Can Exercise and Dietary Changes Help Build Bone Mass? October 28 2013

Just as moderate exercise and dietary adjustments improve overall health, these lifestyle modifications can also help post-menopausal women maintain better bone mass for a longer period of time.  Although not all women are destined to have osteoporosis, which is a weakening of the bones that leaves a person susceptible to fractures, all women can improve their bone health by making some simple changes.

Exercise for Positive Bone Mass Results

Exercising is good for post-menopausal women and can actually slow the progression of bone loss.  However, it is the weight-bearing activities that provide the biggest advantage. Brisk walking is therapeutic on many levels, and it is also a beneficial weight bearing exercise.  Unlike other exercises it is far easier to adjust your intensity and speed according to your fitness level. The slow, deliberate movements in Tai Chi can help women slow down the rate of bone loss as they age. A recent study showed that women who practiced this ancient Chinese art lost bone at a rate that was 3 ½ times slower than those who did not participate in Tai Chi exercises.  Results were evident on bone mineral density tests.

Habits can be Bad to the Bone

Lifestyle decisions that involve less-than-healthy habits can compromise bone health, especially in women who are more than 50 years of age.  Some lifestyle choices should be moderated and others should be abandoned all together in the interest of healthy post retirement years.

Alcohol may also interfere with the body’s normal bone metabolism by disrupting the molecular passageways in this process.  Women should limit consumption to one glass of wine, beer or mixed drink a day and men should drink no more than two alcoholic beverages a day. If you have a sedentary lifestyle, the lack of exercise can have detrimental affects on many aspects of health, including your bones.  Making the decision to get up and move at least 30 minutes each day can make a big difference in mental and physical health. Watch the caffeine intake, too, because it can interfere with the body’s ability to absorb calcium.  Try switching to decaffeinated coffee or choose tea with little or no caffeine. According to WebMD, the act of smoking floods the body with free radicals.  These molecules completely overwhelm the body’s ability to protect against them and attack organs and cells that are instrumental in maintaining healthy bones. Depression and even the popular selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) doctors so frequently prescribe to treat depression may be making bone health worse for the women who are more than 50 years of age. Some studies have indicated a link between osteoporosis and depression.  Although studies have identified that a link exists between osteoporosis and depression, it is unclear which factors actually lead directly to the development of brittle bones. Eating disorders leave a person of any age deficient in vital nutrients that help protect bones.  Post-menopausal women who are underweight are more susceptible to bone fractures and breaks from falls and other accidents.

Smoothie Ingredients for Bone Health

Phytoestrogens through tofu, alfalfa and soy products can be added to smoothies. Recent research has shown that hormone replacement therapy can be dangerous to women because it has been shown to increase incidents of blood clots, strokes and heart attacks.  Nonetheless, adding naturally occurring estrogen to the diet can improve bone health and, for some, reduce those pesky hot flashes and night sweats. You can get calcium and Vitamin D by using fortified dairy milk or yogurt as a base ingredient in your raw fruit and vegetable smoothies.  In order for calcium to be absorbed, Vitamin D is required.  Both ingredients help keep bones strong. Although there is conflicting information about the efficacy of Vitamin K as it relates to healthy bone mass, leafy green vegetables are a good source of this nutrient.  Most people who have adequate diets will get enough Vitamin K through food.  However, green smoothies, especially those made with kale or spinach, are one way to assure that you get a good helping of Vitamin K as well as other key nutrients for overall health. Medical science has not yet discovered how to reverse bone loss or how to keep bone loss from occurring in the first place. However, there are positive steps that each individual can take to keep bones in good shape before and after retirement.  Healthy habits, moderate weight-bearing exercise and proper amounts of calcium, Vitamin D and Vitamin K work together to help post-menopausal women maintain bone mass longer.