Every kid hears “Drink your milk and go outside for a runaround” – because it’s good for growing up. But every adult needs to do this too – because it’s good for growing old healthily!
QUESTION: What do all adult humans have 208 of?
ANSWER: Bones! If you answered brain cells, you’d be wrong (and I’d be worried)!
As kids we’re told to drink milk and eat cheese and yoghurt to strengthen our bones and build them up to stay strong. But as we age, many people seem to forget the importance of healthy bones and the role they play in maintaining and improving good health.
In day-to-day life, bones are responsible for protecting your organs, moving your body, producing blood cells and storing minerals. If you’ve ever broken a bone the reality of just how important they are smacks you hard in the face. TRUST me, I’ve broken 16!! The amazing thing is that they heal – the body is truly remarkable.
Luckily, it’s not hard to keep your bones healthy. Every day I think about how I can stay strong and protect myself against the ravages of osteoporosis. I want to avoid being a little old lady hunched over with restricted, painful movement. When I’m 82 I want to swim and dance across Europe, maybe on one of those luxury river cruises!
It’s easy to have healthy bones. Here’s how:
1. Have More Calcium
Many women link calcium to cheese, milk and yoghurt and think: “Oh that’s so full of fat” and avoid them. But adults need 2.5 serves or 1000mg of calcium a day. Check nutrition labels and choose calcium rich foods with over 120mg per 100g of calcium, and if you’re buying non-dairy based milks check they’re fortified with calcium so you aren’t missing out.
Try including a cup of low-fat milk at breakfast with cereal, ¾ cup low-fat natural yoghurt as a snack and salmon with green leafy vegetables for dinner to help reach your calcium target. (P.S. Latest studies show that consuming low-fat yoghurt actually HELPS with weight loss).
2. Eat a Healthy Diet
Protein is also essential to build healthy bones. Most people need between 0.8-1.5g/kg of protein a day. A balanced diet, including dairy, fish, fruit and vegies will ensure your body is getting important minerals like phosphorus (helps with bone formation and maintenance), potassium (strengthens bones), magnesium (helps control calcium levels in bone) and zinc (helps bone turnover). Did you know dairy contains ALL these minerals?
3. Sunshine and lollipops
Well, maybe not lollipops, but the sun provides vitamin D, which is absolutely essential for healthy bones as it locks in the calcium. The best part is that sunshine is free. If you like sardines and canned salmon with bones, you’re also lucky as these are rich sources of both calcium and vitamin D.
4. Weight-bearing exercise or resistance training
Pumping iron builds bones. Weight-bearing exercises such as stair climbing, skipping and yoga induce a positive response in our bones.
So eat a tub of yoghurt, do some bicep curls and skip in the sunshine and I’ll see you all on the dance floor in a couple of decades!
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