“There are 206 bones in the human body…want another one?”
Mmmm. Love that line.
Anyway, since I’m all in the Halloween spirit, I thought it was a good time to talk about your lovely skeleton!
The skeletal system is really quite important. It protects your inner goods, turns your body into a system of levers so you can move your muscles, supplies red and white blood cells, and stores calcium, potassium, sodium, and other minerals. Don’t forget your teeth are bones too — if you want strong chompers well into old age, might as well keep them in top shame!
I’m sure you hear about osteoporosis all the time, which is when your bones become fragile and are likely to break. Um, I’d prefer to spend old age traveling through Europe with my second husband, not with a million little fractures, a hip replacement, and a hump back…so I’m trying to take good care of my bones now!
- The amount of bone mass a woman has by age 35 will strongly influence her susceptibility to fractures later in life.
- Peak bone mass is developed between the ages of 14 and 24. That means if you were a cranky tween who refused to drink her milk, you could be at risk!
- Hormones also play a huge part in bone mass; estrogen deficiency is a big risk factor for osteoporosis. If you have ever dieted/exercised so much you lost your period, it definitely could have affected your bones.
- We all know calcium is good for bones! The RDA is currently 1,000 mg for pre-menopausal adult women. I know you know this, but many women our age still do not get that amount.
- If you take a calcium supplement, take no more than 500 mg at a time; that’s the most your body can absorb. Also, make sure it’s fortified with its BFF, Vitamin D.
- I used to do the chocolate calcium chews, because it was like a piece of candy after my meals, but now I just take the pills because they are cheaper. Do whatever works for you! The point is, take the supplement for insurance.
- Don’t smoke! There are a million reasons not to smoke, but add this to the list. Nicotine is absolutely toxic for your bones.
- Similarly, lay off the drank. Excess drinking can lead to a 2 percent bone loss in a year’s time. Oh and if you’re an “I only smoke when I’m drunk,” type, just know that nicotine and alcohol mean the rate goes up to 8 percent bone loss in a year.
- The Depo-Provera birth control shot is pretty bad for your bones. If you use it, do not forget your supplements. A friend of a friend in her 20s had major fractures in her legs due to a few years on the shot.
If you like and can tolerate milk (I can’t, but sometimes my tummy takes one for the team, as in TEAM I LOVE CHEESE), incorporate it more in your daily diet! Here are some ways:
- Drink it by the cup. OK, duh. But I sometimes forget how good it can taste with a hearty dinner, like beef stew, or something spicy, like spaghetti. Treat it like wine and pair it with the right foods!
- Prepare canned, condensed soup with milk instead of water. (Like tomato!) It tastes better anyway.
- Add nonfat dry milk to soups, casseroles, or cookies.
- Use yogurt as a base for low-calorie dressings.
- If you have a sweet tooth, choose frozen desserts made with low-fat milk.
- Put milk or yogurt in your smoothies!
- Drink low-fat chocolate milk. It’s a perfect recovery snack for after tough workouts and it tastes good.
- Add it to your drinks! Drink hot chocolate made with milk or have a latte instead of a coffee in the morning.
If you can’t do milk products, try these other foods:
- Sardines. Not my fave way to get it, but hey, worth trying. Three ounces of these guys has more calcium than milk, actually. Salmon also has some calcium, and vitamin D.
- Nuts! Almonds, pistachios, and sunflower seeds pack calcium, while peanuts have potassium, which protects against calcium loss via pee.
- Try Chinese cabbage and turnip greens; both have a way bigger dose of calcium than broccoli or spinach.
- Eat tofu! Half a cup has almost as much calcium as milk, and it has isoflavones, which increase bone density.
- Avoid salt. Besides raising your blood pressure, salt is also responsible for leeching calcium from your bones.
Last, you can use exercise to keep your bones strong!
- Weight bearing exercise refers to exercises in which your body overcomes the force of gravity or bears the body’s weight. This stimulates bone growth.
- Walking and running are weight-bearing, so if all you do is swim, cycle, and use the elliptical, try to swap in a walk or a jog!
- Weight lifting also counts – so just another reason to strength train!
OK this would not be a complete post without at least one joke about boning, but for that, I’m just going to direct your attention to AwkwardBoners.com. It takes a lot to leave me speechless, but the day I got sent that link, I definitely was. NSFW (obv), and it just makes me so glad that my pants cannot express my feelings, cause I’d be on that site, like, every day.