Even though they’re solid, bones are dynamic, living tissue, made mostly from collagen and calcium phosphate, a mineral that hardens bone exterior. But as you age, existing bone breaks down faster than new bone is made, increasing risk of osteoporosis, a condition that reduces bone density and raises chance of fractures. Support your skeleton at any age with these expert suggestions.
Pump up protein
Collagen, a certain type of protein, forms bones’ scaffolding, enabling them to withstand stress. If you’re protein deficient, bones can become brittle, leading to breakage no matter how much calcium they contain because the body makes collagen from amino acids, protein’s building blocks. Get 15 percent to 25 percent of your daily calories from various protein sources. Good choices include organic, grass-fed buffalo; free-range eggs; and sprouted legumes, nuts, and seeds.
Limit acidic foods
Foods common in poor diets (pizza, white bread, potato chips, sweets) promote an acidic body environment. To achieve and maintain a healthy, neutral blood pH, your body will scavenge important minerals like calcium, phosphorus, zinc, and silica from more alkaline tissues, such as bone, which weakens them. Limit acidic foods like processed foods, sugar, grains, dairy, and caffeine or alcohol, and increase pH-balancing vegetables like zucchini and cucumber.
Watch calcium intake
Calcium isn’t the only player in bone density; in fact, many people actually have too much calcium in their bodies, which can contribute to kidney stones, joint pain, and possibly heart disease. Vitamin K2 regulates excess calcium deposits and supports bone integrity. Try 100 mcg vitamin K2 per day.
Weight-bearing exercises activate bone cells called osteoblasts, which form new bones. Climb stairs, hike, bike, or run for at least 30 minutes every day. Walking uphill is also a safe alternative if you cannot do high-impact activity. If you are diagnosed with osteoporosis, exercise with a physical therapist’s guidance.
The hormones parathyroid, estrogen, progesterone, and cortisol all influence bone health. When one hormone is deficient, it causes a domino effect that imbalances other hormones, diminishing calcium absorption and deteriorating bones. If you’re a menopausal woman or a man with unusually low energy levels, work with an endocrinologist to get your hormone levels tested and develop a comprehensive hormone balance plan.
Everyone gets wrinkles, whether from sun exposure, processed foods, or ageing. But research from the Yale School of Medicine shows deeper wrinkles may also indicate lower bone density, increasing fracture risk. Why? Skin and bones share the same building block proteins, including collagen, which keeps skin taut.
The Fix: Take 2,000 mg collagen (including types I and III) daily and eat foods containing lysine, an amino acid that helps your body build collagen and absorb calcium. Lysine-rich foods include fish, egg whites, and legumes. For overall skin health and wrinkle prevention, also opt for free radical-fighting fruits and vegetables, along with healthy oils such as alive oil and flaxseed oil.