Even if you consider yourself health-conscious, you might not think about bone health on a regular basis. Are you doing what you can to increase bone mass? Are you trying to maintain bone mass? While maintaining strong and healthy bones is an important part of wellness, we don’t always make a conscious effort to improve bone health.
Just like the muscles, organs, and tissues that our skeletal system protects and supports, the bones that make up that system are affected by the lifestyle choices that we make.
Healthy living improves our overall health, and it can improve our bone health, too. Here are a few ways to promote good bone health.Don't forget about your bones! Bone health is important — do what you can to increase or maintain bone mass. Click To Tweet
Eat a bone-healthy diet
Your bones depend on nutrients such as calcium, phosphate, potassium, and vitamin D — among others — to stay healthy and strong.
Eating the right types of food provides your bones with these nutrients, and reduces your risk for health issues like bone fractures or osteoporosis.
Foods that are good for bone health
Dairy products — including milk, cheese, and yogurt — are a great source of calcium. Fish is a lean protein that is packed with vitamin D, and canned fish (containing soft bones) such as salmon, sardines, or tuna can also deliver calcium.
There are several great sources of calcium that aren’t dairy.
It’s well known that calcium helps strengthen bones, but fruits and vegetables are also essential for good bone health.
You need a variety of fruits and vegetables — from dark leafy greens to colorful peppers and berries and everything in between.
Kale, okra, greens, tomatoes, apples, oranges, Brussels sprouts, bananas, potatoes, spinach; they’re all great sources for the vitamins and nutrients that your bones need.
Supplements and bone health
It is possible to get all of the nutrients you need to promote good bone health through a balanced, nutritious diet. However, many people do not get the nutrients they need through diet alone.
Supplements can help people get vitamins, minerals, and nutrients needed to strengthen bones and promote good bone health. You should consult your primary care physician if you are considering taking dietary supplements.
Trade your carbonated drinks for water
You may have heard that sodas and carbonated drinks are bad for your bones. The idea is that phosphoric acid can prevent proper calcium absorption, which leads to bone loss.
While there have been studies that show that people who drink carbonated drinks have lower bone density than those who do not drink sodas, there haven’t been definitive studies that prove carbonated drinks reduce bone health.
Some researchers think that the connection between soda drinking and osteoporosis may have more to do with the fact that soft drinks might take the place of calcium-rich milk at meal times.
Other theories suggest that high amounts of caffeine may be to blame for bone loss. This possibility occurred to researchers who found that both colas and coffee were associated with lower bone density. Oddly enough, black tea is not associated with bone loss even though it contains caffeine.
Carbonation hasn’t been shown to result in bone loss, and there have even been studies that found carbonated mineral waters improve bone health in some people.
Bottom line, the jury is still out on the connection between carbonated drinks and bone health. However, plain water is a healthier choice as it does not have added calories, sugars, sweeteners, flavorings, colors, or chemicals that other beverages may contain.
Exercise to promote good bone health
Eating the right foods is important, but you also need to stay active if you want your bones to stay healthy. Sedentary living is one of the worst things that you can do for your bones. Exercise is just as important for your bones as it is for your muscles.
Make it a goal to get at least 30 minutes of physical activity every day. Those who exercise regularly are able to attain more bone mass than those who do not exercise on a regular basis.
Body weight exercises such as walking, hiking, calisthenics, jogging, and running are best for improving the strength of your bones. Cycling, swimming, and non-weight-bearing exercises aren’t as beneficial for building bone strength.
Get a bone density test
Your bones constantly change over the course of your life, but it gets more difficult to increase bone mass as you get older. Bone mass, or bone density, typically peaks around the age of 30. After you reach peak bone mass, the rate at which you lose bone mass exceeds the rate at which you can increase your bone density.
That’s why it’s especially important to strengthen your bones while you’re young. The goal after you reach peak bone mass is to maintain bone density and prevent bone loss rather than increase bone mass.
As important as diet and exercise are to bone health, you should also consider bone density testing. Bone density tests can determine if you are at risk for osteoporosis or bone fractures. Visit our page on bone density for more information.