The lifestyle you lead earlier in life can make a big impact on the way your body ages. You’re probably not thinking about your bone health today, but down the line, you may wish you had. As we get older, our bones are increasingly at risk of developing osteoporosis, which can lead to painful spine conditions.
Osteoporosis and the spine
Osteoporosis is a disease that weakens the bones and increases the risk of fractures. This can often lead to broken bones in the upper spine. When these vertebrae break, they can cause pain and a hunched posture, which is a condition known as kyphosis. As bones continue to break in the spine, the spine becomes more curved.
Luckily, this condition is completely preventable. By making your bone health a priority early in life, you can prevent osteoporosis and the back pain that comes with it.
Tips for good bone health
Get plenty of calcium
It’s no secret that calcium keeps your bones strong. Milk is a great way to get more calcium in your diet, but there are other calcium-rich foods as well:
- Canned seafood
- Nuts and beans
Increase your Vitamin D intake
Vitamin D is necessary for your health and strong bones. In fact, vitamin D allows the body to absorb the calcium from foods. One of the easiest ways to get vitamin D is by spending time in the sun. It is recommended that you spend at least five to 10 minutes in the sun daily. There are also vitamin D fortified foods like fatty fish, eggs, and mushrooms.
Exercise is beneficial in many ways, but it is also important for bone health. Strength training, jogging, and stair climbing are good ways to promote overall health and strengthen your bones. As a result of exercising, a healthy, stable weight will help preserve bone density. Try these spine strengthening exercises at home.
Quit smoking and excessive alcohol use
Smoking can lead to a number of back injuries because it causes bone loss. Studies have shown a direct correlation between tobacco use and decreased bone density. The best thing to do is quit smoking and talk to a doctor if you are worried about your bone density. Your doctor will be able to conduct a bone mineral density test to determine an effective course of action.
Excessive alcohol use has also been known to decrease bone density. Alcohol interferes with the balance of calcium in the body and affects the production of hormones that have a protective effect on the bones.
A healthy diet can benefit your entire body. By increasing your intake of vegetables, protein, omega-3 fats, magnesium, and zinc, you can promote healthy bones. There are many foods that can fill these needs including:
- Dark, leafy greens. When it comes to greens, darker is better. Kale, bok choy, and collard greens are a few popular examples.
- Sweet potatoes pack a delicious punch of magnesium and potassium for increased calcium intake and healthy bones.
- Citrus fruits offer vitamin C, which has been shown to help prevent bone loss.
- Tofu is enriched with calcium and can be used in a variety of dishes to add protein.
The best way to prevent back pain later in life is to start early! Setting yourself up for a healthy lifestyle can make all the difference. If you think you may already have osteoporosis or a back condition resulting from it, it is important to consult a doctor. For back pain in New Jersey, Coastal Spine is dedicated to getting patients back to health using nonsurgical approaches first. If you are experiencing back pain, schedule a consultation with Coastal Spine.