Boosting Bone Density: How Natto, Exercise, and Diet Keep My Bones Strong

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This is fermented brown rice paella with natto.

Yesterday marked my yearly health checkup, and for the first time, my bone density was put to the test.

To my delight, I scored a whopping 102.4% when compared to younger individuals and an impressive 118.6% relative to my age group. The nurse informed me that this puts me well above the high achievers.

I couldn’t help but think that my consistent consumption of natto over the years played a part in this. Natto is a treasure trove of vitamin K2, a key player in bone support.

But why should bone density matter to you?

A slip that results in a hip fracture can spell disaster, especially for the elderly. Such a fall can be a catalyst for a decline in overall health and the onset of various ailments. Astonishingly, in the US, hip fractures occur every three seconds for 19 individuals.

So, what can be done to steer clear of this?

Here’s what the experts suggest:

Embrace Weight-Bearing Exercises:

Activities like walking, jogging, dancing, and weightlifting that make you defy gravity can encourage bone growth. This is because they exert pressure on the bones, making them tougher.

I’m a fan of Nordic walking and jogging. The nurse commended my thrice-a-week routine as it allows my bones and muscles time to recuperate. I can vouch for this as I feel great! My routine involves alternating between walking or jogging and high-intensity interval training (HIIT) focusing on my upper body. Though it falls short of the 180 minutes of zone 2 training advised by Dr. Peter Attia, the rest periods seem to do the trick. Plus, my knees and calf muscles are spared the wear and tear.

Engage in Strength Training:

Employing weights or resistance bands can contribute to muscle development which, in turn, is a boon for the bones.

I incorporate strength-focused HIIT into my regimen three times a week, relying mainly on bodyweight exercises.

Adopt a Balanced Diet:

A diet replete with calcium and vitamin D is indispensable for bone well-being. Dairy, green veggies, and fortified food items are calcium-rich, while vitamin D, crucial for calcium absorption, is bountiful in sunlight, fatty fish, egg yolks, and fortified dairy products.

My diet is all-encompassing as I don’t rule out any food group. Additionally, natto is an all-rounder, packed with calcium, vitamin K2, and protein. My penchant for fish, particularly sardines and mackerels (bones included), ensures a steady supply of calcium and vitamin D. Not to forget shiitake mushrooms, another source of vitamin D.

Opt for Safe Sun Exposure:

A dash of sun can go a long way in vitamin D synthesis, vital for calcium absorption and, by extension, bone health. But it’s a balancing act, as excessive sun exposure can be detrimental.

Morning workouts in the open air are my favorite, as they double up as a source of mild sunlight, which is also believed to enhance sleep quality.

Incorporate Balance and Flexibility Exercises:

Practices such as yoga and tai chi that enhance balance and flexibility can be instrumental in preventing falls, a must for those with low bone density to avoid fractures.

Lately, I’ve added qi gong to my fitness routine. Coupled with bodyweight exercises, stretching, and ample rest, it seems to bolster my balance and flexibility.

In summary, maintaining bone health is vital, and a combination of a balanced diet, exercise, and safe sun exposure can be your allies in ensuring this.


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