Friday, April 11, 2008

Don't turn your back on calcium

One of the most dangerous elements of the many low-kilojoule diets is thatthey restrict the intake of fats, and in so doing they restrict the intake of the essential nutrients we find in foods such as sesame seeds, oily fish and cheese. The main danger lies in the elimination of one of the major forces in the nutritional and health stakes, namely calcium. This mineral is a key player in the nutritional symphony and of specific interest to dieters is its ability to act as a metabolic regulator. An insufficient intake of calcium could lead to a number of nutrient imbalances, which could very well also be what has been hampering your weight loss efforts.

But by far the most serious disease resulting from a calcium deficiency is osteoporosis. The origin of this disease usually lies in a continual low intake of calcium. Because the body requires calcium for a number of important functions, it eventually starts helping itself to your calcium reserves, namely the calcium in your bones and teeth. Over a period of time bone mass is lost and the bones deteriorate and become soft and brittle.

Diet Start

Along with coronary heart disease, osteoporosis ranks as one of the most debilitating diseases of our time. The statistics in the UK speak for themselves: with 1 in every 3 women and 1 in 12 men affected, this is a major health problem. And indications are that these statistics apply throughout the western world.

It is often referred to as the silent epidemic, because of the way in which it strikes without warning - you don't know that you have it until you have a wake-up call in the form of a serious fracture.

This disease is on the increase at an alarming rate. In the UK for instance, hip fractures have increased from around 10 000 per year in the 1960s to 60 000 in the 1990s, resulting in 40 premature deaths per day. Spinal fractures and injuries are also on the increase. It is estimated that 50% of people over the age of 85 suffer from the disease.

Osteoporosis is a disease in which bones lose calcium and other minerals. There are two forms of this disease: type 1, the most common, which occurs in postmenopausal women or younger women whose ovaries have been removed; and type 2 - or senile osteoporosis - which develops in both men and women, usually after the age of 75.

Osteoporosis is a most debilitating, painful disease with symptoms that start rather insidiously with mild back pain, which worsens dramatically as the vertebrae become more and more compressed. This is caused by tiny crush fractures. Compression of the spinal column also leads to height loss and an ungainly deformity commonly known as the 'dowager's hump'. Because of this deformity, chronic muscle pains are often experienced. Wrist and hip fractures are common. Serious sufferers could literally fracture a rib from a simple action such as coughing! Most often the frequent multiple fractures are extremely painful. Standard x-rays may only detect the disease after 25 - 40% of the calcium in the bones have been lost.

Osteoporosis has been defined as low bone mass and a deterioration in the honeycomb structure of the bone, resulting in increased fragility and a greater risk of bone fracture. Any bone could fracture, but the forearms, hips, spine and ribs are most likely to.

You may ask what on earth this has to do with you. Well, if you are a dieter, it has a lot to do with you. Dieters tend to avoid calcium-rich foods - those very foods needed for the prevention of this disease, And believe me, if you knew how much calcium you may be losing without even realising it, and if you knew how painful osteoporosis is, you would immediately address this area of your nutritional balance.

... andjoyohoxing