It starts with infancy—drinking milk to strengthen our bones. Then as children, we jump, climb, and run to stay strong. But there are many other ways adults can continue to avoid osteoporosis, starting today.
According to Dr. Andrea Singer, MD, chief medical officer of the National Osteoporosis Foundation, our bodies are constantly producing new bone and losing old bone; growth outplaces loss until bone mass peaks in our 20s. She explains that contrary to popular belief, “weak bones aren’t a normal part of aging.”
The following are six ways to maintain a strong skeleton beneath your skin.
1. Eat Right.
Diet is the first step because, of course, "we are what we eat." In order to obtain the necessary nutrients in our bodies, it is recommended that most adults follow a Mediterranean diet, high in vegetables, fruits, cereals, and olive oil, with moderate amounts of fish. Eating this way will provide the body with beta-carotene, selenium, magnesium, and vitamins C, E, and K, which are all instrumental in strengthening our bones.
Food should be the main source of our nutrients, and dairy products, for the most part, provide us with some of the highest amounts of calcium. And even if we are not eating and drinking a lot of dairy, it is important that we get the necessary calcium and vitamin D from other foods, to prevent osteoporosis.
Osteoporosis means porous bones that have become thin and brittle. Without ingesting enough necessary nutrients, we risk bones that easily fracture. Aside from dairy, other foods that are rich in calcium include fish and shellfish, shrimp, nuts, eggs, breads, juice, and dark green leafy vegetables such as collards, kale, turnip greens, broccoli, and soybeans.
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Weightlifting is a great way to stave off bone issues. Increasing the amount of weight lifted, instead of just doing sets of 12, has been shown to be more beneficial in increasing bone density.
Have fun with exercise, and try weight-bearing activities such as running, jumping rope, and skipping—just like you did as a child! Studies show that these forms of exercise help maintain bone mass.
Put one foot in front of the other and walk! Walking is one of the best low-impact exercises we can do to strengthen our bones. It’s good for young and old. Although the number of daily steps we need to take to stay healthy has been debated, the more steps we take, the more our health improves. With devices like the Fitbit, which automatically count our steps, and various smartphone apps, such as Map My Run, Fitness Buddy, Body Space, Couch to 5K, etc., there is no excuse to sit still.
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5. Take a Probiotic.
One study completed by the Journal of Internal Medicine revealed that women who took a probiotic of lactobacillus – 6475 daily, lost half the amount of bone density in their legs than women who were taking a placebo. The reason for the reduction in mass is believed to be because the probiotic reduced intestinal bacteria and inflammation.
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6. Do Yoga.
Yoga is an exercise that requires moving slowly and stretching, with deliberate, pronounced, and relaxing moves. Because of the holding patterns, it tends to strengthen and build up the muscles that are attached to the bones.
Do you have other tried-and-true methods for keeping one's bones healthy? Tell us in the comments!