Osteoporosis is a big word that translates to “porous bone.” In other words, the density and quality of bone is reduced, such that the risk of fracture increases. Bone loss occurs silently. Most people don’t know they have “bad bones” until a fracture occurs.
Typically, osteoporosis is common in women over 65, though anyone can get this disease at any stage in their lives. If you’ve been wondering how your own bones are doing, you could have a bone density test. It measures your bones to see how strong they are… or aren’t.
Better yet, what are some things you can do throughout your lifetime to help build bone strength naturally, so you don’t get to the point where you’d have to worry and wonder about having osteoporosis?
For starters, exercise is important– and you’ve probably heard this a million times, right? But it’s true– just like muscles need exercise, so do your bones! Anytime you do weight-bearing exercises you’re helping strengthen your bones. Weight-bearing exercises force your body to work against gravity. They encourage your body to make new bone.
What are some good weight-bearing exercises worth doing to strengthen your bones? Walking, running/jogging and dancing are all great things to do on a regular basis. You can also do aerobics– on land or in the pool– as well as tai chi or yoga. Even the simple act of climbing stairs helps build stronger bones. If you carry grocery bags full of items, that’s one way to strengthen bones without even realizing you’re exercising– and if you carry them up several flights of stairs, that’s a bonus. Meanwhile, if you’ve got young children and you lift them up several times a day, that’s another form of unexpected exercise. Of course, if you go to the gym and workout with free weights and/or weight machines, that’s yet another way to strengthen your bones naturally.
If you want strong bones, you need calcium. When your body doesn’t get enough calcium, it breaks down bones in order to get what it needs and you end up losing bone mass. So, how’s your diet with regards to calcium intake? Are you consuming dairy products, which give you calcium? What about calcium-fortified juices and foods? Check the labels for that– your cereal, milk, and tofu can give you calcium. Other foods to boost calcium intake include sardines, salmon (with bones), kale and broccoli.
If you want to help your body absorb the calcium you eat, make sure to get enough Vitamin D, which aids in the absorption process. Vitamin D comes from fatty fish (like tuna), as well as egg yolks, cheese, and even the sun… when sunlight hits your skin, that’s an additional way your body takes in Vitamin D.
Finally, if you want strong bones, you should avoid smoking as well as drinking too much soda or alcohol.