It’s no surprise that your bone density and strength decrease with age; it’s something that’s been known for years. However, just what to do about it remains unclear. Advice has ranged from vague to risky.
Thankfully, the light is dawning on the mechanisms of bone strength and density. We are learning more about the role of diet in promoting bone strength, and the importance of exercise.
So here are some top tips for maintaining bone strength as you age.
1. Balance Acidity and Alkalinity
When the body is in a state of high acidity, your body tries to neutralize the acidic environment. It does this by leaching minerals out of your bones, weakening them and decreasing their density.
Which foods have a high alkaline or acidic effect on the body may surprise you. It’s actually not about how much acid a food contains in its uneaten state; it’s about how the food acts after digestion. To determine this, researchers burn foods and study the acidity or alkalinity of the ash residue. This has given rise to a list of acid-causing foods and alkalizing foods that are sometimes not what you think (lemons, for instance, are considered alkalizing). You can find such lists online with a simple search.
Once you see what foods have an acidifying or alkalizing effect on your body, you can put together a diet that aims for what experts recommend, which is an 80% alkaline and 20% acidic diet.
2. Calcium and Magnesium
Making sure you get adequate amounts of these minerals is crucial for maintaining bone strength. Although conventional wisdom says to take supplements in a 2 to 1 ratio of calcium to magnesium, new research suggests the reverse ratio may actually be more beneficial (2 parts magnesium to 1 part calcium). This is because magnesium increases calcium absorption so dramatically that less calcium is needed (and less calcium gets deposited where it doesn’t belong, such as in the form of kidney stones).
3. Balance Your Hormones
As the hormone estrogen decreases, your bone density tends to decrease as well. Estrogen is the guardian of bone mass in women under 35, and after age 35 is diminishes. Whether or not to take synthetic hormones (hormone replacement therapy or HRT) is a decision between you and your doctor. Just be aware that there are natural ways to bring hormones into balance through diet and/or herbal supplements.
The importance of exercise in maintaining bone strength cannot be overemphasized. There are even exercises designed specifically to boost bone density, and your doctor, personal trainer, or physical therapist can help you get started on a safe exercise routine to help build and maintain your bones.