Health

5 Unexpected (and Fun!) Ways to Keep Your Bones Strong this Winter

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The ‘cuddle hormone,’ oxytocin, helps us feel 60 percent calmer and more content. Research in Scientific Reports reveals this happy hormone has a surprising body benefit: It energizes cells that build healthy new bone tissue, helping strengthen bones to stay 30 percent stronger and more shock-resistant- at any age! Read on for new ways to release oxytocin and strengthen your bones.

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Roasting chestnuts.

Sweet roasted chestnuts are packed with nutrients (selenium, copper and plant fats) that your brain needs to make a steady trickle of bone-building oxytocin. No wonder Spanish researchers say eating 3 cups of chestnuts (or other nuts) weekly cuts the risk of bone breaks by up to 45 percent.

Sharing a feast.

Good food makes everyone happy. Sharing the joy of delicious meals, whether around an actual table or one on Zoom, can increase oxytocin levels by 59 percent, British research suggests. Adds psychologist Catherine Crockford, Ph.D., dropping off goods at a food bank will give you the same impressive feel-good boost!

Reaching for the stars.

Just 5 minutes of relaxing stretches — like reaching your arms high, then touching your toes — each hour could cut fracture risk by 20 percent or more, Canadian researchers say. How? Yoga-like moves energize the vagus nerve, the longest nerve connecting body to brain, and when the vagus nerve is activated, oxytocin production soars by 75 percent!

Making time for a movie.

Regularly curling up for a movie night can boost oxytocin production by up to 47 percent, say researchers at California’s Claremont Graduate University. Explains Paul Zak, Ph.D., author of The Moral Molecule (Buy on Amazon, $17), our brain reacts to movies as if they’re really happening, and the empathy we feel spurs the hormone’s release.

Enjoy another mug.

The smell of freshly brewed coffee spurs the release of bone-building oxytocin — plus, coffee brims with compounds (trigonelline and quinic acid) that prevent bone thinning. In fact, research in the journal PLOS ONE suggests that drinking two to three cups daily can cut osteoporosis risk by as much as 36%!

This article originally appeared in our print magazine.

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