The Top FIVE Foods to Support Healthy Bones
Because of how it looks it is easy to forget that bone is living tissue, constantly growing and changing. Bone care needs our attention just as much as our heart, lungs and waistline do. We need to choose food for healthy bones.
As we get older our chances of suffering from a bone fracture increase due to osteoporosis, a word that means ‘porous bone’. This is where the bones become extremely brittle and are vulnerable to fracture. An astonishing one in four people with a hip fracture will die within a year of the break due to complications, often due to problems arising from immobility.
While women have a higher risk for osteoporosis it is not just a woman’s problem: smokers, those who drink a lot of alcohol, people who are on steroids or anticonvulsants and those who do little exercise are also at risk. People with a slight frame and diabetics also need to take extra measures to build bone health.
Bone density declines with age but there are measures we can implement to prevent osteoporosis or slow its progress if it’s already taken hold.
Two major lifestyle changes can really make a difference, namely, exercise and diet.
Weight bearing exercises stimulate formation of new bone. Good gravity resistance exercises include walking, jogging, dancing, playing tennis and light weight training. However, do consult your doctor before undertaking any exercise programme, especially if you already have osteoporosis. Do not place yourself at risk of falling and injuring yourself. Start slowly and build up.
The Five Food Groups
The two major players here are calcium and Vitamin D, although magnesium, boron, selenium, copper, silicon, manganese, potassium and zinc are also important for bone health.
Get yourself protected by eating these foods regularly:
1. Fortified dairy products. These contain vitamin D and calcium which are both vital for bone density.
2. Many foods other than milk and cheese are high in calcium. These include beans, tofu, seafood and green leafy vegetables like broccoli and even dandelion greens.
3. Oily fish like salmon, mackerel, tuna and sardines. These all contain vitamin D which helps with calcium absorption.
4. Go for potassium-rich foods such as bananas, potatoes, avocados, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, raisins, papayas, oranges and prunes.
5. If you are buying off-the-shelf products choose fortified products such as fortified cereal, bread, soya milk, rice milk etc.
Diets high in fat and very high in fibre can decrease calcium absorption.
Here are some key foods to eat in moderation only:
Beans – these contain phytates which can bind to some minerals, calcium among them, and slow absorption.
Very high protein diets can also make your body lose calcium.
Cut out the junk food. We do need some salt in our diet but the amount in processed foods is way too high. Eat fresh fruits and vegetables and if you need salt add in a very small amount of high quality sea salt, such as Celtic Salt, to taste.
Alcohol, caffeine and soft drinks are also enemies to bone health.
Here Comes the Sun
Excessive exposure to the sun raises the risk of skin cancer but there is now a large body of thought that believes that fear has led us too far into the shade. We are seeing huge numbers of people who have vitamin D deficiency. This is most likely due to spending increased amounts of time indoors and also because we have avoided exposing our skin to the sun. We need 15 to 20 minutes of sunshine every day for optimum vitamin D absorption. Get out into the sun without sunscreen, either in the morning or the late afternoon.
Better bone health is within our grasp! Tell me about your favourite foods. Do they meet the bone health challenge?