Bone plays an important role in the body. It protects our heart, brain and other organs from injury, provides structure, anchors muscles and stores minerals such as phosphorous and calcium. However, our bones tend to weaken as we age, which affects our life in many ways.
It is true that your bones are alive and they are continuously changing. Normally, our body breaks down old bone and rebuilds new bone. When we are young, the body creates new bone faster than it breaks down old bone. As a result, our bone mass increases. Yet, as we get older, we lose more bone than gain. Therefore, it is very important to protect your bone mass early on.
There are many factors that can affect bone health. Some factors you can control and some you cannot.
The factors you can control: Diet, body weight, smoking, alcohol, physical activities and medicines.
The factors you cannot control: Age, gender, race, family history and size.
Protecting your bone health is easier than you think. Though we cannot change our gender, race or family history, we can change other things to increase bone mass. Here are some tips to keep your bones healthy and strong naturally:
- Stay Active
- Quit Smoking
- Boost Bone Density with Vitamin K
- Consume Less Caffeine
- Avoid Excessive Alcohol Consumption
- Boost Calcium Consumption
- Top up your Vitamin D
Those who are sedentary are at higher risk of osteoporosis or bone loss than their more-active counterparts. Hence, one of the best ways on how to keep your bones healthy and strong is staying active. Like muscles, bones become stronger with exercise. So, what type of exercise is most effective? The best exercises for maintaining and building strong bones are muscle-strengthening and weight-bearing.
Any activity that requires your muscles to work harder than normal, like lifting weights, is considered as muscle-strengthening exercise. Any activity performed standing up, including running, jumping, skiing, walking, stair climbing and dancing, is regarded as weight-bearing exercise. Both types of exercise make your bones work harder. As a result, your bones will be stronger. Try to get 30 minutes of exercise each day to get a strong bones and a good health as well.
You might be surprised but smoking has been linked to weak bones. Multiple studies have shown that smoking cigarettes can keep your body from efficiently absorbing calcium, which leads to the decrease in bone mass and increases your risk for osteoporosis. Actually, no smoking is among the most effective ways on how to keep your bones healthy and strong.
Boost bone density with Vitamin K
Vitamin K is best known for its function in blood clotting, but it is also an essential mineral to keep your bones healthy and strong, Vitamin K helps the body make proteins for healthy bones. Additionally, vitamin K can not only reduce fracture rates but also actually increase bone mineral density in osteoporotic people. Vitamin K and vitamin D can work well as a team. While vitamin D stimulates the absorption of calcium in the intestines, vitamin K trims down the amount of calcium excreted by the body. Good sources of vitamin K include:
Consume less Caffeine
According to some studies, the reduction of bone mass is associated with caffeine-containing beverage consumption because caffeine can interfere with the body’s ability to absorb calcium. We are not asking you to stop drinking coffee anymore, just do it in moderation and be aware of consuming other energy drinks containing high levels of caffeine.
Avoid Excessive Alcohol Consumption
Alcohol can interfere with the body’s ability to absorb calcium, more than two alcoholic drinks a day can put you at risk of osteoporosis.
Boost Calcium Consumption
When it comes to bones, everyone tends to think of calcium, one of the two key nutrients for bones. This mineral is essential for strong teeth and bones. If you consume too little calcium, you can be at risk of osteoporosis and other problems related to bones like rickets. Furthermore, a diet low in calcium also contributes to an increased risk of fractures, early bone loss and diminished bone density.
Therefore, including plenty of calcium in your diet is the very first way on how to your keep bones healthy and strong. Adults need 700mg of calcium a day. You should be able to get all the calcium you need by eating a varied and balanced diet. Good sources of calcium include:
- milk, cheese and other dairy foods
- green leafy vegetables, such as kale, broccoli, cabbage and okra
- soya beans
- soya drinks with added calcium
- bread and anything made with fortified flour
- fish where you eat the bones, such as sardines and pilchards
Essential Vitamin D
Another way on how to keep your bones healthy and strong is boosting vitamin D consumption. This is the key for not only strong muscles but also healthy bones. By pairing foods that are high in vitamin D and calcium-rich foods, vitamin D helps the body absorb and process calcium better.
Your body can make its own vitamin D from sunlight. You can also get vitamin D from supplements and a very small amount comes from a few foods you eat. At this time of the year, it is very difficult to get enough sunlight so it may be worth getting supplements to boost top up your levels. Eating eggs, oily fish, fortified spreads and cereals will help top up levels of vitamin D.