Don't Neglect Your Bones!
Most people don't think about their bone health until AFTER they've broken a bone. While "late" is better than "never" in healthcare, being mindful about your bone health early in life can save you from some serious problems later on. Retirement should be relaxing and carefree, not full of broken bones and doctor's visits. Thankfully, you're not helpless in the fight against bone disease. There are several things you can keep in mind in order to maximize your bone strength and avoid complications that can come from weak bones.
Why Is Bone Health Important?
Given how diverse the functions of the skeletal system are, it might almost be easier to ask "Why Isn't Bone Health Important?". In addition to protecting your organs and providing your body with structure, your skeletal system is responsible for producing blood cells. It's also responsible for storing minerals like vitamin D and calcium. Simply put, any problems with your skeleton are going to quickly be felt by the rest of your body.
It's worth noting that your bones aren't as rock-dense or unchanging as you might think. Like the other systems in your body, your bones are living organisms that are constantly working with the other systems of your body. They're continuously changing, meaning that new bone is constantly being made as old bone is broken down. In fact, the inside of your bones has a texture similar to a hard sponge.
This means that your bones are a constantly active ecosystem. Like any ecosystem, it's important to keep every part engaged and healthy.
What Happens If You've Got Poor Bone Health?
No discussion about bone health would be complete without mentioning osteoporosis and its effects. Osteoporosis is the most common form of bone disease, and it comes with an increased risk of breaking bones. In fact, it's estimated that 1 in 2 women over the age of 50 will break a bone at some point in their lives due to osteoporosis.
That spongy mass mentioned above can start to thin out as you get older, which in turn can weaken your bones. As your bones get weaker, the spongey interior starts to lose density until it's porous and hollow. In fact, the term osteoporosis means porous bone. Individuals with osteoporosis are significantly more vulnerable to broken bones, and some can even reach a point where their bones are so fragile that they can break simply from walking. As broken bones come with a higher risk of complications or other injuries as people get older, osteoporosis is a huge problem.
While not every case is this extreme, the risk of osteoporosis should be a great motivator to think about your bone health.
What Can You Do to Improve Your Bone Health?
As a rule of thumb, the more authorship that you can take in your bone health, the better. The first 30 or so years of your life are when you'll be building the most bone density, and your bones often stop generating new mass after that. This means the bone strength you amass before your 30s can be considered your starting "bone in the bank." From that point, your body will start breaking down bone mass slightly faster than it produces it, meaning, you'll likely see a gradual decrease in bone density as time goes on.
Nobody wants to learn more about their bone mass by breaking a bone from osteoporosis. That's why it's important to keep on top of your bone health, no matter how old you are. Even if you're past peak bone mass, there are plenty of things you can do. Including an appropriate amount of calcium and vitamin D in your diet plays a big role in bone density, as does your overall level of physical fitness.
A new process called emulated impact has also been gaining popularity as a means of reinforcing bone health. Emulated impact systems use controlled movements to emulate the neurological effects of a hard impact without the user actually experiencing one. This allows the body's nervous system to jumpstart a healing process that reinforces bones and increases density!
While this technology isn't part of the everyday vocabulary yet, it's been growing increasingly respected, with wellness centers like OsteoStrong offering emulated impact sessions to the general public.
As with all things health, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. It's never too early to start taking charge of your bone health, so there's no reason not to start today.
What choices are you making to keep your bones strong? Share in the comments.