12 – 20 October 2019 – World Bone And Joint Week
Our joints and bones form the structure and stability of our bodies. They protect our organs, create insertion points for our muscles, which also give us the freedom to move. They also store calcium for our bodies to use. Protecting and enhancing bone health is as important as building muscle and staying fit.
Our bones are constantly moving through a state of breakdown and repair. As old bone is broken down, new bone is made to replace it. Even when we suffer a breakage, new bone replaces the damaged bones to ensure that they maintain a certain level of strength and density. This process is called bone remodeling or bone metabolism. Bone remodeling takes place on an ongoing basis until we are about 30 years of age, with bone regeneration happening faster than it is broken down. From then the process begins to slow down and our overall bone mass starts to decrease.
The bone remodeling process continues after 30, but in reverse as bones are broken down faster than they are repaired. How much bone mass you attributed up until age 30, and how quickly you lose it in years to follow, will have a great influence on your overall bone health, strength, flexibility and density.
Bone diseases such as osteoporosis (an affliction that leads to weak, brittle bones) can become prevalent due to this imbalance in the bone remodeling process. You are more likely to develop osteoporosis if you have less bone mass built up, but also if you start to lose it quickly.
Factors Contributing To Bone Loss
Once we have reached our bone mass peak, we start to lose bone mass over time. There are some factors that can contribute to this loss, such as:
- Leading a sedentary life
- Drinking alcohol
- Lack of calcium in diet
- Women are at a higher risk of developing osteoporosis than men
- The older you get, the more bone mass loss you will experience
- Overactive thyroid can contribute to loss of bone mass
- In men, lower testosterone levels can contribute to bone mass loss
- People living with anorexia or bulimia will experience faster bone mass loss
- People living with certain diseases such as Crohn’s disease, celiac disease and Cushing’s disease are also at a greater risk
How Sleep Impacts Bone Health
Research and studies conducted over the past few years have come to suggest that sleep also plays a major role in the health of our bones. A good night’s sleep is important for the regeneration of our bodies, muscles and brains, so it makes sense that our bones also need this time to remodel. The studies found that new bone can stop forming due to sleep deprivation, and that the density could lessen too.
Due to the increase in stresses we face on a daily basis, sleep deprivation is a reality for many people. This could also provide a link with escalated cases of osteoporosis.
How You Can Improve Your Bone Mass
Once you’ve reached your bone mass peak around age 30, you will need to make a conscious effort to maintain the health of your bones and keep the bone remodeling process fluid. These tips can help you make the most of your bone health for years to come:
- Ensure you get enough rest and sleep
- Exercise regularly
- Do weight-bearing training such as light weight training, Pilates and yoga, or walking
- Avoid the use of nicotine products as these contribute to weak bones
- Avoid alcohol for the same reasons as nicotine
- Expose your skin to the sun’s rays every now and then to get some quality vitamin D. Your body requires vitamin D in order to absorb calcium. Get vitamin D from foods such as oily fish, eggs, mushrooms, dairy, fortified cereals
- Ensure you are getting enough calcium from dairy products, dark green vegetables, almonds, sardines and soya