I am constantly reading health related information and research; I really enjoy learning more about the body, nutrition and medical conditions and it helps me to put into practice a few things to potentially improve my own health. Recently, I’ve been focusing on what is good to do now that can impact health positively down the track, and one of those things is bone health. I thought I’d share with you today some of what I have been learning.
Bone health is crucial to consider for every single person of any age and gender. It is particularly important to build bone reserves as much as possible before your body’s ability to lessens and your bone strength decreases, which generally starts to happen by your 30s (due to factors such as hormone changes). It is vital that we remember that there is this quite small window of time to make our bones as strong as possible. The importance to look after your bones does not stop there though – it’s life long mission to control bone loss.
It is so easy to think that your bones are fine and that it’s just something that you might need to deal with later on in life. You might even forget or not be aware that you have to do anything to help your bones. And besides, you eat that piece of cheese and drink that glass of milk, so you should be right, yes? But it just doesn’t work like that (and as a side note, did you know that the pasteurisation process actually makes the calcium in dairy products mostly inaccessible to our bones?!).
Just to give you a little wakeup, 1 in 3 women and 1 in 5 men over the age of 50 around the world suffer osteoporotic fractures. 1 in 3 of those who break a hip are dependent for a year. 1 in 5 die within that year (often in the first month). The reality for those with spinal fractures is even worse.
And one major thing most people do not realise is that young people CAN have weak bones and CAN develop osteopenia or osteoporosis. Concentrating on your bone health is vital at every point of your life.
But do not despair! It is possible to stop, control and even reverse bone loss at any age. So if you haven’t been paying attention to your bones, NOW is the time to do so.
As with everything health related, our understanding and knowledge is forever changing, and what we thought was good or bad for our bone health over the last decade might be different from what we think during the next. But like a lot of health related information, it largely comes down to what you put into your body and how you move your body. Supplements and drugs aren’t enough.
Some risk factors:
1. Lack of weight bearing exercise
2. Low protein and calcium intake
3. Weight loss
4. A low body weight
5. Loss of menstruation at some point
6. Certain medications – primarily steroids (not just the illegal stuff; prescription meds are part of this too)
7. There is a genetic link in some instances
A few ways to improve bone health:
1. Weight bearing exercise, such as pilates, strength training and walking.
2. Adequate intake of calcium and protein, and other nutrients that impact the body’s ability to absorb and use these, such as vitamin D and K and magnesium. (Apparently, the idea that we have had drilled into us to have milk, cheese and calcium supplements daily is turning out to be not as useful as first thought.) I won’t go into all the details in this post, but you must read up on how to get the important nutrients and the best food combinations needed to make the most of your intake (and animal byproducts aren’t the only way to get these nutrients. Research is even showing that they could be detrimental).
3. Limit your intake of salt, soft drinks, caffeine, alcohol, processed foods and sugar, and don’t smoke. Eat lots of fresh vegetables, fruit and whole grains.
4. Talk to your doctor about the possible need to consider your body weight and adjust it accordingly (being light is not always a good thing when it comes to bone health).
5. Talk to your doctor about your steroid medication if you take any and weigh up the risks versus the benefits of the medication.
There is a lot to consider when it comes to bone health. I have only skimmed the surface here. I just wanted to emphasise the importance of working on your bone health and share with you my new found knowledge about the fact that it is never too early or too late to do so. It will be a lot more pleasant to concentrate on it now than to lie in a hospital bed at 50 with a broken hip or spine just because you tripped, and be faced with major difficulties, such as pain, loss of independence and an inability to mobilise. Please learn as much as you can about the best ways to reduce your risk and to improve the current health of your bones.
Have you thought about your bone health? What do you do to help your bones? Will you consider your diet, exercise or risk factors now? Let me know!
*Make sure you talk to your doctor; I am just sharing what I have learned recently.*
Some resources I have been reading:
The Healthy Bones Nutrition Plan and Cookbook by Laura Kelly and Helen Bryman Kelly
Movement Matters by Katy Bowman
Building Bone Vitality by Amy Joy Lanou and Michael Cattleman