Let's build healthy bones

Let's build healthy bones

Bones are tissues that continuously break and rebuild in tiny amounts. It is extremely important to keep them healthy, as they provide a frame to the body, protect vital organs and help one walk or run.

Osteoporosis affects people who don’t have a healthy bone mass, and can’t rebuild or replace the old bones after wear and tear. It is also called the brittle bone disease, and is estimated to affect 200 million women worldwide and over 10 million people in India each year.

According to the International Osteoporosis Foundation, osteoporosis causes more than 8.9 million fractures annually worldwide, accounting for an osteoporotic fracture every three seconds.

Osteoporosis is more rampant in women than in men. Women go through osteoporosis in their 50s, while in men, it comes much later when they are in their 60s. Here are a few tips to keep your bones fit and fine:

Track your calcium and vitamin D levels: Indians are more at risk of developing bone disorders due to low peak bone mass, calcium and vitamin D deficiency. A calcium-packed diet that includes dairy products, almonds, soy and leafy vegetables is essential to counter osteoporosis.

Avoid weight gain: Bones grow in size and strength during childhood. Excess weight gain in children can seriously impact the growth of bones, joints and muscles. Extra weight can damage the growth plates, which are areas at the end of your arms, legs and other long bones, where the cartilage tissue is developed. Growth plates regulate the length and shape of a bone at full growth. Excess weight gain can build pressure on these growth plates, which can lead to early arthritis, broken bones and other serious conditions.

Exercise: Regular exercise helps boost your immunity, maintain bone strength, improve joint function, control weight gain and improve the overall quality of life.

Cut down on alcohol: Avoid alcohol, smoking and caffeine, as too much of these can hinder with body’s capacity to absorb calcium, thus decreasing bone mass in the process.

Yoga: If you want a sure-shot way to improve your bone density and you have six minutes a day to spare, give these 12 positions a whirl — tree, triangle, warrior II, side-angle, twisted triangle, locust, bridge, supine hand-to-foot I, supine hand-to-foot II, straight-legged twist, bent-knee twist and corpse pose.

Health supplements: Consume supplements that contain calcium and magnesium, as they promote bone healing. Other good alternatives are fish oil and green superfood powder. Fish oil helps fortify the bones, as it contains omega-3 fatty acids, which can reduce inflammation and speed up the healing process. A green superfood powder contains spirulina and chlorella, which have bone-healing properties.

Sunbathe: Vitamin D is a crucial bone-building nutrient. It improves absorption of calcium from the gut, increases bone density and enhances muscle function, reducing the risk of falls and fractures. However, it’s tough to get adequate amount of vitamin D from food alone. Sunlight is the only ideal and easily available source of vitamin D.

Dr Aashish Chaudhry
(The author is managing director & orthopaedic surgeon, Aakash Healthcare)

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