There are 206 bones in the human body. Over half of these bones are in the hands, which have 54 bones, and the feet, which have 52 bones. We rely on our bones to protect our organs, store minerals and help our bodies move. For this reason, good bone health is crucial to our overall health and well-being. Unfortunately, a number of lifestyle choices can put our bones at risk, causing them to become weak and brittle over time. The result can be conditions like osteoporosis or broken bones.
To keep your bones at their healthiest, avoid these common habits that have been shown to be simply bad for your bones.
Our bodies were designed to move! Too much time sitting, lying down or just being inactive is decidedly bad for your bone health. Exercise is known to increase bone density and improve overall bone health. However, not all exercises are equal when it comes to building strong bones or preventing osteoporosis (bone mineral loss). You need to include weight-bearing exercises to reduce the risk of osteoporosis.
Smoking cigarettes have long been known to have detrimental effects on the body, contributing to problems such as heart disease and lung cancer. Research has also shown that smoking cigarettes has significant effects on the bones that make up your skeleton. Cigarette smoking makes it harder for your body to form healthy new bone tissue. And the longer you smoke, the worse it becomes. This means that long-time smokers have a greater chance of breaking bones and that they can take longer to heal. The good news is that quitting can decrease the risks and improve bone health.
Too Much Alcohol
Research has shown that chronic and heavy alcohol consumption can contribute to decreased bone formation, increased fracture and delays in the healing of fractures. Alcohol negatively affects bone health for several reasons. To begin with, excessive alcohol interferes with the balance of calcium, an essential nutrient for healthy bones. Calcium balance may be further disrupted by alcohol’s ability to interfere with the production of vitamin D, a vitamin essential for calcium absorption. Experts recommend that women drink no more than one drink and day and men drink no more than two a day.
Spending Too Much Time Indoors
Vitamin D is essential for bone health, as it helps the body absorb calcium. It is produced by the body after exposure to sunlight, so those spending too much time indoors can end up Vitamin D deficient. Just 15 minutes in the sun several times a week can help your body produce more Vitamin D. Adding fortified cereals, juices and milk can also help.
Too Much Salt
There is absolutely a correlation between high salt intake and lower bone density. As your sodium intake increases, your calcium stores are depleted. It is best to aim for between 1,500 and 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day.
Too Many Sodas
Besides the sodium in sodas, the phosphoric acid may leach calcium from your bones. Many sodas contain phosphoric acid. As the body tries to neutralize the acid, it is forced to draw substantial amounts of alkalizing calcium compounds from our bones.
If you are concerned about your bone health, our specialists are always willing to help you reach your optimal health. Bone diseases like osteoporosis are very serious but can be prevented and/or treated. To learn more about bone health or to schedule an appointment with one of our specialists, call us at 800.698.1280.