Bones become less dense over time, usually starting when people are in their thirties. For some individuals, bone loss progresses faster than normal – and this may lead to osteoporosis and other bone-related conditions. It’s also entirely possibly to have little or no issues with weaker bones. Either way, there’s nothing that can be done to stop this process entirely. However, there are some natural ways you can boost your bone health and reduce your risk of experiencing bone-related issues as you get older.
1. Nutrient-Rich Veggies
Vegetables, especially leafy, green ones, are loaded with nutrients that are good your bones. There’s research suggesting vegetables can increase bone mineral density. Green and yellow veggies have been linked to better bone mineralization and maintenance in children and young adults. Additional research suggests older women who are at an increased risk for developing osteoporosis may also benefit from adding more vegetables to their diet. Bone-beneficial veggies include:
- Sweet potatoes: High in magnesium and potassium.
- Tomatoes: Contain an antioxidant (lycopene) that helps to prevent osteoporosis and bone loss.
- Broccoli: A good source of calcium and vitamin K, which helps with the formation of a type of protein exclusive to bones (osteocalcin).
2. Foods Packed with Calcium and Vitamin D
Calcium is a critical nutrient that plays an important role in building and maintaining bones. Vitamin D is equally important because it helps your body absorb more calcium. Reliable dietary sources of calcium and vitamin D include dairy products like cheese, milk, and yogurt, vitamin-fortified foods like certain cereals, beans and lentils, beef liver, egg yolks, and fatty fish like tuna, salmon, and mackerel.
3. Weight-Bearing Exercises
If you don’t have existing problems with stress fractures or severe bone loss, you may benefit from weight-bearing exercises. The good thing about exercises that can be considered “weight-bearing” is that you’re not limited to gym-based routines. Exercises of this nature can also include:
- Dancing or weight-bearing yoga poses
- Fast-paced walking, jogging, walking, or hiking
- Tennis and other movement-based sports
4. Muscle-Strengthening Exercises
The purpose of muscle-strengthening exercises is to naturally build up the strength of the muscle groups that provide some type of support for your bones and joints, especially the ones that make up your spine. These are resistance types of exercise designed to work against gravity. Options with muscle-strengthening exercises include:
- Weight lifting based on abilities
- Elastic exercise bands
- Functional movement exercises like leg lifts or toe touches
Your bones will also be less susceptible to fractures and other types of damage as you age if you make an effort to maintain your posture. If you sit all day while working, for example, use a comfortable, ergonomically designed chair and keep your computer at eye level in front of you so you’re not hunching your neck and upper back. Be just as mindful of your position when you use your various mobile devices, stand for long periods of time, and sleep.