Strong bones are crucial to your body’s health. They protect your organs, store minerals, help you move, and provide overall support and strength for everyday life. Taking care of your bones is a must if you want to age well and be able to live life to the fullest. Adding in some regular habits that promote strong bones is something anyone can do. Consider these easy ways to increase bone strength and keep them healthy so they can support you for years to come.
What Is Bone Density?
Bone density¹ is a measurement of how dense and strong your bones are. Bone density can only be calculated via bone density scans by medical professionals. Test results are compared to normal peak density data and the health of your bones is determined. Sometimes low-density bones are an indication of a mineral deficiency or weakened bones due to various causes.
Bone density naturally decreases with age, but there are things you can do (and not do) to help keep bones strong and healthy. Here are 7 ways to improve bone health.
1. Eat Healthy Food
The food you eat has a huge impact on your health. When it comes to strong bones, wholesome eating is essential. Foods that provide calcium, vitamins, and minerals are part of healthy lifestyle choices that support bone health. Some important foods to incorporate into your diet include:
Dairy products – low-fat milk, cheese, yogurt
Protein – Fatty fish (salmon, sardines, mackerel, tuna) beef, shrimp
Vegetables – Collard, turnip, mustard, dandelion, and beet greens, kale, okra, Chinese cabbage, broccoli, tomatoes, artichokes, potatoes, sweet potatoes, spinach, red and green peppers, Brussel sprouts
Exercise is important for maintaining a healthy weight, heart health, and strong bones. Weight-bearing exercise, aerobics, and strength training stimulate cells that build bones². Consider adding some of these exercises to your daily routine:
3. Limit Alcohol and Caffeine
Caffeine³ and alcohol can interfere with calcium and vitamin absorption and may increase the risk of bone loss. Try to drink less caffeine and alcohol and more of these beverages instead:
100% Fruit Juice
Milk, Chocolate Milk
While you can get a lot of essential bone nutrients through diet and sun exposure alone, sometimes you still just can’t get enough. It may be necessary to supplement your diet for extra protection. Check with your doctor to see about adding these to your diet to promote bone health:
5. Maintain a Healthy Weight
Being overweight or underweight can put additional stress on your bones. Exercising and eating well, even just a little every day, will help your body be healthier in the long run. Obesity and Type 2 diabetes⁴ multiply the risk of low bone density, increasing the chances of a bone fracture. On the other hand, being underweight⁵ and not getting enough calcium also weakens bones and can lead to early bone loss.
6. Stop Smoking
If you’re a smoker and you needed one more reason to quit, consider bone health and the link between smoking and osteoporosis⁶. Smoking, especially as you age, has an increasingly negative effect on your bones and overall health. The good news is that once you stop smoking, the effects of smoking on your bones can be reversed or slowed down.
7. Get a Bone Density Test
Knowing is better than guessing. If you suspect changes in your body due to age or injury, a bone density scan can help determine the presence of fragile bones that are more susceptible to breaks.
You can get a bone density test at any age, but it is highly recommended around age 65 to assess the risk of osteoporosis. A bone density test is conducted by using low dose CT scans to determine the concentration of calcium and minerals in your bone mass. These tests are useful for:
Calcium deficiency and low bone density can occur for many reasons. If you’ve noticed some physical changes, or just not feeling well, you may be in need of some professional testing and advice from experienced medical professionals to analyze the causes of your bone loss.
Here are some signs that you may need additional sources of calcium or lifestyle changes to address bone loss.
Tooth decay, gum disease
Abnormal heart rhythm
Confusion or memory loss
Loss of height
Bones that break easier than they used to
How Can I Determine if My Bones Are Strong?
The best way to determine if your bones are strong is by completing a CT Scan. These tests typically measure the bone density in the major bone groups in the body. Rebuilding your bone is not always possible, but with a bone density test, problem areas can be diagnosed earlier. Prompt treatment and interventions can drastically reduce future bone loss and the likelihood of bone diseases such as osteoporosis.
Have questions about a bone density test? Contact one of our experts today!
¹Heathline. Low Bone Density. University of Michigan Health. Retrieved 9 December 2021.
Dr. John J. Pierce is the Medical Director at Preventative Diagnostic Center. He is Board-certified in Emergency Medicine as well as Board-certified by the American Board of Anti-Aging and Regenerative Medicine. He received his medical training from Western University of Health Sciences, College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific, in Pomona California. He also has a Bachelor of Science degree in Kinesiology from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. In addition to his regular practice, Dr. Pierce serves as a Tactical Physician with the Las Vegas SWAT team.