Keeping your bones strong and flexible not only helps you stay active for years to come, a new study shows that it can add up to 16 healthy years to your life. Turns out, the same health strategies that strengthen bone tissue also improve the function of every organ in your body.
Daily 2,000-mg. doses of IP6 (Jarrow Formulas: $9.47, Amazon)— a B vitamin-like nutrient found in small amounts in corn and brown rice — can halt bone thinning in a month! “IP6 reduces your production of osteoclasts (cells that break down bone
tissue) as much as 40 percent,” says Abulkalam Shamsuddin, Ph.D., professor of pathology at the University of Maryland.
Longevity bonus: Taking 2,000 mg. of IP6 daily also enhances the immune system.
Chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans) are rich sources of two minerals (molybdenum and manganese), which act like a glue that helps keep calcium stuck to the mesh-like framework inside bones, researchers say.
Eating 1/2 cup of chickpeas daily does the trick. Add them whole to salads, puréed to soups to add creaminess, or roast them with a little sugar and cinnamon for a snack.
Longevity bonus: Eating legumes every day will cut your risk of diabetes and colon cancer 25%, according to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Consuming a few ounces of healthy plant fats (the kind in avocados, extra-virgin olive oil, nuts, and seeds) every day can cut your risk of brittle bones 45 percent, research shows. Adding them to your diet now could help your bones become significantly stronger and more break-resistant in as little as eight months.
Plant fats stimulate your bones to produce osteocalcin, a hormone that fuels the growth of new bone tissue, even in your 70s and 80s.
Longevity bonus: These fats also keep your arteries strong and flexible, cutting your heart attack risk 45 percent, studies show.
Take some “me time.”
Surprise! Giving yourself 30 minutes of guilt-free TLC each day can help make your bones 15 percent stronger. Relaxing reduces your output of stress hormones, which, at high levels, inhibit new bone tissue formation.
Start today, and your stress hormone production should plummet within three days, say experts at Indiana University South Bend.
Longevity bonus: Lowering stress lowers your stroke risk 59 percent, say
University of Minnesota experts.
Just spending 1/2 hour daily puttering energetically (say, picking up the pace in the grocery or vigorously vacuuming) cuts your fracture risk 50 percent. “Activity stimulates your body to replace aging bone tissue,” says Texas Tech University Health Sciences pathologist Chwan-Li Shen, Ph.D.
Longevity bonus: Moderate exercise increases production of the growth hormones that help repair aging tissues throughout your body.
Get a little sun.
Stepping into sunlight for 20 minutes each day stimulates your skin to make a day’s supply of vitamin D, a nutrient that cuts your risk of brittle bones 33 percent by shuttling calcium into bone cells, say Boston University researchers. Not the outdoorsy type? Take 2,000 IU of vitamin D daily, like this one from Life Extension (starting at $12, LifeExtension.com).
Longevity bonus: Daily sun exposure helps your immune system destroy suspicious breast cells, reducing breast cancer risk 33 percent.
This article originally appeared in our print magazine, Reverse Aging.