According to the International Diabetes Federation, there are close to 400 million people, worldwide, that have diabetes. It is estimated that this number will more than double, in the next 20 years.
Insulin helps blood sugar turn into useful energy, but when the body does not produce (Type 1 diabetes) or when the body cannot effectively use insulin (Type 2 diabetes), it lead to hyperglycemia (elevated blood sugar levels). Left untreated, this can result in organ failure.
Research is ongoing, but the latest studies show that the hormone known as osteocalcin (which comes directly from healthy bones) plays an important role in regulating insulin secretion. This new development reveals that diabetes and osteoporosis are directly linked.
The strategies used to treat and possibly prevent osteoporosis for individuals with and without diabetes are the same:
- Vitamin D and calcium are necessary to keep bones strong. If you are unable to get these important nutrients, through food and natural sunshine, seek a supplement. Consult a medical professional for correct dosing.
- Weight bearing exercises, like daily stair climbing, dancing and walking, are good choices for bone health. Bone, like muscle, is a living tissue, and it gets stronger when exercised on a regular basis. In addition to preventing bone loss, exercise also helps with flexibility and balance. Also, exercise is known to lower blood sugar levels.
- Avoiding alcohol and smoking is an overall healthy lifestyle choice, but in particular, it assists with easier diabetes management and keeps bones strong and healthy.
- Get tested. BMD (bone mineral density) tests, similar to an X-ray (but with less radiation exposure) can detect osteoporosis, before a fracture in the bone can occur. The test most commonly used is known as “dual energy x-ray absorptiometry” or a DXA test, and it focuses on spine and hip bone density. Speak to your health care professional, especially if you have diabetes, to see if you are a candidate for this type of test.
It is important to reduce the risk of potential falls, and this can be easily done by wearing shoes that have slip proof soles, and also by making changes in your home, such as installing handrails near all steps and removing (or securing) loose rugs.