Health as We Age
Take steps to prevent bone loss, whether you are just approaching retirement or are deep into your golden years.
When you think about what defines a public health threat, diseases like cancer, diabetes, and heart failure come to mind. Or more recently, of course, a viral pandemic. But there is another widespread threat to health that does not get the publicity it deserves: Osteoporosis
Osteoporosis and its associated bone matter loss impacts 44 million men and women over 50 each year in the United States. The good news is you do not have to wave the white flag and surrender to the disease.
A Steady Frame: Strong is as Strong does
The human body goes through many physiological changes in a lifetime, among them the strength of our bones. When younger, we possessed the rather miraculous ability to continuously produce new bone matter as the existing deteriorated. This rate of replacement slows increasingly as we age.
Bone matter loss can trigger a debilitating disease called osteoporosis, increasing the likelihood of bone fractures throughout the body.
The encouraging news for seniors is that the disease is not a natural phase of the aging process. You can implement strategies to prevent its development and progress. Take steps to prevent bone loss, whether you are just approaching retirement or are deep into your golden years.
How to Improve the Health of Your Bones
You cannot change your family’s medical history nor can you flip on a switch to change your age. However, you can follow a few steps to build bone strength, even if you have passed the life milestone of 50 years old.
Consume a Healthy Diet
Maybe it should be a category on Jeopardy: “Healthy foods that help build bone mass.” What foods are loaded with nutrients, particularly an abundance of calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium? Milk and dairy products, fish bones (such as in canned salmon and sardines), and dark-green, leafy vegetables are the best sources of calcium. Magnesium, like phosphorus, is abundant in animal and plant cells. Since half your bone mass consists of protein, follow a protein-rich diet that includes wild salmon, free-range poultry, grass-fed meats and pasteurized eggs.
Mix Essential Oils into Your Diet
Boost a healthy diet by adding essential oils to your recipes such as sage, thyme, ginger and rosemary. These can increase bone mass and even help mitigate the pain generated by osteoporosis. Apply oils topically to the impacted areas of the body as well. Online merchants and local pharmacies have ample stocks of essential oils.
Exercise for older adults is important for more reasons than building bone mass. Simple exercises can improve your balance, reduce inflammation and eliminate stress. What are some of the types of exercises that older adults should engage in daily?
- Power walking
- Lifting weights
Mix it up to add variety and to maintain your commitment.
Let the Sun Shine
Twenty minutes of direct exposure to sunlight every day is an effective way to boost bone-healthy vitamin D. To produce enough vitamin D to make a difference to bone mass, expose large areas to your skin without applying sunscreen. If you live in a colder or cloudy climate or have sensitive skin, consider taking a vitamin D supplement to boost levels in your body.
Consider the Effects of Steroids
As we age, some choose to take steroids to alleviate the symptoms of health conditions like lupus, asthma, arthritis and Crohn’s disease. However, steroid medications contain ingredients that, if consumed in high doses and for more than three consecutive months, can increase the risk of osteoporosis and lower bone mass.
If you take a common steroid medication, check with your physician to determine if your dose is a concern for bone health.
Independent Living Includes Keeping Your Bones Strong
One of the tenets of MorningStar’s service to seniors is to promote independent living. We accomplish this through any number of initiatives that keep residents active and engaged. Enjoy an independent, freedom-seeking life by exercising daily, eating a healthy diet and getting a bit of sun each day to boost the strength of your bones.