Bone health may seem like no big deal, but the truth is that it can have some major implications later on down the road. You may not want to give up your grueling marathon training now, but what happens when you fracture your femur a few months down the road?
Slumping in your chair might be more comfortable than forcing yourself to sit up straight, but walking around with a permanently hunched spine is not nearly as comfortable.
I don’t mean to scare you with these examples, but I do want to drive home the importance of making changes sooner rather than later!
Many women are prone to low bone density and don’t even know it (until they end up experiencing serious health consequences). No matter how young you are, it’s not too early to take preventative action.
Many factors can influence bone health, but these three are some of the most common:
1. Genetic history- If family members have experienced bone loss, chances your bone density is lower than average. (But don’t worry, there are many ways to strengthen your bones below!)
2. Hormonal imbalance- Estrogen maintains bone health, and when you don’t have enough the bones start to deteriorate. This is why osteoporosis rates are higher among postmenopausal women. However, they are not the only ones susceptible to low estrogen levels. Things like excessive stress, overexercising, and poor diet can cause imbalance as well.
3. Eating disorder (past or current)- One reason sufferers experience bone loss is due to previously mentioned hormone imbalance, but low weight also plays a role.
So how to protect your bones? The following are a few ways in which you can benefit your bones, starting today!
–Eat lots of calcium-rich foods like tofu, tahini, greens or molasses (and try to avoid having them with iron-rich foods- iron blocks calcium absorption).
-Also, eat enough for your lifestyle! I don’t generally advise counting calories, but having a rough estimate in mind can ensure that you are not under-eating. (Even if weight-loss is your goal, drastically decreasing calories can have the opposite effect that you are looking for.)
–Avoid coffee– the caffeine blocks calcium absorption and the acidity increases bone loss. If you can’t do without your morning (or afternoon or night) cup of coffee, try dandy-blend instead.
–Cut back on cardio and turn to strength training instead. The resistance strengthens bones rather than wearing down on them.
–Spend time in the sun (safely). 15 minutes outdoors will give you adequate Vitamin D to absorb the calcium you are currently consuming.
–Do yoga for double the benefits. The stabilizing postures are great for bone health and the practice as a whole serves as an effective stress management technique. The latter is a helpful way to balance hormones that are out of whack.
-Perhaps try a vibrational platform machine. I have not used one myself, but I have heard others swear by them for increasing bone density.
Protect yourself now and adopt these behaviors to keep your bones strong and healthy!
I also strongly urge you to visit your physician for a complete bone health assessment- especially if you think you may be suffering from early bone loss.
Also by Quincy: Top Picks from NYC Veg Food Fest
Photo: Popular Science Monthly via Wikimedia Commons