To boost our 'bone bank' and to support our Dairy Farmers, who have been severely hit by Covid 19 - we are all being encouraged to drink more milk. Research has shown that drinking 4 glasses of milk a day can reduce the risk of osteoporosis by over 70% yet research shows that pre-Covid 19 we were consuming less dairy products than a generation ago.
Often referred to as the ‘silent disease’ because, although almost 3 million people in the UK are thought to have osteoporosis, worryingly few people know they have it until they break a bone.There are more than 300,000 fractures every year due to osteoporosis.
It’s a condition that is typically associated with age – most of us lose some bone mass over the age of 40 – the more you can do to protect your skeleton in your 20’s and 30’s can make a huge difference to your bones in later life
Dairy is the UK’s largest farming sector, with milk accounting for 16.85% of total agricultural output. Since the start of the coronavirus outbreak, the dairy industry has faced challenges of excess milk, falling prices, and reduced demand from the hospitality sector.
Our grateful thanks to the National Osteoporosis Society (NOS) for their input to our report and for the use of the information below - to find out more about osteoporosis and for help and support visit their website or call their helpline on 0808 800 0035 (free of charge from all UK landlines, mobiles and call boxes.) between 9am -5pm Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. On Tuesdays their telephone helpline is available from 11am -7pm.
Our Bones. A skeleton is the all-important frame that holds our bodies together and enables us to move; it’ s impossible to live without and hard to live with when it’s in poor health. Like other parts of our bodies, bones are constantly growing. They make up our skeleton, which gives our bodies structure, protects our internal organs and enables us to move. We have around 206 bones in total and each tiny one has a purpose.
Nearly all our bones are made from the same materials: The outer surface called the Periosteum is a thin, dense membrane of nerves and blood vessels that give the bone nourishment. The second layer is compact bone, which is smooth and extremely hard; this has many layers of cancellous which has the appearance of sponge and is very strong.
Osteoporosis means ‘porous bones’ when they are more fragile and prone to breakage. There are two types of cells in our bones, construction and demolition.
The construction cells create new bone which up until our mid twenties, work harder building strength into our skeleton.
The demolition cells break down the old bone and from our forties onwards, they overtake and gradually our bones lose their density, which is a natural part of ageing.
Research is still ongoing to find out the exact causes of osteoporosis, to find the factors that influence our bones.
Who is most at risk of developing osteoporosis? As we heard all of us suffer some bone loss over the age of 40. Whe it comes to those mostly at risk, our bone health is genetic, but there are others at heightened risk of this condition, including:
How you can prevent osteoporosis. Our bones contain calcium and in order to make them stronger and healthier we need at least 700mg a day so it’s important that we eat calcium rich foods daily as part of a well balanced diet. These foods are dairy products such as milk, yogurt and cheese, leafy green vegetables like broccoli, spinach and cabbage and orange juice with added calcium.
So eat a well balanced diet including lots of leafy green vegetables, dairy or soya products and other calcium rich foods. Cut down on alcohol intake and if you smoke try to give up or at least cut down and exercise.
Calcium & vitamin D We need this vitamin to assist the body’s absorption of calcium. You can get this vitamin from foods like milk, eggs and tuna fish and another source is sunshine! Just fifteen minutes in the sun gives you plenty of vitamin D.
Alternatives to dairy products An estimated 15% of the UK population are lactose/milk protein intolerant. If you do have an intolerance/sensitivity to dairy, there are other calcium rich foods you can eat such as soya, leafy green vegetables, dried fruit (especially figs) and fruit juices with added calcium. In fact, soya has been proven to have plenty of health benefits: It can reduce cholesterol, reduce symptoms of the menopause and it has a higher calcium content than milk, contains protein, vitamins and minerals which are essential for maintaining strong bones.
How can exercise help prevent osteoporosis? Recent studies show that the risk of this condition is lower in peoplewho are active and in particular, those who do weight-bearing exercise like weight lifting, jogging, hiking, step aerobics, dancing, racquet sports and other activities that require your muscles to work against gravity.
How you can I find out if you have osteoporosis? Most people are unaware that they have osteoporosis until they break a bone (easily) or start to lose height. If you are concerned you can talk to your GP and if need be you may need a scan which measures bone density; this is called a ‘dual energy x-ray absorptiometry’ (DXA scan). It is a simple and painless procedure, which is recommended for people considered at high risk.
Should you exercise if you already have osteoporosis? Most people should exercise even with the condition, your GP will be able to advise you as to which exercises you can do safely, to preserve your bone and to strengthen your back and hips. But Remember…Although exercise and a calcium rich diet can help to prevent
Listen to this weeks radio report
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