Your bone density has a lot to say about how you will age

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Written by: Maureen Kemeny

January 20, 2023

I recently went for a bone density test, my third one. 

Even though I have consistently participated in weight bearing exercises and strength training for over 30 years, my most recent bone density (December 2022) results found that I have some osteopenia in my right hip and low back. Interestingly, these are both areas where I  have sustained injuries. 

My Mom had osteoporosis and I have been proactive in doing what I can to prevent it, especially since research suggests that osteoporosis and disorders of bone fragility are highly heritable

https://arthritis-research.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/ar2479#:~:text=Twin%20and%20family%20studies%20have,predominantly%20due%20to%20genetic%20factors.

Osteoporosis is diagnosed when a person’s bone mineral density is lower than a predetermined threshold (usually -2.5 or -2.6), as determined by a bone density scan (DXA scan).

Osteopenia is a condition in which bone density is lower than normal, but not low enough to be classified as osteoporosis. Having osteopenia increases a person’s risk of developing osteoporosis.

Osteopenia is typically diagnosed using a dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) scan. During a DXA scan, a low dose X-ray is used to measure the density of bones in the spine, hip, and other areas. The scan produces a T-score, which is a measure of bone density compared to an average healthy adult. If the T-score is between -1.0 and -2.5, it is considered to indicate osteopenia.

As we age, we can expect to lose between 0.5 and 1.0 percent of our bone mass each year. This means that our bones become weaker, lighter, and more prone to breaks or fractures.

The quality of your life in later years is very much dependent on the strength of your bones. 

Personally, I want to be active as long as possible and not be relegated to the couch. 

Therefore, it is important to maintain bone density as we age to ensure that our bones remain strong and healthy and to maintain an active and vibrant lifestyle.

Ideally, we want to shore up long before we hit menopause but even if you haven’t it is not too late to start.

There are definitely lifestyle changes you can implement to improve your bone density. 

Eating: 

1. Increase calcium and vitamin D intake. Foods high in calcium and vitamin D include dairy products (milk, yogurt, cheese), salmon, broccoli, kale, and oranges. 

2. Eat more greens. Leafy greens such as spinach, collards, and swiss chard are high in minerals that are important for bone health.

 3. Increase your intake of vitamin K. This vitamin helps to absorb calcium and is found in foods such as kale, spinach, and cabbage.

 4. Eat more plant proteins. Plant proteins are an important source of minerals that are beneficial for bone health. Soybeans, lentils, and quinoa are some of the best sources of plant proteins. 

Exercising: 

1. Weight-bearing exercise. This includes activities like walking, running, jogging, dancing, and playing sports. These activities help to build strong bones and improve balance. 

2. Strength training. Lifting weights and using resistance bands are excellent ways to build muscle and strengthen bones. 

3. Stretching. Stretching exercises help to improve mobility, flexibility, and balance.

 4. Balance exercises. Balance exercises help to improve coordination and reduce the risk of falling.  

If you want to improve your balance, you can access a free 5 day balance challenge within my private Facebook group. I provide this complimentary resource to my community. Doing so is my way of helping you reach your full potential in terms of health and wellbeing. You can join us here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/mindandbodymakeoverforwomenover40

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