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World Osteoporosis Day: Celebrate Strong Bones

See? There's a reason why your parents made you drink a glass of milk with dinner every night, way back when. Drink up! (Photo courtesy of Chris Gallo)

Eighty percent of those affected with osteoporosis, often called “the Silent Thief,” are women—with many of us losing bone mass in our 20s and 30s. Celebrate World Osteoporosis Day tomorrow by loading up on calcium-rich foods and breaking a sweat! Like most diseases, playing a little defense is key. We talked to health expert Sherry Torkos, B.Sc., Phm., on the best bone building nutrition and exercise. Here are three ways to stay strong and prevent bone loss in the future:

  1. Got Milk? “If your diet is lacking calcium, your body can pull calcium from your bones, causing your bones to weaken and thin,” said Torkos. Avoid this by loading up on calcium-rich foods. Low-fat dairy, canned fish with bones (i.e. sardines and salmon) and dark green veggies are all great sources. Magnesium is also essential for building strong bones, which can be found in nuts, seeds, soy and figs. Hello, homemade trailmix! Watch your sodium and protein consumption, though. Too much can be bad to the bone!
  2. Say No to Soda, Spirits and Cigs. “Surprisingly, soft drinks in high amounts also contribute to bone loss by changing the acid balance in the blood,” said Torkos. “Limit alcohol intake to less than two drinks per day; higher amounts increase the risk of osteoporosis. Quit smoking; it increases bone loss and the risk of osteoporosis.”
  3. Exercise. “Weight-bearing activities, which place stress on the bone, help strengthen bones and improve bone density,” said Torkos. Try lifting weights, tennis or dance, for example. Exercise also, of course, increases muscle strength, balance and coordination, all in which help preserve both mobility and independence, reducing the risk of injury.

 Now Tell Us: What do you do to keep your bones strong? How will you celebrate World Osteoporosis Day?