Start supporting your bones now

What do you do to support your bone and joint health? Many people wait until their bones start to ache before they take action to protect them, but by then a lot of the damage has already been done. Just like with cardiovascular health, it's important to do things to take care of your bones while you're young.

The National Osteoporosis Foundation reminds people that when they think about staying healthy, they can't just focus on preventing things like heart disease –  they also need to focus on their bones. According to the organization, if people don't do things to help boost their joint health, they may develop conditions that can leave them vulnerable to having brittle bones that can break because of something as simple as a sneeze.

Recently, Time Magazine published an article with tips on how to build healthy bones and keep them strong.

Vitamins, minerals and family
First, the news source pointed out that when people think {of} bones, they usually think of calcium. Yogurt, cheese, milk, spinach and collard greens are all good sources of this mineral. However, calcium is not enough without vitamin D, since these two work together to help the bones absorb the nutrients they need. There are many ways to increase vitamin D levels. It can be found in salmon and fortified milk, as well as in supplements. However, the best way to get the body to produce this nutrient is to get 10 to 15 minutes of sun exposure each day.

Another nutrient that may improve bone health is vitamin K, which can stimulate calcium absorption. This vitamin is found in kale, broccoli, Swiss chard and spinach.

Also, like many other conditions, you may be able to predict the future of your bone health by examining your family's history with bone issues. If grandma has trouble with her joints and bones, then chances are you will as well.

Stay activeTime added that regular exercise is crucial to bone health. When you're overweight, you're putting a great deal of pressure on your bones and joints, which isn't good for them. The news source recommended weight-bearing exercises such as running, walking, jumping rope, skiing and stair climbing to help strengthen the bones

Remember, just like with the rest of your body, it's important to keep your bones in good condition, so start doing things to protect them sooner rather than later.

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The Mediterranean diet may be good for the bones

 

One of the keys to healthy aging is to protect the skeleton. While many people know that vitamin D and calcium are essential to bone health, they may not realize that their weight can also play a role. For example, a 2007 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that being overweight can be damaging to the bones. Furthermore, the increased pressure that being overweight places on the joints may cause pain.

Recently, a new study suggested that there may be a way to promote the health of bones and weight loss at the same time. Research published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism shows that following a Mediterranean diet may have protective benefits for bones. Furthermore, this diet has been used as an effective weight loss tool for many years.

Good for bone and cardiovascular health

According to researchers, olive oil, which is a staple of the Mediterranean diet, has been associated with bone health.

"The intake of olive oil has been related to the prevention of [bone problems] in experimental and in vitro models," said José Manuel Fernández-Real, M.D., Ph.D., of Girona, Spain, and lead author of the study.

Researchers found that people who consumed a Mediterranean diet with virgin olive oil were found to have improved bone health over those who consumed a low fat diet or a Mediterranean diet that included mixed nuts, but not as much olive oil. Furthermore, people who ate more olive oil had higher calcium levels than the others.

Other benefits of the Mediterranean diet

Along with potentially helping the bones, the Mediterranean diet has been associated with improved cardiovascular health. According to staff at the Mayo Clinic, this eating plan mostly consists of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish and olive oil. Many of the components of this diet, such as salmon, anchovies and olive oil, are all good sources of omega-3 fatty acids.

Some people who follow the regimen have also seen improvements in their cholesterol levels. This is likely due to the fact that while following the Mediterranean eating plan, people are supposed to replace butter with olive oil, which has less saturated fat.

Finally, the Mediterranean diet encourages people to drink moderate amounts of red wine, which contains resveratrol, a powerful antioxidant.

So, people who are interested in potentially improving their bone and heart health should consider trying a Mediterranean diet. 

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Joint Health – Use Them, or Lose Them

This is part of our ongoing The Best Kept Secrets to Healthy Aging spotlight. Each week, we will be posting some of the great information that’s packed into our book, The Best Kept Secrets to Healthy Aging.

Today’s topic:
Joint Health – Use Them, or Lose Them

There is something else you can do in addition to utilizing targeted nutrition to help your joints last as long as possible – exercise! Two recently published human studies have confirmed the roles of physical activity in joint health. A study published in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases showed that if you don’t use your joints, their cartilage covering tends to thin out.20 A second study published in the journal Arthritis and Rheumatism showed that moderate exercise increases the thickness of joint cartilage and improves joint performance.21

A combination of healthy dietary choices, supplemental nutrients, and exercise can lead to beneficial effects in terms of your ability to maintain optimal joint structure and integrity.

Next Best Kept Secrets to Healthy Aging topic:
Healthy Habits – Developing a Plan that Fits Your Needs

References:
20. Eckstein F, Lemberger B, Gratzke C, Hudelmaier M, Glaser C, Englmeier KH, Reiser M. In vivo cartilage deformation after different types of activity and its dependence on physical training status. Ann Rheum Dis 2005;64:291-295.
21. Roos EM, Dahlberg L. Positive effects of moderate exercise on glycosaminoglycan content in knee cartilage: A four-month, randomized, controlled trial in patients at risk of osteoarthritis. Arthritis Rheum 2005;52:3507-3514.

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Joint Health – MSM (Methylsulfonylmethane)

This is part of our ongoing The Best Kept Secrets to Healthy Aging spotlight. Each week, we will be posting some of the great information that’s packed into our book, The Best Kept Secrets to Healthy Aging.

Today’s topic:
Joint Health – MSM (Methylsulfonylmethane)

MSM is an organic sulfur compound that is chemically inert. It occurs naturally in certain plants and is available as a dietary supplement for joint health. Sulfur is a mineral that is necessary for the health of connective tissue throughout the body, including the bones, joints, ligaments and tendons. Supplemental MSM provides sulfur that can be used in the formation and maintenance of these different types of connective tissue. Studies have shown that MSM can enhance joint health and function. Recently, a study conducted in India showed that MSM, alone and in combination with glucosamine, was able to promote joint comfort and mobility.19 The study was a randomized double-blind placebo-controlled trial conducted in 118 individuals. Using MSM in combination with glucosamine, similar to the combination of glucosamine with chondroitin, may be another viable approach that nature has developed for helping us achieve functional, healthy joints.

Next Best Kept Secrets to Healthy Aging topic:
Joint Health – Use Them, or Lose Them

References:
19. Usha PR, Naidu MU. Randomised, Double-Blind, Parallel, Placebo-Controlled Study of Oral Glucosamine, Methylsulfonylmethane and their Combination in Osteoarthritis. Clin Drug Investig. 2004;24(6):353-63.

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Catwoman’s diet may boost joint health

 

Recently, The Dark Knight Rises opened, the latest installment in the Batman movie trilogy from director Christopher Nolan. Actress Anne Hathaway played the classic Catwoman role, and had to use some serious weight management skills to get into her skin-tight costume. Recently, The Huffington Post published an article explaining the star's diet during filming, and how it not only boosts weight loss, but also promotes joint health.

Jackie Heller was Hathaway's personal nutrition coach. She has worked with stars like Angelina Jolie, Channing Tatum, Reese Witherspoon and Uma Thurman, and explained that when the actress first began to train for her role, she was put on a diet that would help her tone and combat some of the causes of joint discomfort.

Why would Hathaway need a diet designed to help shed pounds and boost joint health? The rigorous training that the actress had to go through to get her body in perfect shape can do a real number on the joints, and the dietitian wanted the eating plan to help protect her against the discomfort that can come with these workouts.

"[Hathaway] didn't come to us out of shape or having any particular issues, but she wanted to tone up," Keller told the news source. "Primarily, our objective was to get her the right food so she could train and act in the physically demanding way she needed to."

According to Keller, the diet was rich in fruit and cruciferous vegetables, which are rich in antioxidants.

Everyday Health states that one healthy appetizer to boost joint health is a salad with olive oil dressing. Olive oil is a source of omega-3 fatty acids as well as polyphenols, which are antioxidants that may help combat joint discomfort.

Finally, sushi may be a good choice for people trying to battle joint discomfort, since this delicacy often comes with ginger, which contains compounds that may promote healthy joints. 

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Joint Health – Stinging Nettle

This is part of our ongoing The Best Kept Secrets to Healthy Aging spotlight. Each week, we will be posting some of the great information that’s packed into our book, The Best Kept Secrets to Healthy Aging.

Today’s topic:
Joint Health – Stinging Nettle

Along with Boswellia serrata, research suggests that an extract of the stinging nettle plant may also promote a healthy, balanced immune response within joint tissue. According to the results of a human study published in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, the extract of stinging nettle enhanced joint comfort in aching joints in older men and women.18

Next Best Kept Secrets to Healthy Aging topic:
Joint Health – MSM (Methylsulfonylmethane)

References:
18. Randall C, Randall H, Dobbs F, Hutton C, Sanders H. Randomized controlled trial of nettle sting for treatment of base-of-thumb pain. J R Soc Med 2000;93:305-309.

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Stay active to boost your joint health

 

As people age, joint health becomes a greater concern. That's because, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, almost everyone experiences joint discomfort by the age of 70. This is why it's important for people to do all they can to keep their bones strong into old age. Many physicians recommend eating a diet rich in nutrients, especially vitamin D, and engaging in proper weight management techniques. Recently, the New York Times spoke to a number of experts who offered suggestions on how to boost joint health through lifestyle
changes.

First, the news source spoke to orthopedic surgeon Kenneth Brandt, who explained why it's important to exercise, even if you are experiencing joint discomfort.

"There's a whole body to pay attention to," he said, quoted by the news source. "You shouldn't neglect everything else that's important to you and to your general health, including physical activity. "You should exercise affected joints."

Brandt suggested that people who are concerned about their joint health should visit a physical therapist who can help design an exercise routine that works for them. The Mayo Clinic recommends that individuals who experience discomfort in their joints should take up aquatic exercises. Working out in a pool takes pressure off of the knees and hips, while still boosting cardiovascular health.

The Times also spoke to Nancy Callinan, an occupational therapist in Minneapolis, who recommended that people with sore joints avoid certain kitchen activities that may make the pain worse. For example, there's no sense in struggling to open a jar or spending a lot of time chopping vegetables when there are many products on the market that can perform these tasks with ease. 

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A few drinks a night could boost bone health

 

Many studies have come out in the past few years touting the benefits of drinking moderate amounts of alcohol. Often, the studies are focused on drinks such as red wine, which contains resveratrol, an antioxidant that has been shown to be beneficial to human health. Recently, a study from Oregon State University showed that moderate alcohol consumption paired with a healthy lifestyle may benefit women's bone health.

Bones are in a constant state of change, with old bone regularly getting removed and replaced by new bone. As people age, this process becomes more difficult for the body. Researchers examined 40 early postmenopausal women who regularly had one or two drinks a day. They found that when the women stopped drinking for two weeks, their bone health appeared to decrease, and then increase again less than a day after they resumed their normal alcohol consumption.

"Drinking moderately as part of a healthy lifestyle that includes a good diet and exercise may be beneficial for bone health, especially in postmenopausal women," said Urszula Iwaniec, associate professor in the College of Public Health and Human Sciences at OSU and one of the study's authors. "After less than 24 hours to see such a measurable effect was really unexpected."

Past studies have shown that people who consume moderate amounts of alcohol had better bone health than those who do not drink at all or are heavy drinkers.

The researchers stressed that excessive alcohol consumption can damage a person's health, and hard liquor can be particularly harsh on the body. However, these findings suggest that having one or two glasses of red wine or beer could boost bone health.
 

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Joint Health – Boswellia serrata

This is part of our ongoing The Best Kept Secrets to Healthy Aging spotlight. Each week, we will be posting some of the great information that’s packed into our book, The Best Kept Secrets to Healthy Aging.

Today’s topic:
Joint Health – Boswellia serrata

Extracts of the herb Boswellia serrata may also provide support for maintaining a healthy immune balance within joints. In studies published recently in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology, Boswellia serrata extracts reduce the severity of experimentally induced joint conditions in animals by modulating the release of the immune system intercellular messenger cytokine, interleukin-1ß.16,17 By forcing the immune system to maintain the status quo, Boswellia serrata can aid in achieving comfortable, properly-functioning joints.

Next Best Kept Secrets to Healthy Aging topic:
Joint Health – Stinging Nettle

References:
16. Banno N, Akihisa T, Yasukawa K, Tokuda H, Tabata K, Nakamura Y, Nishimura R, Kimura Y, Suzuki T. Anti-inflammatory activities of the triterpene acids from the resin of Boswellia carteri. J Ethnopharmacol 2006;107:249-253.
17. Fan AY, Lao L, Zhang RX, Zhou AN, Wang LB, Moudgil KD, Lee DY, Ma ZZ, Zhang WY, Berman BM. Effects of an acetone extract of Boswellia carterii Birdw. (Burseraceae) gum resin on adjuvant-induced arthritis in Lewis rats. J Ethnopharmacol 2005;101:104-109.

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Lifestyle changes could have a major impact on joint health

 

People with joint pain often take supplements containing chondroitin to improve their joint health. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, chondroitin is a major part of cartilage, which is the tough, connective tissue that cushions the joints and may wear away with age. While there are many medications that may ease joint discomfort, lifestyle factors can play a large role as well.

Recently, the Daily Herald published an article by Patrick Massey, M.D., who discussed some of the drug-free ways that people may be able to increase their joint health and decrease their medical costs.

The main suggestions the doctor made were to lose weight and exercise more often. He cited a study of more than 450 obese men and women who were experiencing pain in their knees. The individuals were divided in the three groups. Some were placed on a diet, others exercised and a third group did both.The researchers discovered that individuals who lost weight and exercised during the course of the trial had a 50 percent reduction in pain with one-third of this group reporting little or no pain at all.

However, it's important to note that all three groups experienced some amount of relief from their joint pain. This suggests that even if people don't feel capable of exercising, they can still reduce their food intake to help reduce their joint discomfort.

The doctor pointed out that joint replacements are very expensive, which is why more institutions should be encouraging people to exercise.

"Extrapolating these findings to knee replacement costs, a little exercise and weight loss could save almost $700 million per year. Considering the many medical benefits of weight loss and exercise, it would be much less expensive for the government and insurance companies to subsidize health club memberships for all adults than the eventual medical costs," Massey wrote for the news source.

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