai chi or yoga," Johnson says. "Both can help maintain or improve your balance so you're less likely to fall."
- Don't ignore hip pain. As your risk of falling increases, so do the odds you'll break a hip: Hip fractures are most common between the ages of 75 and 79 and sometimes go undetected. "If you have a nondisplaced hip fracture—meaning there's a crack in a bone but the bones are still aligned—you might not experience symptoms right away," Johnson explains. If you do develop pain, let your doctor know immediately. "An early diagnosis is important because a nondisplaced fracture could turn into a displaced one, which requires a bigger surgery," he says.
- Take extra steps to prevent falls. To avoid slipping while you bathe, attach railings in your bathtub area or place a shower chair in a shower stall. Even if you're still active and mobile, Johnson recommends doing it anyway. "Crisis prevention is always better than crisis intervention," he says. It's also a good idea to replace wheeled tables and chairs with more- stable furniture.
- Keep an eye on your weight. Appetite diminishes with age, which could make you underweight, which is a risk factor for osteoporosis and fractures. Talk with your doctor if you're having trouble eating enough and getting enough calories; you may need a referral to a dietitian.
Date of Preparation: August 2018
- https://www.getold.com/your-healthiest-you-40-50-60-and-70. Date Accessed 27th August 2018
- https://www.hse.ie/eng/health/az/b/bone-densitometry-scan/. Date Accessed 27th August 2018