Bone Strength is Critical to Overall Wellness–
Our bones are our body’s framework and much more. Made of up calcium, they manufacture and store our blood cells and bone marrow. Bone density is important because our systems and organs in our body rely on what they produce. But unfortunately, by the time we are about 30, we’ve reached our peak bone mass. This means that building strong bones when you’re young is essential. And maintaining your bone strength as you get older is doubly important!
Bone Loss Impacts Over Half of Americans Older than 50
Keeping healthy bones may seem like a tall order when you look at the statistics. About 54 million Americans (about half of Americans older than 50) have osteopenia, and another 10 million Americans have osteoporosis. These are the two conditions related to a loss of bone mineral density (osteoporosis is more severe). Recently I joined the 50% of Americans over 50 who have osteopenia. So now I am taking steps to keep my osteopenia from progressing to osteoporosis because I know how important bone density is to overall wellness.
To reduce risk of developing chronic health conditions and protecting against bone fractures, check out the following research-based bone health tips for building strong bones. Having hyperthyroidism, I am at greater risk of developing osteoporosis. But smart lifestyle choices can manage osteopenia, prevent osteoporosis and make bones stronger!
5 Ways to Make Bones Stronger
1. Fill your diet with bone health foods.
Bone health foods need to be a part of every person’s daily diet. These include dark green leafy vegetables, healthy protein from foods like chicken, fish, and eggs, and high quality fats from foods like nuts, seeds, and olive oil. Make sure you’re eating enough to support exercise and avoid pro-inflammatory food like processed foods and refined carbohydrates.
P.S. It’s not just the calcium you need! Other minerals, including magnesium and zinc, and also Vitamin D, are just as important, if not more so, for building strong bones. It’s important to get these nutrients in your food or in high-quality supplements.
2. Get moving.
Studies show that performing weight-bearing exercises like walking and lifting weights helps prevent bone loss when you’re older and may actually make bones stronger and larger during bone growth. So, get yourself moving and have fun doing it with friends, family, colleagues. The key is to stay active.
3. Maintain a healthy weight.
Being underweight or overweight can impair bone quality and increase your risk of fractures. And yo-yo dieting isn’t doing you any good, either—repeatedly losing and regaining weight, or losing a lot of weight too quickly (can we say crash diet?!) is not good for bone health (nor mental health).
4. Choose the right dairy.
The media has told us for years that milk “does a body good” and that dairy is one of the best foods to fight osteoporosis. But mixed research data reveals that dairy products actually do not increase bone calcium and bone density.
For example, countries with the lowest rates of dairy and calcium consumption also have the lowest rates of osteoporosis and hip fractures. Plus research published in the British Medical Journal in 2014 revealed that high milk intake actually increased risk of bone fractures and mortality!
Possible explanations for this surprising conclusion are that dairy tends to be loaded with antibiotics and hormones, pro-inflammatory compounds. Plus, many people are lactose intolerant!
If you are going to consume dairy, opt for grass-fed and organic cow milk options or try dairy products from goat’s milk, almond milk, cashew milk, or oat milk for example. There are many good options to reduce consumption of cow milk.
5. Take a calcium supplement.
Getting adequate dietary calcium is necessary to prevent bones from weakening, plus adequate vitamin D is necessary to help our bodies absorb calcium. Women over 50 need 1,200 mg of calcium and 1000 IU of vitamin D a day, given the drop in estrogen that can cause a loss of 20% bone density within five to seven years after menopause. Talk to your doctor about taking a dietary supplement to help keep your bones strong.
6. Stop smoking—or never start.
If you smoke, it’s never too late to quit…and it’s never too late to find a reason why! Smoking increases your risk for osteoporosis and even delays bone healing after a fracture.
Build Strong Bones to Maintain Optimal Health
In summary, bone health tips don’t just help you build a healthier skeleton—they’ll help you build and maintain a healthy body overall! We need strong bones to live well and keep thriving. I hope these tips help you take good care of your bones so you can stay strong and maintain optimal health.
Build strong bones and live Well with Zest!
Written by Bev Hope
Reviewed by Board Certified MD