Bone health might seem like an “elderly” problem, but let’s be honest. It’s never too early to think about your bones! They guard important organs like the brain, lungs, and heart. During your 20s, bone density is also at its peak, explaining why it feels like nothing can destroy you. But by age 30? Bones begin to deteriorate and weaken, leaving you susceptible to injury and damage. This is a normal process of aging, and there’s not much you can do about it. That doesn’t mean all hope is lost, though. Your daily habits and activities determine how fast it happens.
With the right choices, it’s possible to reduce the chances of bone problems like osteoporosis. It affects 10 percent of the world’s population, but the risk is higher in females. About 30 percent of postmenopausal women have the disease.1
So how does a bone-friendly lifestyle look like? Learn about what activities are detrimental to your bone health. By avoiding these habits today, you’ll make way for a stronger tomorrow.
1. Packing In The Salt
Hypertension and heart disease aren’t the only consequences of high salt intake. It also increases calciuria, or urinary calcium excretion. Within 10 years, a daily loss of 40 milligrams of calcium can deteriorate 10 percent of the skeleton.
What’s worse is that even with a high calcium intake, calciuria will still increase if sodium consumption is high. It just goes to show how every nutrient affects the next.2 On average, Americans get about 3,400 milligrams of sodium each day. That’s almost double the recommendation of 2,300 milligrams. More than 75 percent comes from processed foods, so try to eat whole whenever possible.3 Avoiding boxed and frozen meals will be a game changer.
2. Drinking Too Much Coffee
Is coffee your morning pick-me-up? Go right ahead, but don’t overdo it. High caffeine intake hinders calcium absorption and promotes calciuria, just like sodium. It’s even more significant in older post-menopausal women.4
Stick to 1 or 2 cups a day. In moderation, coffee is an excellent source of antioxidants. A 2017 study even found that it can burn calories and break down fat cells when you’re at rest.5 High doses of caffeine, on the other hand, can be detrimental to your bones.
3. Sipping Too Much Soda
Between the sugar and caffeine, soda never really had the stamp of approval. Your bones won’t love it, too! Both nutrients upset the balance of minerals needed for bone health.
Soda is also rich in phosphorous, a mineral that decreases vitamin D by secreting bone growth cells. It causes blood levels of calcium to drop. For postmenopausal women, this can mean trouble for hip fracture risk.6 Water is always the healthiest choice. If you’re craving more flavor, infuse it with fruit or herbs.
4. Getting Little To No Sleep
That’s right, sleep deprivation damages the bones. In a 2012 animal study, scientists discovered that lack of sleep decreases bone-forming cells called osteoblasts. Bone mineral density was also lower, emphasizing the impact of rest.7
This is even more important if you have sleep apnea. According to a 2015 study in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research, lack of oxygen increases inflammation, causing problems for bone metabolism.8
5. Staying Sedentary
To some, exercise feels like a chore, but it’s the best thing you can do for the body. Working out during puberty and adolescence has the biggest impact, but that doesn’t mean it’s too late! Exercise later on in life will still slow down bone loss and reduce the risk of fractures.910 Every little bit counts. Aim for 30 minutes of moderate-intensity activity, 5 days a week. Weight bearing and resistance exercises are your best bet.11
6. Smoking Cigarettes
Many people will be surprised to know that smoking affects the musculoskeletal system. It reduces bone density, a process that already happens as you age. Smoking simply speeds it up, making way for weak and brittle bones.
The risk for bone fractures also skyrockets. For men, quitting lowers that risk after 5 years, but it hangs around much longer in women.12 And if you do get hurt? Smoking will negatively impact bone healing, unfortunately.13
7. Drinking Lots Of Alcohol
Excessive alcohol drinking is often linked to problems like liver disease and dementia.14 However, bone issues also make the list. Over time, booze messes with bone growth and repair, causing bone density to take a nosedive.
There’s also usually a balance between osteoblasts and osteoclasts, which synthesize or break down bone, respectively. But with alcohol in the picture, this balance gets thrown off.15 In moderation, alcohol can be part of a healthy lifestyle. That means 2 drinks a day for men, and 1 drink a day for women.16
|↑1||Bijelic, Radojka, Snjezana Milicevic, and Jagoda Balaban. “Risk factors for osteoporosis in postmenopausal women.” Medical Archives 71, no. 1 (2017): 25.|
|↑2||Teucher, Birgit, Jack R. Dainty, Caroline A. Spinks, Gosia Majsak‐Newman, David J. Berry, Jurian A. Hoogewerff, Robert J. Foxall et al. “Sodium and bone health: impact of moderately high and low salt intakes on calcium metabolism in postmenopausal women.” Journal of bone and mineral research 23, no. 9 (2008): 1477-1485.|
|↑3||How Much Sodium Should I Eat Per Day? American Heart Association.|
|↑4||Massey, Linda K., and Susan J. Whiting. “Caffeine, urinary calcium, calcium metabolism and bone.” The Journal of nutrition 123, no. 9 (1993): 1611-1614.|
|↑5||Harpaz, Eynav, Snait Tamir, Ayelet Weinstein, and Yitzhak Weinstein. “The effect of caffeine on energy balance.” Journal of basic and clinical physiology and pharmacology 28, no. 1 (2017): 1-10.|
|↑6||Fung, Teresa T., Meredith H. Arasaratnam, Francine Grodstein, Jeffrey N. Katz, Bernard Rosner, Walter C. Willett, and Diane Feskanich. “Soda consumption and risk of hip fractures in postmenopausal women in the Nurses’ Health Study.” The American journal of clinical nutrition 100, no. 3 (2014): 953-958.|
|↑7||Everson, Carol A., Anne E. Folley, and Jeffrey M. Toth. “Chronically inadequate sleep results in abnormal bone formation and abnormal bone marrow in rats.” Experimental biology and medicine 237, no. 9 (2012): 1101-1109.|
|↑8||Swanson, Christine M., Steven A. Shea, Katie L. Stone, Jane A. Cauley, Clifford J. Rosen, Susan Redline, Gerard Karsenty, and Eric S. Orwoll. “Obstructive sleep apnea and metabolic bone disease: insights into the relationship between bone and sleep.” Journal of Bone and Mineral Research 30, no. 2 (2015): 199-211.|
|↑9||Karlsson, Magnus K. “Does exercise during growth prevent fractures in later life?.” In Optimizing Bone Mass and Strength, vol. 51, pp. 121-136. Karger Publishers, 2007.|
|↑10||Nguyen, T. V., P. N. Sambrook, and J. A. Eisman. “Bone loss, physical activity, and weight change in elderly women: the Dubbo Osteoporosis Epidemiology Study.” Journal of bone and mineral research 13, no. 9 (1998): 1458-1467.|
|↑11||Exercise and Bone Health. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.|
|↑12||Høidrup, Susanne, Eva Prescott, Thorkild IA Sørensen, Adam Gottschau, Jes Bruun Lauritzen, Marianne Schroll, and Morten Grønbæk. “Tobacco smoking and risk of hip fracture in men and women.” International journal of epidemiology 29, no. 2 (2000): 253-259.|
|↑13||Ring, J., A. Shoaib, and R. Shariff. “Smoking cessation advice in limb reconstruction: An opportunity not to be missed.” Injury 48, no. 2 (2017): 345-348.|
|↑14||Fact Sheets – Alcohol Use and Your Health. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.|
|↑15||Sampson, H. Wayne. “Alcohol’s harmful effects on bone.” Alcohol Research and Health 22, no. 3 (1998): 190.|
|↑16||Alcohol Facts and Statistics. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.|