Bones and joints constitute the skeletal system. Bones provide structure, protect organs, anchor muscles and store calcium. Joints are where two bones meet. They make the skeleton flexible — without them, movement would be impossible.
Why is bone health important?
Our bones are continuously changing — new bones are made and old bones are broken down. When we are young, our body makes new bones faster than it breaks down old bones and our bone mass increases over time. Most people reach their peak bone mass around age 30. After that, bone remodelling continues, but we lose slightly more bone mass than we gain. As we age, our bones lose their density and become thinner, this is known as osteopenia, which can lead to osteoporosis. Osteoporosis causes bones to become weak and brittle — so brittle that a fall or even mild stresses such as bending over or coughing can cause a fracture. Osteoporosis-related fractures most commonly occur in the hip, wrist or spine.
How likely we are to develop osteoporosis depends on how much bone mass we attain by the time we reach age 30 and how rapidly we lose it after that. The higher our peak bone mass, the more bone we have “in the bank” and the less likely we are to develop osteoporosis as we age.
Why is joint health important?
Our joints are the pulleys and levers that power the many complex movements that the body goes through every waking moment. Healthy joints allow us to move and go about simple tasks without pain and stiffness.
On the other hand, if one has stiff and achy joints, those first few steps after getting out of bed in the morning can be challenging. That pain sometimes evolves into more serious medical conditions such as arthritis, gout and fibromyalgia. The most common form of arthritis here in Malaysia and Singapore is osteoarthritis – the wear and tear of cartilage. When osteoarthritis hits, even simple, everyday movements can hurt. Taking the stairs can be excruciatingly painful. Walking a few steps, picking up objects, typing on a keyboard, or even sitting down can be hard.
What can we do to keep our bones and joints healthy?
A weak skeletal system can cause on-going pain, stiffness, and discomfort, increase the risk of incapacitating injuries, and hamper our ability to enjoy an active lifestyle. While some factors that put us at risk – like age, gender, and genetics – are beyond our control, we can take proactive steps to keep our bones and joints healthy.
- Exercise regularly.
- To boost bone strength, try exercises that “load” or compress the bones, like weight bearing exercises, repetitive stair climbing, dancing, tennis and basketball.
- If you have joint pain, go for gentle, low impact exercises like swimming, Tai Chi, walking, using an elliptical machine, or rebound exercise.
- Stretch the legs, back and arms muscles.
- Do cool-down exercises after each workout to improve joint strength and flexibility.
- Vary your routine to avoid overuse injuries, which can lead to joint pain.
Avoid inflammatory foods
Some foods seem to increase systemic inflammation levels, which can in turn increase cartilage degeneration. Everyone should be either limiting or altogether avoiding foods containing:
- Sugar and refined carbohydrates
- Trans fats
- Omega-6 fatty acids – most are consumed in the diet from vegetable oils
- Gluten and MSG
- Taking omega-3 fatty acids found in foods such as wild-caught fish, nuts and flaxseed will reduce inflammation throughout your body, including around your joints. They may also have a positive effect on bone metabolism, which means that eating a diet high in omega-3 fatty acids will give you stronger, healthier bones. NewLifeTM’s Omega Gold Flax Seed Oil is one of the best sources of omega-3 fatty acids. It is extracted from organic golden flax seeds using a cold press process, which prevents the destructive effect of heat, light, and oxygen, thus preserving the nutrients.
- Bones need calcium to stay strong. Eat foods rich in calcium, such as edamame, dark leafy greens, milk and yoghurt.
- Eat more foods that contain natural compounds that help reduce inflammation. For example, cruciferous, sulfur-containing vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, brussels sprouts and allium vegetables especially garlic, onions and leeks.
- Vitamin D helps your bones absorb calcium. Consume Vitamin D rich foods such as fatty fish and egg yolks.
Keep your weight down
- Being overweight or obese puts extra stress on your joints.
- A recent study showed that losing one pound (450g) of extra weight removes four pounds (1.8kg) of pressure on your joints. A moderate weight loss of ten pounds (4.5kg) would remove forty pounds (18kg) of pressure from your knees, easing joint pain and inflammation.
Develop healthy habits
- Practise good posture.
- Ensure to distribute weight evenly.
- Straighten your spine.
- Do not drink alcohol excessively. Alcohol affects calcium absorption. Heavy alcohol use, especially during adolescence and young adult years, can dramatically affect bone health and increase the risk of osteoporosis later in life.
- Stop smoking. Nicotine and other chemicals in cigarette smoke cause bone damage. Smoking reduces the blood supply to bones, slows the production of bone-forming cells and decreases the absorption of calcium from your diet. It also breaks down estrogen, which is essential for building and maintaining strong bones in both men and women.
Take calcium supplements
Research has shown that calcium supplements may be helpful for improving joint and bone health, whether you are looking to prevent osteoporosis or trying to maintain healthy cartilage in your joints. The U.S. recommended daily allowance for calcium is 1000mg a day during your 20s–40s. However, your need increases as you age. Also your body is only able to absorb up to 500mg of calcium at a time, so spread out your consumption over the course of the day.
NewLifeTM’s Nature’s Gift Calcium Complex with Boron is an excellent choice for anyone concerned with maintaining peak calcium levels for total protection. It is a special blend of calcium and boron along with vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin B12, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc and vitamin B6. These ingredients work synergistically to enhance bone strength and provide maximum absorption of calcium into the bones.
Boost collagen intake
Many of us may not be aware that collagen is not just for beautiful skin. Its rich amino acids play a vital role in the building of connective tissue, such as cartilage, bones, tendons and ligaments. Clinical trials have shown that daily supplementation with collagen can reduce joint pain, stiffness, and inflammation, improve mobility and flexibility, build bone matrix and speed recovery from injury. Start boosting your collagen intake by adding NewLifeTM’s Collasta into your daily supplement regime.
Prevention is better than cure
By establishing the right habits to support bone and joint health earlier in life, we can potentially prevent painful conditions that may affect our comfort and mobility as we age. We are only granted one set of bones and joints to serve us for life, so let us take good care of them while we can!