Bone Health

Suggested lifestyle tips to preserve your bone health.

Being female puts us at risk of developing osteoporosis and broken bones because we tend to have smaller, thinner bones than men, and estrogen, a hormone in women that protects bones, decreases when we reach menopause, which can cause bone loss. 

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), there is a one-year mortality rate post-hip fracture in people aged 60+. Although the best time to influence peak bone mass and build bone density is from childhood to early adulthood, people can take steps at every age to improve bone health and reduce bone density loss. Taking care of our bones as we age isn’t just a health requirement; it’s an investment in our longevity. 

Most women age 50 or older should have a bone density scan. This age group is at high risk of losing bone density, which can lead to fractures. The first step is to get a bone density scan (a.k.a. a DEXA scan). This type of low-dose X-ray test measures calcium and other minerals in your bones. The measurement helps show your bones’ strength and thickness (bone density or mass).

Any sustained walking is excellent, and anything that ups the intensity you can comfortably handle (brisk walking, jogging, or even spurts of running) amplifies the bone-building signal. Adding higher-intensity walking with a weighted vest can further improve bone health, as well as body composition and metabolic health markers. Strength training also helps build stronger bones. It can increase bone density and reduce the risk of osteoporosis by stressing your bones. Remember to continuously increase the weight you lift. 

Exercises incorporating mindfulness and movement, such as tai chi and yoga, can improve balance and help prevent falls and fall-related fractures.

Nothing beats calcium for your bones. You can get it from dairy but also from many vegetables. Feeding your bones dark leafy greens (which also have vitamin K) such as bok choy, Chinese cabbage, kale, collard greens, and turnip greens can improve bone health and reduce your risk for osteoporosis. Other stars in the bone health brigade include foods high in omega-3 fats, like sardines and anchovies, flaxseeds, chia seeds, and walnuts. Bone broth is also a great option as it is high in collagen, a protein found in bone, cartilage, and connective tissue. Collagen is essential for maintaining the strength and integrity of bones, and it can help to prevent bone loss and fractures.

Vitamins and supplements are essential in bone formation, preservation, and maintenance. Calcium is the most abundant mineral found in the body. However, it’s not a mineral the body can make alone. Instead, calcium must be obtained through food or supplements. Calcium helps build, harden, and strengthen the bones and teeth and plays a role in the functioning of the muscles, heart, and nerves. Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium and prevent osteoporosis. Vitamin K is a coenzyme required to make the proteins involved in bone metabolism. It helps facilitate the resorption of old or damaged bone, followed by the formation of new bone tissue. 

A moderate weight is essential for bone density. Restricting food intake and being underweight can put you at higher risk of developing bone disease. Conversely, being overweight can also put additional stress on the bones. As a person loses weight, they can lose bone density, but gaining back the weight will not restore bone density. Managing your weight by working towards a healthy weight, slowly and sensibly, will help keep your bones happy for years to come! What does a healthy weight loss program look like? We love The SWW Method®, a 6-week program that teaches you how to burn fat, conquer cravings, stay full all day, and eat for endless energy. 

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