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From Barnes & NobleFor All Ages
Do you -- or does someone you know -- have a protruding tummy? Back pain? A recent wrist fracture? These may be signs of a fitness problem or poor body mechanics, or they may be signs of something far more serious and insidious: osteoporosis.
Mention osteoporosis and many people think "old lady's disease" and envision a hunched-over, gray-haired woman tottering along with a cane. Yet osteoporosis is hardly limited to the elderly -- that tottering woman with the cane may be much younger than you think. In fact, 28 million Americans, ranging in age from 20 on up, suffer from some degree of osteoporosis. It can and does strike at any age, and most, but not all, of its victims are women. And it carries more than the threat of debilitation; it can also be a matter of life and death. Yet it is preventable and treatable if you know what to do, which is the primary objective of Strong Women, Strong Bones.
Written by Miriam Nelson, Ph.D., whose research in the area of osteoporosis has been published in a number of reputable and distinguished journals, including the Journal of the American Medical Association and the New England Journal of Medicine, and Sarah Wernick, Ph.D., an award-winning freelance health writer, Strong Women, Strong Bones is one of the most comprehensive looks at osteoporosis to be found anywhere. It's not only informative, it's also practical, providing a step-by-step process for adopting a lifestyle that can prevent or treat the disease.
Nelson begins by covering the basics of osteoporosis: how it begins, what causes it, how it manifests itself as it progresses, and what level of disability it can cause. She dispels several common myths, such as the belief that increasing one's intake of calcium is enough, by itself, to prevent osteoporosis, the belief that once bone is lost it's gone forever, and the belief that men can't get the disease.
The emphasis is on prevention, which makes Strong Women, Strong Bones as appropriate for a woman of 20 or a man of 50 as it is for a woman nearing, in, or beyond her menopausal years. But there is plenty of helpful information for those who already have the disease and are looking to reverse or ameliorate its effects. Nelson delves into the science in a language laypeople can understand, discussing the basics of bone formation, growth, and function.
The book also includes a comprehensive personal risk assessment, which evaluates everything from diet and family history to how much time is spent in the sun absorbing vitamin D. Once risk is determined, a reader can then learn the appropriate life plan to adopt in order to decrease her risk or alleviate damage already done. The book explores the three areas crucial to preventing and treating osteoporosis -- nutrition, physical activity, and, when appropriate, medications -- looking at each in great detail and incorporating them all into hands-on programs for daily living.
Nelson explores a number of forms of exercise, then combines them in balanced and comprehensive workouts that provide aerobic activity, weight-bearing exercise, and strength training. She clearly defends the need for each type of exercise and discusses its benefits in the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis. Each program of exercise is organized into weekly plans that provide for a gradual (12-week) increase in pace and intensity and that take into account one's previous degree of fitness and athleticism. Regardless of whether you are a novice or a trained athlete, Nelson's exercise programs can be adapted and adopted to fit your needs.
Strong Women, Strong Bones also includes dietary tips to ensure an adequate intake of calcium and the necessary vitamins. There are charts showing age-specific calcium requirements, the calcium content of foods, and foods that might interfere with calcium absorption. Nelson has even developed five-day sample menu plans to meet age-specific minimum daily calcium requirements, with different plans for those on low-calorie diets, low-fat diets, lactose-intolerant diets, and vegetarian diets.
Nelson also looks at the current raft of medical treatments and medications used to treat osteoporosis and its complications. She explains current-day diagnostic studies, their pros and cons, and the interpretation of their results. She explores the new therapies being used in the treatment of fractures, such as synthetic bone cement, gene implants, and the use of ultrasound waves and electrical stimulation to promote bone growth and repair.
Throughout the text, Nelson supports and supplements her information with anecdotal evidence that covers the gamut of osteoporosis problems, complications, and sufferers. There are also a number of statistics, some of which are alarming. Yet, as the anecdotal evidence suggests, it's a much-needed alarm for Americans, many of whom are at high risk for death and disability from osteoporosis but don't realize it. Armed with Strong Women, Strong Bones, that risk can be greatly reduced.