With all the talk of diabetes and cancer, we often forget about our bones and how important it is to make sure that we keep them healthy. Even though bone problems are rarely life-threatening, they can wreak havoc on our quality of life and personal freedom.
According to scientists, our bones are constantly being broken down and reformed. Before the age of 30, our body adds more bone material to our skeleton than is broken down, but after 30, the opposite is the case. We start losing more bone than we gain.
When it comes to bone loss, some people do better than others. For instance, some have what’s called a “bone bank” – extra bone built up before the age of 30 thanks to genetic and lifestyle factors – which can help them avoid bone problems in old age. Others aren’t so lucky and need to do everything they can to preserve what they have.
Osteoporosis is a condition that can set in once the body loses a significant amount of bone and the bones themselves become brittle and weak. The disease is most common among women after the menopause, but it can still affect younger women.
It might seem as if the threat of osteoporosis is a long way off in the future, but whether or not you get the disease is highly dependent on the decisions you make today. There’s no guarantee that you will develop the disease, but there’s also no guarantee that you won’t and that your genes will protect you. For this reason, women in their 20s and 30s need to focus on doing things that help them to build as strong a skeleton as possible and avoid things like foraminal stenosis and brittle bones in the future. The good news is that there is a lot you can do. Here’s some advice on how to beat bone aging.
Smoking is associated with all sorts of terrible diseases, including, of course, the big “C.” But because smoking wreaks havoc on your cardiovascular system, it also prevents the uptake of calcium from the blood to the bones. Multiple studies published in the Journal of Bone Mineral Research have shown that bone loss is higher in smokers than in non-smokers, all thanks to reduced calcium absorption. Not good.
Cut Back On The Booze
Alcohol consumption is actually going down across the board in the west as millennials become more concerned about their lifestyle habits. But heavy drinking remains a problem, and not just for brain health. It turns out that consuming large quantities of alcohol interferes with the action of vitamin D in the body, a vitamin that is essential for the creation of new bone.
Drink Less Coffee
No cigarettes, less alcohol, less coffee – it seems as if our bones don’t want us to have any fun at all. The problem is that although caffeine is purported to have some benefits – including slowing brain ageing – the science is clear that those same benefits don’t extend to our bones. The reason for this is, like smoking, caffeine interferes with the absorption of calcium. Studies have found that people who regularly consume caffeine have higher rates of bone loss because their bodies are unable to replace bone as quickly as it is broken down.
Another study, this time in older women, found that drinking 18 oz of coffee a day actually accelerated bone loss because of the way that caffeine interacted with vitamin D.
Engage In Serious, Regular Exercise
Anybody trying to stave off ageing needs to engage in regular exercise. Not only does exercise have positive effects on your body composition, but it also helps to make your bones stronger and more resilient. A study that compared the bone density of college-age women who lifted weights to those who didn’t found that the those who did had far higher bone density. Sitting for long periods, on the other hand, was associated with a loss of bone density and early-onset osteoporosis.
Which types of exercise are the best for beating bone ageing? The best are those that force the skeleton to bear weight, including running, skipping and skiing. Climbing stairs is also a great exercise for the bones in the legs and the hips. Having more strength later on in life, reducing the chances of falls and makes mobility easier as you age.
Including More Potassium-Containing Foods In Your Diet
The human ancestral diet contained about 8 times more potassium than sodium. Our modern diets are the precise opposite. We eat lots of food high in salt while shirking food high in potassium. Potassium, however, is well known for helping create bone health. It’s the chemical that our nerves and muscles use to communicate with our brain, and it’s also the chemical that helps neutralise acids in our blood stream which may cause the bones themselves to leach calcium.
Studies have found that women who eat a diet high in potassium improve their overall bone health, thanks to a reduction in this leaching effect. According to one study, bone density was 8 percent greater in women who ate a diet rich in potassium compared to those who didn’t.
Boost Your Vitamin D Production
Vitamin D, also known as the sunshine vitamin, is a bit of a strange vitamin in many ways. Yes, you can eat it, but the foods that contain it, like meat and dairy, are actually really bad for your bone health. (Despite what the dairy industry might want you to believe, dairy has never been proven to be beneficial for bone health, and may actually be harmful). Vitamin D, however, is also produced when you expose your skin to sunlight. Vitamin D is needed in order for calcium to be absorbed into the bones. Fifteen minutes of sun exposure is about all you need. If you’re worried about damaging your skin, you can also take a daily vitamin D3 supplement of 2000 IU.