According to the US Bone and Joint Initiative, more than 54% of the American population over the age of 18 are affected by some kind of bone or joint condition.
That’s more than half of us!
And what’s more - the global prevalence of these conditions is projected to increase as life expectancy increases and we begin leading longer, more active lives.
But here’s the rub: the budget for research in the area is actually decreasing despite this rise in anticipated distress. It’s currently less than 2% of the National Institute of Health’s annual budget, which means that it might be time to take ideal musculoskeletal health into our own hands.
To raise awareness of this key health initiative, October 12-16 is Bone and Joint Action Week as designated by the US Bone and Joint Initiative. Having a week set aside to learn about bone and joint health and achieving a healthy, functional musculoskeletal system are important reminders to us about how we can care for our bodies throughout the year.
Whether it’s temporary pain associated with exercise or something more intense, musculoskeletal health is important to every person on this planet - especially with so many of us discovering mild issues with our joints and bones as we get older.
So, here are some excellent ways to look out for the health of your bones and joints all year long.
Working out works wonders
As we age, our bones naturally weaken. By slowly incorporating specific exercises, you can build up the muscle around your joints to help your body stay strong, even as you age. If making a trip to the gym isn’t your thing, there are plenty of options for incorporating exercise in your daily routine, including:
Feed Your Bones - Superfoods for Healthy Days
By focusing on dried and fresh fruits (especially bananas, apples, peaches and oranges), low-acid foods, vegetables like kale, broccoli, cabbage, and zucchini, and eating calcium-rich foods like yogurt, dark leafy greens, calcium-fortified cereal, your diet can fortify your body with the vitamins it needs to be strong, thereby providing the ideal support for musculoskeletal health.
Let the Sunshine In
Vitamin D is essential as it helps your body absorb calcium and phosphate, helping to protect those nutrients in your bones. By being outside on a sunny day, your body will create Vitamin D, which is highly beneficial to your system on many levels. Additionally, omega-3 fatty acids can affect both bone formation and the rate at which bone is broken down. You may try optimizing your bone mineral density by consuming a fatty fish like salmon twice a week.
If you’re having trouble enriching your body with enough Vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids, you can also take these as supplements to ensure your body is getting what it needs.
It may surprise you that a large part of your bone and joint health actually may stem from your gut. That’s where trillions of bacteria help determine your health, and studies are showing that the health of your bones and joints is associated with the bacteria in your gut environment.
With 80% of immune cells residing in the GI tract, your immune system truly depends on a plethora of healthy bacteria in the small and large bowel in order to function in a balanced, consistent way. Sometimes, when the immune system overcorrects, occasional inflammation can pop up and influence the health and general feeling of your joints and bones. That’s why it’s so important to take steps toward ensuring your gut environment is teeming with friendly bacteria. Focus on probiotic strains from the Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium families as they are most well-known for supporting overall health.
In fact, a 2013 study at Michigan State University found that taking the probiotic Lactobacillus reuteri optimized bone density in male mice. Although the same results didn’t show for female mice, researchers are investigating the anomaly and believe a variation of the strain could yield similar results for the females. A 2012 study in Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry found that certain probiotic strains can boost our body’s antioxidant properties, slowing the oxidation (or breakdown) of our bones. A supplement like Hyperbiotics PRO-15 includes L. reuteri and 14 other targeted strains chosen specifically for their studied impact and influence on human wellness and vitality.
As well, taking a probiotic can improve nutrient absorption from the foods and supplements that you consume every day. That means that as you’re taking steps to revolutionize your diet in the effort to support your bones and joints, a quality probiotic can make sure that your body is receiving the maximum nutritional benefit that these foods and vitamins have to offer. It really is the easiest way to make sure you’re getting all the things you need!
In taking conscious steps to support the optimal function of your bones and joints, you can set yourself on a path for years of active, healthy living that extends far beyond Bone and Joint Health Action Week.
Julie Hays is the Communications Director here at Hyperbiotics. Health writer and mama of two little girls, Julie's on a mission to empower others to live lives free of the microbial depletion many of us face today. For more ideas on how you can maximize wellness and benefit from the power of probiotics, be sure to subscribe to our newsletter.
What steps do you take to support healthy bones and joints? Let us know!
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