Healthy Bones: Simple Tips to Prevent Osteoporosis

Healthy Bones

Caring for your bones is like investing money for retirement; you can never start to early!  Building a strong foundation of bone mass during adolescence and early adult years is key because bone mineral density can start declining as early as age 35. Over the next five or more years, you can lose as much as 20% of bone density. Women are more prone to osteoporosis, but men are just as much at risk for age-related fractures later in life as well. The sooner you take steps to slow the process and maintain the bone mass you have now, the better. Read below for the best strategies to maintain or increase bone density.

  1. Lift Weights. Strength training or weightlifting actually stimulates new bone growth.  Heavy lifting is best for triggering this process, but you can get similar benefit from lighter weight and higher reps as well. Aim for lifting weights three times a week for at least 25 minutes a session. For each exercise, make sure you use a weight that challenges your body and do as many reps as you can until failure. Then rest for about a minute and repeat three times per muscle group. Make sure you work every different muscle group in your body to stimulate growth in all your bones.

  2. Eat Plenty of Protein. Protein helps bind all the minerals like calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium in your bones to keep them hard and strong. It doesn’t matter whether you get your protein from plants or animals, the key is to get enough high-quality protein every day. Shoot for at least .57 grams of protein per pound of body weight. For example, a 150-pound woman should consume at least 85.5 grams of protein a day. To break that down: 3 ounces of chicken contains 26 grams of protein and 1 cup of black beans has about 14 grams.

  3. Include Olive Oil. The Mediterranean diet is known for its cardiovascular/heart healthy benefits, but it also supports your skeleton. Olive oil contains compounds called polyphenols, which increase the activity of osteoblasts (the cells that promote bone formation). Just 4 teaspoons of olive oil per day were associated with 4% higher total bone density. So, add a little drizzle of oil to your salad and protein, just make sure it is cold-pressed, extra virgin since these have the highest polyphenol counts.

  4. Take Some Probiotics. Probiotics are the good bacteria that live in your gut. Studies have shown that taking a daily probiotic reduces bone loss by about half in women over age 75. It is believed that inflammation in the body accelerates the breakdown of bones, but these helpful bacteria have anti-inflammatory effects which prevent that loss. Try eating foods rich in probiotics like kimchi, sauerkraut, kefir, or taking it in supplement form.

  5. Add Some Impact. High-impact activities like running, jumping, even walking at a brisk pace have been shown to increase bone mineral density. The impact stimulates cells in the bones to lay down new, stronger bone tissue to account for this. It doesn’t take much. Start with a few minutes a day of jogging, jumping rope, or playing tennis to improve bone mass.