Your bones - how to take care of them
The Indian scenario is equally grim. Forty per cent of Indian women face low bone mass by age 40. By the time they touch 60, it goes up to 62 per cent and 80 per cent by 65.
Your bones form the framework on which your entire body is structured. Almost 60 per cent of your bone growth takes place in childhood. The thing to note is that your bones grow and renew themselves throughout your life.
Once your skeletal structure is in place as adults, it continues to regenerate itself every decade or so. Older bones and bone tissue are repaired or replaced by newer tissue.
Bone cells called Osteoclasts, or bone destroyers, take care of the repair work by reviving old bones or dissolving them. The space is filled with new bones by another group of cells called Osteoblasts, or bone builders. The entire process is called remodeling.
If the balance between the breakdown of old bones and formation of new is maintained, you are blessed with good bone mass and strength. However, as you age, as a matter of course, the bone destroyers gradually outnumber the builders.
What that means is, your bone density, which is at its peak during the 20s and 30s, comes down. This natural loss of bone mass can be treated with supplements, diet and strength training exercises.
Our bones or the skeleton is the storehouse of two minerals, calcium and phosphorus. To understand the health of your bones, you need to do a bone mineral density (BMD) test, which can help determine the calcium content of your bones and thus, their strength.
Low bone density leads to disorders like osteoporosis, one of the most prevalent bone diseases globally. Basically, it takes place when new bone and tissue development does not keep pace with old bone removal. As a result your bones become weak and brittle and are prone to fracture. Sometimes all it takes is a fall or a coughing fit to cause a fracture.
This disease usually doesn’t have any obvious symptoms. But once osteoporosis sets in, there could be back ache, stooped posture, height reduction and fractures.
Women, especially Asian and white, are more likely to get osteoporosis. Other risk factors could be deficiency of calcium and vitamin D, an acidic diet, overuse of steroids and high consumption of dairy and sugar. The levels of hormones like estrogen, testosterone, thyroid, insulin and cortisol can also contribute to the disease.
While a good diet and exercise go a long way in keeping your bones healthy, if you are not getting the required amount of calcium, you may need to take supplements. However, excess calcium supplements could cause a loss of minerals like zinc, iron and manganese.
It is also important to remember that your body needs magnesium to absorb Calcium. Magnesium stimulates calcitonin, which increases the calcium in our bones.
Then there is the sunshine vitamin or Vitamin D which helps to absorb calcium. While sunlight is the best source, you could also include food such as fatty fish, egg yolk, mushrooms, leafy greens, sea vegetables and plant-based milk in your diet.
Some other common bone disorders include osteoarthritis and osteopenia. Osteoarthritis, a degenerative joint disease, is the most common form of arthritis. It occurs when the protective cartilage which cushions the ends of the bones, wears down. It mostly affects joints in your hip, hand, knees and spine. While the disease cannot be reversed, its symptoms can be managed with healthy eating, medication and exercise.
Osteopenia, the other common bone disorder, also occurs when bone tissue is reduced. But this loss of density is due to protein and mineral deficiency.
Your Body Can Get Calcium From These Sources of Foods
1. Dark green leafy greens
2. Sea Vegetables
6. Whole Beans
7. Soya beans
8. Whole grains
9. Sesame seeds
Dairy is not included in the above list. Just because calcium is found in milk does not mean your body will absorb it. The calcium in dairy is bonded to casein, which is not absorbed by the body completely. Undigested casein leaches calcium from your bones.
These Items Deplete Calcium from Your Body
5. Aerated drinks
6. Excess salt
Note: Any form of Vitamin and Mineral deficiencies will also affect your bone health.
How Can You Support Your Bones
Have a diet rich in magnesium and chlorophyll
Exercise regularly to halt calcium loss
Use supplements like kelp tablets and alfalfa
Expose yourself to sunlight 30 minutes a day