This Sunday marks World Osteoporosis Day, a day that has a special meaning to my family. Years ago, my grandmother was diagnosed with debilitating osteoporosis due to years of smoking. Shortly after we learned this news, my mother and the other women in our family began taking their own bone health very seriously. Bone scans, increasing dietary calcium, eating prunes (yes- eating five to six prune each day has been shown to help prevent bone loss!), adding resistance exercise to their workout routine- you name it, they did it. But the men in my family seemed mostly unaffected. That’s because most men (and I see this in my practice too) don’t feel they are at risk for low bone density or osteoporosis. But that’s actually not true. One in every four men over the age of 50 will suffer a fracture due to osteoporosis. And I know this first hand because the disease hit very close to home.
A few years ago, my dad, who is physically active and has never smoked, had a bone scan. He went because my mother and I were concerned after he had been on protein pump inhibitors for years due to acid reflux. To our shock the results showed he had osteoporosis. An active, healthy man with almost no risk factors! If we hadn’t pushed him to go for a scan, he probably would have never known about his diagnosis until he suffered a fracture. And that’s the case for most men. Women are often encouraged by their healthcare practitioners to have bone density scans after the age of 50. And these scans are usually how low bone density and osteoporosis are discovered. Yet in men, this recommendation is far less common. It typically isn’t until a fracture occurs that a screening even takes place.
This World Osteoporosis Day I want to raise awareness about bone health for everyone – every man and women – who is at risk. As a mom to two young boys, I’m always focused on their future health. Knowing that osteoporosis can impact them just as easily as it could my daughter makes me want to be sure we are implementing behaviors now that will keep their bones healthy for life. That’s why I wanted to share my top tips for strong bones for men and women with you today. These are the exact recommendations I share with my clients, my father, and all of the men in my life who I love & want the best for.
Top Tips to Prevent Osteoporosis in Men and Women
- Make sure to perform weight-bearing exercise at least twice per week
- Aim to consume 1000mg of calcium (1200mg of calcium/day for those age 51+) from mostly dietary sources each day
- Consume adequate vitamin D daily from both food and/or supplements (the RDA for vitamin D is 600 IU/day and 800 IU/day for those age 71 and older)
- Eat five to six prunes every day
- If you smoke, quit
- Limit alcohol to no more than one drink per day (for women) or two drinks per day (for men)
- Aim to limit your sodium into to 2300mg per day or less
Think it’s hard to eat five to six prunes per day? Think again! Prunes are so versatile it can be incredibly easy to fit them into any meal plan. You can enjoy them alone, pureed as a sugar alternative in your favorite baked good, or even blend them into a morning smoothie. One of my favorite ways to fit in more prunes into my diet (and a favorite of my dad’s as well) is with a crunchy, sweet trail mix that you can take with you on-the-go.
Whether you need a snack at the office, in the car, or a dessert at night, this trail mix will fill you up and satisfy your sweet tooth all while promoting stronger bones. You can get more prune recipes by visiting Sunsweet.com
Nutty Chocolate Prune Trail Mix for Stronger Bones
- A bowl
- 6 prunes
- ¼ cup pistachios, shell removed, unsalted
- ¼ cup sunflower seeds, unsalted
- ¼ cup peanuts, unsalted
- 6 cups air popped popcorn
- ¼ cup PlumSweets Chocolate Covered Plums
- Mix all ingredients together. Serve and enjoy!