The best way to reduce your risk for osteoporosis is to make healthy lifestyle choices. Those choices can be easy for some and hard for others, this all depends on what you have to “give up” in order to follow through with a healthy lifestyle. For some of us the most significant thing to change is time, when are you going to fit a work out into your schedule. For others it is changing your diet to include bone healthy foods or eliminating foods bad for our bone health.
Let’s get down to it. For healthy bones to either reduce your risk of developing osteoporosis or improve your bone health after you have been diagnosed with osteoporosis the lifestyle choices you make are basically the same.
‘The first step to healthier bones is ensuring you are getting enough Vitamin D and Calcium. Vitamin D is essentially important for all cellular functioning and that includes bone health. Next time you have your blood tested be sure to ask for your Vitamin D levels checked. The normal amount of 25-OH Vitamin D in blood is 30-74 nanograms per milliliter. According to the Institute of Medicine the appropriate daily amount of Vit D to take between 400 and 800 IU’s for adults under 50 and for adults over 50 their amount is between 800 and 1,000 IU per day. The IOM also say the most people should take per day is 4,000 IU. I have found literature that says these amounts are too low. I like to recommend around 2,500 IU per day and even some sources say that is too low. Sunshine is our best source of vitamin D but we do not have access to adequate amounts of it year round so we must supplement.
While calcium can be found added to some commonly consumed foods I believe the best source is from foods that have calcium naturally occurring in them. The foods highest in calcium are typically the foods that the average American eats very little of, if at all. Foods like Collard Greens, Sardines, Ricotta, Yogurt, Broccoli rabe, Mozzarella, Cheddar, Greek Yogurt, American Cheese, Kale, Salmon, Soy Beans (green and boiled), Bok Choi, and Feta cheese. This is not an exhaustive list but it includes the foods with the highest amounts of naturally occurring calcium, I recommend to not rely on fortified foods as your primary source for dietary calcium. There is a lot of dairy on this list and preparation of some of the other foods makes all the difference. Cooking some foods or overcooking them reduces the nutrients in the food.
Getting the proper nutrients is only part of the equation, your body needs to be stimulated to use and store those nutrients in tissue. Bone tissue requires mechanical loading in order to stimulate it to store minerals and build new tissue. The way to load your bone tissue is through strength training or weight bearing exercise. Many people have been doing great on their cardiovascular health by walking, running, or cycling regularly, but many more either neglect strength training or strength train ineffectively. We should all be including strength training in our weekly exercise routine and it is critically important to do so. While the idea of strength training or weight bearing exercise can be intimidating, it doesn’t have to be. At most gyms there are personal trainers available to help you, usually at a fee above your gym membership, and I do recommend working with a personal trainer if you are lost in the free weight or weight machine section of you gym. If that still does not appeal to you, BStrong4Life might. BStrong4Life is our program for improving strength, balance, and subsequently bone health in as little as 15 minutes a week. I won’t spend much time discussing BS4L here, you can read past posts, see our website, see the BStrong4Life website, or call us for details. I will say that BStrong4Life is the safest way to improve your strength, balance, and bone health while only having to take 15 minutes our of your week.
To manage osteoporosis, or avoid it entirely the key is nutrition and exercise. Whoa, the key to good healthy is basically good nutrition and exercise too. If you want to live a longer and healthier life than your parents and grandparents, you need to take steps today to improve you health by eating better and starting a life long weekly exercise program. I am not going to say making these changes are simple or easy but if you start today and make the changes a part of your life in time you will feel better and look back to the day you started and thank yourself for taking a step forward.