When it comes to keeping your bones healthy, you probably think of suggestions to “eat more calcium” and “drink more milk.” But this type of advice may not be rooted in a solid evidence base.
There are concerns that previous studies looking at the benefits of calcium, milk, and dairy products for bone health have been biased, with industry-sponsored research more likely to find positive results.
Many other studies have demonstrated that how much calcium you consume has very little impact on your bone density and fracture risk, indicating that simply increasing your dairy or calcium intake is unlikely to provide many benefits for your bone health.
So what should you do instead?
You Are Sitting Too Much
Your bones need movement to stay strong. When you sit all day, the force of gravity isn’t working against your bones and muscles, which can lead to a decrease in bone density.
Not only that, but sitting all day can lead to various other health problems, including an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, and obesity.
To keep your bones healthy, make sure you’re getting up and moving around every hour. Instead of sitting at your desk all day or binge-watching television for hours at a time, take regular breaks to go for a walk, do some stretches, or even just stand up and move your body a little bit.
You’re Not Getting the Right Amount of Sleep
Getting enough sleep is important for all aspects of your health, including your bones.
For people who sleep too little and those who sleep too much, there is an increased risk of reduced bone mineral density and bone fractures and osteoporosis. This may be related to the influence of hormones like cortisol and metabolic changes that occur with poor sleep.
If you are not feeling well rested after a night of sleep, there’s a good chance you are not sufficiently helping your bones stay healthy and strong. Inadequate sleep can also lead to other problems like weight gain, inflammation, and falling, which can further stress your bones.
You’re Not Spending Enough Time Out in the Sun
When your skin is exposed to sunlight, it responds by producing vitamin D, which is essential for bone health.
Vitamin D helps your body absorb and use calcium; a deficiency can lead to bone loss and an increased risk of osteoporosis.
Spending just a few minutes each day outside in the sun can help ensure you’re getting enough vitamin D, but if you’re unable to get outside regularly, you may need to take a supplement.
You Are Eating Too Much Sugar
While you may have heard that high salt intake can lead to bone loss, there isn’t much evidence to support this.
On the contrary, sugar may be a bigger culprit when it comes to damaging your bones.
Sugar may interfere with your body’s ability to absorb and use both calcium and vitamin D, as well as reduce osteoblast (cells that make bone tissue) activity, effectively leading to weaker bones.
Sugar can also contribute to weight gain and inflammation, putting additional stress on your bones and putting you at an even higher risk for osteoporosis.
If you want to keep your bones healthy, limiting your sugary foods and beverages is best.