Bones – those crucial components of our body that are taken for granted until a problem arises. Only then do we realize their importance in having made our daily activities effortless. Other than our usual physical activities – be it walking, running, lifting loads, etc. – bones also perform some other important functions:
- Our internal organs are protected by our bones.
- Calcium is accumulated in the bones and released when needed.
- This calcium is essential not only for bone strength but also for the smooth functioning of our body cells.
- Bones are a store house for bone marrow which create various blood cells.
- Bones give structure to the body and make any form of movement possible.
Life Cycle of Bone Cells
- The bones of our body undergo changes continually – old bone tissue is lost and replaced with new tissue.
- When this cycle is thrown out of order, osteoporosis
- In other words, when old bone tissue is lost and new bone tissue is not formed in time, the person is said to have the condition called osteoporosis.
While in earlier days, bone and joint pain was considered the bane of old age and inevitable, it is thankfully not so now. Doctors now can identify and treat individuals who are at a greater risk of osteoporosis and improve their quality of life immensely.
Also Read : How much time does a broken bone take to heal?
Food as Medicine!
All doctors stress on this widely accepted fact. The concept of food as medicine is gaining popularity nowadays – this essentially means that when we eat right, our diet itself will provide all the necessary nutrients our body needs.
- Bone formation is dependent on our body receiving adequate amounts of proteins, vitamins and minerals.
- Calcium, phosphorous, zinc and magnesium along with the vitamins D, A and K play a crucial role in bone formation.
- A dearth of these can affect bone health.
- Calcium is stored in the bones and when our diet does not give our body the required calcium, the needed calcium is taken from the bones thus reducing bone strength.
- Vitamin D too plays a crucial role as it helps in calcium absorption from the food.
- 1000 mg of calcium a day and 10 – 20 micrograms of vitamin D a day will cover the body’s requirements of these essential nutrients.
- Contrary to popular perception, eating the right kind of food is enough to give the body the calcium it needs.
- Calcium can be obtained by consuming milk, cheese, curd, paneer, soya, green leafy vegetables, nuts, etc.
- People who do not consume dairy products can talk to their doctor about alternatives.
- There is also a common misconception that calcium consumption can lead to a condition called atherosclerosis. However, this happens only if the blood vessel is already affected and calcium consumption does not cause it.
- Calcium intake through diet is considered better than calcium supplements as it reduces kidney stone formation.
- After the age of 50, calcium needed per day increases to 1200 mg.
Work-Outs for Strong Bones!
Exercising regularly is extremely important for healthy bones. We are all aware of this yet many of us find it difficult to set aside some time for work-outs. Exercising is not optional; it has to be made a priority.
- When we exercise, our bones gain strength.
- Exercising from a young age and making exercising part of our lifestyle will benefit us enormously.
- Compared to young adults who do not exercise, those who do have stronger and denser bones.
- At around 30 years of age is when bone mass is at its maximum. After that bone density reduces.
- This reduction can be averted with regular work-outs.
- Apart from this, exercising has been known to improve balance thereby preventing falls as we get older.
- So, what exercises should be performed?
- A combination of weight bearing and resistance exercises is what is advised.
- Weight bearing exercises refer to walking, running, dancing, etc., which essentially act against the gravitational pull.
- Resistance exercises involve training with weights to build-up our bones.
It is necessary to keep the following pointers in mind before starting any exercise program:
- While embarking on a fitness routine for the first time, start off slow – give your body time to get used to this new regimen.
- In case of any existing health conditions like heart disease, osteoporosis, etc., a doctor’s opinion should be sought before commencing the exercise program.
- For those suffering from osteoporosis, your doctor is the best person to advise you on the exercises that can be performed.
- Half of an hour of physical activity every day is considered ideal.
- While exercising, if there is any chest pain or difficulty breathing, it is best to stop immediately and get a health check-up.
Also Read : Factors that affect Bone Health
It Is Never Too Late!
For those who haven’t been paying attention to bone health, it is never too late to start. By strengthening our bones, we not only prevent osteoporosis but we also reduce the risk of fall related fractures.
- Our genes affect our tendency for osteoporotic changes. If you have a familial history of osteoporosis, get regular screening done. Early treatment is of paramount importance.
- Maintain optimum weight as being overweight puts undue pressure on our bones and joints.
- Inculcate the habit of regular physical activity in children. Not only does it benefit them physically, the mental benefits too are immense.
- Smoking affects bone density and increases fracture risk – stop smoking.
- Limit alcohol consumption as this too affects bone health.
- Concerns about bone health are best addressed immediately. Consult your doctor who might recommend various tests to determine the onset of osteoporosis and based on the results will guide you towards an appropriate prevention/treatment protocol.
And remember, life is all about second chances – it’s never too late to mend. Start paying attention to your bone health today.