Some loss of bone density is normal with aging, but there are factors that speed mineral loss from the bones or impede bone repair and rebuilding. Here are six simple habits you can adopt in your everyday life that will help to protect your bones.
- Limit your intake of caffeine, which promotes calcium excretion. Coffee has multiple health benefits, so I don’t recommend you avoid it altogether. Instead, try to keep your caffeine consumption under 300 mg per day (roughly 2 cups of coffee). If you regularly drink more than that, be sure you’re supplementing with extra calcium.
- Eliminate soft drinks, which Americans guzzle by the gallon. They’re a triple whammy, as they contain caffeine, sugar, and chemicals called phosphates that also cause calcium loss.
- Make sure you get plenty of protein. Protein used to be considered a culprit in bone loss. However, more recent studies suggest that it actually promotes bone health. Good sources include chicken, turkey, fish, and tofu.
- Load up on vegetables. Eat lots of leafy greens and broccoli, which are rich in vitamin K, calcium, and magnesium.
- Drink green tea. Green tea is low in caffeine and is a good source of vitamin K, which improves bone mineralization.
- Exercise. Studies show that an exercise program can increase bone mass by five to ten percent—even more in those with low bone mass to begin with. No matter what their age, people who engage in regular weight-bearing exercise have higher bone density. The best exercises for maintaining bone strength are those that strengthen muscle against gravity, such as dancing, walking, and weight lifting. Try to add two weekly strength-training sessions to your regimen.
Now it’s your turn: Which of these healthy habits have you adopted?