You’ll probably do a lot to take care of your health, and when you do those things, like eating healthily and exercising regularly, you’ll probably be thinking about your weight, your heart, and your other organs. What you might not be thinking about are your bones, but it’s just as important to keep them as healthy as everything else – they’re what support you, give your body structure, and protect your organs, so they’re essential, and it’s wise to look after them.
The problem is that as we age, our bones tend to get less healthy, and we can develop various conditions like osteoporosis or arthritis. However, if you practice good bone health from a young age, this is less likely to happen, and if it does still occur, the problem won’t be quite so severe. Read on to find out how to have healthy bones for life – as far as possible, at least – so you can enjoy the best health.
As with most health issues, eating a nutrient-rich diet full of all the vitamins and minerals our bodies need to stay healthy is a great way to fend off any potential problems and stay as healthy as possible. If you want to find a great way to keep your bones healthy, you could do a lot worse than start by looking at your current diet and making changes if it’s not a totally healthy one (or if it’s not healthy at all). This isn’t always easy, especially if you’ve been used to what you’ve been eating for a while now, but if you take things slowly and change one thing at a time, you’ll soon find you’re making progress, and your health will improve because of it.
So what do you need in your diet to have strong bones? One important component is calcium, a mineral that makes up the majority of bone tissue. It’s easy to find calcium, as it’s in dairy products, as well as leafy greens, tofu, almonds, and fortified foods. Vitamin D is another great nutrient for bones, and this is found in egg yolks and fatty fish. Then there’s magnesium from nuts, seeds, whole grains, and legumes, as well as vitamin K from dark leafy green, broccoli, and fermented foods. All of these nutrients will help make your bones stronger, so it’s wise to have them in your diet as much as possible.
Again, another thing you can do to improve your bone health is something that will benefit your overall health; regular exercise. If you can engage in weight-bearing and muscle-strengthening exercises, you’ll find you’re doing a lot for your bones, often without even realising it.
When we talk about weight-bearing exercises, we mean things like dancing, jogging, walking, or hiking, for example. It’s anything that places stress on your bones, which, although it sounds negative, is a good thing that promotes bone formation. Plus, resistance exercises like weightlifting and resistance band workouts help build muscle, and that supports your bones, so it’s a good thing all round.
Avoid Negative Lifestyle Habits
Certain lifestyle habits can make your bones much weaker than they should be, and limiting or avoiding these habits can definitely improve your bone health.
Smoking is a good negative lifestyle habit to start with, as it’s bad for you for many different reasons, and that includes your bones, so it’s a great habit to quit as soon as possible. Smoking reduces blood flow to the bones and means that calcium can’t be absorbed so easily, and clearly, that makes your bones unhealthy. Too much alcohol is another issue, as when there’s a lot of alcohol in the blood, it means the body can’t absorb enough calcium, magnesium, and vitamin D, which are all essential for bone health. Plus, a sedentary lifestyle isn’t helping your bones much either – prolonged periods of inactivity can actually lead to bone loss. However, if you can incorporate movement into your daily routine, you’ll keep your bones more active and healthy.
If it sounds strange to think that how much sleep you get has an impact on how healthy your bones are, that’s understandable; it does seem odd. However, the link is there; when you sleep, your body makes repairs and rebuilds bone tissue, so the longer you sleep, the more repairs are carried out.
Although everyone needs a different amount of sleep, it’s best to aim for between seven and nine hours as much of the time as possible, and your bone health – and other health areas – will be at their best. If you find it hard to sleep and it’s an ongoing issue, it’s best to speak to a doctor, as there might be an underlying health problem that needs to be addressed.
Regular Bone Density Screenings
Sometimes, no matter what you do, conditions like osteoporosis will still occur, and that’s why it’s important to have regular bone density screenings as part of your annual medical exam (which, if you don’t currently do, is a good idea to start). These screenings can help to detect any issues in their early stages, and you’ll get plenty of advice about what to do next.
It might be that you need specialist osteoporosis treatment, for example, or it could be something like changing your lifestyle, as we mentioned above. Whatever the outcome, knowing about it sooner rather than later is a good idea.
Balance Your Hormones
Hormones play a big part in bone health, and for women especially, the decrease of estrogen during menopause can lead to bone loss.
You can balance your hormones in a few different ways, including HRT and supplements or a change of diet – you can even balance your hormones by reducing the amount of stress in your life, which, as with many of the things on this list, is highly worthwhile – but before you do anything, especially if you are going through menopause, the best thing to do is to get proper medical advice, and this could solve many problems in your life linked to health.
Meg is an author at Cinnamon Hollow. She writes on a variety of topics sharing tips and ideas for daily life.