By Ernst Lamothe Jr.
In the foundation of the human body, bones and joints remain a critical structure for our bodies. Many times people overlook the value of making sure their skeletal system is strong. Maintaining healthy bones requires more than just a doctor’s visit once in a while.
Experts in the field of orthopedic medicine believe it is important that people should treat their bodies and bones as the prized possessions they are.
“Healthy bones are the scaffolding of your body and your muscles are the workers that allow you to do all the physical activity you want. It cannot be underestimated how essential it is to have strong bones. You can’t take for granted how it can affect your quality of life,” said orthopedic surgeon Anthony Orio, who is affiliated with Syracuse Orthopedic Specialists (SOS).
Orio gives five tips to maintaining healthy bones and joints.
1. Intake Calcium
Why calcium? Because it’s a major mineral in your bones. Research shows a calcium-rich diet, including foods and supplements, helps build and protect your bones. Calcium is a mineral that the body needs for numerous functions, including building and maintaining bones and teeth, blood clotting, the transmission of nerve impulses and the regulation of the heart’s rhythm. About 99% of the body’s calcium is stored in the bones and teeth. The remaining 1% is found in the blood, muscle and other tissues. Calcium enables our muscles to contract and our heart to beat.
“Calcium is one of the building blocks to bone structure. It is integral that we have the proper vitamins and minerals in our bodies,” said Orio, who specializes in reconstruction surgery such as hip and knee replacements. “All the things you want to do in life whether it is something simple like taking a walk or doing strenuous activity, you can’t do anything comfortably if you have constant joint pain.”
2. Vitamin D
Vitamin D plays an important role in protecting your bones, both by helping your body absorb calcium and by supporting muscles needed to avoid falls. Vitamin D is unique because your skin actually produces it by using sunlight. Fair-skinned individuals and those who are younger convert sunshine into vitamin D far better than those who are darker-skinned and over age 50. Vitamin D can help build strong bones, and adults need it to keep their bones strong and healthy.
“Calcium and vitamin D are the Batman and Robin for your bones. Even though we get most of our vitamin D through sunlight, the reason why it is important is because it allows our bodies to absorb calcium into our digestive tracts. If you are vitamin D deficient then you are likely calcium deficient and it will be difficult to maintain strong and healthy bones.”
Wolff’s Law states that your bones will adapt based on the stress or demands placed on them. When you work your muscles, they put stress on your bones. In response, your bone tissue remodels and becomes stronger. Significant data exists stating that regular motion reduces stiffness and increases flexibility. Whether you choose low impact exercising such as hiking or walking or more strenuous workouts like running, swimming, dancing or tennis, moving the body on a regular basis can help prevent rigid bones
“That is why we encourage people to be active because it will make your bones stronger,” said Orio.
4. Eat Fruits and Vegetables
Eating proper nutrition and having a well-balanced diet continues to be the key. Experts recommend whole grains, fruits, vegetables and lean meats and to avoid large amounts of processed sugar.
“The foods we put in our bodies have a multitude of consequences to our bones and joints. Your body can’t function in its full capacity when you are putting in foods that are high in all the substances that are not good for you,” said Orio.
5. Avoid smoking
In addition, avoiding smoking at all costs is recommended. Smoking rates in the U.S. have declined in recent decades. However, about 15.5% of the population — or about 37.8 million adults — smoke cigarettes, according to the latest numbers from Centers for Disease Control. Smoking is an issue that leads to disease and disability and harms nearly every organ of the body and is the leading cause of preventable death.
“We all know that smoking causes a lot of issues in the body,” added Orio. “Nicotine and chemicals associated with smoking impede the rebuilding process and lead to weaker bones. It is imperative that people stop smoking for various health reasons.”