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Osteo-What? The Secret to Strong Bones

Apr 05, 2022

I get asked frequently about bone density and its effects. We seem to care a lot about osteopenia and osteoporosis, but often we don't know what it means or what we can really do about it.

Most people tend to think about our bones as some type of inner tissue. As if they’re just a spot for our muscles to attach to, but that's not the case at all.

Bone has a very active and living tissue. We are constantly building and breaking down bone until our peak bone density, typically around our twenties. After that our bone loss gradually outpaces our bone growth. That's why it is so important to build up as much bone as you can when you are younger.

Although bone loss affects both sexes, women are a lot more likely to be affected by this. This is especially true after menopause. Weak bones are not a normal part of aging and a diagnosis of osteopenia (when your bones are weaker than normal but not so far gone that they break easily) or osteoporosis (having increasingly porous bone which greatly increases the risk of fracture) are not irreversible.

You can prevent your own bone loss through some effective lifestyle choices. Here are a few things to take into account when thinking about bone health. 

1. Most think drinking a glass of milk and eating other dairy is going to safeguard us against bone loss. However, a recent study of postmenopausal women found that a diet high in vegetables fruits cereals and healthy fats were less likely to have lower bone mass. Three researchers suspected that women getting adequate amounts of beta-carotene, selenium, magnesium, and vitamins C, E and K were aiding their bone formation and safeguarding against damage.

2. We've all heard a traditional strength training is essential for healthy bones, but you may also consider higher intensity resistance training. Training that requires 80% of your maximum one rep max twice a week increase bone density and strength according to a 2017 study. It also helped with the slouched posture known as a Dowager's hump, which is that great grandmotherly posture we're all trying to avoid.

3. Another effective technique is adding repetitive force to our skeleton through activities such as running jump roping or short hops. This causes the release of certain chemicals that break down and rebuild bone stronger. These types of activities are associated with 4% better bone health. Since most women typically lose 1% of bone per year, it is essentially prolonging that decline.

4. The last few years we've heard of probiotics as being a cure-all for many things including a treatment for ALS. Bone health is no different. Women who took a probiotic daily lost half as much bone and their legs after a year as women taking a placebo. The thought is that the good bacteria reduce intestinal inflammation which may result in reduced activation of bone degrading cells.

5. This next tip is particularly impactful considering how many of the symptoms of a treat that are associated with prolonged sitting. Another study found that the more women in their 60s walk each day, the better their bone density would be. Each additional 1400 steps increase bone density in hips, a very common site of fractures as one ages.

6. Our final healthy practice to help with bone density would be to jump in on a daily yoga station. Bone density increased significantly more in women who did Daily Yoga over the course of two years than those that took prescription medications specifically for bone loss. What's great about yoga is that can improve balance, strength, coordination, range of motion and can help with Stress Management by getting us involved in small group exercise.

The overwhelming theme of these studies were to move well, move often and move something heavy. Pair all of this with a diet high in veggies and healthy fats and you’re setting yourself in an advantageous position. Don't wait for menopause to start considering your bone health. If you're greater than your mid-twenties you're already and the declining phases. Start right away in order to be as tall and strong as possible as you age.