As lockdown continues, and we face another few months of life without access to our traditional gym settings, I have been inundated with questions regarding training strategies that can be implemented at home.
Building healthy bones is extremely important. Our skeleton supports movement and important organs essential for a healthy active life.
Minerals are incorporated into your bones during childhood, adolescence and early adulthood. Once you reach 30 years of age, you have achieved peak bone mass. It’s all down hill from there! Men and women lose bone mass at the same rate until women go through menopause. At menopause there is a sudden drop in oestrogen that accelerates bone loss. After this bone loss goes back to a slow progression the same as men but from a lower start point, hence women are more at risk of osteoporosis.
The higher your bone mass at 30 the lower your risk of osteoporosis in later life. Fortunately, many nutrition and lifestyle habits can help you build strong bones and maintain them as you age.
Here are 10 natural ways to build healthy bones:
Consuming a diet high in vegetables has been shown to help create healthy bones during childhood and protect bone mass in young adults and older women.
Performing weight bearing and resistance training exercises can help increase bone formation during bone growth and protect bone health in older adults, including those with low bone density.
Strong, steady and straight is the mantra of the Royal Osteoporosis Society and this can be achieved with the right strength exercises, which incorporate balance work and postural adaptation. Swimming can decrease bone density so if you only swim for exercise you need to rethink!
Getting enough protein is important for healthy bones. In fact, about 50% of bone is made of protein.
A low protein intake can lead to bone loss, while a high protein intake can help protect bone health during aging and weight loss.
There have been some concerns with very high protein diets actually leaching calcium from bones in order to counteract the acidity in the blood.
So how much is too much – studies suggest around 100g of protein a day balanced with plenty of plant foods and adequate calcium intake is about right.
The RDI (Reference Daily Intake) for calcium is 1,000 mg per day for most people, although teens need 1,300 mg and older women require 1,200 mg.
Calcium is the main mineral found in bones and must be consumed every day to protect bone health. Spreading your calcium intake throughout the day will optimize absorption.
The main foods rich in calcium are dairy products like milk, cheese and yogurt. However, many non-dairy sources are also high in this mineral. These include seafood, leafy greens, legumes, dried fruit, tofu and various foods that are fortified with calcium.
Getting adequate amounts of vitamins D and K2 from food, sun or supplements may help protect bone health.
Vitamin D is an odd one – it’s really a hormone not a vitamin and scientists don’t really understand its full role but every cell in the body has a vitamin D receptor so it’s probably important not just for bone health!
Vitamin D is made by exposure to the sun – we only make vitamin D when our shadow is shorter than you are i.e.: the sun is high in the sky – in our latitude that is only the 4 months of the summer and no sun cream as that prevents the formation of vitamin D – so most of us are probably deficient especially in the winter – take a good supplement, talk to us at Walnut Grove Clinic.
Diets providing too few calories have been found to reduce bone density, even when combined with resistance exercise. Consume a balanced diet with at least 1,200 calories daily to preserve bone health.
Being too thin or too heavy can negatively affect bone health. Furthermore, maintaining a stable weight, rather than repeatedly losing and regaining it, can help preserve bone density.
Eating disorders in teenagers are sadly a recipe for osteoporosis in later life.
Emerging evidence suggests that supplementing with collagen may help preserve bone health by reducing collagen breakdown.
Magnesium plays a key role in converting vitamin D into the active form that promotes calcium absorption.
Although magnesium is found in small amounts in most foods, there are only a few excellent food sources such as nuts, avocados, dark chocolate, legumes, whole grains, seeds, fatty fish, bananas and tofu.
Magnesium is actually best absorbed through the skin, so Epsom salts baths or spray on supplements are a good choice.
Zinc is a trace mineral needed in very small amounts. It helps make up the mineral portion of your bones. Good sources of zinc include beef, shrimp, spinach, flaxseeds, oysters and pumpkin seeds.
Omega-3 fatty acids have been found to promote the formation of new bone and protect against bone loss in older adults.
Bone health is important at all stages of life however, having strong bones is something people tend to take for granted, as symptoms often don't appear until bone loss is advanced. Fortunately, there are many nutrition and lifestyle habits that can help build and maintain strong bones — and it's never too early to start.
Talk to us at Walnut Grove Clinic if you want advice on prevention or help once you have a diagnosis. Osteopathy and physiotherapy are safe treatments and we have Pilates, suspension training and other classes that can help.
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