When it comes to women's health issues, one topic that doesn't get much attention is bone health. Osteoporosis is often referred to as a silent disease, primarily because people don't know their bones are brittle until there's a problem.
Even on a rainy day in Seattle, Lara Pizzorno and her husband, Dr. Joseph Pizzorno look for signs of life in their garden. Fresh foods rich in vitamins are key to keeping this couple healthy and active. For Lara, the message goes even deeper.
Lara and her husband, Dr. Joseph Pizzorno.
"No one should have osteoporosis," Lara Pizzorno, author of the book, 'Your Bones: How You Can Prevent Osteoporosis and Have Strong Bones for Life- Naturally ' said.
Lara was 45-years-old when she found out she was osteopenic, which meant despite taking care of herself and eating right, her bones were thinning.
"I lost my mother early, I lost my aunts early," Pizzorno said. "It (Osteoporosis) goes through my family and it makes me extremely sad."
It became Lara's mission to stop the cycle of osteoporosis in her genetic chain and help other women boost their own bone health.
Pizzorno says our bodies have incredible recuperative powers, but they just need some support.
It's estimated ten million Americans suffer from osteoporosis, according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation. Another forty-four million have low bone density. While osteoporosis impacts both men and women... women are at a greater risk since they typically have smaller, thinner bones.
There is good news. Studies show exercise can help prevent and even reverse the damage to our bones. Research has shown, regular, weight-baring, muscle strengthening exercise actives cells in the bones called osteocytes.
Which is why every week, Lara attends exercise classes at Barre3 in Seattle.
Lara Pizzorno attending Barre3 in Seattle
"It's cool how exercise works," Pizzorno said. "I just feel really good and it gets my blood flowing."
Like Pizzorno, osteoporosis runs in Mary Bjustrom's family.
"As my parents died they had bones like lace," Bjustrom said. "My mother couldn't even see her bones on an x-ray."
Mary Bjustrom with Ann-Marie Anderson at Ideal Exercise in Bellevue
Bjustrom didn't want that for herself. To combat the disease Bjustrom started high intensity training seventeen years ago. She now drives two hours to workout once a week for just fifteen minutes with Ann-Marie Anderson at Ideal Exercise in Bellevue.
"It's been very successful," Bjustrom said. "I'm actually now following the line of people who don't have a family history of bone loss like mine did."
Anderson says fifteen minutes is all you need, adding that slow repetitions, with increased weight is ideal for strengthening bones at any age.
"It keeps my energy up," Bjustrom said. "It keeps my bones strong and it takes me fifteen minutes a week."
In her book, Lara also recommends women consider supplements like vitamin D, calcium and K-2 to promote healthy bones. She also suggests an all-natural diet straight from the earth understanding that each healthy choice plants a seed for the future.
"You come pre-approved to be gorgeously healthy,' Pizzorno said. "Your body everyday is trying to make you healthy but you have to stop whacking it and you have to give it the nutrients it needs."
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Doctors says taking care of bone health is a lifelong commitment. In addition to being active, doctors say young women in their teen's and 20's need to get enough vitamin D and calcium. Those habits should continue as women age to keep bones strong.
Foods rich in calcium include milk, yogurt and cheese. Other natural sources of calcium include sardines, salmon, broccoli and leafy greens. Good sources of vitamin D (outside of the sun) include fatty fish, shiitake mushrooms and eggs. Some juices and cereals are also fortified with vitamin D.