Our bones keep our body together. Not looking after them can lead to them deteriorating in later life resulting in debilitating bone diseases like osteoporosis (some studies suggest that almost 55% of people over 50 suffer from low bone mass). Here are a few ways that you can keep your bone health strong long into old age.
Get your calcium intake
Calcium is the most important nutrient when it comes to bone health. It’s most commonly found in dairy products such as milk, cheese and yogurt. If you’re dairy intolerant, you can still get your regular intake through almond or coconut milk, which make delicious alternatives, and leafy greens. There are also a number of calcium supplements on the market that can aid bone growth.
Vitamin D is another important mineral that keeps our bones healthy. This is most commonly obtained from the sun’s UV rays. Whilst going outside in the sun can help your bones, you should take action to cover up in the sun or wear sunblock as too much sun exposure could damage your skin.
Exercise is important for our bones. Strength training won’t just help us to build muscle but can also aid bone mass development. Weight-bearing exercises such as jogging, climbing stairs, tennis and dancing meanwhile are also great for the bones. You should be careful if you already have a bone condition as some of these exercises could have the reverse effect and cause fractures. Low impact exercises such as swimming and cycling are better if you have such a condition.
Give broken bones time to heal
If you’ve broken a bone, it’s important to give it time to heal in order to keep that bone healthy. Fractures may be likely to happen again if you don’t give yourself this time to recover. There are many things you can do to help aid bone fracture healing such as laying off high impact exercises, upping your protein intake and taking calcium supplements. Your doctor will most likely be able to recommend ways of speeding up the recovery process.
Break the bad habits
Many bad habits can contribute to poor bone health. Smoking for example can prevent the amount of minerals that your bones are able to absorb, affecting their strength. If you ever needed another reason to quit, this could be it. Heavy drinking meanwhile can also damage the bones – it can kill osteoblasts which are our bone-making cells, as well as affecting calcium absorption. Consume alcohol in moderation to protect your bones. Being overweight is also not good for your bones. Previous studies found that bigger people generally had bigger bones, but these bones aren’t necessarily stronger. In fact, morbidly obese people tend to have very few bone cells – their bones largely made up of fat cells in the form of marrow instead. A balanced diet and regular exercise could help to reduce the amount of unhealthy fat cells and increase the amount of healthy bone cells.