Help me, I’m losing height!
Help me, Dr. Hoppe, “I’m shrinking”. This is another commonly heard theme in my office. After getting checked in, my patients routinely get measured for their height and weight. Not only is “I can’t believe I weigh more now than when I was pregnant”, but also “what, I’m losing height too?”
Why do we “shrink” as we get older?
As we age, we will slowly lose height = about an inch by the time we are in our mid-50’s and more as the years progress.
This is due to multiple reasons..
1. The gel-like discs between our stacked vertebrae start to flatten out, so the spine becomes compressed, thus losing height.
2. Our feet start to flatten out due to a decrease in joint space as our cartilage wears away.
3. Our posture tends to slump due to leaning over our computers, leaning with our work ( think of dentists/dental hygienists, website developers - or anyone working at a desk and a computer!!
4. As our bodies lose estrogen, our bones weaken. This is due to increased bone turnover and decreased bone formation leading to an ultimate bone deficit over time. In fact, during the five years around menopause, a woman will lose approximately 25% of her bone mass. This can then lead to bone thinning, osteopenia, and severe bone loss, osteoporosis, which increases the risk of fracture, especially in the spine and hip.
How can we protect ourselves from “shrinking”?
1. Practicing yoga and good posture is a great start. By keeping our joints limber, our muscles lengthen which improves our posture and stance.
2. Do weekly strength training and weight-bearing exercise such as walking with arm weights and hiking with walking poles. I love using my hiking sticks - (which also increases the amount of calories burned by 20% because of the use of the upper body and engagement of our core muscles.)
3. Start doing Tai Chi - balance and strength are improved with this exercise which also allows you to fall on your wrist rather than your hip, should you lose your balance. A wrist fracture is much better for the body compared to a hip fracture!
4. Eat enough calcium rich foods - legumes, dairy, green leafy vegetables for an average intake of 1200 mg/day. If you’re not getting enough from your diet, then a dietary supplement is recommended. Stay tuned as I investigate the best one…
5. Get your Vitamin D. Thirty minutes of walking in the noon time sun will increase your Vitamin D intake but also increase your risk of skin cancer. Therefore, invest in a good Vitamin D3 supplement with approximately 5,000 IU/day, or 125 mcg. Be sure to take these supplements with a healthy fat to increase absorption, unless you’re using a sublingual form (under the tongue) which does not require this.
By following these tips, you’ll stay healthy and amazing - standing taller with more confidence, more balanced, more toned and sculpted!!
In health and happiness,
P.S. Please reply and let me know if you’re interested in more information on supplements.