“Sticks and stones may break my bones
But names will never hurt me.”
The headline quote appeared in 1872, as advice in Tappy’s Chicks: and Other Links Between Nature and Human Nature, by Mrs. George Cupples. While it may then have been a reference to how to handle taunting or bullying, today’s modern understanding is that healthy bones can break because of advancing age, genetic endowment and depletion of certain minerals and vitamins.
Maintaining healthy bones is important. Bones support the human body, and healthy bones ease body function and movement. But bones are not static; they lose mass at times — variable amounts from person to person — and regain it. This process operates at a faster pace under 30 years of age and slows beyond that threshold.
One could say that the process builds up to age 30 and recedes after that.
Residual Bone Mass Matters
The residual bone mass content for any body varies from person to person, depending on natural genetic-line storage, daily dietary intake, and exercise. Some people naturally generate more healthy bones density than others, and their depletion of bone mass in later years has less of a potential for ill-effects like bone breakage from weak and brittle bones. (A weak-bones condition is known as osteoporosis, which is defined as “a bone disorder characterized by a reduction in bone density accompanied by increasing porosity and brittleness.” From Greek “osteon” [bone] + Latin “porosis” [a porous condition]… porous bones.)
“Bones are not made from calcium alone. They’re an amalgam that includes various minerals such as zinc, boron and copper. Foremost of the additional minerals needed for healthy bones is magnesium, which is actually considered by health experts to be more important for bone health and to prevent osteoporosis than calcium.” — Tony Isaacs, Blueprint for a Lifetime of Healthy Bones
How To Keep Your Healthy Bones:
- Check out your family history. To determine your risks and health status regarding your bones, see if your parents or siblings have or had osteoporosis. You are more likely to develop the condition if they had it, but there are remedies against this situation.
- Improve your calcium consumption. Calcium is essential for the proper development of teeth and bones… and proper muscle function, nerve signaling, hormone secretion, and blood pressure. Calcium-rich foods are yogurt, cheese, milk, spinach and collard greens. Non-dairy foods high in calcium include white beans, canned salmon, sardines, dried figs, bok choy, blackstrap molasses, kale, black-eyed peas, almonds, oranges, turnip greens, sesame seeds and seaweed.
- Where there’s calcium, vitamin D must be. Along with the catalytic effect of pairing calcium with magnesium vitamin D plays an important role in healthy bones. This efficient triangle of healthy ingredients works to help the body absorb bone-boosting calcium. Vitamin D stimulates calcium absorption in the intestines. Vitamin D can be found in shrimp, orange juice, sardines, egg yolks, tuna, and, of course, vitamin D supplements.
- Get 10 to 15 minutes of sun exposure three times per week. Sun exposure will stimulate the body to produce vitamin D, a fact corroborated by studies on “seasonal bone loss” — elderly people can lose more bone mass during the winter. Healthy bone maintenance is all about prevention, so younger bodies should stock up on vitamin D by getting outside sun exposure as much as possible. “Natural sunlight is the best source of vitamin D! UV sunlight is the fuel that enables the body to make vitamin D.” (skinhealthtechnology.com)
- Don’t forget your vitamin K. Vitamin K helps the body make proteins for healthy bones and reduces the amount of calcium excreted by the body. Foods like kale, broccoli, Swiss chard and spinach are good sources for vitamin K.
- Get plenty of potassium. Potassium neutralizes acids that remove calcium from the body. Potassium also helps nerves and muscles communicate and helps the cells to remove waste. A diet high in potassium can improve healthy bones. In fact, studies involving pre-menopausal women showed as much as an eight percent difference in bone density between women with high potassium intake and those with low potassium intake. Eating sweet potatoes, white potatoes (with the skin on), yogurt and bananas can increase potassium intake.
- Exercise daily. Exercise (and low body weight) can have a positive effect on bone density. Living a sedentary lifestyle is considered a risk factor for osteoporosis. Weight-bearing exercises such as running, walking, jumping rope, and stair climbing keep bones strongest. Resistance training helps: use weights after going for a jog, for instance. Two byproducts of exercise are improved strength and balance, which can help prevent falls (and their associated fractures) among the elderly.
- Consume less caffeine. Caffeine can interfere with calcium absorption. Drinking more than two cups of coffee per day may accelerate bone loss by negative interaction with vitamin D. Increased calcium intake also lessens the bad effects from too much caffeine.
- Heavy alcohol consumption causes bone loss. Too much alcohol interferes with vitamin D, yet moderate consumption (one drink for women, two for men, daily) may slow bone loss. This is a lifestyle choice.
- Quit smoking. Multiple studies have shown that smoking prevents the body from efficiently absorbing calcium, bringing on decreased bone mass, among other ills.
Maintaining healthy bones and healthy bone-mass levels is a matter of following a healthy regimen of eating healthy foods, ensuring your store of calcium is kept high with a healthy diet and supplements that help the body absorb this mineral so essential for healthy bones and regular exercise.
To end off on a light note:
“The University of Nebraska says that elderly people that drink beer or wine at least four times a week have the highest bone density. They need it – they’re the ones falling down the most.” — Jay Leno
Disclaimer: All of the information presented here is purely educational and not intended to prescribe, treat or in any way diagnose any disease. As with any illness or disease, consulting a medical practitioner for professional advice is recommended. Consulting a practitioner who understands nutrition in relation to disease is highly recommended.
© 2014 by Ronald Joseph Kule and Desiree Lotz. All Rights Reserved.