The osteoporosis quiz

When it comes to bone loss, what you don't know may indeed be very harmful! So, I've prepared this true or false quiz using the same guidelines professionals use in the diagnosis of osteoporosis. Take the quiz, then we'll talk about this very western disease, who's at risk, and what you can do to prevent further bone loss.

1. For healthy bones all you need to do is drink milk.

2. Once you get your bones tested, you don't have to retest them.

3. Wait until you're in your fifties to have your bones tested.

4. Genetics determines if your bones will be weak when you reach old age.

5. Riding a bicycle or exercise bike can strengthen your bones.

6. In women, menopause causes osteoporosis.

7. Men don't have to worry about osteoporosis.

8. As long as you do a lot of walking, you don't need to worry about osteoporosis.

9. Once the bones are weakened by osteoporosis, there is nothing you can do.

10. Diet plays a very small role in the development of osteoporosis.

So, how do you think you scored? Certainly some of these statements do seem to ring true, but they are all false!

1. Milk may be high in calcium, but is lacking in the other nutrients that keep calcium bioavailable in our body-- in particularly magnesium. Milk is also high in protein. Proteins being acid ash foods will cause the body to secrete calcium from the bone in order to alkalize the blood. To get a proper balance of calcium from foods, your best bet is leafy green vegetables high in calcium as well as magnesium and other important cofactors.

2. Since your rate of bone loss may vary at different ages and times of your life, you should have your bone density tested periodically. Bone loss may be higher during times of stress due to bad diet, lack of exercise, periods of smoking or alcohol consumption.

3. Even if you are in your 20s or 30s you may be losing bone. Women in their late 30s can lose up to one percent of their skeleton per year. Get a baseline.

4. Although small-framed women as well as men, of Asian or European decent may be more genetically prone to bone loss, that's like saying that you too will die at 50 of a coronary because your father did. Proper nutrients, weight-bearing exercises, supplements, and hormone replacement therapy are only a few of the tools you can use to prevent severe bone loss.

5. Bicycle riding is good exercise but not the kind your bones need. Walking, jogging and weight lifting with light weights are your best bet. The verdict is still out on swimming. Although swimming is not weight bearing, it does have positive effects on spine health.

6. Today's modern fast food diet, smoking, alcohol consumption and a sedentary lifestyle are what causes the most bone loss, not menopause. Analyses of bones of those from other cultures show that, in the past, older women did not necessarily experience weak bones. This is not to say the hormone replacement therapy at the time of menopause is not important. It is to say it should be a decision between you and your doctor.

7. Men who are sedentary, have poor nutrition and lifestyle are every bit as much at risk of bone loss as women.

8. Yes, walking is wonderful exercise for the bones in your lower body but does little for the upper body. Studies show that weight lifting at any age can reinforce bone or at least slow the process.

9. Improved lifestyle including appropriate exercise, diet and supplements of calcium and magnesium can strengthen the bones. New drug therapies-- when added to the above-- have been shown to actually rebuild bone matrix.

10. Osteoporosis is truly a western disease directly related to our love affair with fast and highly processed foods. Diets containing animal proteins, daily, let alone two or three times a day cause our bones to lose calcium in an effort to balance proteins acidic effect on the blood.

The 206 bones contained within the human skeleton may seem to us as unchanging-- static. Our bones are living tissue just as much as any other living tissue. Bone health is really pretty simple. Eat a clean diet of 60-70 percent fresh fruits and vegetables, use animal proteins sparingly, drink plenty of fresh clean water, use supplements when necessary and exercise appropriately. Also, use the new tools of bone density testing and drug therapy if necessary offered by your professional health care provider.

Till next time, Rebecca.

Uploaded to The Zephyr Online November 2, 1999

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