How to Strengthen Bones and Avoid Fractures
As the average age of the population increases, researchers say hip fractures will double by 2050. A primary cause of hip fractures is poor bone health. Osteoporosis, a condition known for reduced bone mass, is responsible for half of hip fractures. I remember during a public health class in chiropractic school, our professor Dr. Anand, reported an alarming statistic. "Half of people who suffer a hip fracture will be dead in a year." I remember being shocked by this figure and it stuck in my mind. It seems prudent that we should be doing everything in our power to reduce the risk of osteoporosis and strengthen our bones. What can we do to help ourselves?
There are two primary nutrients that help strengthen bones: calcium and vitamin D. The best way to increase your intake of these vitamins is to include foods in your diet that are high in these nutrients. Nutrients that come from foods are better absorbed than those extracted, isolated, and packaged in a pill or tablet. Foods that are high in calcium include dairy and leafy greens. Most people know that there's calcium in milk, cheese, and yogurt. Did you also know that kale, collards and arugula have more than all types of dairy except Swiss cheese? In fact, the top three are watercress, nopales (pickly pear cactus), and mustard greens. All vegetables! If you can't find something to eat from this list, then supplementation is an alternative. Calcium citrate is the drug-store generic that is best absorbed.
Vitamin D is the second important nutrient. This helps your body absorb the calcium that you consume. Foods that are rich in vitamin D include oily fish such as salmon or sardines, as well as dairy. We Floridians also have another advantage. Vitamin D is produced by our bodies when exposed to sunlight, which is in no short supply in Florida. However, this requires about 30 minutes of exposure per day, 4-5 times per week. For those of us that don't get out that often can also supplement with a Vitamin D supplement.
The other important factor besides nutrition to strengthen bones is making sure that you are doing weight-bearing exercise. That means that the exercises should have you holding up your own body weight against gravity. Typically, your feet are touching the ground and there is nothing assisting in holding you up. This includes activities such as walking, dancing, racket sports, and of course, weightlifting/strength training. These exercises place forces on your skeleton that build up bone strength and density.
What are some examples of non-weight bearing exercises? Swimming, biking, and rowing are common examples of exercises that may improve your overall fitness, but do not contribute to a stronger skeleton. Both types of exercises are important for improving your health, but it's important to understand which types are helpful to strengthen your bones and which are not.
How Does Tidal Chiropractic Help?
If you are concerned about if you're doing everything you can to reduce your chances of osteoporosis, fear not. We welcome patients at our facility to discuss their nutritional planning with the doctor to get help on achieving their goals. Every patient also gets the opportunity to perform rehabilitative exercises that promote stronger bones easily at home. You can trust that we will help guide you to achieving your health goals.
We also know you're probably not going to start buying and eating handfuls of raw watercress today. Here's an easy and delicious recipe for kale chips, a great source of calcium!