No bones about it, your bone health impacts your vitality, especially with the wear and tear that comes with ageing. Providing the framework for your body, your bones (all 206…
No bones about it, your bone health impacts your vitality, especially with the wear and tear that comes with ageing.
Providing the framework for your body, your bones (all 206 of them!) are protective living tissues that are constantly regenerating.
Here are the three pillars of bone health – and how you can incorporate principles from each into your everyday life to feel stronger in the long-term.
Did you know that 99% of the calcium in the body resides in the bones and teeth? The most abundant mineral in the body, calcium (with the help of other minerals like phosphorus and magnesium) provides your bones with structure and density – helping to keep them strong.
Almost 1 in 10 Australians over 50 are at increased risk of bone fracture due to osteoporosis or osteopenia (reduced bone mineral density) – according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. That’s why a calcium-rich diet is so important, reducing osteoporosis risk in later life.
The good news is that dairy is not the only dietary source of calcium.
There are plenty of plant-based foods offering substantial amounts of calcium, so it’s worth including at least several of these on your plate each day:
- Soy products – especially tofu, but also edamame beans
- Almonds – one of the highest-calcium nuts…pass the almond butter! A handful of raw, dry-roasted or our favourite, tamari almonds also makes a wholesome snack
- Sesame seeds, and our go-to salad dressing ingredient, tahini (sesame seed paste)
- Dark, leafy greens – especially kale and collard greens (spinach also contains calcium but isn’t as easy to absorb as it contains oxalates – plant compounds that bind to calcium)
- White beans like cannellini
- Dried figs (nature’s sweet treat!)
It’s also worth keeping your tea and coffee intake in check, as excess caffeine (alcohol, too) can reduce calcium absorption. And another reason to skip the cola drinks: they have the potential to leach calcium from bones, decreasing their mineral content.
But it has to be the right kind of movement…and at least three times a week, according to Osteoporosis Australia.
One of the best ways to increase bone mineral density is through weight bearing exercise – any exercise done on your feet; that might be anything from brisk walking or jogging, to dancing or sports like netball or tennis. Swimming, while good for you, won’t improve your bone mineral density.
Resistance training with weights – and gradually increasing that resistance – is another way to improve your bone mineral density.
And although yoga, pilates and tai chi won’t help build bone – they do help improve balance and mobility – reducing the chances of you falling and fracturing something, particularly as you get older.
This is the best natural source of vitamin D, which plays an important role in calcium absorption.
And although it’s important to slip, slop, slap, a short window of unprotected sun exposure will ensure Vitamin D is absorbed by the skin. This window will vary depending on your region’s UV index (head to the Cancer Council’s website for more info).
You can’t get vitamin D from food…so your bone health is yet another reason to get out in nature!