FRACTURING AFFLICTION: Bone health and avoiding osteoporosis in Spain

PREVENTION: Exercise, sun and fatty fish can help to halt osteoporosis

Three million people in Spain suffer from osteoporosis, a degenerative disease that affects the density and quality of the bones. The name literally translates to ‘porous bone’ and causes bones to become increasingly fragile.

It is this fragility in the bones that causes them to fracture easily. In Spain, more than 330,000 bone fractures are called by the disease every year, especially in the hips and forearms. The danger of the condition is the difficulty to detect it. It is generally asymptomatic and only begins to show once it’s in an advanced state, preventing doctors from slowing its evolution.

The main cause of bone deterioration is age and it begins to appear in people over 60. The body absorbs calcium to keep bones strong, but over time the absorption capacity decreases and bones become less dense. In addition to age, there are many other factors that can contribute to the onset of osteoporosis.

Being a woman is one of the main factors, as the disease mainly affects women, while men only have a 13 per cent risk. Having a family history, being underweight, smoking, excessive alcohol and coffee consumption can also cause the conditions. A diet poor in calcium, being sedentary and pollution can also aggravate bone density.

Can osteoporosis be prevented? The deterioration of bone tissue is an inevitable process as we age. But there are some lifestyle choices that can slightly modify the evolution. Maintaining healthy habits does not guarantee avoiding osteoporosis but it can slow down the disease from progressing.

A balanced diet rich in calcium and vitamin D is essential. Combining foods like fatty fish, dairy, nuts, legumes, green leafy vegetables and eggs with sun exposure should be sufficient. Physical exercise also helps to maintain bone health. It decreases the risk of fractures and if practiced outdoors, it helps to absorb the necessary vitamin D.

Toxic habits such as alcohol consumption or tobacco are discouraged, as they reduce the absorption of calcium and other important minerals including phosphorous and magnesium. After menopause women, or people with an increased risk of osteoporosis, should have periodic reviews. A test that measures bone mass allows doctors to make an exact diagnosis.

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