Friday, August 11, 2017

Are You Unknowingly Damaging Your Bones?

Bone health is literally something you build on throughout your life, not just as a child. Your bones are living tissue after all. Fun Fact: because they have living cells in them that are constantly renewing, you have an entirely new skeleton every 7 to 10 years. 

But this doesn’t mean that you don’t have to take bone health seriously. The efforts you put in now, or lack thereof, will determine your bone health throughout your life, as well as the likelihood that you’ll develop conditions like osteoporosis.

Now you may hear osteoporosis and immediately think that it’s not something you need to worry about until you’re 65 or older, but that’s not the case. Did you know that your bones stop gaining in density when you turn 30?  This means that after age 30, more bone tissue is lost than is gained.

So while bone depletion may be natural, this doesn’t mean that you’re doomed to have brittle bones as you age. In fact, here are 5 simple ways you can keep your bones—all 206 of them—happy and healthy for years to come.  

1.    It may sound obvious, but make sure you’re getting your calcium and vitamin D. These nutrients work in tandem on bone building. Low-fat dairy, such as plain yogurt and milk, is a great calcium source. Also, look for milk that's been fortified with vitamin D. You can also get vitamin D from fatty fish, like tuna and salmon, spending time in the sun and supplements.

2.    Don’t skip other essential vitamins and minerals like magnesium, potassium and vitamins C and K. You’ll find them in many fruits, peppers and leafy green veggies. Make sure you’re getting enough protein, too, but be sure you’re not having more than the recommended amount (46 grams for women, 56 grams for men). If you eat too much protein, this can actually change the pH balance of your body, leading to bone loss.

3.    In addition to incorporating bone-healthy foods, make sure to steer clear of these foods that are bad to the bone. This includes foods that are high in sodium, especially those salty snacks, as well as inflammatory foods, like nightshade vegetables that can cause bone inflammation. Don’t forget about drinks either. Soda, caffeine and alcohol can all significantly impact bone density.

4.    Believe it or not, there’s another benefit to exercise besides heart health, stress relief and weight management and many others. That’s right, exercise is not only important for bone health, experts suggest it’s actually one of the best ways to prevent osteoporosis. Focus on strength-training and weight-bearing cardio activities -- those that are done while standing. Add workouts that help with balance, like yoga and tai chi, to improve posture and prevent falls, the key culprit in broken bones.

5.    Have your bone density tested. This is a simple, painless way to measure the amount of mineral content in your bones, or how dense they are. Bone density testing can detect osteoporosis at its earliest stages, so treatment can begin sooner. If you are already being tested for osteoporosis, bone density testing will assist your health care provider in monitoring your response to the treatment. At Gwinnett Medical Center, you’ll not only have convenient access to advanced imaging services, like bone density testing, you’ll also receive personalized care from a team of attentive specialists.