Best practices to protect your bones
Bones are pretty important to our health- they hold us up (literally), house some of our organs, provide attachment for muscles, store calcium, and produce blood. They constantly change and shift throughout life, breaking down then being built up, to fit the body's needs. And bone health is more than just calcium, as important vitamins & minerals like phosphorus, magnesium, vitamin K, vitamin D, strontium, and boron, for example, are imperative for their integrity. Lifestyle choices like weight bearing exercises and regular movement also aid in healthy bones.
In addition, hormonal health is also important too to maintaining a healthy skeleton. Women are at higher risk for decreased bone density especially around menopause (when estrogen and progesterone decline) because estrogen helps maintain bone structure. In men, low testosterone is a common risk factor for decrease in bone density/ increased risk for fracture. Until about age 30, we build more bone, yet after age 35, bone is pretty much set and we may lose more than we build. So a poor diet, signs of hormone imbalance (e.g. painful periods, low libido, erectile dysfunction, fatigue, poor sleep, hot flashes, mood concerns), sedentary lifestyle, and more harmful lifestyle habits like smoking, could place someone at risk earlier for osteopenia (between normal bone density and osteoporosis) and/or osteoporosis. Further, women are also about 4 time more likely to develop osteoporosis than men.
Here are some natural lifestyle tips to help protect your bones at any age:
- Weight bearing exercise - From ankle weights to working with a trainer/ going to the gym, to also carrying around bags/items all day, the more pressure your bone receives only helps it remodel and renew itself. This is also why being too slender can actually place someone at risk for fractures/poor bone health. Aim for about 30 minutes, 4-5 times per week.
- Quit smoking - I know, easier said than done- sometimes. Smoking cigarettes causes the body to make less estrogen, something women generally want to preserve especially in their 30's and 40's as we think of hormonal health and going into menopause (potentially with little-no symptoms!).
- Eat these foods - Walnuts, salmon (wild-caught; also has vitamin D), ground flax seeds are all rich in omega 3's, a great anti-inflammatory to support healthy bones. Also foods like onions, almonds, dark leafy greens, poultry, and sunflower seeds, as these all contain great trace minerals as well as B vitamins, imperative for over 300 functions in the human body (including for bones).
- Get rid of non-stick cookware - They contain chemicals called perfluoroalkyl substances, and studies have shown that they negatively impact thyroid (responsible for bone turnover), immune system (part of it is in our bones), hormonal health, and can increase risk of cancer
- Teas - If you enjoy drinking teas, or just want to switch things up & make something new part of your health routine, consider herbs like stinging nettles (anti-inflammatory, rich in vitamin C, D, K- all of which improve calcium absorption), oat straw (great for broken bones, as well as anxiety), and alfalfa (high quality; loaded with minerals and great for hormone balance too)
As with everything, if there are concerns with bone health, there may be other underlying concerns. Stress in general plays a role, as well as family history, and many more risk factors. Fortunately, these change help aid in bone health, as well as optimize overall health! Check out HERE your essential tips to begin balancing your hormones- which will help protect your bones!