We all know that bones form our skeleton, providing a framework to which muscles attach, acting like levers to create movement. But did you know bones are comprised of dynamic, living tissues that constantly break down and remodel themselves? In fact, you end up with a completely new skeleton about every 10 years!
However, once we reach age 40, we begin to lose about 0.5 percent of our bone mass each year. Chronic bone loss leads to low bone mineral density and the deterioration of bone tissue – otherwise known as osteoporosis. The good news is that bone loss can be prevented or corrected, and bones can be strengthened, by adhering to a healthy diet and regular exercise regimen.
Bone Loss and Fractures
Our bones are prone to losing density as we age, which reduces our strength and makes bones more susceptible to breaks. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), nearly one-third of seniors suffer a fall each year, and one fall doubles the chances of a second. More than 2.5 million seniors are treated in emergency rooms each year for fall injuries, and more than 95 percent of hip fractures occur as the result of falling.
Prevent Bone Loss
The simplest and most effective method for preventing bone loss as we age is through healthy living and proper nutrition. First, commit to adding more whole foods to your diet and avoid processed foods as much as possible. Whole foods are those that are minimally processed or refined and free of additives and artificial substance. Think fresh fruit, raw vegetables, nuts, beans, seeds and whole grains, versus sugar-laden fruit juices, frozen meals or boxed snacks loaded with preservatives.
Second, we all benefit from eating meals that are loaded with the vitamins, minerals and other nutrients the body requires to maintain healthy bones. It is even more important to do this for aging bodies. Be sure to include these important vitamins and nutrients in your meals every day to help prevent bone loss:
- Calcium – The average adult requires 1,000 mg of calcium every day. Postmenopausal women and men over 70 need 1,200 mg of calcium per day. Calcium can be found in milk and dietary supplements.
- Vitamin D – Most adults require 600 IU of vitamin D per day. Adults over 70 need 800 IU of vitamin D each day. You can get plenty of Vitamin D by spending 15 minutes a day outdoors, but be sure to wear sun protection to avoid skin damage from strong UV rays. If the weather isn’t conducive to being outdoors, a several month supply of Vitamin D tablets can be found at most pharmacies for under $10.
- Vitamin C – Vitamin C maintains bone density and minimizes the risk of hip fractures. Vitamin C can be found in citrus fruits as well as berries, kiwi and guava. Additionally, vegetables such as yellow peppers, broccoli, peas and dark leafy greens are a super source of Vitamin C. Most dietary supplements include the recommended daily allowance of Vitamin C as well.
- Protein – About 80 grams of protein per day is recommended for most adults, although this varies depending on the size of the person. Meat, fish, poultry and eggs, yogurt, milk and even nuts are all great sources of protein.
Improve Bone Strength
Healthy living is not only good for preventing bone loss as we age, but it also improves bone strength. The best way to ensure healthy bones is to include exercise as a regular part of each day. The most effective exercises for improving bone strength are load-bearing exercises that require the body to hold its own weight. Examples of such exercises include walking, jogging, hiking, dancing and weightlifting. However, most seniors will want a holistic exercise routine that develops all major muscle groups and parts of the body.
Towne Club Windermere’s team of healthcare providers take steps to ensure that residents have a healthy balance of diet and exercise. For more information about Towne Club Windermere’s healthcare programs and services, please contact us today.