The last two weeks we have explored why supplemental calcium is more harmful than helpful to your health (read it HERE) and the nutritional powerhouses that will keep your bones strong for a long time to come (read that post HERE). This week I will explain the lifestyle changes that will help prevent osteopenia and osteoporosis.
Lifestyle changes for strong bones
- STOP DRINKING SODA. Period. Full stop. Soda is one of the worst things we can consume for so many reasons. A 12 oz can of an average soda contains 44 grams of sugar. That's 11 teaspoons of sugar in a single serving. All that sugar causes a rapid rise in blood sugar and an accompanying spike of insulin. This can lead to insulin resistance, diabetes and obesity and all of their related health disasters. (Diet soda is no better. Artificial sweeteners come with a host of health concerns of their own.)
- The phosphoric acid in soda binds to minerals such as zinc, magnesium and calcium, critical nutrients for bone health. Once these minerals are bound to the phosphoric acid, they are passed out of the body via urine so can't be absorbed to help build strong bones or perform any of their other crucial functions in the body. Phosphoric acid has an even more directly detrimental effect on teeth. It is a powerful acid that can actually dissolve tooth enamel which is not able to be restored.
- Caffeine may also prevent the absorption of calcium and other minerals. It is also a diuretic, and may contribute to mineral loss by increased excretion through urination. Other beverages that contain caffeine and phosphoric acid are bottled coffee drinks, energy drinks and even some flavored water beverages. Stay away from all of them.
- Exercise. You know you should exercise. Every day. But do you do it? A major risk factor for osteoporosis is living a sedentary lifestyle. It's so easy to not move. But daily weight-bearing exercise such as walking, biking, yoga, jumping rope and lifting weights are highly protective against bone density loss. (Swimming is not a weight-bearing exercise due to the buoyancy of the water so not ideal for building bone strength. But it can help build muscle strength and improve cardiovascular function.) Need more inspiration and some tips to work daily exercise into your life? Read this post.
- Get enough sleep. We all know the importance of a good night's sleep. Now you can add maintaining bone density to the long list of benefits. Our bones, like all the tissues in our bodies, are in a constant state of breaking down and building up. This is known as catabolism (breaking down and disposing of worn-out tissue) and anabolism (repair and building up of new tissue). Both are natural and necessary processes. Not surprisingly, the vast majority of anabolic processes take place while we sleep. This is the time when our bodies repair, clean out and rebuild. Lack of sleep means lack of adequate time for bones to repair and rebuild themselves (among many many other problems). Need some help getting a good night's sleep? Read this post.
It is possible to heave strong healthy bones well into your later years. They are literally the backbone of a healthy vital life. Follow the steps outlined in this series of posts about bone health and you will be well on your way to enjoying the health and vitality you deserve for a long time to come!
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