So, what do you want for 2024? What would you like to change, what would you like to gain? How would you like to feel? It’s unlikely you would be thinking about your bones. No, not the first topic that comes to mind. But building strong bones means that whatever you are planning to do in 2024, you will be strong enough to do it. Being able to run, walk, sit and stand – are all important for getting any kind of action underway.

If you hadn’t thought about how your bones will affect your life in 2024, here are some prime challenges for the new year. All of these valid suggestions can bring about the positive change you would like to strive for – and a whole lot of healthy gain. And you’ll feel great. So whatever you have in mind, give these crucial pointers on bone health your first consideration.

It’s an inarguable fact that maintaining a bone-healthy lifestyle is vital for overall wellbeing and longevity. In a nutshell, bones provide structural support, protect vital organs, and serve as a reservoir for essential minerals. As we age, bone health becomes increasingly important, and adopting proactive measures to ensure protection is vital to preventing conditions like osteoporosis and fractures.

Diet. C’mon you know this is the biggie!
A well-balanced diet rich in essential nutrients is fundamental for bone health. Calcium is a primary component of bone tissue, and a deficiency can lead to weakened bones. Dairy products, leafy green vegetables, almonds, and fortified foods are excellent sources of calcium. Additionally, Vitamin D is crucial for calcium absorption, and sources include primarily sunlight, followed by fatty fish and fortified foods.

Protein and collagen. Building and protecting.
You need to ensure an adequate intake of protein. Proteins are essential for bone formation and maintenance. Make sure that you include sources of lean protein in your diet, such as poultry, fish, beans, and tofu. Collagen, a protein found in bones, tendons, and ligaments, is particularly beneficial. Remember that you don’t need expensive collagen supplements – include chicken, bone broth, sardines and berries in your diet.

Exercise. Stop hiding, we can see you.
Weight-bearing exercises and resistance training are integral for bone health. Activities like walking, jogging, dancing, and weightlifting stimulate bone remodelling, promoting the deposition of minerals and improving bone density. Incorporating a variety of exercises into your routine ensures that different bones and muscle groups are engaged.

Maintaining the correct body weight for your size.
This is not a point many people think of as essential. But being underweight can compromise bone density, while excess weight can strain the skeletal system. Maintaining a healthy body weight through a balanced diet and regular exercise is crucial for optimal bone health.

Alcohol, coffee, smoking – reduction, discipline, and diligence
A fact that many people like to gloss over is that excessive alcohol intake can interfere with calcium absorption and disrupt bone formation. Similarly, high caffeine consumption may lead to calcium loss. Moderation is key; limiting alcohol and caffeine intake contributes to better bone health. Similarly, smoking has detrimental effects on bone health. It accelerates bone loss and interferes with the absorption of calcium, reducing bone density. Quitting smoking is a crucial step toward maintaining strong and healthy bones.

The daily sensible strategy steps to building better bone health

  • Water, water, everywhere: Staying hydrated is essential for overall health, including bone health. Water is necessary for the proper functioning of cells involved in bone formation. Aim for an adequate daily intake of water to support optimal bone health.
  • Supplements: If it’s challenging to meet nutritional requirements through diet alone, supplements may be recommended. Calcium and Vitamin D supplements, in consultation with a healthcare professional, can help bridge gaps in dietary intake.
  • Glorious sunshine: Vitamin D, essential for calcium absorption, is synthesized in the skin in response to sunlight. Spending time outdoors, especially during sunny days, contributes to adequate Vitamin D levels. However, precautions should be taken to avoid excessive sun exposure.
  • Managing stress levels: We don’t always realise it, but chronic stress can negatively impact bone health. Stress management techniques such as: meditation, yoga, and deep breathing exercises can help maintain a healthy balance in the body’s hormonal and physiological systems.
  • Keeping those health checks regular: Periodic check-ups with healthcare professionals allow for early detection and management of conditions that may impact bone health. Bone density assessments, blood tests, and discussions about lifestyle factors can influence personalised strategies for maintaining strong bones.
  • Go to sleep: Quality sleep is crucial for overall health, including bone health. During sleep, the body undergoes repair and regeneration, contributing to optimal bone maintenance. Aim for 6 – 8 hours of quality sleep per night.

Love your bones. Build your health – and build your bones better.

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.

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