6 Everyday Habits That Could Hurt Your Bone Health
Most of us don't spend too much time fretting about our bones. Not only can we not directly see them, but thinking about your bones seems like something you only have to deal with when you're older. However, you might not realize it, but there are a number of everyday habits that could hurt your bone health. Although you might not feel the repercussions now, you won't want to suffer the consequences later.
"It is important to protect your bone health at all ages to reduce the risk for osteoporosis and possible fractures or broken bones, which can be life-altering," Dr. Andrea Singer, clinical director at the National Osteoporosis Foundation, tells Bustle. "Osteoporosis is a condition where too much bone is lost, not enough bone is made or both; this can result in more fragile bones which may be more likely to break. A fracture or broken bone can affect a person’s mobility, ability to live independently and impact their quality of life and ability to do the things they want or need to do."
To make sure you reduce your risk of osteoporosis as well as injury, you'll want to make sure you are aware of these six everyday habits that can hurt your bone health, according to experts.
1. Not Getting Enough Sunlight
Many people know that spending time outside gives you a boost of Vitamin D, which is a critical nutrient when it comes to your bone health. "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," says Singer. "If you aren’t getting enough vitamin D from sunlight and food, talk to your doctor about taking a supplement to make sure you get the recommended amount to support bone health."
2. Sitting On The Couch For Too Long
If you're too sedentary, your bones can take a hit, as exercise can strengthen bones in the same way that it can strengthen muscles. "To build strong bones, you need weight-bearing and muscle-strengthening exercise," says Singer. "Weight-bearing means 'on your feet' exercises, so walking, running, dancing, aerobics, are all examples. Muscle-strengthening means resistance exercises, such as light weights, using exercise bands, yoga and pilates."
That cigarette habit is doing more than just hurting your lungs. "Several studies have linked smoking with an increased risk for osteoporosis and bone fractures," says Singer. "Smoking is linked to an increase in production of the stress hormone cortisol, which weakens bone and it impedes production of the hormone calcitonin, which helps build bone."
4. Drinking Alcohol
"Drinking too much alcohol interferes with the balance of calcium in the body," Singer says. "It also affects the production of hormones, which have a protective effect on bone and of the vitamins we need to absorb calcium. Excessive alcohol consumption can also lead to more falls and related fractures."
Singer suggests limiting your drinking to no more than two drinks per day to avoid harming your bones.
5. Drinking Soda
Most of us know that soda isn't exactly the healthiest of beverages, but in addition to its sugar content, it can also block absorption of important nutrients. "The phosphate in the soda-pop binds with calcium so that your body doesn’t absorb it," orthopedic surgeon Dr. Victor Romano tells Bustle. Research is mixed — as there's no good evidence that a high phosphate intake affects bone metabolism or bone density, according to Harvard Health. However, carbonated beverages have long been associated with low bone density and fractures in adolescent girls, so it's best to go easy on the soda.
6. Eating An Imbalanced Diet
The foods that you eat can affect your bones. "Getting enough calcium is essential to building strong, dense bones when you’re young and keeping them strong and healthy as you age," Singer says. "Not eating a well-balanced diet that includes the recommended amount of calcium can have a negative effect on your bone development and remodeling. Too much salt in the diet can also be detrimental to bone."
While bone health may not be top of mind now, it's important to remember that these habits could lead to bone issues down the line.