By Karen Chapman-Novakofski
According to the 2004 Surgeon General’s Report on Bone Health and Osteoporosis, 30 years ago, little was known about bone disease. Weak and broken bones were thought to be just a part of the aging process. Individuals can affect their bone health through diet and physical activity so the effects of aging on bones can be lessened.
A broken bone after age 50 can mean that your bones are weakening. For the elderly, a hip fracture increases the mortality rate and if the individual survives, will likely end up in a nursing home within the year. Many of the elderly limit their physical activity, because they are afraid that they will fall.
From childhood on, consuming good sources of dietary calcium and vitamin D, along with participating in weight-bearing physical activity is key to bone health.
In general, a bone healthy diet is consuming enough calories for adequate weight, and the optimal amounts of protein, calcium and vitamin D. Consuming the recommended number of servings of fruits and vegetables (2 ½ cups vegetables and 2 cups of fruit for a 2,000 calorie intake), and following the recommendation of no more than 1,500 milligrams (1.5 grams) of sodium per day also contribute to a bone healthy diet.
To maintain bone health, it is important to consume a variety of foods in amounts recommended for your age, gender, height and level of physical activity. To begin with, individuals need to find a weight that they are comfortable with and that falls within reasonable limits for their body type.
To find your recommended weight and food intake level, go to www.supertracker.usda.gov. At this site, you can type in your age, gender, height and current weight – the website will calculate how much food from each of the food groups is right for you.
Being at the right weight is important to bone health. Those who are too thin are at increased risk for osteoporosis. Thin people usually have a smaller frame. Their bones are smaller, so any change in density will have a big effect.
On the other hand, individuals who are overweight usually have denser bones. This may not be the best for your overall health. Staying active, having good balance and flexibility, and a healthy diet are the best approach to bone health.