The human skeleton is made up of 208 bones. This is a fact that we learn by heart in school. But we only think about them when we experience any body pain or fracture. Bones are the original safety net for our vital organs, help produce blood cells and provide storage for minerals and release a hormone that helps in controlling blood sugar levels.
Common Bone Problems
If you don’t keep your bones healthy, you will be affected by these diseases –
Osteoporosis – One of the most common bone conditions, osteoporosis is the loss of bone mass, leading to weakened bones that are more likely to break. This may lead to back pain, loss of height, stooped posture, etc.
Stress fracture – Also called overuse fractures, are more common in active people like runners. These are small cracks in the bone that results from repetitive use or strain on the bones.
Osteoarthritis – The “wear-and-tear” form of bone damage that increases with age. The cartilage that normally cushions the joint breaks down over time, leading to stiffness and pain, especially with movement.
Rheumatoid arthritis – An autoimmune condition where cells of the immune system accumulate in large numbers in the lining of the joints causing an ever-increasing inflammation, with eventual damage and destruction of cartilage and bone.
Tips to keep bones healthy
There are multiple factors involved in bone diseases – Age, occupation, activity level, environmental factors and genetics, all play a role. But there are ways for you to ensure your bones are healthy-
Veggies are a huge contributor to bone health.
One of the best sources of vitamin C, vegetables stimulate the production of bone-forming cells. Additionally, some research states that vitamin C’s antioxidant effects may also protect bone cells from damage.
Strength Training & Weight-Bearing Exercises build strong bones.
Physical activities like resistance training or high-impact exercise promote the formation of new bone during bone growth and protect bone health in older adults, including those with low bone density.
Protein is the building block of bones.
About half of bone content is made of protein, therefore it is important to get an appropriate quantity of protein for good bone health. Researchers have reported that low protein intake decreases calcium absorption and may also affect rates of bone formation and breakdown. Adequate protein intake can help protect bone health during ageing and weight loss.
Eat High-Calcium Foods throughout the Day
Calcium is the main mineral found in bones and to protect bone health, one must consume calcium every day. But, you can’t take a day’s worth of calcium in one go. This will be rejected by the body. Instead, spreading your calcium intake throughout the day will optimize absorption.
Consume Plenty of Vitamin K and Vitamin D.
Research in children and adults has shown that those with low levels of vitamin D tend to have lower bone density and are more at risk for bone loss. Vitamin K2 supports bone health by modifying a protein involved in bone formation, called osteocalcin. This enables osteocalcin to bind to minerals in bones and helps prevent the loss of calcium from bones.
Low-Calorie Diets may have adverse effects.
This not only slows down your metabolism, creates rebound hunger and causes muscle mass loss, it can also be harmful to bone health. Therefore to preserve bone health, you need to consume a balanced diet with at least 1,200 calories daily.
Reduce consumption of caffeine, alcohol and nicotine.
If you’re the kind that consumes the above-mentioned stimulants a change in lifestyle is necessary. Having more than a couple of cups of caffeine can decrease the amount of calcium you absorb. Drinking alcohol can contribute to bone loss. Reduce your intake to less than 2-3 drinks per day. Smokers have faster bone loss and are at a higher risk of bone fractures than non-smokers.
Maintain a stable, healthy weight
Just eating a nutritious balanced diet isn’t enough, you need to make sure you maintain a healthy weight for your body. Being too lean or too plump can adversely affect bone health. Maintaining a stable weight helps preserve bone density better.
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