Allison Loomis, YMCA Wellness Staff
I know you’re inundated with health messages like what to eat for your heart, how to lose weight, which foods are good for your brain—not to mention all the advice about what to give (or not to give) your kids. It’s exhausting!
So, it’s no surprise that bone health is easily overlooked. After all, you don’t have to worry about your bones until you’re older, right? Well, not quite...
While osteoporosis (weakened bones) is most common in older people, there are things you can do at any age to help protect your bones in the present and for the future. To save you the trouble (because who has time to do the research themselves?!) I’ve compiled a short list. But first, a little background on our bones.
Be good to your bones
Our bones are pretty amazing. They protect vital organs, give muscles something to latch onto and, of course, provide structure. Can you imagine what our bodies would look like without them?
You may have heard that you develop bones during adolescence and thought, “That time has long passed, so there’s nothing I can do now.” It’s true that most of us reach our highest bone mass by 30 years old, and after 30, we begin breaking down more bone than we build. However, our bones never stop changing. Therefore, we can do simple things now that allow our bones to be stronger and avoid future breakdown.
If you’re not yet 30, it’s even more valuable for you to be mindful of bone health because you still have the opportunity to actually increase your bone mass!
Here are four tips for stronger bones:
- Eat calcium. This could be single-handedly the most important component to bone health. If we don’t consume enough calcium, our body can pull calcium out of our bones to be used elsewhere in the body. Luckily, it’s easy to prevent. Consistently consume calcium-rich foods so your body is getting what it needs from dietary sources. Some foods that are rich in calcium are dairy products, fortified juices, broccoli, soy products and almonds.
- Exercise. Being physically active can decrease your risk for osteoporosis. Bonus points if you include weight-bearing exercises, which make bones stronger. Here are some great strength training classes at the Y.
- Stop smoking and limit alcohol.
A smoke-free lifestyle makes for better health across the board! And excessive alcohol can interfere with your calcium intake, among other negative effects.
- Choose Vitamin D. Vitamin D is often forgotten, but it is quite important. It is needed to absorb the calcium we consume. Vitamin D is found in egg yolks, fortified milk and juices, salmon and tuna. Sunlight also produces vitamin D, but many factors can affect production such as geographical location, sunscreen usage, and skin color.
Be good to your bones now, and your body will thank you later!
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