The lockdown has had a drastic effect on our bones. Staying indoors coupled with the curtailing of physical activity has been a double whammy for the health of our skeletal system. Staying indoors is leading to a deficiency of vitamin D, an important bone nutrient, and the low activity directly affects our bones and joints too. In addition, there is not enough dietary focus on other important bone nutrients like calcium, magnesium, and vitamin K.
It is a dire situation, and the ill effects of this misadventure will begin to show up a little later. Most of us will end up with weaker bones on the other side of the pandemic.
Your future disability, low bone density and strength (for example osteoporosis or porous bones) entirely depends on how you take care of your bones today.
Follow These 7 Steps to Better Bone Health
Regular Exercise is Important
Exercise works better than even calcium in building strong bones. If it is difficult for you to weave in structured exercise these days, just consciously increase your movement throughout the day. Do chores during the commercial breaks on your favourite TV show, do your laundry in between webinars, empty wastebaskets, gather dirty dishes. Wipe counter tops during the lunch break. All these will add up a lot of activity minutes and help the bones.
Climbing stairs is a brilliant way to increase your bone health and to help slow down the loss of bone density. Try to go up and down the stairs two to three times a day.
Eat More Good Fats
For strong bone density you also need the ‘right’ combination of polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs), which include omega-6s (in grains and meat) and omega-3s (in fish, flax seeds, and walnuts). We usually get more than enough of omega 6 but lack omega 3 in our diets, so it is important to focus on that.
Eat an Anti-Inflammatory Diet
Consciously plan a diet rich in fruit, vegetables, fish, omega-3 and wholegrain cereals.
Nicotine is toxic to the bones. In fact if you don't stop smoking there's very little anyone can do for your bones. Nicotine counteracts all good steps.
Keep Your Stress in Check
Cortisol, our major stress hormone, is extremely detrimental to bones and other organs if it remains at high levels.
Avoid Excess Alcohol
Excess alcohol can lead to bone loss as it interferes with the production of vitamin D, which in turn interferes with calcium absorption. Too much alcohol can also lead to increase in levels of hormone cortisol that increases bone breakdown.
Finally, consciously take in a more bone-friendly diet
- Calcium (dairy, sesame seeds, anjeer)
- Vitamin D (20-30 minutes exposure to sun daily)
- Magnesium (dark leafy greens, specially spinach, most nuts, and seeds, fish, beans, whole grains)
- Potassium (potato, banana, mushrooms, tomatoes, cucumber, pomegranate)
- Vitamin B 12 (dairy products, eggs, fish, meat, and poultry)
- Vitamin C (citrus fruits, tomatoes, kiwi, guava, broccoli, and amla)
- Vitamin K (leafy veggies such as cabbage, cauliflower, spinach, soybean, cheese and liver, and green tea).
(Kavita is a nutritionist, weight management consultant and health writer based in Delhi. She is the author of Don’t Diet! 50 Habits of Thin People (Jaico), Ultimate Grandmother Hacks: 50 Kickass Traditional Habits for a Fitter You (Rupa) and Fix it with foods.)