Make these lifestyle changes to keep up your bone strength

A condition that was once just associated with old age is now plaguing millions of young men and women. Even teens...

By Luke Coutinho

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Published: Thu 22 Sep 2022, 8:22 PM

Today, bone health is not a concern just for the elderly. Even teens and youngsters come to us complaining about achy joints, recurrent fractures, osteoporosis, osteopenia, and other bone health conditions. This means a condition that was once just associated with old age is now plaguing millions of young men and women. Even teens.

Remember, you reach your peak bone density by the age of 30. After this, all you can do is preserve it. So, the kind of lifestyle you live in your teens, 20s, and 30s determines the quality of your bones later on in life. And it doesn’t matter if you are not an athlete or a bodybuilder, we all need bones to do even the basic things in life.

What lifestyle changes can you adopt to improve your bone health today?

Fix nutrient deficiencies

Conventionally, an individual has been prescribed calcium supplements for bone health, and all the right reasons. But is calcium the only thing? And is it even safe to constantly pop calcium?

Here’s something to ponder on. India and the United States are the highest consumers of dairy and calcium supplements. Yet, we are topping the word chart for osteoporosis and osteopenia.

The fact is, that calcium doesn’t work alone. In fact, too much calcium can lead to another set of problems. If there is a deficiency of calcium in your body, also put a focus on magnesium, vitamin K2, D3, acidity, and hormonal health because all of it works together.

Almost one in two people I consult every day have low vitamin D3 levels, which means no matter how much calcium they are taking, it is not being metabolised the right way. Similarly, the more acidic you are, the more calcium and vitamin D3 you leach from your bones. So, is your solution popping another calcium supplement or making lifestyle changes to sort your acidity and fix nutrient deficiencies?

Besides these nutrients, you also need to trace minerals like selenium, zinc, copper, boron, and sulphur, which can be mostly met by a well-cooked, balanced diet.

Weight-bearing exercises

Another way to keep bones stronger is through movement. Weight-bearing exercises, including walking, resistance bands, lightweight dumbbells, kettlebells, and even your own body weight are great to maintain bone health.

Black/Green/Oolong tea

The scientific research on Black/Green/Oolong tea’s benefits on bone health is fascinating and incredible. These teas are rich in polyphenols, flavonoids, and catechins. Studies suggest that these powerful compounds in black tea increase the mineralisation of your bones. It improves bone density and reduces your risk of bone health conditions, injuries and fractures. Does this mean that if you have weak bones and drink tea excessively, you will have healthier bones magically? No. The focus has to be on overall lifestyle and not just tea.

Adequate protein intake

At least 50 per cent of your bones are made up of protein. So, proteins are only about muscle building. Vegetarian or non-vegetarian, plan your protein intake well. If you are a vegetarian, pairing matters. Try to combine rice/cereal with a pulse or legume to make a complete protein (eg: lentil and rice).

Foods for strong bones

• Dark green leafy vegetables

• Coloured vegetables (red and yellow bell peppers)

• Vitamin C rich (lemon, mango, guava, orange, strawberries) foods, as it stimulates the formation of bone cells

• Collagen (the main protein in bone)

Maintain a healthy weight

Every extra pound you gain, you put pressure on your bones. Your bones and body are designed to carry a particular amount of weight. Too much can pressure your bones, especially your back and knees, and negatively affect bone density and bone mass.

Extra care if you are on certain medications

If you are on certain medications that can impact your bone health, like hormonal pills, chemotherapy drugs, and birth control pills, do not be worried. Take your medicines, but work with integrative experts who can help you handle these side effects and help you make lifestyle changes that support bone health.

That said, avoid low-calorie or fad diets in a bid to lose weight. These diets weaken your bones with time. Lose the extra weight if you have to, but the right way.

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