Maintaining healthy bones is a lifetime commitment and one that can be achieved through proper diet and exercise. Follow these tips from Bumrungrad International Hospital’s team of orthopedic doctors for better bone health.
1. Do exercises that encourage bone strength and balance
A serious risk factor for developing osteoporosis is inactivity. Luckily, it’s possible to increase you bone strength by doing exercises that are weight-bearing such as running, weight lifting, tennis, or stair climbing. If there are physical limitations to what you can do, softer alternatives include tai chi, yoga, and pilates. These improve strength and balance, which can prevent falls and the subsequent bone fracture or breakage that may occur.
2. Eat calcium rich foods
Many people are familiar with calcium as the building block for healthy bones. And rightly so! This mineral is essential for healthy teeth and bone growth. It is important to include calcium-rich foods in your diet no matter how old or young you are, but it especially important during the prime bone-building years between 9 and 18 years of age. Dairy products such as yogurt, cheese, and milk are especially high in calcium.
3. Don’t forget about other vitamins and minerals
Did you know that vitamin D, vitamin K, and potassium work to restore healthy bones when paired with calcium? Vitamin D assists with the body’s ability to absorb calcium. Egg yolks, tuna, and shrimp are excellent sources of vitamin D. Your body will naturally make vitamin D after a little sun exposure, too.
Vitamin K helps the body make proteins for healthy bones and it may also reduce the rate at which calcium is excreted by your body. Dark leafy vegetables such as broccoli, spinach, and kale are all great sources of vitamin K.
Potassium is believed to help neutralize the acids that otherwise slowly dissolve the calcium from your body. Eat foods high in potassium such as bananas, white or sweet potatoes with skin, and tomatoes.
4. Cut back on cigarettes, alcohol, and caffeinated beverages
Some chemical compounds in cigarettes and alcoholic and caffeinated beverages have been shown to block the body’s ability to absorb calcium. Moderate consumption of alcohol or coffee is ok but drinking more than a glass or two each day may lead to an accelerated rate of bone loss. As for smoking, this is yet another reason to drop the habit.
5. Get your bone density tested
How do you know if your bones are healthy? One way is to get a bone mineral density scan known as a dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA). This quick and painless x-ray can show weakened areas of the bone. It’s typically conducted on the lower spine and hips, which are two areas that have a high risk for developing low bone mineral density or osteoporosis. However, in children and some adults, the entire body may be scanned.
Getting a DXA is recommended for women who have an increased risk for developing osteoporosis such as those who will be entering or are in menopause or those who are petite. Men and women who have certain medical conditions or are on medications that may cause weaken bones are also encouraged to get a bone density scan.
By Dr. Preeyanart Komchornrit, Gynecologist specializing in Osteoporosis and Menopause at Women Center, Bumrungrad Hospital.
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