The skeletal system is the supporting framework of the human body. It also protects the organs, anchors the muscular infrastructure, and contains vital calcium and bone marrow – the breeding-ground of blood cells.
In a continuous physiological process, bones build up and break down throughout an individual’s lifespan. The skeleton is at peak strength and health when a person is in their 30s. With age, bones become thinner and less dense.
In the post-50 age group, studies show that up to 50 percent of women and 25 percent of men develop osteoporosis and become more prone to injury. Fortunately, osteopenia (bone-thinning) can be addressed with practical, easy steps to help prevent developing osteoporosis (weak, porous, and brittle bones).
How to Get Strong Bones
Below are 10 easy tips to help keep your bones strong and healthy:
1. Understand Your Risks
If you know that you’re prone to getting bone disease because your parent or grandparent did, be sure to make healthy lifestyle and medical choices. Your doctor will give you some good advice about exercises and other things that will help keep your bones strong.
2. Maintain a Healthy Diet
Nutrition is a holistic form of medicine. Natural, whole, organic foods that are rich in calcium and in vitamins D, C, and K can help in bone strengthening.
Try to keep your salt intake to a minimum, as salt deprives the body of calcium – and calcium is of utmost importance in maintaining bone health. Excess salt in foods drains calcium via urine, so a low-salt diet helps your body maintain steady levels of calcium for strong bones.
3. Avoid Crash Diets
If you go on a diet, be sure to avoid crash diets (i.e. dieting that requires a severe reduction in caloric intake). Consuming drastically fewer calories than your body needs to function will have negative, long-term effects on your bone density.
4. Consume Calcium, Vitamin D, and Supplements as Necessary
About 99 percent of the body’s calcium is stored in our bones and teeth. Therefore, insufficient calcium consumption results in the body stripping bones of calcium and weakening them. Dairy products, leafy green vegetables, fish, egg yolks, and tofu are good sources of calcium.
In order for our bodies to properly absorb calcium, most adults need 1,000 to 2,000 IU of vitamin D daily; we require more as we age. Sunlight helps the body produce vitamin D naturally, but it’s ideal to acquire vitamin D via food or supplements so you don’t develop skin cancer.
Potassium helps cells to remove waste and neutralizes the acids that remove calcium. Bananas, sweet potatoes, white potatoes, and yogurt are sources of potassium.
5. Engage in Physical Activity
Active people are less likely to develop osteoporosis than people who are more sedentary. Weight-bearing exercises that can help reduce bone loss include climbing, dancing, hiking, jogging, basketball, and walking.
Exercise should be performed for 20-30 minutes, three or four times a week to help promote bone health. Those with osteopenia, osteoporosis, or arthritis can walk or do other low-impact or no-impact exercises per the recommendations of their doctor.
6. Avoid Smoking
Engaging in smoking increases the risk of osteoporosis by reducing blood flow to the bones, slowing the production of bone-forming cells, and impairing calcium absorption. Thus, it decreases bone mass and density.
7. Limit or Omit Alcohol Intake
More than one or two drinks per day can inhibit vitamin D absorption. Consuming more than 3 ounces of alcohol (roughly six drinks) each day has been proven to increase bone loss.
8. Limit Caffeine Consumption
A moderate amount of caffeine is safe – such as two cups of coffee per day. Excess amounts of caffeine can interfere with calcium absorption, so it’s a good idea to keep it to a minimum.
9. Keep Medications Under Control
Long-term use of oral corticosteroids and other medications can interfere with the body’s absorption of calcium. Some medications for chronic heartburn or acid reflux can also affect bone density. Your doctor can give you helpful input and insight about medications you’re taking that may not work well together.
Consult your physician about keeping your medications to a minimum so they don’t adversely affect your bone health.
10. Take Preventive Medicine if Necessary
Those diagnosed with osteopenia or osteoporosis can take various medications to help prevent dangerous hip and spine fractures. Perimenopausal women may be prescribed hormone therapy to help increase dropping estrogen levels.
Orthopedic Doctor in Watertown
For those who are at risk of developing brittle bones, it’s a good idea to see your orthopedic physician. The doctor will likely have you take a quick and painless bone density test (DEXA scan) to gauge bone density, strength, and rate of bone loss.
The skilled orthopedic practitioners at North Country Orthopaedic Group are experts in all bone-health and related protocols, from pain management to orthopedic fractures. Call us today at (315) 782-1650 or go online to request an appointment. Let us help you enjoy a fuller, more pain-free lifestyle.