If you’re a woman over 40, you probably think about preventing osteoporosis often. You eat plenty of calcium-rich foods, you practice weight-bearing exercise daily, you take a supplement to bulk up your body’s supply of bone-supporting vitamin D.
And if you are actively staying on top of your osteoporosis risk, way to go! Women have a far greater risk of developing this bone-stealing condition. And the older you get, the higher that risk gets. But the truth is, women over 40 aren’t the only ones who should work to prevent osteoporosis.
More than 3 million people in the U.S. have this condition… and plenty of them are men and people younger than 40 (there’s even something called juvenile osteoporosis that impacts children and teens). So, everyone needs to take better care of their bones. And there may be a simple, somewhat strange way to do just that…
Turn up the heat.
A new study from researchers at the University of Geneva found that a warm environment could keep bones stronger and denser.
Hotter temps trigger microbiome changes that strengthen bones
A research team from the University of Geneva (UNIGE) in Switzerland has reason to believe that exposing yourself to warmer temperatures could improve for your bone health because of the impact it has on your microbiome.
These researchers performed several fascinating experiments on mice that confirmed that ambient temperature makes a difference in their bone health. In one experiment, they placed newborn mice in an environment with a temperature of roughly 93 degrees Fahrenheit, and they found that these mice had longer and stronger bones than mice placed in cooler temps.
They also tried placing adult mice in a warmer environment and found that their bone strength and density improved. They even repeated the experiment with mice engineered to have osteoporosis and got the same result. And they believe these bone benefits all come down to the changes a warm environment triggers in the microbiome.
In fact, they even tried transplanting the microbiota of mice living in the 93 degrees Fahrenheit environment to mice with osteoporosis. And guess what? Their bone quality rapidly improved.
But what about people? Does a warm environment deliver bone benefits to us too?
Well, these researchers decided to analyze global data related to the incidence of osteoporosis in an area and the average temperature. They found that people in areas with lower average temperatures had a greater risk for hip fractures. In case you don’t know, hip fractures are one of the most common consequences of osteoporosis.
Now, you may be thinking that people in colder climates get less vitamin D from the sun, which would certainly influence their risk for osteoporosis and fractures. But researchers made sure to adjust their results for that factor… and the connection between cooler climates and fractures held true without vitamin D interfering.
Should you head south for the sake of your bones?
So, is it finally time to make the move to a warmer climate for the sake of your bones? If you were already considering it anyway, this information certainly gives you more motivation. You could also try turning up the thermostat in your home and see if that has an impact on your bone health. That said, there are plenty of other, more well-researched ways to keep your bones strong and healthy.
The Mediterranean diet, for example, has been linked to a lower risk of osteoporosis and better bone health for people who already have the condition. In fact, a 2018 study found that a Mediterranean diet improved bone density in people with osteoporosis in just a year.
Probiotic supplements have also been proven to prevent bone loss. Another 2018 study found that women in their 70s who took probiotic powder had 50 percent less bone loss than women who took a placebo.
Regular exercise is another great way to kick bone loss to the curb… and it doesn’t have to be intense exercise. One 2019 study found that simply walking downhill after meals was enough to improve bone health biomarkers for postmenopausal women. So, give these natural approaches to osteoporosis prevention a try before you head to a hotter climate.
Stronger bones thanks to heat and microbiota — MedicalXpress.
Warmth Prevents Bone Loss Through the Gut Microbiota — Cell Metabolism.
Osteoporosis — Mayo Clinic.
How a Mediterranean diet could reduce osteoporosis — MedicalXpress.
Probiotics can protect the skeletons of older women — MedicalXpress.