We’re always squeaky clean, aren’t we? Bathing, showering, at the hairdresser, the nail parlour – not to mention cleaning our car. We pay a lot of attention to weight – fat is avoided, rearranged, eliminated with sudden attack diets. But we are rarely, in all this presentational activity, paying much attention to our bones. Well, we can’t see them, and they get us around all over the place without much trouble, so why worry?

But here’s the kicker: maintaining optimal bone health is crucial for overall wellbeing and longevity. Quite simply if you start to consider how you can take care of your bones, you will feel better and live longer. The long-term deal is much better than anything offered by shampoo and nail varnish.

Bones provide structural support, protect vital organs, and act as a reservoir for essential minerals. Through a few simple actions such as adopting proactive selfcare habits, you can preserve bone density, prevent fractures, and promote a healthy skeletal system. And who wouldn’t want that?

Target your bones – diet, exercise and protein

  • A nutrient-rich diet forms the cornerstone of bone health. Ensure your diet includes an adequate intake of calcium, Vitamin D, magnesium, and phosphorus. Calcium, found in dairy products, leafy greens, and fortified foods, is essential for bone structure. Vitamin D, synthesised through exposure to sunlight and found in fatty fish and fortified products, aids in calcium absorption. Magnesium and phosphorus, present in nuts, seeds, whole grains, and lean meats, also play crucial roles in bone metabolism.
  • Weight-bearing exercises, such as walking, running, and dancing, help stimulate bone formation and maintain density. Resistance training, involving activities like weightlifting and resistance band exercises, promotes bone strength by putting stress on the bones, encouraging them to adapt and become denser. The trick is to aim for a combination of these exercises to enhance overall bone health.
  • Then don’t forget protein – an essential component for bone health, as it supports the formation of collagen, which is a protein that provides structure to bones. Protein sources include lean meats, poultry, fish, legumes, and dairy. A balanced intake will ensure you have the necessary building blocks for bone maintenance and repair.

Weigh in with a healthy body – weigh out the coffee, alcohol and cigarettes

  • A healthy body weight is crucial for bone health. Both underweight and obesity can negatively impact bone density. Excess body weight puts additional stress on the bones and joints, potentially leading to wear and tear. Conversely, being underweight may result in insufficient bone density. Aim for a balanced and nutritious diet, coupled with regular exercise, to achieve and maintain a healthy body weight.
  • Excessive caffeine and alcohol consumption can interfere with calcium absorption and contribute to bone loss. While moderate caffeine intake is generally considered safe, it’s advisable to limit high-caffeine beverages. Similarly, excessive alcohol consumption can weaken bones and increase the risk of fractures. Practice moderation and consider alternatives such as herbal teas or water to support optimal bone health.
  • Smoking reduces calcium absorption, interferes with the production of hormones crucial for bone formation, and increases the risk of fractures. Seek support and resources to quit smoking, and enjoy the benefits of improved bone health and overall wellbeing.

Water, Density, Sleep, and quit Worrying

  • Maintaining proper hydration is often overlooked but is crucial for bone health. Water is essential for the transport of nutrients, including calcium, to the cells and tissues, contributing to bone density. Aim for four to six glasses per day.
  • Regular bone density tests when you have known risk factors, such as dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA), measure bone mineral density and can help identify potential issues early on, allowing for timely interventions and adjustments to lifestyle factors.
  • During deep sleep, the body engages in essential repair and regeneration processes, including bone remodeling. Aim for 7 – 9 hours of uninterrupted sleep each night to support optimal bone health and overall wellbeing.
  • Chronic stress can negatively impact bone health by contributing to inflammation and hormonal imbalances. Adopting stress-management techniques such as meditation, yoga, deep breathing exercises, or mindfulness practices, not only benefits bone health but also contributes to overall health and vitality.

Caring for the health of your bones is a lifelong commitment that involves a combination of lifestyle choices and proactive selfcare habits. Embracing these habits not only supports your skeletal system but also enhances your overall wellbeing, allowing you to lead an active and fulfilling life.

NOFSA (National Osteoporosis Foundation South Africa)

NOFSA is the only non-profit, voluntary health organisation dedicated to promoting lifelong bone health. We focus on reducing the widespread prevalence of osteoporosis while working to find a cure for the disease, and by supporting research and developing programmes of education and advocacy.

Find out more about our work at: www.osteoporosis.org.za