Thursday, 13 February 2014

Tips to Keep Your Bones Strong and Healthy As You Age

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A crucial factor for healthy living at any age, bone health is (sadly) often neglected or plain overlooked. In the long run, poor bone health may cause osteoporosis, a condition where the bones are rendered thin and fragile, due to which they can break easily; what’s more, women (probably due to hormonal changes caused during menopause) are more prone to osteoporosis than men, with other susceptible groups being smokers and those who are obese or anorexic.

Thus, it becomes imperative that we boost the strength of our bones as we age so as to prevent the condition and the frequent fractures that it will brings about.
Here, we give you a few tips on how to keep your bones strong as you age, which can be achieved by a few small lifestyle changes.

The basis for most of these tips, you will observe, is that the calcium and vitamin D content in the body has to be maintained at optimum, which means that we need to encourage their assimilation and take steps to prevent their loss.


1. Consume dairy products: Milk, yoghurt, cheese and other dairy products are effective ways to build healthy bones since they are rich in calcium and often fortified with vitamin D (check the packaging to make sure of the latter).

Remember that calcium supports and strengthens your skeletal structure (encompassing bones, joints, teeth, etc.) while vitamin D is essential for its absorption by the body.


2. Eat greens: Leafy green vegetables like spinach, asparagus, lettuce, fenugreek and celery are something that vegans should take special note of since they are also great sources of calcium, as are some other vegetables like broccoli, cabbage and beans of all kinds.


3. Expose yourself to sunlight: Vitamin D is more an enzyme produced in the body than a vitamin (the debate over it is still on).

The body produces vitamin D on exposure to sunlight, and though its production in the body decreases with age, experts believe that vitamin D produced in the body is better than what is obtained from external sources since it is natural.


4. Avoid fizzy drinks: Fizzy drinks are bad for bone health in the same way as they are bad for the teeth, i.e. they dissolve calcium and render vitamin D ineffective, thus weakening teeth and bones.

Besides, they are loaded with heavy amounts of sugar which are going to lead to weight gain and increase the stress on your bones.


5. Limit coffee and alcohol intake: Incidentally, alcohol and coffee too have the exact same effects as fizzy drinks, albeit to a lesser degree.

However, for those of us who already suffer from weak bones or are at a risk of it in the future, coffee and alcohol are certainly not ways of how to strengthen bones. You don’t have to cut them off completely, but limiting them will do you a world of good.


6. Replace the above beverages with orange juice: Oranges are not a great source of either calcium or vitamin D, but these nutrients are often added to packed orange juice while fortifying it, while the juice itself contains ascorbic acid which helps in absorption of calcium. Thus, orange juice can be seen as a fitting replacement for coffee and fizzy drinks.


7. Quit smoking: Besides its other well-documented pitfalls, smoking also leads to weakening of the bones and proves detrimental to bone health by disallowing the body to absorb calcium. It is thus best to kick the habit and safeguard your bones.


8. Maintain the appropriate weight: Your bones are custom made to handle your correct body weight; as a result, being overweight puts excess strain on your bones, while being anorexic means that your bones are too weak to perform daily tasks.

Thus, ensure that you’re weight is proportional to your height, reduce weight if required or increase it in a healthy manner if need be.


9. Reduce salt intake: The sodium in salts is harmful for the body in many ways, one of which is reducing the calcium in bones.

To make matters worse, most of us consume a lot more salt than is recommended daily (the recommended value is 6-7 g a day).

Cut down on salt in prepared meals and try to avoid foods that have excess salt like processed meat and packed chips.


10.Replace red meat with fish: You should do this for two reasons, the first being that animal proteins in large doses cause the production of acid in the body, which is neutralized by drawing out calcium and thus weakening the bones.

The second reason is that fish like tuna and salmon are loaded with vitamin D, while others like sardines contain both vitamin D and calcium in appreciable amounts.


11. Go for shellfish: Shellfish like shrimp, oysters and lobsters are other fitting alternatives for red meat since they are high in calcium, which is not surprising sine a large proportion of their bodies are made with calcium based compounds. If you haven’t hitherto had much of a taste for them, now may be a good time to start.


12.Exercise, and do it right: Working out is key to maintaining good bone density; for the purposes of strengthening bones, weight training exercises are highly recommended, besides other exercises done against gravity like hiking, jogging and even walking.

Collectively, these are known as weight-bearing exercises (since you’re bones are either bearing an external weight or the body weight itself) and are a great way to maintain bone density.


13.Eat an egg for breakfast: Eggs are another rich and easy source of vitamin D and should be consumed on a daily basis; however, remember that the vitamin D is in the yolk of the egg and not in the albumin.

They may sometimes not be recommended due to their high cholesterol, and anyone with such a problem should check with a doctor first.


14.Adds herbs and spices to your meals: While herbs and spices are good sources of both calcium and vitamin D, they can be used only as supplements and can’t be depended on for your daily dose of calcium.

Use them liberally with your meals to derive as much of the essential nutrients as possible. Remember that the green ones, like basil and rosemary, are better sources of calcium and vitamin D than others.


15.Dance often: Dancing ought to be given the same status as weight bearing exercises when it comes to bone strengthening, since it is essentially a type of gravity training.

Not only this, but dancing also increases joint flexibility in key areas prone to osteoporosis like the hips, limbs and the spine.


16.Eat a variety of fruits and veggies: While the link between calcium and vitamin D and bone health is well know, it is speculated that many other essential vitamins and minerals too play a key role in maintaining good bone health.

These include, but are not limited to, vitamin K, magnesium, etc., which can be obtained by consuming fruits and vegetables in good quantities.


17.Good nutrition and good rest: The body’s ability to utilize calcium well is subject to its proper functioning, which can be achieved only by a nutritious and balanced diet, plenty of water, good health and adequate rest (eight hours).

Compromising on any of these essentials will lead to a decrease in the effectiveness of body functioning, which in turn will have an adverse effect on your bone health.

References:
· http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=a00127
Healthy Bones at Every Age
· http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/magazine/issues/winter11/articles/winter11pg15.html
Build Up Your Bones!
· http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/fitness/Pages/strongbones.aspx
Exercise and bone health
· http://www.helpguide.org/life/healthy_diet_osteoporosis.htm
Calcium & Your Bones
· http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20365458,00.html
11 Foods for Healthy Bones
· http://www.niams.nih.gov/health_Info/Bone/Bone_Health/Exercise/default.asp
Exercise for Your Bone Health
· http://www.webmd.com/healthy-aging/nutrition-world-2/bone-strength
How to Keep Your Bones Strong as You Age

http://lightworkers.org/blog/194808/tips-keep-your-bones-strong-and-healthy-you-age

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