Dense and well-built bones form the body’s framework, which gives us strength, posture and the ability to move. Today’s fast paced life wrecks havoc on bone health, with no time to exercise and an increased consumption of packaged and processed foods. Here’s what you need to know about your bones, the foods that you should eat and avoid for strong bones, some alternate remedies for bone health and how you can improve your bone density with yoga.
What you need to know about your bones
People of all age groups need adequate calcium, Vitamins D and K2, magnesium and collagen for strong and elastic bones. Higher bone mass is equivalent to higher strength. Like the other cells in the body, new bone cells are formed to replace old ones. With age, our bones become denser and stronger, but only until the age of 25. After reaching maximum bone mass, the body tends to lose bone cells faster than it forms them.
Here are some facts about bone health:
• An adult under 50 needs 1000 mg of calcium and 400 – 800 IU of Vitamin D daily.
• After the age of 51, women need 1,200 mg of calcium per day and men need 1,000 mg. Men and women need 1,000 IU of Vitamin D every day.
• We lose calcium every day through our urine, sweat, nails and skin etc., but it cannot be produced by our bodies.
• Vitamin K2 is found in fermented soy foods, eggs & meat products.
• Vitamin D promotes calcium absorption and prevents bones from becoming brittle.
• Vitamin D can be obtained through food, sunlight and supplements.
• Optimum levels of Vitamin D can ease chronic pain.
• A deficiency of these vitamins and minerals can cause rickets in children and osteoporosis in adults.
Foods to include in your diet: Milk, yogurt, ghee (clarified butter), broccoli, mushrooms, green leafy vegetables like spinach, fish like salmon and tuna, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, almond milk and nuts.
Things to avoid: Smoking, alcohol, caffeine, cheese, ice cream, bakery products, carbonated drinks and fried foods.
Remedies for bone health:
• Self massage with sesame oil.
• Meditation, to nourish the body, mind and soul.
• Soaking up the sun’s rays every day at sunrise and sunset.
Yoga and bone density
Yoga plays a vital role in keeping your bones healthy. Just 10 to 15 minutes of yoga every day has a positive effect on bone health, even for people suffering from osteoporosis. The practice of yoga improves the flexibility and strength of muscles and the density of bones. Beginners may feel some stress on their bones initially but holding the postures consistently increases muscle mass and muscle strength. It further enhances the growth of new bone cells without depleting existing ones.
Standing postures like Chair Pose, Triangle Pose and Warrior Pose work on the joints and muscles around your shoulders, knees and hips as well as the long bones in your thighs and legs. Twisting postures and forward and backward bending postures like Downward Facing Dog, Upward Facing Dog and Half Spinal Twist strengthen the spine, shoulders and arms.
Bone health can be easily taken care of with a combination of proper nutrition and yoga at any age. All the yoga practices should be done under the supervision of an experienced yoga trainer.
*Image courtesy: ©Shutterstock
Courtesy: Manisha Kharbanda