Here is what you can do to ensure strong and healthy bones:
1. Spend 5-10 minutes in the sun everyday. Without Sunscreen. Morning sun exposure is better than evening. Your car windows have a UVA-B protection film because of which melatonin formation cannot be triggered. So roll down the windows if you can. Time needed to be spent in the sun depends on your skin color where fair skin needs only a few minutes while darker skin tones require as much as 8-10 minutes. (Ref1)
2. Eat foods rich in calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and omega-3 fatty acids. Also foods rich in vitamin D, K, and A are essential to assist your body to efficiently carry out the bone remodelling process. You will get all these and more just by including green leafy vegetables (make them a part of your daily diet – spinach, fenugreek (methi), lettuce, broccoli and even cauliflower, cabbage, etc), fatty fish (like tuna, salmon, mackerel, etc), egg yolk, flaxseeds (esp recommended for vegetarians), etc.
3. Dairy has recently received bad press and most adults consume only just as much as they need in their coffee. This is not good. Unless you specifically have an allergy to dairy, you should consume it in good quantity in one form or another. 2-3 glasses of milk everyday, 1-2 servings of yogurt or lassi (i.e. buttermilk) and even cheese if your diet allows, are vital for good bone health.
4. Chronic Inflammation upsets the bone turnover rate. This is a side-effect of our over-worked lives and largely results from eating processed foods, from an upset intake ratio of omega 3 to omega 6, stress, inadequate sleep and poor gut health. To address these, go through chapters in my ebook: ‘7 Easy Ways To Improve Your Diet’ that discuss omega3-omega6 fatty acids and how to look after your gut health.
5. Drink just enough water. Dehydration has been overhyped. Not everybody needs 8 glasses of water. The color of your pee is the best indicator of your hydration levels. If your pee is transparent or water colored, you are drinking too much water. It should be only slightly yellowish. When you drink too much water the mineral content in your blood gets diluted which causes the bones to dissolve themselves releasing calcium and other minerals. If this happens too often you are upsetting the natural bone reformation rates resulting in lower density bones.
6. Finally, mechanical stress on the bones helps it to grow stronger. Even old bones respond to the same training signals. If the heaviest thing you lift in a day are your office bags or the TV remote, it is time to take up a challenge. You can start with this 30 Day Push -Up Challenge. Body resistance exercises like squats, push-ups, pull-ups and even jumping rope are all examples of ‘impact training’ and can be used to strengthen bones (Ref3). If these are too easy for you, get to the gym and start lifting heavy. Also keep in mind that only bones subjected to stress become stronger (Ref4). It is important that you do a full body resistance program. Training only your legs or arms would do nothing for the bones that are not directly targeted.