Healthy bones are important for a healthy you. Your bones are continuously changing – new bone is formed when old bone breaks down. The body makes new bone faster in younger people. Aging and loss of bone mass increases risks of developing osteoporosis, which can result in painful fractures of the hip, wrist, or spine. People with less bone mass face are more likely to develop osteoporosis as they age. Apart from genetics, factors that can affect bone health include the amount of calcium in your diet, physical activity, tobacco and alcohol use, hormonal imbalances, and certain medical conditions. The good news is that proper nutrition and lifestyle habits can help build and maintain strong bones as you get older. Here are some natural ways to boost bone health:
- Monitor your diet: Make sure that you eat foods that provide you with enough calcium and vitamin D daily, which will promote bone strength and minimize risks of osteoporosis. The main mineral found in the bones, calcium is the most important mineral for bone health. Vitamin D has a significant role in bone health, and helps the body absorb calcium. Vitamin K, Vitamin C, protein, and other minerals are also important for bone health. To get these vitamins, include more green vegetables (broccoli, bok choy, kale and turnip greens) and fruit, low-fat yogurt or Greek yogurt, fortified juices, cereals, and milk alternatives like soymilk, in your diet.
- Understand osteoporosis and its risk factors: Osteoporosis is a disease characterized by low bone mass and weakening or “porous” bones. Factors like age, gender, family history, race, body type, menstrual history, and personal lifestyle and history can make certain people more susceptible to osteoporosis as they age. As heredity and family history of osteoporosis and/or fracture on the mother’s side of the family can be early warning signs, it’s important that you should know your family history. If your risks are high, you should be more proactive about how you exercise and eat. Talk to your doctor about osteoporosis fighting medications.
- Test bone mineral density: Do a bone density test to measure bone strength. The results will help your doctor determine your rate of bone loss. By evaluating this information and your risk factors, your doctor can assess whether you need medication or not.
- Do strength training and weight-bearing exercises: People who are physically inactive have a higher risk of osteoporosis. Exercise regularly and include strength training and weight-bearing exercises in your regimen. Weight-bearing exercise like walking, dancing, or step aerobics can protect your bones. These exercises not only help you build and maintain strong bones, but also promote overall physical and mental health.
- Avoid excessive use of alcohol: Alcohol can interfere with the body’s ability to absorb calcium. The National Osteoporosis Foundation recommends that alcohol consumption be kept at less than three drinks a day. Studies have shown that people who consume more than 3 ounces of alcohol (roughly 6 drinks) each day have a higher likelihood of bone loss than those who drink alcohol in moderation.
- Quit smoking: Smoking is not good for your bones and or for your health. Research suggests that tobacco use contributes to weak bones. Smoking increases the risk of osteoporosis by reducing blood flow to the bones, slowing the production of bone-forming cells, and impairing calcium absorption. So quit smoking and tobacco use.
Maintaining a healthy weight can also help boost bone strength. As a Healthline article notes, being too thin or too heavy can negatively affect bone health. Additionally, maintaining a stable weight, rather than repeatedly losing and regaining it, can help preserve bone density.
Depression is a common mental disorder that affects millions across the globe. The World Health Organization predicts that depression will become the second most prevalent disease worldwide by the year 2020. Depression causes a feeling of sadness and/or a loss of interest in activities once enjoyed. It can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems and decrease a person’s ability to function at work and at home. This mental condition can progress into a major depressive disorder that requires medical treatment. On the other hand, minor depressive feelings are a normal part of modern life and can be effectively addressed with natural therapies. In fact, making simple lifestyle changes and altering your way of thinking can improve your emotional health.
- Create a routine, set goals: Depression can disturb the structure or routine of your life. So you have to develop a daily schedule to get back on track and set goals. Goal setting is important because depressed people find hard to accomplish anything as they don’t believe they can. The solution lies in setting some daily tasks – start with smaller tasks that can be easily accomplished. Doing these tasks as planned will help you regain confidence in yourself.
- Build relationships and get support: Try to be in contact with your friend and family and build a positive and healthy relationship with them. Lack of social bonding can worse your emotional issues. According to an article in the Reader’s Digest, “regular social contact with a close friend may boost self-confidence and encourage you to make other positive changes that will help in overcoming depression, such as starting an exercise program”.
- Spend time outdoors: Spending time outdoors can calm your mind and also improve your vitamin D levels, which help to reduce the symptoms of depression. In fact, according to researchers at the University of South Australia, the relationship between depression and vitamin D deficiency from a lack of sun exposure was first noted over two thousand years ago. Get some fresh air, exercise, and stay active the whole day. Aim to spend at least 10-20 minutes in the sun.
- Meditation: This is perhaps is the best way to address the root of depression. Meditation’s effect on mood will reduce depression and anxiety and also provide other health benefits.
- Exercise regularly: Doing aerobic exercises regularly can improve emotional health and boost self confidence. Physical activity is an antidepressant, helps create positive feelings, and improves mood as it releases endorphins in the brain. Endorphins are chemicals that regulate mood.
- Eat healthy: Watch what you eat, as food can also contribute to your emotional condition. Avoid or cut down intake of coffee or other forms of caffeine from your routine diet. Caffeine can interfere with your normal mood and aggravate depression. Include fresh fruits and vegetables in your diet, as good nutrition is one of the basic foundations to good health, including mental health. Foods with omega-3 fatty acids (such as salmon and tuna) and folic acid (such as spinach and avocado) can help ease depression.
- Earthing: Also known as grounding, earthing refers to contact with the Earth’s surface by walking barefoot on grass, sand, dirt or rock. This is believed to be good your physical and mental health. It is said that the earth’s magnetic forces will recharge your body and your mind. So walk barefoot on the ground for at least 30 minutes a day.
- Good, undisturbed sleep: Sleeping helps your body revive and heal itself. Sound, undisturbed sleep is very important for good mental health.
If these simple measures don’t help, consult a psychotherapist, mental health professional or grief counselor. The right treatment can improve your coping skills, bring about a remission in your symptoms, and help you recover.