Are you a man over 50 looking for ways to improve your bone health and prevent diseases like osteoporosis? Probably not, but maybe you should consider it.
Here are some startling statistics which should put osteoporosis in perspective:
- One in eight men will experience an osteoporosis-related fracture in their lifetime.
- Almost 30% of all hip fractures occur in men.
- By 2025, an estimated $25 billion will be spent on osteoporosis-related injuries in the U.S. alone!
Now that we have your attention, what are the three best ways to improve your bone health and reduce your chances of developing osteoporosis?
Improve Bone Health Through Exercise
It’s well established that exercise is good for the body and the mind. According to an article from the Endocrine Society, lack of exercise is directly linked with loss of bone density. In comparison, they found that exercise can help improve bone mass and lead to fewer falls.
“What types of exercise are best for bone health?” you ask.
- Resistance Based Exercise:This type of exercise can help improve bone mass by loading the bones and joints with weight. Like muscles, bones build mass through mechanical loading or the amount of load placed into a bone through body weight. Try lifting light weights at the gym or your home or using resistance bands. Focus on your form to avoid injury and include exercises that involve multiple muscle groups for strength training. These include squats, lunges, push-ups, and planks, to name a few.
- Low Impact Cardiovascular Exercise:This can be anything from walking, bike riding, swimming, etc. Once again, these activities provide your bones with adequate mechanical load to prevent bone breakdown. Since they are low impact, they generally are easier to perform and easier on the body so that you can exercise longer with less risk of injury. And of course, always remember to stretch after your workout to ensure your muscles recover, and you avoid injury.
Eat A Well-Balanced Diet
We all wish a well-balanced diet meant cheeseburgers on Friday, pizza on Saturday, chicken wings on Sunday, and of course, tacos on Tuesday. Unfortunately, french fries aren’t vegetables, and neither are onion rings or anything fried that comes with a dipping sauce.
So, what’s a guy to do?
Eating a well-balanced diet consisting of protein can keep your bones strong and reduce the risk of diseases such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity. According to a study by PubMed, “In addition to calcium in the presence of an adequate supply of vitamin D, dietary proteins represent key nutrients for bone health and thereby function in the prevention of osteoporosis.”
Several studies point to a positive effect of high protein intake on bone mineral density or content and a significant reduction in hip fracture incidence. The ideal amount of protein should range between 0.8-2.0 g/kg of body weight per day.
Calcium and Vitamin D
In addition to protein, getting enough calcium and vitamin D are essential to keeping your bones healthy. For men over 50, doctors recommend consuming 1000 mg of calcium per day. Calcium helps maintain the bone’s strength over your lifetime. Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium, so the two go hand in hand. The recommended daily consumption of vitamin D is 600 IU’s (international units).
Eliminate Unhealthy Activities
Living a healthy lifestyle by reducing your alcohol and smoking intake can improve your bone health.
Consume Less Alcohol
Excessive drinking, defined as more than 2-3 ounces per day, lowers your body’s ability to absorb calcium. According to Primal Kaur MD, “Alcohol interferes with the pancreas and its absorption of calcium and vitamin D. Alcohol also affects the liver, which is important for activating vitamin D — which is also important for calcium absorption.”
Heavy consumption can also increase your cortisol and parathyroid hormone levels, which lead to bone breakdown and calcium leaching, respectively. At your next work or holiday party, choose the apple cider over that next beer or wine. As difficult as it may be, your body will thank you later.
Reduce Tobacco Use
In addition to alcohol, smoking and tobacco products have a negative effect on bone health. According to the National Institute of Health, there is a direct correlation between smoking and decreased bone mass. They believe it’s due to several factors: people who smoke tend to drink more, exercise less, and eat poor diets.
Generalizations aside, smoking harms our body’s circulatory system. Poor blood flow from smoking negatively affects our bone’s ability to heal. Poor bone healing leads to higher rates of breakdown and the likelihood of osteoporosis.
We hope this post provides some clarity on how to keep your bones healthy as you age. Just remember to eat well, exercise, and limit your consumption of alcohol/tobacco to improve your bone health and reduce your chances of becoming the old bent-over guy with an occasionally broken hip.
Take care, even down there.
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