Depending on your age and health status, bone healthy may not be something you have ever thought about. But let me ask you this? Do you have some aches and pains? Do you have specific joint and bone pain daily or at times?
If you have answered yes at all and you are over the age of 30, it might be worth taking a look at your bone health.
Why does age really matter with bone?
Your body continually adds to your bones up until around the age of 25-30 years old. After that there is a bit of a plateau until age 40, when there starts to be a steady decline in bone density.
This is important because we need bone density to avoid breaks, and continue to be mobile as we age. We need to learn ways to continue to keep the bone density as high as possible as we age so we can continue to be strong, break-free and mobile.
Low bone mass means you are at a greater risk for osteoporosis, which means you have weak brittle bones. About 10 million people in the U.S. are diagnosed with osteoporosis and about 44 million (that is huge) are at risk currently.
As with everything in life there are two main factors that help you prevent this type of bone loss and keep your bones healthy. Diet & Exercise.
How does my diet impact my bone health?
Depending on when you grew up you were likely taught that you needed to drink your milk to get your calcium. Although dairy is a good source of calcium, magnesium and other bone health components, it is certainly not the only source. And it is important when consuming the dairy that you are choosing low fat sources because over consumption of full fat dairy with other meats, cheese and egg yolks can lead to high cholesterol.
It is not only calcium and other similar minerals that impact bone health, but also your total caloric intake. If you are very active, and you are under consuming in terms of daily calories, this can also negatively effect your bone density.
You should be focusing on fish, fruits and vegetables for rich sources of calcium and other minerals to enhance bone strength. Here are a few interesting sources to help with bone strength:
Olive Oil & Mediterranean Style Diet
The phenolic compounds in the oil promote bone health. Also in this diet is a great source of fish, with lower consumption of red meats. This combination is great for bones, and also for your heart health!
These can be found in things like miso soup, or edamame. These are prevalent in Japanese cuisine!
This is what makes tomatoes red and is a phytochemical. These are fantastic for your bones, but also fighters against cancer cells and radical cells in the body. They also help fight in the aging process.
These are found in black, green, and white non-herbal teas. And even taking a supplement of these will help in bone health.
Dried Plum Polyphenols (Prunes)
So what about supplementing?
Are you concerned your diet isn’t getting you the minerals you need for your bones? Well it’s difficult to extract a lot of calcium from a supplement. They are also very large in terms of actual size. It’s best for calcium to have it come from your diet. Other minerals are more easily absorbed through supplement form and can make a difference. In combination with diet, this can be a great support for you.
A few great supplements that also aide in other things like heart health and skin health include flaxseed oil, and fish oils. These are all great for heart, bone and skin!
Are there certain dietary items that are bad for bones?
Of course, not everything can be healthy or helpful for your bones.
Salt & Processed Foods
“Foods” that come from packages or boxes, and are highly processed are negative for your bone health. They contain almost no nutritional value, so there will be no additional nutrients going into your bones. And the chemical reaction between some of the components and other minerals already in your body can actually leach out some calcium you need so badly. It’s best to eat fresh, cook your meals at home, and avoid boxes, bags, drive thrus and restaurants on a daily basis.
This we know can be a diuretic and can also play a part in dehydration and other body issues. But in terms of bone- it’s a leach. Three or more cups of coffee a day can lead to bone loss over time, as well as soda and other sugar and caffeinated beverages.
Beyond diet what else can I do?
So you may be reading this and thinking, that’s great I already eat all those things – so I must be set. Well, if only it were that “easy.” Fitness is important (and certain types specifically) in keeping bone density up as we age.
Twelve months of resistance training increases bone density by one percent. Which may not seem like a lot, but it equals the rate of loss in a year when you are over 40, so it’s pretty good!
What is resistance and bone strengthening exercise?
Specifically you are looking at impact fitness, or weights/resistance fitness. Some examples include running, basketball, volleyball, gymnastics, soccer, tennis, weights, and HIIT. The impact (just like in muscle training) causes the bone to repair and become stronger between each workout. So it is important to also have your rest day(s) to let your bone recover and grow stronger.
Exercises like swimming and cycling do not add to density as there is no resistance.
Bone health is incredibly important to the longevity, and specifically the quality of our lives. As I approach 40, it is important that I continue to nourish my body with fresh foods, and continuing my resistance training to keep up my bone density. The great news is – my upcoming group can help you RIGHT AT HOME work on amazing (low cost) workouts that increase bone strength. Check out the group information below, complete the form in the info page and let’s chat about how we can get you moving. Oh and as a bonus, you also get amazing nutrition with any fitness program, and recipes, that will contribute to stronger, healthier bones!
In the meantime, check out this bone health guide to get you started right at home now to healthier, stronger bones!