Bone health is not a glamorous topic. Everyone knows it is important, but it seems to always end up shoved aside for sexier topics. But it’s something we really need to pay more attention to – especially as women!
Osteoporosis primarily affects women. Bone health WILL be important to you – maybe not today, but in 20, 30, or 40 years, you will wish you’d paid better attention to the health of your skeleton!
Women reach peak bone density at 30 years old. After 30, bone resorption slowly begins to exceed new bone formation. This leads to bone loss and means that EVERY women after the age of 30 needs to be proactive. Bone loss in women occurs fastest in the first few years after menopause, but bone loss continues into old age.
Many “non-modifiable” risk factors do exist. And, sadly, you cannot control or change them. These include your age, gender, genetics/family history, ethnicity and your frame size.
Bone Health Facts
- Worldwide, osteoporosis causes more than 8.9 million fractures annually, resulting in an osteoporotic fracture every 3 seconds.
- Osteoporosis is estimated to affect 200 million women worldwide – approximately one-tenth of women aged 60, one-fifth of women aged 70, two-fifths of women aged 80 and two-thirds of women aged 90.
- Worldwide, 1 in 3 women over age 50 will experience osteoporotic fractures, as will 1 in 5 men aged over 50.
- In women over 45 years of age, osteoporosis accounts for more days spent in hospital than many other diseases, including diabetes, myocardial infarction and breast cancer.
So what exactly CAN you do now to help preserve your bones so that your golden years can truly be golden (instead of painful, disabled and restricted)?
Bone Healthy Habits
- Adequate intake of calcium and vitamin D
- Physical Activity (particularly weight training)
- Avoiding excessive alcohol
- No smoking
Calcium and Vitamin D
Calcium is not just found in “traditional” calcium-rich foods (cheese, yogurt, milk). It is also found in more fat loss friendly foods!
- Dark green, leafy vegetables, like broccoli, collard greens, bok choy, spinach and more
- Salmon (with bones)
But why is Vitamin D important too? Without vitamin D, your body cannot absorb and process and properly use calcium! Food sources of Vitamin D include:
- Salmon (wild salmon has more than farmed salmon)
- Pacific Rockfish
- Light Tuna in water (~25% of daily recommendation)
- Flounder (~25% of daily recommendation)
- Ribs (1/7 of daily recommendation)
- Eggs (two = 10% of daily recommendation)
- Mushrooms (amounts vary based on type of mushroom)
Believe it or not, your muscles are not the only part of your body that responds and adapts to exercise! Bones are not just static “rods” inside your body – they are living tissue (albeit, hard tissue) that adapts to exercise by becoming stronger!
When your bones are “stressed” by the right exercises, they respond by GETTING STRONGER! I could go into a long dissertation about the physiology of how this works, but the simplified version is this:
Stress = bone-building
Over stress = injury (true for both muscle AND bone)
More isn’t better – better is better!
What kind of exercise should you be doing?
- Weight Bearing – walking (helllllllo leisure walking!), hiking, weight training, dancing, tennis (guess what – tennis is practically sprint training with a ball!), stair climbing, and running (SPRINT TRAINING!) are all great options.
- Against gravity – again, exercises that take the “gravity” out of the motion (for example, swimming) aren’t premium for bone health.
If you’re already doing the BeyondFit style of exercise, you’re doing EXACTLY what you should be doing! The monthly workouts found on BeyondFit Life and the tri-weekly workouts that BeyondFit Mom hosts in New Bern, NC, combine exercises together that not only are time efficient, but also are weight bearing exercises that force you to move against gravity (the bare minimum for bone strength) and use extra weights to help your bones grow even stronger.
Avoiding the Obvious: Avoiding Alcohol and Tobacco
So why are excessive alcohol and smoking bad for your bones? These toxins alter your body’s hormones in a very negative way.
Smoking decreases your estrogen, leading to earlier menopause. In turn, this leads to longer periods of time where you’re in an acute “bone loss” mode. Studies have shown that there is a DIRECT relationship between tobacco use and decreased bone density!
Excessive alcohol intake leads to so many negative effects:
- It kills the bone-making cells (osteoblasts), which makes it harder for your body to effectively keep up with necessary bone growth.
- Alcohol also impacts estrogen levels – decreasing them and resulting in similar effects that smoking creates.
- Drinking excessively increases the parathyroid hormone – which basically sucks the calcium straight out of the bone a little at a time (eek!).
- Too much alcohol affects the pancreas’ ability to do one of its jobs – absorbing calcium and vitamin D.
- In addition, it affects the liver’s ability to do one of its jobs – activating vitamin D (remember: vitamin D is necessary for calcium absorption).
I’m sorry to have gone so long with this post, but there is SO MUCH that you NEED TO KNOW. Just because you may not be in your golden years yet or because you haven’t reached menopause does NOT mean that this is not important and won’t affect you.
And just because you may have reached these amazing milestones in your life does NOT mean that you get to “give up” on your bone health!
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