'Unbreakable' Part 3: Ten Strategies for Long Term Bone Health
This 'Unbreakable!' series, Part 1, 2, and 3, was designed to give you essential information for building strong bones – for a lifetime! Research shows that in our mid-thirties, our bodies enter an inevitable slow bone loss cycle that can eventually lead to osteopenia and osteoporosis. These conditions are difficult to reverse – though not impossible.
Thus, following the 'Unbreakable!' strategies below will ensure you are on the road to prevention, building, and maintaining strong bones. You won't regret it!
The good news: these 10 strategies are not limited to bone health; they are necessary and powerful contributors to overall peak performance, optimal health, brainpower, and ultimate longevity.
Get a DEXA Body Scan. A DEXA scan is important because it measures bone density and helps assess your risk of fractures and osteoporosis. It's like a "health check" for your bones that gives you a numerical score to track over your lifetime to ensure your bones are strong. If your DEXA scores are not optimal, talk with your doctor, and we highly recommend working with a personal dietitian.
CALIBRATE, EAT, TRACK, & then repeat: It's almost impossible to know if you are getting the IDEAL amounts of the essential bone health nutrients –personalized to your unique needs. MyMenu Concierge makes this possible.
Achieve your IDEAL levels of foods high in Calcium, Vit D, Phosphorus, and Vit K. With MyMenu Concierge, you can TRACK these nutrients and find foods, recipes, and restaurant meals to best meet your IDEAL nutrient intake. Read 'Add these foods to your grocery list.'
Eat optimal amounts of protein each day. Protein is crucial for bone health because it provides the building blocks (amino acids) needed for bone formation and repair.
Eat prebiotic foods. Prebiotics support bone health by promoting the growth of beneficial gut bacteria, which enhance the absorption of bone-friendly minerals like calcium and magnesium from your diet. So, they basically create a better environment in your gut for your bones to soak up the nutrients. Read more about prebiotic foods and gut health.
Try collagen powder. Collagen powder can contribute to bone health because it's rich in amino acids, which are essential for building and repairing bone tissue. Collagen also supports the production of collagen fibers in bones, helping maintain their strength and flexibility. When included in a balanced diet, collagen powder can be a supportive ingredient in overall bone health, especially when combined with other bone health nutrients. Try adding it to coffee, smoothies, sauces, and soups – it also adds protein.
Get plenty of weight-bearing activity each day. Although this isn't a food-related strategy, it is extremely important for bone health. Weight-bearing activities – like walking, jogging, hiking, dancing, weightlifting, stair climbing, tennis, and other sports where you are on your feet and moving – are vital for bone health because the activity helps stimulate the production of bone-forming cells, increasing bone density and strength. Additionally, these activities create "good stress" on your bones, which encourages them to become stronger and more resilient.
Get 3-4 days of strength-building exercise each week. Strength-building exercise serves a separate purpose together with weight-bearing activities. Strength-building aims to increase and maintain muscle mass. You know the phrase, "If you don't use it … you'll lose it". This is especially relevant to bone health, strength building, and muscle mass. Muscles act as a protective shield for your bones, absorbing impact and providing support and stability. Strong muscles help maintain the proper alignment of bones, reducing the risk of joint injuries. Strength-building generally incorporates weights, resistance bands, or bodyweight exercises (e.g., squats, lunges, push-ups). Yoga, Pilates, and ballet programs are also beneficial in strength-building and add the bonus of increasing coordination and balance.
Sweet dreams! When we sleep, our body goes through a remarkable repair, recovery, and rejuvenation process – so don't let anything get in the way of 8-9 hours of deep, restful sleep. Specifically, sleep is when the body repairs damaged bone tissue, releases growth hormone (essential for bone repair), and creates new bone tissue. When you lack enough sleep, your body releases cortisol, which, when elevated, can lead to increased bone breakdown. Additionally, inadequate sleep has been linked to higher inflammation levels, which can negatively affect bone health.
Be aware of and avoid, as much as possible, foods that may block the absorption of nutrients.
Alcohol can interfere with the body's ability to absorb calcium and negatively affect bone density.
Processed foods, which are often high in salt and sugar, can contribute to nutrient imbalances and may not provide the necessary vitamins and minerals for healthy bones.
Sodas and foods high in added sugars can negatively impact bone health. Excessive consumption of sugary beverages like sodas has been linked to lower bone mineral density and increased risk of osteoporosis. High sugar intake can also lead to weight gain and inflammation, further damaging the skeletal system.
Foods high in oxalates (like spinach and beet greens) can hinder calcium absorption. Choose arugula, kale, Swiss chard, collard greens, and darker-colored romaine and lettuce.
Phytates in whole grains and legumes can reduce the absorption of minerals like iron, zinc, and calcium. These foods are high in nutrients and fiber, so don't necessarily avoid these but be aware.
At Healthy Dining, we hope you achieve a higher level of health and wellbeing through this series. Let us know at Hello@HealthyDining.biz.
Bon appetit and cheers to a glass of milk or plant-based calcium-enriched milk!