People are always worried about the skeletons they have hidden in their respective closets but what about the skeletons inside our own skin? There are so many different aspects to our health that there are many we tend to ignore until they become issues. Our bone health is one of those areas!
Bone health typically becomes an area for concern later in life. The older we become the more easily our bones break and the longer they take to heal. A broken arm in a young child only takes about three weeks to heal. The same break in adults takes between 6-10 weeks to recover and it still causes issues for years to come.
Falls a top cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries in the older population. One in three senior citizens fall every year and directly lead to 8,000 deaths per year. Although it is possible for someone over 65 to survive a fall, 22% of seniors are no longer able to continue living on their own after a fall. Injuries after a fall are not limited to broken bones, but falls are also the cause of depression, dementia, traumatic brain injuries, and decreased mobility in those over 65 years old.
The old saying goes, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” This could not be further from the truth when it comes to maintaining your skeleton. Bone health reaches its peak around age 30 and can drop drastically from there. Maintaining your bone health is an important thing to think about no matter how old you are. Preventing sever bone loss and decreasing the likelihood of a simple tumble becoming life threatening begins with simple lifestyle choices.
1. Weight Bearing Exercise
Logically it seems that to decrease the probability of something breaking we should reduce use. This is entirely untrue when it comes to our bones. Our bodies run mostly on a “use it or lose it system.” Without use, our bones limit their maintenance routine of reconstructing and strengthening themselves. Exercise stimulates your bones to rebuild and can slow down the natural deterioration that comes with age. Examples of weight bearing exercise that are amazing for bone health include jogging, climbing stairs, skiing, weight lifting. or even yoga!
2. Eat your Veggies
It has become almost cliché that we should eat more vegetables. Despite this being a recommendation from healthcare professionals and nutrition experts, as a society we still fall miserably short of our recommended veggie intake. Vegetables are full of macronutrients that we need (fat, protein, carbohydrates) as well as the micronutrients that our bones can’t get enough of! Calcium, Vitamin K, Vitamin C, potassium, and magnesium rich veggies help sustain bone mass. Fruits and vegetables are also a source of natural anti-inflammatories and antioxidants. Some recommendations are leafy greens, bell peppers, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, artichokes, oranges, brussels sprouts, and pineapple. Fermented foods (think kombucha) also contain microbes and bacteria that help with bone growth.
3. Say Goodbye to Bad Habits
There are many habits and lifestyle choices that actively destroy your bone health.
· Limit or eliminate caffeine and alcohol as both can destroy your bones.
· Smoking is also a terrible habit when it comes to your whole body health, but especially your bone health.
· Avoid low calorie diets. Not only do these reduce your metabolism and destroy muscle mass, they also are terrible for your bones. Studies have shown that low calorie diets lead to loss of bone mass in individuals that are underweight, overweight, or obese.
· Don’t skimp on sleep! Osteoporosis risk increases in individuals that habitually get less than six hours of sleep a night.
The good news is that all the habits that lead to healthier bones also lead to overall better health. Proper exercise, a well-rounded diet, and eliminating bad habits are linked to better cardiovascular, mental, emotional, and digestive health. It is about taking care of yourself – for today and for years to come. You are worth the investment.