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Battling Bone Loss

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Yes, you can prevent bone loss! Contrary to popular belief, osteoporosis is not an unavoidable side-effect of menopause and aging. Bone is living tissue that continuously renews and regenerates itself. Old bone cells break down and new ones are built.

Yes, you can prevent bone loss! Contrary to popular belief, osteoporosis is not an unavoidable side-effect of menopause and aging. Bone is living tissue that continuously renews and regenerates itself. Old bone cells break down and new ones are built. Mineral salts including calcium, phosphorus and magnesium are continuously being deposited into bone tissue, which allows it to remain hard and unbending. Although the body's bone-building activity slows down somewhat as we get older, it can be increased at any age and maintained at optimal levels through a physically active lifestyle and superior nutrition.

Couch potatoes, take note! Exercise is the only yes, only way to stimulate bone-building cells into action.

There's no way around it and no magic vitamin or elixir to replace physical activity. Weight-bearing exercises are the most effective. The easiest ones are walking, running or climbing stairs, but you can make it fun with dancing, tennis or soccer even gardening! Weight-lifting and resistance exercises, which involve moving objects or one's own weight, are also excellent. The main thing is to keep moving and supporting your own weight, so that the cells that break bone down never gain the upper hand over those that build it.

Research has shown that people who are bedridden and unable to stand up lose bone mass very quickly. Bone loss has also been observed in astronauts who return to earth after spending several days or weeks in space where there is no gravitational pull. Assisted resistance exercises, such as applying pressure to the soles of the feet or the palms of the hands, are a must for anyone who is confined to bed for a considerable length of time. It is only by keeping the pressure on our bones that we can make them strong and resilient.

Vegetables Build Bone

In order to derive maximum benefit from physical activity, we also need to provide the body with high-quality raw materials the nutrients required to replenish bone tissue. Calcium is the most important mineral for this purpose. Dark-green leafy vegetables such as broccoli, kale, turnip greens and romaine lettuce are especially high in calcium. Calcium from green foods is highly bioavailable because greens also provide vitamin K and magnesium.

Other good food sources of calcium are sesame seeds, legumes and nuts, especially almonds. Dairy foods also provide calcium, but skim and low-fat milks don't allow you to absorb as much calcium as their whole-milk counterparts. The calcium from cultured whole milk products such as yogurt, kefir and buttermilk is more readily assimilated and also better tolerated by most people.

Other nutrients are further needed for strong bones. According to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition last year, a high intake of fruits and vegetables is positively associated with bone health because nutrients such as beta-carotene, fibre, zinc, potassium and vitamin C all play an important role in increasing rates of bone formation. The herb silica, also known as horsetail, is rich in minerals that promote bone formation and benefit connective tissues.

Emphasizing vegetables and fruits in the diet supports bone health in two ways. First, it supplies the nutrients needed for bone-building. Second, it ensures that body fluids stay alkaline (the opposite of acidic), which prevents bone loss by keeping calcium in the bone. On the other hand, a diet high in meat protein but low in vegetables and fruits introduces excessive acids, which cause the body to pull calcium stores from bone tissue. If this type of diet is kept up over a period of time, bone thinning becomes inevitable.

The Sunshine Nutrient

Vitamin D is an essential nutrient for the absorption of calcium and other minerals. Vitamin D produced in the skin with the interaction of sunlight is functionally superior to commercial vitamin D, such as that added to milk and other fortified foods. Research has shown that residents of northern latitudes frequently suffer from vitamin D deficiency, especially in the winter. The elderly are at particularly high risk.

An excellent activity to pursue outdoors is gardening. A recent study conducted at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville showed that yard work can help to prevent bone-thinning in older women. If you have access to a garden your own or a community garden work in it at your own pace as often as possible, even in winter. If adequate sunlight exposure cannot be arranged, then supplement with vitamin D.

Excessive amounts of caffeine (from coffee, black tea or cola) and alcohol are silent bone robbers that cause minerals, including calcium, to be flushed out in the urine. Soda pop, which is high in phosphorus, has similar effects and is one of the most damaging factors to strong bones. Prescription medication, such as corticosteroids (prescribed for rheumatoid arthritis or asthma) and anti-convulsants (prescribed for epilepsy), can also contribute to bone thinning. So can prolonged stress and worry, which stimulate calcium excretion.

The good news is that increased physical activity, improved diet and appropriate supplementation are effective antidotes for stress and worry, as well as for bone density problems. So go for it move those bones and keep them strong for life!

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