It’s a term which means ‘holes in bone,’ and is characterized by a person’s skeletal system becoming so weak and brittle injury can easily occur from a fall or even a minor bump.
Although osteoporosis is often associated with old age, the real causes, according to Dr. John Guarnieri, a chiropractor with Wyoming Valley Chiropractic in Forty Fort, is improper diet and insufficient exercise.
Guarnieri was the featured speaker at the Falls Active Adult Center on Thursday, in which he spoke on the causes of osteoporosis, as well as preventive steps people can take to prevent the affliction from occurring.
One popular misconception is that drinking milk will prevent osteoporosis, Guarnieri said. But the fact is, drinking too much milk can actually cause osteoporosis.
The reason, Guarnieri said, is because while milk and other dairy products create high acidic conditions in the body. This condition causes the body to leech calcium from the bones, which in turn leads to osteoporosis.
A world-wide study revealed that countries which consumed the highest amount of dairy products - including the U.S., Great Britain, Finland and Sweden - had the highest number of people suffering from osteoporosis, he said.
Consuming too much meat can also lead to osteoporosis, Guarnieri said, because excess protein can cause calcium loss. People who eat a lot of meat - particularly red meat - are at greater risk for osteoporosis.
A good source of calcium without the problems of acidity are green leafy vegetables, he said.
Jim Jurchak of Harding asked what is a good combination of food to eat to prevent osteoporosis.
Guarnieri said that people should work to provide variety in their diet, and not exceed 30 percent protein. Fish and shell fish are fine, along with poultry such as chicken and turkey. Beef and pork can also be eaten, but people should be aware how much protein they are consuming and take steps to act with moderation.
Jurchak also asked about the advantages of consuming organically grown foods. Guarnieri said he enthusiastically supports the idea, because food produced through ‘factory farm’ systems don’t have the necessary nutrients.
“Jack LaLane used to say, ‘If it’s man-made, don’t eat it,’” he explained.
Soda and coffee are other factors which can contribute to osteoporosis, Guarnieri explained, because they produce acidic conditions which leech calcium from the body.
Atsuko McHale of Falls inquired if consuming lemon juice is beneficial, which Guarnieri confirmed. Even though lemon juice is acidic in nature, it produces elements that can help to prevent osteoporosis. Other things that can assist in preventing the affliction include alkaline water and vinegar.
Taking calcium pills as a supplement can have mixed benefits, Guarnieri said. The calcium has a tendency to work its way into the soft tissues - the muscles - instead of the bones. While the calcium is beneficial to the muscles, it does nothing to offset the spread of osteoporosis in the bones.
Other supplements which can help prevent osteoporosis include Vitamin D - particularly in the winter - magnesium and zinc, Guarnieri said.
Warning signs of osteoporosis include back ache, muscle spasms, and aching bones, particularly in the thighs, the doctor explained. Other signs include difficulty in bending or twisting the body.
One of the best preventions for osteoporosis is exercise, Guarnieri said. Lack of exercise causes the body to break down over a period of time. By following a regular exercise routine, people can make their bodies replenish themselves, offsetting certain afflictions such as osteoporosis.
“Rapid bone loss happens because of lack of physical action,” Guarnieri said.
Walking for about 20 minutes a day is one form of effective exercise, he said. Another is using resistance weights. A light to moderate routine is all that is necessary.