One of the most dangerous myths that so many women over 50 buy into is the idea that excessive bone loss, and even osteoporosis, is inevitable as we age and enter midlife. The truth is, some bone loss is normal throughout our lives, but excessive bone loss is not!
While there are some fixed risk factors that lead to excessive bone loss and osteoporosis that you can’t control (like your age and gender), the good news is there are many risk factors that you can control.
So this means you can have strong bones well into your 90’s if you’re willing to take the right steps and make the healthy diet and lifestyle changes necessary to nourish and strengthen your bones naturally.
And here’s more good news! Despite what the pharmaceutical industry wants you to believe, bone loss and osteoporosis can actually be reversed with the right lifestyle plan, without the need for bone drugs.
Here are the top 5 diet and lifestyle steps you can take to build healthy bones naturally:
- Eat at least one serving of good quality animal protein per day.
Protein is needed to repair and build all tissues throughout the entire body. Research suggests that eating adequate amounts of protein can reduce aging bone loss and decrease fracture risk when combined with the right amounts of other key bone nutrients. Whenever possible, eat proteins from organic, grass-fed/pastured sources. Beef cattle raised exclusively on grass have been shown to have more omega-3 fatty acids and higher levels of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) than conventionally raised, grain-finished beef. (CLA is an antioxidant that’s been shown to increase bone density and improve bone mass.)
- Get enough vitamin D. (But not too much!)
Vitamin D helps your body properly absorb and metabolize calcium, phosphorus, and other key nutrients from your diet to make your bones strong and flexible. Without enough vitamin D your bones will suffer. With that said, too much vitamin D is bad for your bones. Excessive vitamin D pulls too much calcium into the bone. Vitamin D requires lots of magnesium to convert it from the “storage” form to the “active” form and this can cause a drop in magnesium levels. Some signals that vitamin D has overused magnesium are migraines, heart palpitations and leg cramps. It’s a good idea to get your vitamin D levels tested to determine your unique needs. You can get a simple blood test called 25(OH)D to determine your current vitamin D levels. Getting exposure to sunlight and taking a vitamin D supplement are great ways to boost your vitamin D levels naturally.
- Do strength-building exercises.
As bones weaken, muscles weaken and vice versa. Doing strength building exercises not only helps strengthen muscles, they also help to strengthen bone. A study done at Tufts University found that through strength-building exercises they could make a 65-year-old as fit and strong as a 30-year-old! The study also found that bone density could be increased, the risk of hip fracture could be reduced and osteoporosis could be stopped. Exercise in and of itself halts bone loss because bones strengthen in response to the strain put upon them. So even doing something as simple as walking 20 minutes per day can reduce your fracture risk.
- Reduce emotional stress.
Very few people are aware of the link between stress and bone loss. When we feel stressed out, our bodies release the stress hormone cortisol. Over time, excessive cortisol production weakens bones. While some degree of stress in your life is normal—even healthy—too much can lead to excessive bone loss. In fact, it’s becoming more recognized that depression and anxiety are linked to weaker bones, and there’s now medical articles identifying “stress-induced osteoporosis.” So there’s no doubt it’s critical to practice daily stress reduction.
- Take a top-grade multivitamin–mineral complex and essential fatty acids (Omega-3s).
It’s a myth that simply taking high amounts of calcium will ensure healthy bones.
To protect your bones and keep them strong and flexible, you need the right amounts of 19 other essential bone-building nutrients—not just calcium. “Essential” means your body can’t make them so you need to get them from outside sources like food, water and top quality supplements. Eating a variety of whole foods, preferably organic (like good quality proteins, healthy fats, fruits, vegetables, and raw nuts and seeds), and taking a top-quality multivitamin–mineral complex and essential fatty acids feeds your cells the right amounts of nutrients to prevent bone loss.
When it comes to building healthy bones and maintaining a healthy body, the most important thing to remember is that YOU are the most important part of your wellness plan. It’s not enough to know what to do. You must be willing to make changes in your life, and most importantly, apply what you learn and take action every day in small, simple steps.
Melissa Koerner is a Certified Nutrition & Fitness Coach, and the creator of Better Beyond 50, an online holistic health coaching program and community designed to help women at midlife break free from the ageist stereotype that getting older means feeling “old,” and blaze a whole new trail filled with renewed hope for a life full of youthful vitality after 50.
A program and community like no other, Better Beyond 50 provides women a sustainable 4-step lifestyle plan and support system to reduce inflammation and balance hormones naturally, so they can gain more energy, heal their digestion, eliminate aches and pains, build strong bones, muscles & joints, and lose excess weight naturally.
To learn more about Better Beyond 50 go to www.BetterBeyond50.com.