Prospective bone loss and ways to prevent or reverse this, without resorting to synthetic means, is of increasing importance to a “naturally” aging population. From our 30th birthday on, our peak bone mass is in decline. The best way to address bone loss is to change the way we think about nutrition, fitness and lifestyle choices.
Nutritionally speaking, we need to take a critical look at the harm and benefit of the various substances we take into our bodies. Maintaining a healthy ph balance is essential for maintaining healthy bones. Acidic foods increase the ph levels in our blood and tissues and trigger our bones to release mineral compounds to restore balance, at the expense of bone density. Avoiding or limiting artificial sweeteners, soda, excess animal proteins, preservatives, salt, alcohol and refined white flour helps prevent this leaching effect.
Vitamin D helps our bodies to absorb the calcium needed by our bones and vitamin C helps us synthesize collagen, the protein that gives our bones tensile strength. In addition to taking a supplement that includes these ingredients, consider adding vitamin D rich cold-water fish, and enjoying the sunshine and the great outdoors (with a good quality sunscreen, of course.) Food sources that are high in vitamin C include: bell peppers, brussel sprouts, acerola cherries, goji berries and citrus fruits. For optimum health, consider maximizing your intake of foods that are dense in vitamins and minerals, including a range of fruits and leafy green vegetables, whole grains, nuts, yogurt, and lean protein. High quality fats help our bodies to absorb vitamin D and include extra virgin olive oil, avocado, seeds and sprout, and organic eggs. If you are having difficulty increasing your daily vegetable intake, consider juicing – a quick and easy way to incorporate a wide variety of fruits and veggies into your diet – without eating giant salads at every meal.
Maintaining a varied and healthy diet will also contribute to hormone regulation and to weight regulation, both of which are essential to healthy bone development. Both an imbalance of hormones and low body weight can both be factors contributing to loss of bone density.
A regular exercise regime that includes strength training and/or weight bearing exercise is essential to maintaining healthy bones. Any exercise in which you “carry” your own body weight is considered a weight bearing activity. These include: running/jogging (and to a lessor extent, walking), yoga, aerobics, weight lifting, sports such as basketball, baseball, softball, basketball and football) and tennis, squash, and other “individual” sports.
A significant contributor to bone loss is smoking, so please consider this a motivator if you are trying to quit. Lifestyle choices are often the most difficult to address, but as high levels of cortisol (the “fight or flight” hormone produced by our bodies when under stress) weaken our bones, bringing calm into our lives is imperative. While we can’t realistically avoid all sources of stress, mind/body activities such as yoga, meditation, and tai chi, are helpful stress busters, as are massage therapy, and music therapy. Perhaps the easiest and most pleasurable ways to manage cortisol are having sex – and laughter. Bringing balance into our lives – and our bodies – doesn’t have to be all hard work!