It’s funny how little time we worry about the condition of our bones, especially when heart, liver, lung, and stomach functions figure high on the health agenda. It’s as if we expect the skeleton to automatically provide a stable foundation while we take care of everything else around it.
For the most part, this is exactly what happens. Our bones are extremely strong and capable of bearing immense loads. What they aren’t, however, is indestructible. The skeleton is particularly vulnerable to diet, lifestyle, and age. The older you get, the more care you need to take over what you eat and how you move.
With a balanced diet and regular exercise, it is more than possible to reduce the risk of age-related bone dysfunction. Keep reading for some skeleton boosting tips.
Eat Potassium-Rich Foods
We all know that calcium is great for bone health and strength, but the impact of potassium is perhaps less well known. If you consume lots of potassium rich foods, bone density increases because the mineral helps the body absorb more calcium.
Foods like sweet potato, white potatoes with the skins on, yogurt, bananas, avocado, spinach, and salmon are all packed with the good stuff. You can also get your fix from things like coconut water if you prefer to down your minerals in super healthy drinks.
Dose with Vitamin D
Vitamin D actually aids the absorption of calcium, so you need it to make all that milk and cheese worthwhile. The average adult should be getting between 1,000-2,000 IU of Vitamin D per day. Unfortunately, a huge percentage of people fall short of this mark.
There are a lot of reasons for this, but one of the most important is the fact that modern employment tends to take place indoors. We’re just not spending a lot of time in the sun these days. Often, supplements are the only way to fulfil recommended requirements.
Start Training Your Bones
The best way to build up the strength of bones is to use them. We now know that inactivity can be very detrimental to skeletal health. It isn’t placing stress on the bones which causes damage. It is allowing them to become dormant.
If you are in good shape, with no diagnosed bone conditions, think about taking up jogging, tennis, basketball, dancing, or another high impact sport. If you have osteoporosis or arthritis, you can still benefit from weight bearing exercise but it needs to be gentler.
Reduce Your Bad Habits
It isn’t the news that most people want to hear, unfortunately, but drinking and smoking are both very bad for bone health. This isn’t to say that you should never do either. Cutting down on bad lifestyle habits is one way to protect the skeleton.
This becomes increasingly important as you age because the body becomes less elastic and it can’t bounce back quite as quickly. So, if you’re older and a heavy smoker, you are strongly advised to think about quitting or, at least, cutting back as far as possible.
Check Your Medication
It is quite sobering to realize just how many common medications come with a risk of lost bone density. It is a frequent side effect and relates to everything from anti-seizure meds to cancer drugs, heartburn remedies and even certain types of contraception.
If you are worried about bone health, check any current medications that you’re taking and consult with a GP if they give you cause for concern. In some cases, the risk if minimal enough to make taking the drug worthwhile (in the case of cancer meds, for example).
Why Bone Health Is a Serious Business
While we might forget about the pressures which our skeletons are under from time to time, it’s really important to stick to healthy habits. Once your bones are seriously damaged, there’s no guarantee that they’ll ever recover. Prevention is key. Eat a balanced diet, stay as active as possible, and be informed about medications and their impact on bone density.