Osteoporosis is a silent disease that impacts the bones, making them weaker over time and raising the likelihood of fractures. In the United States, around 50 million people over the age of 50 have low bone mass, and many of them won’t know it until they break a bone. Many people are under the mistaken assumption that fragile bones are simply a natural part of aging, but the fact is getting older doesn’t mean having to live with weak bones. But the good news is that it’s never too late to strengthen and protect your bones.
The easiest way to explain osteoporosis is to compare bones to honeycombs. Bones are living tissue, they’re not just rocks that live in our bodies. Our bones stay healthy by dismantling old bone and building up new bone. Bone tissue has walls and hollow spaces, just like honeycomb. And when old bone breaks down at a faster rate than new bone is made, the spaces inside the bones get larger, and the outer walls of the bones get thinner. This obviously makes the entire structure more fragile.
With osteoporosis, people are more likely to break their bones, and then have a harder time recovering. In the most severe cases, a small bump or even a hard cough can cause fractures. Women are more likely than men to have weakened bones.
There are several things you can do to strengthen your bones and prevent osteoporosis, and you can start at any time. Eating a healthy diet, getting regular exercise, and limiting your alcohol intake and quitting smoking can all help to increase the strength and density of your bones.