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Osteoporosis Health Center

Bone Thieves: How to Defend Yourself

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Thief 6: Caving to cola cravings. Drinking cola seems to decrease the density of bones, probably because of the phosphoric acid in cola (not the bubbles).

The Fix: Largeman-Roth suggests seltzer flavored with citrus juice or a couple of slices of fresh ginger. Or you could just have a glass of water.

Thief 7: Your chair. Sitting too much damages your bones.“In order to have healthy bones, you have to bash them,” says orthopedist Vonda Wright, MD. While that may sound harsh, what she means is you have to put weight on them.

The Fix: Find opportunities to get up and move. If your health permits, add weight-bearing exercise such as tennis, dancing, or jogging, and strength training to your weekly routine. Wright also recommends sitting on a large exercise ball instead of a chair three times a day for at least 30 minutes to increase the force on the bones.

Thief 8: Cigarettes. They’re bad for your whole body, and that includes your bones. Studies have shown a strong link between smoking and a decrease in bone density. And women who smoke make less estrogen, a hormone that's key to bone health.

The Fix:  Ask your doctor for help quitting.

Thief 9: Sugar. “High levels of blood sugar are very bad for collagen formation,” says Wright. Bones are made of a type of collagen.

The Fix: Cut back on sweets, as well as refined carbohydrates like white rice and mashed potatoes.

Thief 10: Dieting. “People who are overweight rarely will have low bone density,” says Miller. Being too thin raises your chance of developing osteoporosis.

The Fix: No one is suggesting obesity is a safe or healthy way to stave off bone loss, but consider your bone health before starting a weight-loss program. Talk to your doctor about what's a healthy weight for you.

Thief 11: Stress. “Thin, worried white women” are the ones who get osteoporosis, according to the stereotype, and there’s some truth to it, says Miller. Blame the stress hormone cortisol. Over time, it can thin the bones.

The Fix: Practice whatever relaxation techniques work for you.

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Reviewed on October 14, 2013

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