New research suggests that a few easy lifestyle tweaks may be the best way to ward off brittle bones and osteoporosis as we get older. Keep reading for three surprisingly simple ways to build bone density and help keep your bones strong for years to come — no meds required!
New data reveals millions of women are reluctant to take osteoporosis medications because of potential side effects, including fractures. “The refrain I hear from patients is, ‘Why should I go on a drug that can cause fractures … to prevent fractures,” says Clifford Rosen, M.D., a professor at Tufts University School of Medicine.
The good news: You don’t need meds! Easy tweaks to your daily routine are all it takes to improve bone health. In fact, there’s so much variation in incidence of fractures in older adults from one country to another, it suggests bone loss is not an inevitable consequence of aging, adds Michael Greger, M.D., a fellow of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine. “This has led researchers to conclude that preventing osteoporosis should be focused on lifestyle habits.” Read on for natural bone density boosters you’ll want to try.
Eat leafy greens.
Dark green leafies are brimming with bone-boosting vitamin K. In fact, a recent study shows that vitamin K slashes fracture risk by as much as 81 percent. To get the benefits, Dr. Greger advises eating two servings of dark greens a day (like a kale and spinach salad). For an added bone boost, sprinkle dried plums on top. In one study, eating five to 10 prunes a day for a year increased bone density in postmenopausal women. Physiotherapist Margaret Martin, author of Exercise for Better Bones, explains, “Prunes are rich in boron, potassium and antioxidants called phenolics, which are shown to increase bone density.”
Count those steps.
Sidestepping osteoporosis may be as easy as doing the two step, according to new research. “Weight-bearing exercise, like dancing, is vital because a bit of pressure is needed to build bone,” says Dr. Laura Kelly, coauthor of The Healthy Bones Nutrition Plan and Cookbook (Buy from Amazon, $24.95). And there’s no need to jog up a hill, Rocky-style, to give your bones the “stress” they need: British scientists found that just one minute of weight-bearing activity per day significantly boosts bone density. In other words, turning up the radio and cutting a rug can help you stay strong for years!
Get enough fiber.
The latest science shows getting your gut involved in the battle for strong bones is just as important as getting enough of bone-building nutrients like calcium and vitamin D. That’s because a healthy microbiome helps the body utilize these nutrients. “Soluble corn fiber is a prebiotic that reduces bone loss in postmenopausal women,” says nutrition science expert Connie Weaver, Ph.D. Her study reveals that supplementing with 20 mg. of soluble corn fiber for 50 days not only boosts calcium absorption, it increases bone formation, a benefit we don’t get from calcium alone. One to try: Metamucil Fiber Sugar-Free Gummies (Buy from Amazon, $19.96).
If you try even two out of three of these bone density boosting techniques, you might just find yourself feeling stronger and avoiding potential injury due to osteoporosis. It’s never too late to start incorporating healthy routines into your day, so get strong starting now!
This article originally appeared in our print magazine, First For Women.
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