Quietly doing their job of keeping you upright and helping you to move, it’s easy to take your bones for granted. But without them we’d be little more than a quivering mess of skin and muscle.
Most people reach their peak bone mass in their late-twenties, after which time you lose slightly more bone mass than you gain. Fortunately, there is plenty you can do (and not do) to fortify your frame and future-proof your bones.
1. DO Eat your greens
In order to keep the calcium that you eat in your bones you need other nutrients, like magnesium and vitamin K, to prevent the calcium from being excreted. Opting for foods that are high in calcium, magnesium and vitamin K help reduce calcium loss from your bones. Think kale, broccoli, watercress, cabbage and other leafy green vegetables.
2. DO Up your vitamin D
Vitamin D is vital for bone health as it helps your body to absorb bone-boosting calcium. During the sunny weather our skin can manufacture vitamin D naturally, but if sun exposure is not sufficient we need to boost it through our diets. Good sources include oily fish, eggs, liver and fortified foods such as cereals. Taking a Vitamin D3 supplement can also help boost your levels.
3. DO Exercise regularly
Living a sedentary life is a huge risk factor for poor bone health. Studies have shown that strength training and weight-bearing exercises, such as running, walking and jumping rope can have a positive effect on bone density and help to build strong bones.
4. DO Know your family history
Family history is a key indicator of bone health. If you have a family member who has or had osteoporosis you are more likely to develop it, so it’s worth getting the low down on your heritage. Check for a history of early menopause too as studies have shown this to also be a risk factor for osteoporosis.
5. DON'T overdo the dairy
Whilst dairy is a good source of calcium, the animal-based protein in it is acid forming and can deplete minerals from your body. Vary your calcium intake with nuts, seeds and leafy greens.
6. DON'T forget to relax
Excess production of the stress hormones cortisol and adrenalin can hugely deplete minerals from your bones so make sure you make some time to de-stress.
7. DON'T drink fizzy drinks
The artificial carbonation in fizzy drinks creates carbonic acid, which dissolves bone, and the excess phosphates can cause more calcium to be excreted. Not to mention the collagen destroying effects of all that sugar.
8. DON'T skimp on sleep
During sleep your body works to repair itself, and cortisol levels decrease during sleep. Studies show that getting just 6 hours of sleep or less can result in lower bone mineral density.