Bone health through Winter and beyond!
Did you know there is so much you can do to keep your bones strong? And that strength is really important, especially as we move into the cooler months which means the risk of falls increases. But unfortunately for many, it is not until that dreaded fall and a fracture occurs that they realise they have low bone density and will then get diagnosed with osteoporosis, which is the weakening of bones. In fact, according to the NHS, it is estimated that over 3 million people in the UK have osteoporosis, and 300,000 fragility fractures happen each year1. But just because the stats are high, doesn’t mean you are destined to be included in them. Rather than waiting for a potential event to happen and realising something is wrong, we are all about being proactive here, which is why we would encourage you to keep your bone health in mind and take actions each day that are going to support it. So, in this week’s blog we share more about your bones, along with 3 things you can do to help to keep them strong through Winter and beyond. How are your bones made? Did you know that your bones are living tissues, just like your muscles and skin? Your bones are constantly remodelling, with your bone cells working hard to build up your bone, and other cells are purposely reducing the tissue around it. When you reach your 30s, you will reach your peak bone mass, which means that after this time your bone density will start to gradually reduce. The good news is there is so much you can do to slow down the process, keeping your bone density high which means that they remain strong and resilient during your later years. Here are 3 things you can do to keep your bones healthy, along with some suggestions on what you can avoid: 1. Weight bearing exercise Putting stress and tension through your bones is essential to increase bone density, and the old saying ‘if you don’t use it, you lose it’ is true when it comes to your bones. This became apparent when NASA carried out health checks with their astronauts following a space expedition. On their return, the astronauts bone mass had significantly decreased because of the reduced gravity and inability to put stress through their bones2.
Exercise is beneficial for this, especially resistance training and weight bearing exercise. Using resistance machines, bands, or even doing body weight exercise will help to put tension through your muscles, which will in turn put stress through your bones. We would recommend incorporating this into your routine at least three times a week. Movement and intentional exercise is brilliant to help with balance and coordination too, which can only be of benefit to carry out daily tasks safely. 2. Vitamin D Also known as the ‘sunshine vitamin’, Vitamin D is essential to help regulate calcium and allows it to be absorbed into your bones. Adults exposed to the sunlight during April to September can get Vitamin D from UV rays, but adults are recommended to supplement in the UK, particularly through October to March. You can also get Vitamin D through natural sources of food, such as oily fish including sardines, salmon, and mackerel, and other sources such as eggs. 3. Eat for health The best way to get calcium and other nutrients such as Vitamin K which help bone density is through food. Green leafy vegetables, such as spinach, kale, broccoli, and cabbage are tasty sources of calcium, as well as oily fish which we discussed previously. If you are buying tinned fish, be sure to purchase it with the bones. Highly processed and sugary foods in excess, along with regular consumption of alcohol, caffeine, and fizzy drinks all have the potential to be harmful to your bone health, so we would recommend keeping these to a minimum. Other areas to consider Smoking has been identified to damage the connective tissue within bones which increases the risk of developing osteoporosis, so we would recommend cutting this out if you can. If you are on medication, it is important to liaise with your GP to have regular reviews, as taking certain medications long term such as steroids and acid blockers, can impact the health of your bones. The areas to focus on may sound simple, but if worked on each day will help to support the health of your bones. If you do have concerns about your bone health then please contact your GP as there are an array of tests that can be done to assess the health and density of bones. Of course, as your Chiropractor we are always here to help too and take bone healthy seriously. We support many people with osteoporosis in practice and adapt our adjustments to suit individual needs. If you have any questions or concerns, please get in touch.
References: 1. Age UK. (2022). Osteoporosis. Retrieved from: https://www.ageuk.org.uk/information-advice/health-wellbeing/conditions-illnesses/osteoporosis/ 2. NASA. (2013). Bone Health. Retrieved from: https://www.nasa.gov/exploration/humanresearch/areas_study/physiology/physiology_bone.html The content of this blog is for educational purposes and is not intended to offer personal medical advice. You should seek the advice of a qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read in this blog.