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Easy Steps to Protect Your Bones

BoneLast week my colleague Mary Boyd, MPT, presented information on the incidence of falls experienced by many people, especially the elderly.  With our winter weather rapidly leaving our beloved North Idaho, the incidence of falls occurring from stepping on irregular surfaces is diminishing.  Yet many people still experience unexpected falls and these may be the result of weakened bone structures.

Bone fractures and breaks are serious business affecting a person’s health and well-being.  These can create a loss of work hours, loss of range of motion in shoulders, ribs, wrists, hips, knees, and ankles, and can also result in emotional downturns of depression, anxiety, loss of self-esteem, and mood swings.

Bones are alive.  We often think of our bones as rock solid components of our bodies.  They hold us up.  Yet they are composed of living cells breaking down and building up on a regular basis.  All this bone activity takes raw nutrients to accomplish.

Bones have a thin outer surface containing blood vessels and nerves.  Below this layer is the hard whitish layer we all recognize as our bones, but this tough section contains blood vessels, lymph vessels, and nerves.  Below this structure is a soft spongy section, somewhat looking like lace.  And at the center of our bones lies the marrow where red and white blood cells and platelets are made.  This is important to know as these cells support our respiration and immune functions.

Our bones are constantly reabsorbing unusable bone tissue and forming new bone tissue called remodeling.  Bone remodeling requires participation by the hormones produced by the parathyroid glands in association with calcium and vitamin D.  Vitamin D helps calcium absorption.  Other nutrients participate as well.

What begins to happen that puts people at risk for fractures and bone breaks develops from many factors combining over time.  These are low calcium and Vitamin D intake, lack of adequate exercise, and too much caffeine, alcohol, and tobacco.  These especially use up calcium needed for bone health.  Ingesting too much animal protein has also been implicated as these proteins require the use of calcium to break down the acids from animal meat products.

News we all don’t welcome is that we begin to lose bone mass after age 25.  Women experiencing menstrual irregularities and challenges with estrogen imbalances develop some risks for bone loss.  The elderly, being less mobile, experience greater risks of falls resulting from weakened bones.

It is important to share with our children the importance of protecting their bones and also understanding what we can do ourselves to take care of our aging bones.  Bones love to work along with their attached muscles.  Weight bearing exercises, even our own weight like running and jogging in place help stimulate the bone activity of rebuilding and strengthening.

Here’s a list of foods recommended for providing bone vitamins and minerals to be strong throughout our lives.  It’s the usual mantra:  whole foods, lots of dark leafy greens and plant based foods, broccoli, cabbage, kale, lettuces with lots of color, oats, and green tea.  These foods provide some calcium and essential Vitamin K.

Osteoporosis develops from weakened bones.  Punch up your diet and exercise plan, lesson your negative lifestyle choices, walk daily, and I feel assured your bones will be happy and healthy supporters of your upright being.

Krystle Shapiro, MSHN owns NewTritionally Yours! offering nutrition education classes.  She can be reached at 208/290-6760.

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