Bone health is something that most of us tend to neglect until we are eventually forced to face the inevitability of aging. Unfortunately, when it comes to the health of musculoskeletal structures in the body, there is little that can be done once there is damage to the bones from degenerative disease or injury after you've crossed a certain age. This is why it's important that you find out how to increase bone strength and bone density while you're still young.
Calcium Rich Foods
Boost your calcium intake with natural dietary sources of this essential mineral. While milk and other dairy products are the most popular of all foods for bone strength, you can also increase your calcium intake by including foods like salmon and canned sardines, with the bones. Other vegetarian calcium rich foods include most dark green leafy vegetables like kale and broccoli. You can also include fortified soy milk, tofu and almonds in your diet to increase your calcium intake.
Most adults, especially women, require some amount of calcium supplementation after crossing the age of 40/50. If you're not sure about your requirements and if you believe your dietary intake of calcium is adequate, consult your doctor and a nutritionist. This is important as your required calcium intake rises with advancing age. Until your 30s or 40s, you only need around 1000 mg of calcium intake per day, but this can rise to as much as 1500 mg per day as you age.
Soak in the sun
You might not need to hit the beach and sunbathe to get enough exposure to sunlight. Simply try to spend some amount of time outdoors when the sun is out. If you were to spend just five minutes to half an hour every couple of days in the week out in the sun, it would suffice. Does the sunlight strengthen your bones? No it doesn't, but indirectly you could say it does. Sunlight is essential for vitamin D synthesis and vitamin D is in turn essential for the absorption of calcium by your body.
You don't need to join the local hot yoga class or hit the gym to stay active. While an exercise routine would be great to stay in shape, it's most important that you live an active lifestyle. Activities like walking, dancing, swimming, cycling and aerobics, don't just strengthen the muscles, they also strengthen the bones, making them less susceptible to injuries. You may even find that participating in sports is a lot more satisfying than slouching in the couch in front of the idiot box!
If you don't suffer from any pre-existing condition and are physically fit, try to take up some kind of high-impact exercise activity. While individuals who already suffer from any kind of bone or muscular injuries will need to get an exercise plan cleared by their doctors, other individuals should take up activities like running, jogging, stair-climbing or sports like basketball and badminton. These are widely regarded as being among the best bone strengthening exercises. If you already lead an active lifestyle, taking up such high-impact activities may seem unnecessary, but it helps in the long run.
Kick The Butt!
It is important that you quit smoking at the earliest because of the various health risks posed by tobacco. In addition to the more obvious risks of cancer, heart disease and respiratory disorders, smoking is also established as a significant risk factor for the development of osteoporosis. This is especially important for individuals who are already at risk of osteoporosis because of other factors like heredity, body structure or calcium deficiency.
Alcohol consumption isn't necessarily the evil it's made out to be, but it's important that you drink responsibly. This means drinking occasionally and not getting completely wasted on the rare occasions when you do drink! Studies clearly show that heavy drinking can have an adverse effect on bone health. Alcoholism and chronic abuse of alcohol during adolescence and early adulthood greatly increase the risk of osteoporosis later in life. This is because alcohol impairs the body's ability to absorb vitamin D and calcium. It also affects hormonal balance and destroys cells that make the bones.
Bone Health Checks
Monitoring your bone health regularly is one of the best ways to identify the onset of any degenerative bone disease or bone injury before it progresses to an extent where the damage is irreversible. This is especially important if you are at high risk for osteoporosis, which is why doctors advise most women to begin regular testing within two years of menopause. Bone mineral density is measured using a test called DXA, which is an imaging test or x-ray. Adults who are on medications that increase the risk of bone damage should begin testing earlier.
Preventive treatment is the best course of action when dealing with bone health and to this end doctors also recommend certain forms of treatment to lower the risk of bone disease. For example, hormone therapy is often recommended for perimenopausal women as this helps to raise estrogen levels that are on a decline because of the association of bone loss with lowered estrogen levels. Patients at risk of debilitating fractures like hip or spine fractures because of osteopenia or osteoporosis are also prescribed bisphosphonates, teriparatide or denosumab to lower the risk.
Beware of Caffeine
Cut back on your caffeine intake as some studies suggest that there may be a link between high levels of caffeine intake and hip fractures in older women. While more data is needed, it doesn't hurt to err on the side of caution. The excess intake of caffeine does pose other health risks as well and it would a good idea to monitor your intake. While two or three cups of coffee in a day will not hurt be vary of the less obvious sources of caffeine such as sports drinks and supplements.