For many, bone density holds cause for concern - almost 1 million Australians to be exact – and the lingering diagnosis of osteoporosis is a name none of us want to hear. Whether you are in your teens or enjoying your golden years, there are natural steps you can take to support greater bone health.
In this article, our Food Matters Health Practitioners have researched deep down to the marrow to discover some natural remedies, tips, and tricks to keep your bones in tip-top shape.
Let’s get started.
Why Do I Need To Strengthen My Bones?
Bones are our body’s support beams that keep our body upright, so it’s in our best interest to keep them strong and healthy. They also play a large role in protecting organs, anchoring muscles, and storing calcium, which ultimately determines how well we function.
As part of their natural formation, bones are constantly being broken down and rebuilt in tiny amounts. Typically, up until the age of 30 when peak bone mass is reached, new bone creation outweighs bone loss. When this balance shifts is when issues, such as osteoporosis, can occur if the right bone foundations aren’t set early on.
Factors that impact the rate and amount of bone loss in your older years include genetics, diet, and how much bone was built up in your body during your teenager years. Although many things can be out of our hands, there are things you can do now to support a healthier future, and that includes building strong bones to carry you through your golden years.
7 Ways to Strengthen Bones Naturally
1. Eat Your Fruits and Veggies!
You would have heard it from your mother (and from us) that greens will make you grow big and strong! And as it turns out, they kind of do. Fruits and vegetables are some of the best sources of vitamin C, which stimulates the production of bone-forming cells in addition to protecting bone cells from damage. Studies also show that an increase of vegetables in your diet increases bone mineral density.
Further research also showed that eating your vegetables, onions in particular, reduces the risk of fracture by more than 20%, versus those who never consume onions. So, an onion a day could keep the doctor away – just be sure to carry around some breath mints with you!
Kale, broccoli, Swiss chard, and spinach are great additions to your bone-building diet as they contain vitamin K, which has been shown to support healthy bones.
2. Add Potassium To Your Diet
Potassium is the quiet achiever when it comes to protecting the health of your bones. Its ability to neutralize bone-depleting metabolic acids that “eat away” at bone, are key in fighting the elimination of calcium in the body. Together with nutrient-rich potassium compounds, our bones are able to reabsorb minerals and reduce the amount of mineral loss through our urine.
A variety of population-based studies now support the association of a high potassium based diet with positive bone density.
Bananas are particularly rich in potassium as well as magnesium - they are essentially the guardian protectors of our bones.
3. Drink Less Alcohol and Caffeine
We know how hard it can be to start the day without our double shot latte on almond milk, or finishing the day without a stress relieving glass of vino, but did you know that our poisons of choice could be affecting our calcium absorption?
Studies show that drinking 3 or more cups of coffee a day increases your urinary calcium excretion and decreases your calcium absorption, which can adversely affect your bone density.
Try swapping for a herbal tea or a kombucha for a whole host of benefits!
4. Find A Supplement That Works For You
We’re not just talking calcium supplements if you can’t, or won’t drink dairy milk. Bones are made up of calcium but also magnesium, zinc, copper, manganese, potassium, and vitamins K and D and finding the right balance of all these elements to support good bone health can prove difficult for some. Supplements are a great way to fill in the nutrient gaps that our diets sometimes lack. If you choose to supplement your diet, we recommend a professional-formulated bone-building supplement that contains both magnesium and calcium.
For recommended doses, it is always important to talk to your doctor or health care professional, or as a rule of thumb, follow the daily value for these two minerals, that is 400 mg of magnesium and 800 mg of calcium.
5. Get Moving
Exercise is the key ingredient that can help build strong bones. Professor Rebecca Mason, a spokesperson for Osteoporosis Australia, recommends any type of weight-bearing exercise such as brisk walking, tennis, jogging, skipping, netball or basketball. Other alternatives include resistant workouts such as using a gym, weight or hand and ankle exercises. Incorporating weight-bearing exercises into your weekly routine enables you to maintain strong bones in addition to making you look and feel great.
6. Get Some Vitamin D
We all know it’s important to be sun smart, but a burst of vitamin D can sometimes be just what the doctor ordered. Despite our hot, tropical climate, it may come as a surprise that many Australians are vitamin D deficient, which (according to Dr. Mason) can lead to weak and brittle bones. Vitamin D works hand in hand with calcium for supporting bone health, and when these are out of balance you can do more harm than good for your health. A great way to combat your vitamin D deficiency is to break out of the office during lunchtime for a fast-paced stroll in the sun. Not only will it get you up and exercising, you’ll be getting your fix of sunshine, too!
7. Milk it
Last but not least, milk is a great source of calcium that is one of the key ingredients in building stronger, healthier bones. With a myriad of calcium-rich milk alternatives ranging from almond milk to Zymil, there seems to be an option for everyone in the market. Other great calcium-rich options are low-fat cheese, natural yogurt, tinned sardines and salmon, almonds and tofu. These are awesome bone-supporting foods, jam-packed with other nutrients that support and maintain bone density.
No matter your age, there are natural ways you can boost your health and strengthen and support your body so that it can carry you through many, many more years. If you are concerned about your bone density or other areas of your health and wellbeing, reach out to our Food Matters Health Practitioners for support on your health journey.
Plus, if you’ve got some great natural bone-strengthening tips, please share them in the comments below.