Belgian nonprofit reviews ways to prevent, treat osteoporosis without medication

While a number of medications are regularly prescribed to treat osteoporosis, many lifestyle factors also contribute to the disease, and a Belgian organization has taken a look at these variables and how they can be used to manage bone loss.

The Belgian Bone Club (BBC) is a nonprofit organization composed of healthcare professionals who study bone disease. It recently released a report in the journal Osteoporosis International, reviewing the ways in which bone loss can be dealt with non-pharmacologically.

The report compiles data and conclusions from past clinical trials, osteoporosis research and epidemiological studies.

First, the team noted that numerous studies have connected the risk of osteoporosis with dietary deficiencies in calcium, vitamin D and protein. Consuming adequate amounts of these nutrients is thought to be a significant factor in the prevention and treatment of bone loss.

Furthermore, the BBC said that a surplus of certain compounds can have a negative effect on bone density, even in diets that are otherwise complete and balanced. Experts pointed to sodium, caffeine and fiber as three substances that can offset the balance of calcium in the body if they are consumed to excess.

Likewise, abstaining from smoking and heavy alcohol use is extremely important for bone density. Research has shown that these activities may accelerate an individual's rate of bone loss or increase their risk of fracture.

The nonprofit also analyzed data on exercise. They found that physical activity is associated with improved bone density, but that few studies have addressed the ultimate effect of exercise on fracture risk.

The BBC determined that fall prevention strategies - such as exercise, physical therapy, cataract surgery, home modification and complex community health initiatives - appear to be efficient in a group setting. However, some of these strategies are not confirmed to be effective in actually preventing falls.

About one-third of people over the age of 65 will experience a fall each year, according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation.

Nearly 16,000 older Americans of that age will die each year from such falls, the organization adds.