Keeping Your Bones Healthy While Dieting

Keeping Your Bones Healthy While Dieting

Restrictive diets not only reduce our caloric intake, but also often reduce our exposure to vitamins and nutrients that our bodies need to stay healthy. Extreme diets can reduce your bone mass, but a balanced diet and weight-bearing exercise will protect you from osteoporosis while you shed unwanted pounds. Try these tips for maintaining strong bones while losing weight.

Eating Right

1. Eat calcium rich foods. Calcium is a key nutrient for your bones as well as your overall health. When you don’t eat enough calcium, your body pulls it from your bones. The good news for dieters is that many calcium-rich foods are low in calories and high in nutrients. Eat low-fat dairy products, dark green vegetables, beans, and oats.

2. Consider calcium supplements. Food is the best source of calcium but supplements can help too. Many supplements are best absorbed when taken with a meal. Take smaller doses spaced out over the day to avoid side effects like cramping or diarrhea.

3. Get enough vitamin D and magnesium. Your body needs vitamin D and magnesium to absorb and use the calcium you eat. Many common foods are fortified with vitamin D including milk, orange juice, and some breakfast cereals. Good sources of magnesium include nuts, seeds, whole grains, and many vegetables.

4. Limit your salt intake. Many Americans consume twice as much as salt as medical experts recommend. When you eat too much salt, your body loses calcium through urination. Eat healthy, fresh foods and ask restaurants to prepare your meal with less salt when you eat out.

5. Cut back on caffeine. Caffeine also interferes with calcium absorption. Limit your soft drinks and exchange your regular coffee for tea. Although tea has caffeine, research shows that its plant compounds actually help protect your bones.

Exercising Regularly

1. Incorporate weight-bearing exercise into your daily routine. Physical activity is great for your bones and your weight loss plans. Your bones are living tissue, so moderate stress makes them stronger. Try to spend about 30 minutes a day on moderate exercises you enjoy, like walking or dancing.

2. Train for strength. Strength training exercises build bone mass, so try to complete a couple of sessions a week. You can join a gym or use free weights at home. Using your own body weight is also effective through exercises like push-ups or dips.

More Lifestyle Tips to Protect Your Bones

1. Get some sun. Sunscreen is essential for avoiding skin cancer and premature aging, but your body needs a little sun to produce vitamin D. Just 5 to 10 minutes exposure about 3 times a week is adequate.

2. Avoid excessive alcohol consumption and cigarettes. Too much alcohol and tobacco are bad for your bones. While dieting, get your calories from nutrient-dense foods instead of cocktails.

3. Cultivate a healthy body image. Focus on being fit at a weight you can maintain while eating a balanced diet. Being too thin increases your risk for osteoporosis, a condition where bones lose density and become more vulnerable to fractures.

• Osteoporosis is usually associated with older women, but men can be affected too.
• Young people can reduce their risk by avoiding fad diets and building up their bone mass early in life.

4. See your doctor. You can’t feel the symptoms of osteoporosis, but many of the risk factors can be modified with diet and exercise. Talk with your doctor to find the best plan for you, especially if you restrict your calories for more than a few weeks at a time. Screening tests that measure your bone mineral density (BMD) are painless and can keep you safe.

You can lose weight while minimizing your risk of osteoporosis. Eat a balanced diet and get regular exercise so you and your bones stay fit for life.

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