Spending 5 to 10 minutes in the sun every day can help you absorb vitamin D naturally and efficiently, suggests Dr Manan Vora, orthopaedic surgeon and sports medicine expert.
An incredibly crucial structure of our bodies that is often overlooked is our bones.
Besides holding our muscles together and forming structure, continually protecting organs from injury and storing calcium within, our bones carry out several functions without a note of gratitude in the form of proper care and nutrition.
Maintaining them in a healthy manner is vital to prevent conditions such as osteoporosis, osteopenia which is thinning of bones among others.
Factors such as low calcium, lack of physical activity, excessive consumption of tobacco and alcohol, low body mass index, genetics, imbalanced hormone levels, eating disorders, and certain medications can all contribute to and cause bone-related disorders.
That doesn’t mean we are all in trouble.
There are several lifestyle and nutrition changes you can make to ensure your bones stay strong as you age.
1. Increase your Vitamin C intake
One of the best ways to ensure increased vitamin C consumption is to consume green and yellow vegetables.
Vitamin C naturally encourages the creation of bone-forming cells.
Increase your intake of citrus fruits like oranges and lemon, berries, cruciferous veggies like broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cabbage etc to get your daily dose of vitamin C.
2. Try your hand at strength training and weight-bearing exercises
The secret to maintain strong and healthy bones is through exercise, especially high-impact exercises.
You may also include walking or jogging for 20 to 30 minutes about 3 to 4 times a week and climbing stairs which can act a rigorous aerobic exercise.
Strength and resistance training that includes actions such as pushing, pulling and lifting weights can be immensely beneficial in promoting bone health.
3. Lifestyle changes
Changing some of your lifestyle habits may result in the most rewarding results not only for your bone health, but also your overall health.
This includes quitting smoking and reducing your consumption of alcohol.
Not only does tobacco use leave you at higher risk for bone loss, it can also impair your balance and increase your chances of falling over and injuring or breaking your bones.
Furthermore, excessive alcohol consumption challenges your body’s ability to absorb vitamin D and calcium and regulate hormones effectively.
Alcohol can also leave you more exposed to the possibility of fracturing your bones and losing density.
4. Get your dose of Vitamin D
Ensure you get enough vitamin D as it helps maintain the strength in your bones and without it, they would only become much weaker, increasing the risk of injuring yourself.
Certain superfoods such as cereal, fatty fish such as salmon and eggs are all rich in vitamin D.
Similarly, spending 5 to 10 minutes in the sun everyday can help you absorb vitamin D naturally and efficiently.
5. Incorporate sources of calcium into your diet
In order to increase your bone density, prevent bone loss and maintain strong bones, it is important to incorporate calcium into your diet.
Food sources such as leafy green vegetables, dairy and soy products can help you increase your calcium.
There are so many small lifestyle and dietary changes that one can make in order to live a healthier life, these are a few and will only benefit you in the long run.
Of course, as always please consult a general physician, nutritionist, and physical therapist before incorporating any of these habits into your lifestyle as everyone’s needs are unique and need individualised attention.
Dr Manan Vora has completed medical school and surgical residency in orthopaedics from Mumbai. He holds a diploma in sports medicine from the International Olympic Committee, Switzerland and a Masters in Surgery (MCh Orth) from the University of Edinburgh, and the Royal College of Surgeons, Edinburgh, UK.
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