January 20, 2017

Osteoporosis: Old Bones in Young Bodies

Hollywood, magazines and fashion models seem to make a statement — and standard — that being skinny is beautiful.  Many young girls who want to look attractive seem to think being underweight is healthy and becoming skinny as models will make them more beautiful.  However, one of the many side effects of being underweight, besides a lower immune system and low blood pressure, is osteoporosis.

Celebrities who appear regularly on the cover of magazines, or as guests on talk shows, have faces and bodies that hordes of young women are tempted to emulate.  But “a delicate beauty” or “wafer-thin” slim physique are simply maintained via diet and exercise, or so we are told.

We read about strict diets, macro-biotic diets, dairy-free diets, vegan diets, no processed foods allowed diet and strict versions of “ultra-healthy” habits.  Add heavy exercise routines, which include 2-hour workouts every day and where calories are pouring out sweaty skin. Sounds great, right?  Then how come many  “roll models” are diagnosed with osteopenia before they hit 40 years of age?

A low-calorie, dairy-free diet with tons of exercise and lack of sunlight can head a young woman down the road to osteoporosis.

Is bone loss the price you want your beautiful daughter or granddaughter to pay for the ultimate “ideal” body shape?

Teens, tweens and young adults idolize celebrities, models and TV or movie stars in designer clothes.  But, there is long-term health damage happening underneath the “skinny” jeans, leggings, short shorts and tank tops.

Don’t be fooled. Even high school girls can develop osteoporosis in today’s media-driven culture.  “Skinnier is better” is a message to fight because paying the price of excessive dieting and exercise to the extreme causes lower estrogen production and can eventually lead to osteoporosis.

Osteoporosis by taufik rizal on Flickr

Estrogen is needed to help keep bones strong.  Without it, bones can become thin and brittle, which is why women in menopause can experience a drop in bone density. On the other end of the spectrum, young girls achieve approximately 90% of their bone mass by the age of 18. Osteopenia is increasingly a commonly recognized sign of an eating disorder in young adults across the country. When a young woman’s body should be increasing bone growth, heavy exercise and poor dieting can fail to develop strong bones during her critical growing periods.

Broken bones are a huge price to pay for style.  Check in with your young daughters or granddaughters to find if she is working towards a particular body type.  Skinny is not better, nor are osteoporosis symptoms: bent back, broken hip, vertebrae compressions and fractures.  Osteoporosis is not an old lady’s disease.  It is the future of models, celebrities and actresses – but not for your precious daughters.

The truth is the more bone you can lay down before 30 years of age, the more bone you maintain through your 30s and 40s.  In order to maintain bone health in your later years, you need to set the stage in the beginning. Now let’s find out how diet can both help your bones – and hurt them.

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