Healthy Bones:

As part of the natural ageing process, we all experience some degree bone loss throughout our lifetime, but if this process is accelerated you run the risk of suffering from spontaneous fractures.  Osteoporosis – characterised by porous, frail bones, is often talked about as a SILENT disease, meaning you can remain relatively symptom-free without realising your bones are becoming weak and brittle.  The World Health Organisation has established strict criteria for the diagnosis of Osteoporosis.  Using a bone scanner (Dual Energy X-Ray – DXA), your bone mineral density is assessed giving a value which is compared with young, healthy adults.  The DXA scans the lower back or (lumbar spine) as well femoral head (hip bone) providing evidence as to the extent of bone loss.  A score of <-1 is below the mean (normal), -1 to <-2.5 below the mean (Osteopenia – poverty of bone), and >-2.5 below the mean is an indication of Osteoporosis.

There is continual cycle of bone remodelling that occurs on a regular basis.  Several risk factors have been identified that can influence the speed of bone remodelling as it involves a delicate process of breaking bone down and then building it back up.

Bones account for 99% of the body’s total calcium stores, but calcium is also used for other biological purposes such as buffering the acid/alkaline levels in the blood and serving as an important neurotransmitter for nerve conduction.  When calcium levels are low in the blood, it can be leached from the bones causing them to lose some of their integrity.  Over time, this borrowing or leaching effect can weaken the bones which may lead to more severe problems down the line.

So, how can we slow this process from causing our bones to deteriorate?…

Our Hot Top 3 Tips:

Calcium:

The ultimate bone builder.  The recommended daily intake of Calcium is between 600-1200 mg/day depending on age, exercise, genetics, dietary and lifestyle factors.  These values may be slightly  higher if you already have some degree of bone loss.  The best advice to take is a food-first approach as some studies have suggested that high doses of supplemental calcium may increase the risk for heart disease.  This isn’t to say that supplementation is bad, but you need to watch the doses carefully to make sure you’re getting the right amount.  Remember Goldilocks and the 3 bears… we want to get the dose “just right”.

Food sources of Calcium – Dairy products including milk, cheese and yoghurt; Turnips and Collard Greens; Calcium Fortified food; Broccoli, Almonds, Watercress.

Exercise:

Exercise will get your bones back in shape quick smart.  We all need regular exercise to keep healthy and fit, but around 30 minutes/day 4-5x/week is optimal to keep your bones strong.  The type of exercise is the weight-bearing kind (walking, climbing stairs etc.) as your body works against gravity.  This causes tension along the muscles which compresses or stresses the bone so it becomes strong and dense.  Regular exercise also helps with balance and co-ordination which can help limit the chance of having a fall.  Falls are one of the leading causes of osteoporotic fractures.

Sunshine: 

Two birds, one stone!  While your exercising, make sure you have a bit of sun exposed to the sun so you can soak up that Vitamin D.  Vitamin D is essential for proper absorption of calcium through your digestion as well as making sure it deposits into the bone.  Around 5-30 minutes of sunlight/week is enough to generate enough Vitamin D.  Topical sunscreens can interfere with this process… but that’s a conversation for another day.

We all need strong and healthy bones so we can continue to enjoy the activities we love well into old age.  It’s never too late to start building the density of your bones so make sure you start today.  If you have any questions or concerns regarding your bone health and what steps you can take to get your bones back to feeling healthy and strong, contact us at the clinic on (07) 5523 9007 or email us at info@embracewellnesscentre.com.au.  “We’re here to help!”

 

References:

Kadey, M. (2014). “Good to the Bone”.  Vegetarian Times, June, pp. 71-74.

Ruxtun, C. (2013).  “Dietary approaches to promote bone health in adults”. Nursing Standard, 27(28) pp. 41-49.