Bone health. What does that mean exactly and how do I know if my bones are healthy? Bones are living tissues that are constantly changing by building up and breaking down cells. In our younger years, more bone is built up than broken down, however, as we age, that changes. After the age of 50, more cells are broken down than are being built up. Which gives rise to osteopenia and osteoporosis.
Osteopenia is the beginning stages of osteoporosis. It simply means the bones have low bone-mineral density. This condition increases the chance of bone fractures, but changes in diet and exercise can help lessen the chances of bone fractures. Here are some factors that could put you at an increased risk for osteopenia:
- underweight (BMI is under 18.5)
- consuming less than 1,000 mg of calcium daily
- a smoke or a former smoker
- non-active (couch potato)
- history of an eating disorder
- family history of osteoporosis
- drink more than two alcoholic beverages a day
- went through menopause before age 40
- have an autoimmune disease such as RA, lupus, celiac disease IBS, diabetes, hyperthyroidism
- take steroid medications
One way to build bone and keep bones happy is to eat the right stuff.
- Dark green, leafy vegetables not only contain calcium, but heavy doses of Vitamin K.
- Steer clear of too much salt. Too much salt can make the body lose calcium.
- Steer clear of sodas. Studies show that ingredients in soda pop bind to the calcium in the bones and is pulled out of the body.
- Drink milk. Almond and cashew milk have 45% of the calcium recommendations when compared to cow's milk, which only has 25% of the daily allowance.
How about vitamin D. Do you know your vitamin D level? Today, many of us are low on vitamin D. Without that essential vitamin, the bones will not absorb the calcium effectively. Talk to your doctor about your vitamin levels if unsure.
One easy way to get your calcium needs is in a smoothie. By adding almond milk and spinach in a berry smoothie, you will be well on your way to that daily goal!
What is fed the body is vital, however, how we move is just as important. You wouldn't think pounding bones would make things better, but it does. Weight-bearing exercises are crucial in bone health. Stressing the bones and pounding pressure on them cause cells to build new bone, which is exactly what you want. The more, the better.
- Perform weight bearing exercises for 30 minutes 3-4 times a week (jogging, jumping rope, walking).
- Resistance train 2-3 times a week (dumbbells or own body weight).
- Balance exercises whenever there's a chance (yoga or Pilates).
It's never too late to start a healthy lifestyle. What are you waiting for?
Health-bite: keep your skeleton strong