Bones are tough! They protect our bodies from injury and help us move around. But sometimes we get injured and need to heal faster.
Bone healing is a complex process involving many factors. We’ve known for years that calcium helps bone growth, but new research shows that vitamin D also plays a role. In fact, vitamin D deficiency may cause osteoporosis.
I’m going to share with you 7 simple tips to strengthen bones, speed up bone healing and prevent future injuries. These tips will help you recover from minor injuries quickly and prevent serious ones.
Tips For Making Bones Stronger
1. Eat Lots of Vegetables
Eating lots of vegetables helps build strong bones. Vegetable consumption reduces the risks of osteoporosis later in life.
A recent study found that people who eat lots of vegetables are less likely to experience osteoporotic fractures. This is because vegetable intake provides nutrients like calcium, vitamin D, magnesium, zinc, iron, folate, potassium, fiber, antioxidants, and phytochemicals. These nutrients help protect against bone loss and reduce the risk of osteoporosis.
Vegetables also contain bioavailable silicon, which helps prevent bone loss. Silicon is one of the minerals most commonly lacking in our diets. In fact, it is the third most common mineral deficiency worldwide.
2. Perform Strength Training and Weight-Bearing Exercises
Strength training and weight-bearing exercises are essential components of a healthy lifestyle. They help maintain muscle mass and bone density, which improves overall fitness and quality of life. Older adults (especially women) often experience decreased bone density due to age-related changes in hormones. These hormonal changes cause osteoporosis, which leads to weak bones and an increased risk of fractures.
Bone mineral density (BMD), which is measured in grams per square centimeter (g/cm²), decreases naturally with age. However, regular resistance training and weight-bearing activities increase BMD. A study published in 2017 found that bone density increased by 2% in the hip area and 3% in the spine among participants who performed weight-bearing and strength training exercises three times per week for 12 months. In contrast, BMD did not change in participants who performed stretching and toning exercises.
Weight-bearing and strength training activities include walking, jogging, running, biking, swimming, dancing, yoga, Pilates, tai chi, and weightlifting. For example, you could walk briskly for 30 minutes every day, lift weights twice a week, do yoga once a week, and play tennis once a month. You can find many examples of strength training and weight-bearing workouts online.
The American College of Sports Medicine recommends that older adults perform resistance training and weight-based activities at least three days each week. If you are interested in learning more about how to incorporate strength training into your daily routine, check out our article on the best strength training exercises for seniors.
3. Consume Enough Protein
Eating an extra 30 grams of protein each day could increase bone density up to 10% over three months. This is according to research published in the journal Osteoporosis International.
A study conducted at the University of California, San Francisco found that people who ate 3.5 times more protein had greater bone mineral density compared to those eating less. Researchers believe that consuming adequate amounts of protein promotes healthy bones because it provides amino acids needed for building and maintaining strong bones.
The researchers concluded that increasing dietary protein intake could reduce fracture risk among older adults. However, they noted that further studies are necessary to confirm whether there is a safe upper limit for protein consumption.
In addition, a high-protein diet is associated with increased acid production in the body. High acidity in the body causes calcium to leach out of bones. Therefore, a low-acidic diet is recommended for those suffering from osteoporosis. In fact, some experts recommend avoiding acidic foods like soft drinks, coffee, tea, alcohol, and processed meats.
4. Eat High-Calcium Foods
Calcium is important for building strong teeth and bones. But you don’t want to eat too much because it could lead to constipation or kidney stones. Instead, consume calcium throughout the day via food sources like dairy products, eggs, beans, broccoli, and dark leafy greens. You’ll find calcium in many different forms, including calcium carbonate, calcium citrate, calcium phosphate, and calcium lactate.
5. Get Plenty of Vitamin D and Vitamin K
Vitamin D and vitamin K are essential nutrients for healthy bones. They work together to promote strong bones. In fact, people with low vitamin D levels tend to have weaker bones. And getting enough vitamin D and vitamin K each day can help you build stronger bones.
Vitamin D helps our bodies absorb calcium, which builds strong bones. Foods like milk, cheese, yogurt, eggs, salmon, cod liver oil, mushrooms, fortified cereals, and orange juice contain some vitamin D. You can also find it in supplements.
Vitamin K plays another key role in building strong bones. This nutrient works with vitamin D to form a protein called osteocalcin, which helps keep bones strong. Some foods high in vitamin K include leafy greens, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kale, spinach, natto (fermented soybeans), and fermented dairy products such as cheese and yogurt.
People with very little sun exposure might want to take a supplement containing vitamin D and vitamin K. Talk to your doctor about whether this is necessary.
6. Avoid Very Low-Calorie Diets
In recent years, there has been a growing trend among dieters to cut calories drastically. While it might seem like a good idea, cutting calories too much could actually do more harm than good. In fact, some experts say you shouldn’t eat fewer than 1200 calories per day. However, many people think that this number is way too high. They believe that we don’t need to restrict our daily caloric intake to such a degree. But while it seems like a great idea to reduce your overall calorie intake, doing so without proper planning could lead to serious problems.
According to WebMD, “cutting calories too much can make you feel hungry and cranky.” This makes sense because when you’re starving yourself, your body doesn’t know how to tell you to stop eating. Instead, it tells you to keep chowing down. So, when you start feeling hungry again, you’ll want to go out and grab something to satisfy those cravings. Unfortunately, many foods are loaded with calories and fat. If you cut out most of what you normally eat, you won’t be able to fill up on anything else. As a result, you’ll end up getting hungrier and craving even more junk food.
Of course, there are times when reducing your calorie intake is necessary. For instance, if you’ve recently gained a lot of weight, you might need to drop your daily calorie count to lose weight. Cutting calories too much, however, isn’t the best solution. You should try to work toward losing weight slowly over the long term. Doing so will help you avoid potential side effects like rebound hunger and weight gain.
If you really want to slash your calorie intake, you should consider making changes to your lifestyle. This includes things like exercising regularly, drinking plenty of water, and avoiding sugary drinks. By changing your habits, you’ll find that you no longer crave unhealthy snacks and treats. Plus, you’ll feel better about yourself, which will boost your self-esteem.
7. Consider Taking a Collagen Supplement
Collagen supplements are often recommended for people concerned about losing bone mass due to age or weight gain. But there isn’t enough research to say whether it really works. In one small study, researchers found that taking a type of collagen supplement called hydroxyproline slowed down the breakdown of collagen, which could mean less bone loss over time. However, there haven’t been any longer-term studies to see what happens when you take a daily dose of collagen supplements.
8. Maintain a Stable, Healthy Weight
Being overweight or obese puts you in danger of developing osteoporosis later in life. Osteopenia and osteoarthritis are conditions where there is too little bone density. If left untreated, osteoporosis can lead to fractures, broken bones, and even death.
Losing weight doesn’t necessarily improve bone health. In fact, it can actually weaken your bones since repeated cycles of losing and gaining weight can cause bone loss throughout your lifetime.
Bone health depends on many factors, such as genetics, lifestyle habits, diet, and exercise. Your body mass index (BMI), or how much fat you carry around your waist, affects your overall bone health. A BMI of 25–29.9 is considered normal; 30–39.9 is overweight; 40+ is obese.
Maintaining a healthy weight helps keep your bones strong. Studies show that people who maintain a healthy weight tend to have stronger bones than those who are overweight or obese.
9. Eat Foods High in Magnesium and Zinc
Calcium isn’t the only mineral that’s essential for healthy bones. Magnesium and zinc also play key roles in building strong bones. In fact, a deficiency in either one can cause osteoporosis. But there are plenty of great foods that provide both nutrients.
Good sources of zinc include beef liver, chicken breast, pork loin, turkey, lamb, fish, shellfish, and eggs. Good sources of magnesium include almonds, cashews, Brazil nuts, black beans, broccoli, brown rice, collard greens, corn, kale, lentils, oatmeal, peas, potatoes, sweet potato, tofu, wheat germ, and whole grains.
10. Consume Foods High in Omega-3 Fats
Omega-3 fats are essential nutrients found mainly in fish oils and flaxseeds. They help protect against heart disease, diabetes, cancer, depression, arthritis, obesity, and many other health problems.
The American Heart Association recommends eating fish twice per week for women and three times per week for men. Fish such as salmon, tuna, mackerel, herring, trout, and sardines are good sources of omega-3s.
11. Limit caffeine
Caffeine is found naturally in tea, chocolate, cola drinks, and some medications. Coffee contains about 200 milligrams per cup, while soda contains about 75 mg. If you’re drinking 3 to 4 cups of coffee every day, it could be enough to cause osteoporosis.
The body absorbs calcium better when it’s hot. So, try to avoid cold beverages like ice water and milk. Instead, sip warm beverages like black tea, coffee, or cocoa during the day. You’ll absorb more calcium from your food because your stomach is warmer.
If you really want to add extra calcium to your diet, consider taking supplements. Calcium citrate, calcium carbonate, and calcium gluconate are good options.
You can also eat foods rich in calcium. Try eating yogurt, cheese, broccoli, almonds, fish, and leafy green vegetables.
12. Limit alcohol
Alcohol consumption can cause bone loss. This is because alcohol contains acids that are harmful to bones. If you consume too much alcohol, it can affect your bones. You can protect yourself against osteoporosis by limiting how often you drink and how much you drink each time you do. Drinking alcohol causes bone loss, particularly if you drink it frequently over many years.
Women should limit themselves to two drinks per day, while males should limit themselves to three alcoholic beverages per day.
Bone density decreases faster in heavy drinkers than in nondrinkers. For women, drinking less than one alcoholic beverage per week increases bone density by about 5%. One alcoholic drink per week reduces bone density by 2% in women. Men should avoid consuming more than 3 alcoholic beverages per day since this leads to a reduction in bone density by 4%.
13. Don’t eat too much salt (sodium)
Calcium is an essential nutrient for building healthy bones. But it doesn’t do you much good if you don’t consume enough of it. In fact, one large study found that people who consumed less than 500 milligrams of calcium per day had about twice the risk of developing osteoporosis compared to those who ate 1,200 mg daily.
The best sources of calcium are dairy foods such as milk, yogurt, and cheese. Other calcium-rich foods include dark green leafy vegetables, beans and tofu. You’ll also find plenty of calcium in fish, almonds, broccoli, eggs, and fortified cereals.
But there’s another reason why we recommend limiting sodium intake—it helps prevent high blood pressure, which is linked to heart disease and stroke. A recent meta-analysis published in JAMA Internal Medicine found that reducing dietary sodium leads to lower systolic blood pressure. Another study found that cutting out just 2 teaspoons of added sugar each day could reduce your chances of getting type 2 diabetes by almost half.
14. Quit Smoking
Nearly 1 in 7 Americans smoke — about 20% of adults and nearly half of teens. If you smoke, it puts your health at risk. You’re more likely to develop lung cancer, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and depression. And smoking weakens your bones.
15. Cut Out Added Sugar
The American Heart Association says there are many reasons why you should cut out added sugars. They say it could help lower blood pressure, improve heart health, and even fight diabetes. But how do you know what added sugar is lurking in your diet? Here’s what you need to know about hidden sources of added sugar.
In conclusion, bone density decreases as we age, but if you take steps to strengthen your bones now, you can avoid osteoporosis later. Some ways to build strong bones are- Eating right (avoiding processed foods), exercising regularly, drinking enough water, getting enough sleep, and using vitamin D and calcium supplements. And remember: when it comes to building strong bones, prevention is better than cure.