Recently I taught a workshop with a movement specialist, Cheryl Lemmer. She is skilled in all the ways to move without doing further damage to your bones, especially in the thoracic area of the spine and the hip joint.
My contribution was in the area of nutrition. Below are the main points I covered.
- Because there are may pre-disposing factors to getting osteoporosis, concentrate on things you can change
- Live a healthy lifestyle that supports bone density. That means improving digestion for adequate calcium uptake and utilization
- Institute healthy choices that prevent bone loss: quit smoking; eliminate soda; limit alcohol consumption; check with your doctor for alternatives to corticosteroid drugs
- Use healthy fats including fish oil supplementation and don’t forget the Vitamin D3
- Begin an exercise program that includes walking, dancing, strength training and modify what you do in yoga and pilates so you don’t put pressure on your bones of your mid-back and hip joint where fractures often occur
Changing your diet is easier when you know the rewards will translate to less bone loss. Knowing you are being proactive also reduces fear and stress because you are taking action.
Living in ways that support your health and the health of your bones ties in directly with changing to an optimal diet. However, before your diet can serve you, it’s important to improve your digestion. Usually that means increasing the acidity of the stomach. Using apple cider vinegar or lemon juice on your salad and other foods can really help. Eating foods high in calcium and all their co-factors means relying on real, whole foods. Single sources of nutrients are rarely the answer. Popping a pill won’t serve you as well as eating a healthy meal on a regular basis.
Eliminating detrimental habits is not always easy, so having a big WHY that helps you toward your goal is important. When you focus on the goal of stronger healthier bones, it may be easier to give up smoking, soda and the over-consumption of alcohol. Implementing a healthy habit to replace a bad habit can also work in your favor. Instead of a cigarette, try a walk. Crave a soda? Try a glass of water flavored with a squeeze of citrus. Keep your big WHY in the forefront to remind yourself why you want to make the changes.
Fish oil from anchovies and sardines are great choices when it comes to fish oil for essential fatty acids. An adequate intake of these can lower pain from arthritis and inflammation, along with making it easier for your body to utilize calcium and other minerals. Vitamin D3 is the new darling of the supplement industry. For my clients I suggest a liquid for greater absorption. Most sources say that we need 2,000 IU per day.
Exercises that are weight bearing are the best choices to strengthen bones. If you don’t have osteoporosis or osteopenia now is the best time to start this program. Perhaps you love biking and swimming, which are not weight bearing. Add some strength training and walking to reap bone strength. If your joints are keeping you from walking, go with strength training for your upper body. Like team sports? Try a dance class and build off the energy of those around you while you get into the rhythm of the music.
Osteoporosis affects over 40 million people. Do all you can to prevent it from advancing by sticking to the right kinds of food and exercise, while eliminating the variables that make it worse. Live your life to the fullest.