Did you know that when you turn 30, you've achieved your peak bone mass? As you age, you can develop fragile bones that break easily if you didn't build strong bones in the first place. Here are 10 ways you can get strong bones and joints if you're under 30, and prevent losing critical bone mass if you're older.
1. Eat Your Veggies!
In a three-month study, women who consumed more than nine servings a day of broccoli, cabbage, parsley or other plants high in bone-protecting antioxidants had a decrease in bone-turnover - the process of breaking down and forming new bone. Consuming a diet high in vegetables has been shown to help create healthy bones during childhood, and protects bones in young adults and older women.
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Weight-bearing exercise - like walking, jogging and climbing stairs - and resistance training - like lifting weights - help to build and maintain strong bones. Exercise increases bone formation during bone growth, and protects bones in older adults. Many forms of exercise can also help older adults with balance, protecting them from a fall.
3. Eat Protein!
About 50% of bone is made of protein, so it's important that you get enough of it, along with plant foods and calcium. Older women especially have better bone density when they eat protein, resulting in a lower risk of forearm fractures, and higher bone density in the hip and spine. On the other hand, women with low protein intake run the risk of bone loss.
4. Snack on High-Calcium Foods Through the Day!
Calcium is the main mineral found in your bones. Old bone cells are constantly broken down and replaced by new bone cells, so calcium is necessary to protect bone structure and strength. The thing is, your body can absorb only so much calcium at once. Most people need 1,000 to 1,200 mg of calcium everyday, but if you eat a meal containing more than 500 mg of calcium, your body will absorb much less of it than if you consume smaller amounts. And that's a great reason to snack on high-calcium foods - like dairy products, seafood, leafy greens, legumes and dried fruit - through the day and at each meal
5. Bulk Up on Vitamins D and K
Vitamin D - the sunshine vitamin - helps your body absorb calcium. Vitamin K helps prevent the loss of calcium from your bones. Unfortunately, many of us just don't get enough of either from foods like fatty fish, liver, cheese, eggs and meat, so supplements are often recommended.
6. Stay Away from Very Low-Calorie Diets
Eating fewer than 1,000 calories a day can lead to lower bone-density, regardless of your weight or your exercise habits. In a study, obese women ate just 925 calories per day for four months. These women experienced a significant loss of bone density in their hip and upper thigh region. Be sure to eat a balanced diet with at least 1,200 calories each day.
7. Take a Collagen Supplement
Collagen is the main protein found in bones. While collagen has been widely used to relieve joint pain, much evidence now suggests that supplementing your diet with collagen may help your overall bone health.
8. Watch Your Weight
Weighing too much or too little is bad for your bones. Low body weight is the main factor in reduced bone density and bone loss in postmenopausal women. On the other hand, being obese impairs bone quality and increases the risk of fractures. Because lost bone is not regained when weight is regained, repeatedly losing and gaining weight can lead to significant bone loss over your lifetime.
9. Get Your Magnesium and Zinc
Magnesium and zinc are key to achieving peak bone mass in younger years, and help maintain bone density as we age. Magnesium can be found deliciously in dark chocolate, avocados, nuts, legumes, seeds and bananas. Zinc is in beef, shrimp, spinach, flax seeds, oysters and pumpkin seeds.
10. Omega-3s Are Good For Bones Too
We know that omega-3 fatty acids are great anti-inflammatories, but they also promote the formation of new bone and protect against bone loss in older adults. Fatty fish is a good source, as are chia seeds, flaxseeds and walnuts.