16 Jan Building Better Bones
Researchers at the Columbia University Medical Center have recently found stem cells, called osteochondroreticular (OCR), in the bone marrow of mice that may trigger regeneration of bone and cartilage tissues. This evidence proves significant for treatment of osteoporosis, osteoarthritis and bone injuries or fractures. While we should remain hopeful, it’s important to keep our bones strong and healthy in the meantime to both prevent and heal from these common conditions.
Here are some lifestyle and diet changes to practice routinely:
Don’t Fear the Weight Room
For exercise beginners, I hear you. I used to stick to the cardio machines and found the weight rooms to be way too intimidating. I’d walk past men and women with huge muscles and six-packs, and I could feel self-esteem plummet. I knew exactly what my body was: “skinny-fat.” I maintained my weight with a cardio regimen, but I lacked in muscle. I chose to live my life as I needed—I stopped comparing myself to others and started strength training 2-3 days a week. Weight-bearing exercises fortify bones and lower risk for osteoporosis and injury. Plus, they increase your resting metabolism, causing you to burn more calories effortlessly. Aim to combine cardio and strength training regularly in order to maximize body benefits.
Power up on Leafy Greens
Leafy greens are a great source of calcium, a key mineral for bone health. I suggest drinking a green juice daily, and eating cruciferous vegetables at most meals. I love green juices with parsley, romaine, celery, kale and Collard greens. I also enjoy spinach, beet greens and Swiss chard, but in moderation, as these three greens may partially hinder calcium absorption. Other greens, such as bok choy, cauliflower, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts are great sources. Also, soy products are rich in calcium: try a stir-fry with greens and tofu for dinner!
Get Help from Supplements
While most of your nutrient intake should come from food, it’s not always easy to maintain consistency. Talk to a physician about proper dosages for your bio-individual needs, but I recommend a Calcium-Magnesium-Zinc combo pill and at least 1000mg vitamin D (some people may need more), as most Americans are deficient. I also suggest taking a fish oil or cod liver oil supplement to fight inflammation, a condition that is linked to osteoporosis and joint pain. Consume calcium, vitamin D and vitamin A (whether in food form or pill as directed by a doctor) together for enhanced absorption. And don’t take a calcium supplement with iron, as iron blocks its digestion.
Read Package Labels
Many packaged foods, such as seafood, legumes or beverages are fortified with Calcium and Vitamin D, so be sure to take advantage of those when possible. For instance, milk is a prime source of calcium, as are all dairy products, but not all milks are created equal. Seek out organic low-fat milk, fortified with Vitamin A and D. Another option is soymilk, as a serving offers a nice amount of protein and calcium. As for dairy, choose low-fat products and cheeses in order to minimize your saturated-fat consumption—bone health should not come at a price of heart health!
Refined carbohydrates and sugars leach your body of calcium, so put down the afternoon Frappuccino and bag of chips. Almonds are a rich source of calcium—either carry around a 100-calorie pack during the day or portion out a serving size at work. Other portable and easy snacks include hummus and vegetable crudité, a combo rich in calcium and magnesium, and a can of albacore tuna. Oily fish, such as tuna, salmon and sardines are high in Omega-3’s and calcium, both of which reduce inflammation and strengthen bones.
Stress wreaks havoc on the body and promotes chronic inflammation, factors that contribute to bone loss. Practice yoga or invest in a massage or foam roller to relieve tense muscles after a strength training session. Light a candle, take a warm bath or enjoy a light comedy—all of these activities are calming and stress-busting. If you find yourself in a stressful situation, try and excuse yourself and revisit the discussion once you have quelled your anxiety. Think of positives when confronted with negatives, anything that will allow you to disassociate yourself from bad feelings.