What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think about your health and wellness?
Your heart? Your fat percentage? Your endurance and ability to engage in physical activity? Those are all important factors when it comes to our health, and they are probably the factors that get the most attention. But what about your bones? May is Osteoporosis Awareness month, so I’d like to talk a little bit about our amazing bones, bone health and osteoporosis prevention.
“Osteoporosis accounts for more time spent in the hospital than diseases like diabetes, heart attack and breast cancer among women over 45. . . . One out of every two women and one in four men over 50 will have an osteoporosis-related fracture in their lifetime. The most serious osteoporotic fractures are hip fractures.” -The American Recall Center
I find that most people don’t think about their bone health until a later age, and I think it might all be because of perception. As you can glean from the information above, women over the age of 45 and men over 50 are at highest risk for bone fracture and osteoporosis related injury. How often do we hear that? A lot. Probably because it happens a lot, so awareness is targeted at those who are at risk. But how does that make sense? Shouldn’t awareness be something all people are, well, aware of? And what about prevention? “Children and teenagers form bone faster than they lose bone,” and shouldn’t they know that? They are at the prime age for setting their bodies up for success later in life. And by starting healthy habits early, they are more likely to carry them out for the rest of their lives. Isn’t that what we want? I find that most people are under the impression that young people can do whatever they want because they are young and “bounce back.” When in reality, that is so far from the truth.
Our bodies are constantly regenerating themselves. No matter our age.
Yes, our bodies are constantly regenerating themselves. That means our bones and our organs are regenerating, or remaking themselves, every few years. This gives truth to the old saying, “You are what you eat.” Your body takes the nutrients from what you eat and drink to remake bones and organs. Typically this process slows down as you age. Of course you can’t slow down or stop the aging process, but there are other things you can do to give your body it’s best fighting chance. You do not have to be “at risk” just because of your age, and you do have to care for your body as long as you can. I refuse to believe that young people can eat and drink whatever they want and that a number will defy what you and I can do.
So what exactly is osteoporosis? Osteoporosis is a bone disease that occurs when you lose too much bone, make too little bone or both. Your bones become porous and weak, putting you at risk for fracture or break.
What can you do specifically to uphold good bone health? Practice healthy lifestyle habits such as following healthy diet and engaging in regular exercise.
Food for good bone health: opt for organic food from grass-fed animals and seasonal produce
- Organic, grass-fed, full-fat dairy products: milk, yogurt, cheese
- Fresh fish: sardines, salmon, mackerel and tuna
- Organic fruit: tomato, raisins, papaya, oranges, bananas, plantains, prunes, grapefruit, strawberry and pineapple
- Organic vegetables, especially dark leafy greens: collard greens, turnip greens, kale, okra, spinach, broccoli, Chinese cabbage, mustard greens, dandelion greens, beet greens, artichoke, red and green peppers, and brussels sprouts
- Although they were not part of this list, avocado and almonds are also good for bone health
Exercise for good bone health:
- Weight-bearing exercises: running, dancing, hiking, jumping rope, aerobics, walking, stair climbing and tennis are a few examples of high and low-impact exercises
- Muscle-strengthening exercises: lifting weights, using resistance bands, lifting your own body weight and practicing functional movements such as standing and rising on your toes
- Yoga and Pilates are other forms of exercise that will improve strength and flexibility, but be careful if you have a pre-existing risk of bone injury or already have osteoporosis. In this case, modifications will likely have to be made for certain moves and poses. If you do not have any type of bone-related issue, you should not have to worry.
Osteoporosis is serious, common and costly. “Osteoporosis is responsible for two million broken bones and $19 billion in related costs every year. By 2025, experts predict that osteoporosis will be responsible for approximately three million fractures and $25.3 billion in costs each year.” You have the choice – invest in your health now or pay for it later. This goes not only for osteoporosis but for every chronic disease. Your lifestyle will determine your future, not statistics. Make a change and give yourself a better future.
For more information on bone health and osteoporosis prevention, please visit the National Osteoporosis Foundation.
Good food. Good tips. Good moves. Good for you.
xo Kim, Running on Good