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Lose weight. Not bone mass!

Lose weight. Not bone mass!

Women's Wellness

Did you know that when you lose weight you are jeopardizing your bone health?

Weight reduction diets are becoming more and more a trend in the region. Every day you hear of people following a certain diet to lose a few kilos.
Part of the weight lost during dieting is bone loss. Weight loss diets that are not adequate in calcium content may lead to calcium resorption from the bones and thereby bone loss. This is particularly true during fad dieting, or dieting without professional advice which is not accompanied by adequate calcium intake and regular exercise, both of which help to build bone mass.

How does an unbalanced diet affect bone health?

    • Skipping meals: most people when they want to cut down on their calories start skipping meals. Usually the first meal to go is breakfast, the meal that is usually packed with calcium
    • Calorie restriction: Recent studies found a direct link between severe calorie restriction and osteoporosis. Following an extreme weight loss diet for as little as five months caused significant bone loss. It was also shown that women who diet regularly on these extreme diets had bone mineral content as much as 16% lower than women with normal eating habits.
    • Unbalanced food groups: Most of these extreme fad diets are based on the consumption of certain food groups for a prolonged period of time. These diets are very low in calories, and most of the time deficient in certain types of nutrients. They do not include dairy products which make them poor in calcium and also they tend to eliminate the essential nutrients the body needs to effectively absorb calcium.
    • Disrupted estrogen levels: Prolonged strict weight loss affects estrogen levels in the body which affects bone health. Estrogen is known for its beneficial effect on bone health. Women at higher risk are post menopausal women and teenagers.

- Post-menopausal women, according to a recent study, are at a higher risk of losing bone when on severe caloric restriction, because they tend to be less active, they have less estrogen production, and they consume less calcium especially during dieting.

- Teens are mostly concerned as they tend to follow fad diets. They are also at a critical age of bone building, so severe weight loss could lead to estrogen deficiency and cessation of menstruation. This could cause serious damage to their bone health.

When you are on a diet, don’t starve yourself!

    • Consult a dietician: Your dietitian will surely help you make healthy food choices, and implement a varied and balanced diet plan that fits your lifestyle and needs.
    • Cut calories not calcium: calcium in weight loss will help preserve your bone mass, and aid you in losing weight.
    • Include 3 dairy per day: when on a weight loss diet make sure to get your 3 daily servings of milk and dairy.
    • Put realistic goals: set a target weight you can reach, so you don’t get frustrated.
    • Exercise regularly: bones are like muscles they grow stronger with exercise.

Remember: A healthy eating plan coupled with exercise will help you reach your weight loss goal and preserve your bones!

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