Our bones are constantly breaking down and making way for new bone, but that process slows down as we age. We reach our peak bone mass at around age 30, and the likelihood of developing osteoporosis depends on that number. The higher that number, the less likely you are to develop osteoporosis.
Unfortunately, many people struggle with bone density over time. According to the Arthritis Foundation, half of women and one-quarter of men over the age of 50 will fracture a bone due to osteoporosis.
Much of bone health has to do with prevention and taking care of what you already have. Your bones are the only ones you’ve got, so treat them well. Follow these tips and you’ll be well on your way to healthier bones.
- Eat Right
Strong bones require a healthy diet full of nutrients including calcium and vitamins C, D and K. Dairy products are an obvious choice, but there are many non-dairy foods that are loaded with essential bone-friendly nutrients.
Oranges, red bell peppers, kale, brussels sprouts, broccoli and strawberries are loaded with vitamin C. Vitamin D is found in egg yolks and fatty fish like salmon, mackerel and tuna. Greens including kale, spinach, collards, okra, cabbage and soy beans are packed with calcium and vitamin K.
It’s also just as important to know what you should avoid. This includes highly processed foods that strip foods of natural nutrients, as well as saturated fats, which can lead to high levels of homocysteine, a chemical known to decrease bone density.
- Get Moving
Exercise isn’t just for strengthening your muscles - it’s also great for your bones. Knee bends and wall push-ups can be done using your own body weight. Dumbbells or more elaborate weight-lifting equipment can be used for arm and leg exercises. Resistance bands can be used to stretch and strengthen.
Yoga, aerobics and walking can also help build stronger bones, but avoid high-impact exercise (i.e. jumping, dancing) if you’ve already suffered a fracture. The elliptical, the stair machine and resistance bands are three great low-impact ways to exercise.
And, if possible: get outside! Move your workout to the outdoors and spend some time soaking up the sun. Vitamin D production is the body’s natural response to sun exposure.
- Quit Smoking
There are hundreds of reasons to quit smoking. Taking care of your bones is one of them! The Arthritis Foundation states that “studies have shown that smokers have lower bone mass and a higher risk of fractures than nonsmokers.”
Additionally, women who smoke produce less estrogen and experience menopause earlier than their nonsmoking counterparts, which can lead to the onset of decreased bone density.
- Supplement as Necessary
When you reach a certain age, your doctor may recommend taking a supplement to prevent osteoporosis or treat any existing bone-related issues you may already have. It’s not uncommon to be prescribed an OTC version of the aforementioned vitamins and minerals. Folate, a B vitamin that addresses homocysteine levels, is also often prescribed. You should also take inventory of the medications you are already taking. Certain medications, like corticosteroids, affect the body’s ability to absorb vitamin D.
A supplement helps fill in the gaps, but before you start taking anything, consult with your doctor.
Preserving your bone health is all about committing to a healthier lifestyle. Make a conscious effort to eat whole foods, get regular exercise and take care of yourself. Your bones will thank you.
For many of us, maintaining independence is an important part of aging - but it’s only possible if we take good care of ourselves. Exercise and a healthy, balanced diet can help us get there.
Bluebird Homecare can help you live a healthier lifestyle. Our caregivers can help with meal preparation, ensuring your meals are made with nutrient-rich ingredients, as well as exercise, whether you need help setting up your equipment or a friendly reminder to get moving.
Contact Bluebird today to learn more about how we can help you.