For those in the Northern Hemisphere, spring is moving into summer. The warm weather and long daylight hours inspire us to get more active and enjoy the outdoors. Also, garden produce is at its peak, providing flavorful, bone-healthy nutrients in a beautiful array of colors. With all these seasonal changes, it’s the perfect time to make some bone-healthy changes of your own.
Today I’m going to show you five easy ways to take advantage of all that summer has to offer, so you can boost your bone health and have fun doing it!
#1 – Spend Time in the Sun
“Savers” are already aware that Vitamin D is crucial to bone health, and the best way to get it is by exposing your skin to the sunshine. Interestingly, there are no alkalizing food sources of Vitamin D, and supplements are only part of the picture.
Why Vitamin D is Important
When it comes to your bone health, Vitamin D is crucial. It has a dual function, acting both as a vitamin and a hormone in your body.
You have probably heard of Vitamin D3, or cholecalciferol, or maybe you’ve seen it in supplement form. When you make Vitamin D via sun exposure, the form your body makes is D3, which is the most easily absorbed form of this vitamin. Plant-based Vitamin D2 is not absorbed well, although this is the form usually prescribed by doctors who recommend large doses.
How Much Vitamin D, and How Much Sun?
The recommended daily allowance of Vitamin D3 is 400 I.U. for both men and women aged 51 to 70 years old, and 600 IU for those older than 70. This is a good place to start if you’re taking supplements. But if you want to get your Vitamin D3 from the sun, here’s an interesting finding from a recent study: 20 minutes of sun exposure while wearing a bathing suit results in 15,000 to 20,000 IUs being produced by your body.1
Despite these large numbers that are well over the US RDA, you can’t manufacture too much Vitamin D3 via sun exposure – your body has an automatic “shut-off” when you’ve produced all the Vitamin D you need. This is true even if you’re still out in the sun at the time.
Don’t be Afraid to Get Healthy, Safe Sun Exposure to Help your Bones.
To make sure you stay safe and to prevent burning and skin damage, here are some guidelines:
- 20 to 30 minutes of direct sunlight (without any sunblock) is sufficient in the summer.
- The more skin that is exposed to the sun during that time, the more benefits for your bones.
- Try to go out in the sunlight between 10am and 2pm, the time when most “experts” tell you to avoid the sun. But this is actually the optimal window to get Vitamin D. Incidentally, it’s also the time of day when your shadow is shorter than you are!
#2 – Eat Seasonal, Polyphenol-Rich Foods
In the summer, you’ll find bone-healthy fruits and vegetables fresh and in season at your local farmers’ market. Foods rich in polyphenols are especially plentiful in the summer, and nearly all of them are alkalizing. In fact, many of them are Foundation Foods in the Osteoporosis Reversal Program. Good news for your bone health!
If you’re familiar with the Osteoporosis Reversal Program, you’ll know that polyphenols are key nutrients for building bone. There are a couple of reasons for this. First, they are a type of antioxidant, and are responsible for the bright, rich colors of some fruits and vegetables. Antioxidants protect your bones from free-radical damage. In addition, polyphenols increase the production of osteoblasts, which are bone-building cells that work in conjunction with osteoclasts (which break down bone).
What Summertime Foods are Polyphenol-Rich?
Look for some of these flavorful, alkalizing, bone-building treats this summer:
If you have the Osteoporosis Reversal Program, you’ll recognize these as Foundation Foods. You’ll also be familiar with the Recipe Sampler, included with the Program, which gives you creative ideas for preparing and enjoying these and many other bone-healthy foods.
#3 – Go for a Regular Walk
As I explain in the Osteoporosis Reversal Program, exercise is vital to building and maintaining bone density. Research has clearly shown that astronauts who spend time in little or no gravity lose bone mass. This means that the force of gravity on your bones, which is achieved during weight-bearing exercises like walking, helps keep them strong and healthy. The bottom line is, your body is designed for movement – it’s just not meant to be still for long periods of time.
Here’s my recommendation found in the Osteoporosis Reversal Program: “Pick your favorite form of aerobic weight-bearing exercise and practice it at least three times a week.” One of the most pleasurable forms of weight-bearing exercise this time of year is walking. And you’ll get sun exposure while you’re at it!
#4 – Relax and Have Fun
Did you know that the state of your emotions can have an effect on your bones? Chronic anxiety and stress will actually damage your bones, because your body produces an acidifying hormone called cortisol in response to stress and worry. Feeling relaxed and happy keeps cortisone levels balanced, creating the opposite effect. Happiness helps your bones!
But how can you get there? Stress is, unfortunately, a reality in today’s world. We can’t always change that fact, but we can change our response to it. In addition, there are some very real ways you can reduce the stress in your life, because some stress is self-imposed.
Learn to Let Go
Make a decision to let go of grudges, resentment, judgmental attitudes, and other negative feelings toward yourself or others. You’d be amazed at how much of our stress comes from our reactions to the words and deeds of others. We can’t control what other people say and do, but we can control our response. Go ahead and let it go. You can’t “get even” by holding on to negative feelings – all you do is harm your health and your bones.
While you’re enjoying summer’s bounty, remember to breathe deeply and slowly whenever you can. This gets lots of oxygen into your blood, which helps reduce fatigue and promote energy. Interestingly, deep breathing also helps you relax.
Fun in the Sun
I mentioned above that sunshine helps your bones – but did you know that it also helps your mood? It’s a beautiful thought that we can help our bones get stronger and lighten our mood simply by partaking of Nature’s gift of sunlight. Jump into some fun summer activities like swimming, tennis, nature walks, and cookouts. Now that it’s summer, this is not a hard “prescription” to follow!
#5 – Perform Bone-Strengthening Exercises…Outdoors!
Still looking for an excuse to get outdoors? You can take your bone-building exercises outside, especially if you’re doing the moves described in theDensercise Epidensity Training System. The exercises in Densercise are designed to promote bone density in key areas like the spine, hips, and wrists.
I created Densercise with simplicity in mind, and because of this, the exercises described can be done anywhere, without a lot of fancy equipment or expensive accoutrements.
I am always glad when I can get outside to do my bone-strengthening exercises. Sometimes I use an exercise mat if I am on a hard surface, or if the exercise involves lying on the ground. This is entirely optional, of course. The only other items you might need when you do your Densercises are simple household items, such as a towel, pillow, or even a can of soup.
Till next time,
1 Hollis BW et al. “Circulating vitamin D3 and 25-hydroxyvitamin D in humans: an important tool to define adequate nutritional vitamin D status.” J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 2007 Mar;103(3-5):631-4. Epub 2007 Jan 10.