Do you want to be active as you grow older, able to go for walks and do the tango? Quality of life and mobility are two basic health factors that lie at the very heart of human wellbeing. No one wants to have aching bones dictate their activity levels in later life. Of course, bone and joint conditions such as arthritis do have a genetic component, as do many human diseases, but there’s a lot you can do to ward off a creaking old age by paying some attention to your lifestyle. Improve the health of your bones right now.

Eat right to build better bones

You want to improve the health of your bones? Eat the correct foods. Turn your back on processed foods (they produce biochemical and metabolic conditions in your body that decrease your bone density) and go for the good stuff. You need high-quality organic food to increase your bone density and decrease your risk of developing osteoporosis.

healthy bones - young boy running

Healthy young children are constantly hungry and on the move, stimulating the growth of good bone mass. When they reach maturity, their bones will have reached their peak mass. If you eat well and exercise, you can slow the decline of bone density as you age.

Omega-3 fats play a major role in building healthy bones, as do other nutrients such as calcium, vitamins D and K2, and magnesium. We have always been taught to focus on eating calcium-rich foods to improve the health of our bones. And that concept is true. However, our bones are actually composed of many different minerals, all of which work synergistically to promote strong, healthy bones – see .

For example, the ratio between sodium and potassium also has an effect on bone health. If you eat lots of processed foods, which are low in potassium and high in sodium, there’s a good chance your body is lacking potassium. And that’s bad news if you are looking to maintain your bone mass. An off-balance sodium to potassium ratio can contribute to a number of bone diseases, including osteoporosis. To ensure you get these two important nutrients in appropriate ratios, replace processed foods with whole, unprocessed alternatives, ideally organically grown to ensure optimal nutrient content. This type of diet will naturally provide far larger amounts of potassium in relation to sodium, which is excellent for the health of your bones, and for your overall health too.

Foods for optimum bone health

  • Plant-derived calcium – Organically produced milk; leafy green vegetables, citrus fruits, carob and sesame seeds.
  • Magnesium – Whole grains, fish, nuts, seeds, spinach and soya beans.
  • Vitamin K2 – The biological role of vitamin K2 is to help transfer calcium to the parts of the body from soft tissue, where it is not needed, to places where it is needed the most, such as your teeth and bones. You’ll find vitamin K2 in grass-fed organic animal products (such as eggs, butter, cheese), certain fermented foods such as natto (a Japanese food made of fermented soya beans) or vegetables fermented using a starter culture of vitamin K2-producing bacteria. Miso and tempeh are not high in vitamin K2. Certain types of cheeses are very high in K2 (Gouda and Brie) and others are not. It really depends on the specific bacteria involved during the making of the foods. You’ll also find vitamin K in cabbage, spinach, broccoli, bok choy and other leafy greens.
  • Trace minerals – Natural, unprocessed salt contains many of the elements your body needs to function properly. Use it instead of refined table salt.
  • Vitamin D – Your body produces its own vitamin D when you are out in the sun. As you age, your body makes it less efficiently. Raise your vitamin D levels by eating liver, oily fish and other seafood

Exercise – your bones love it!

Your bones are living tissue – they need regular stimulation and physical activity to renew and rebuild themselves. By the time you reach adulthood, your bones will have reached their peak mass. Then they slowly start to decline. Or they will unless you exercise them.

Weight-bearing exercises are the most effective remedy against osteoporosis. They place tension on your muscles, which stimulates your bones to create fresh, new bone. Weight-bearing exercises also help you strengthen and build muscles, keeping the pressure on your bones constant. The walking lunge, for example, helps build bone density in your hips, even if you don’t carry additional weights. A more comprehensive exercise programme will really show rewards.

If you go to a gym, use the Power Plate machine, which vibrates as you exercise on it. Using the machine has been shown to be a safe, natural way to ward off osteoporosis, and it’s gentle enough even for the disabled and elderly. One study, reported in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research, Vol. 19(3), 2004, involved an exercise programme undertaken by 90 women aged 58 to 70 years. Over a period of six months, one-third of the group exercised with the vibrating machine, the second third did conventional weight training and the remaining third did no exercise at all. The result: exercising on the vibrating machine produced a significant increase in hip-area bone density in postmenopausal women – conventional training was only able to slow the rate of deterioration. According to the researchers, ‘The whole-body vibration group got positive results: strength increased as much as 16 percent in upper leg muscles, while bone density at the hip increased by 1.5 percent.’

A point to remember

Research demonstrates that constant intense training is associated with substantial decreases in bone mineral density, which experts believe could be related to the loss of calcium during exercise. It has been suggested that taking calcium prior to heading for the gym may help keep your blood levels of calcium more stable, compared to taking calcium after your workout. However, the study, which was reported in Medical News Today, did not assess the long-term effects this might have on your bone density, and this, of course, is vital for anyone interested in building healthy bones.
Many articles were used in the research for this piece, but the bulk of it was adapted from US Dr Joseph Mercola’s insightful report on the maintenance of healthy bones. You’ll find the article here

Acknowledgements & Photo credits

Many articles were used in the research for this piece, but the bulk of it was adapted from Dr Joseph Mercola’s insightful report on the maintenance of healthy bones.

  1. Featured Image courtesy of skeeze /
  2. Young boy running photo courtesy of chrisroll /