It seems like everywhere you look, there is new information on food that supports bone health. Why is there such an emphasis on bone health and what are the foods that you can eat to build strong bones?
Why is Bone Density Important?
Bone density may be the only factor that determines whether a minor fall results in a fracture or just a few scrapes and bruises. As people age, the risk of death with fracture goes up, this is because of a very common condition known as osteoporosis, a condition where brittle bones are so vulnerable they easily break. Women suffer from this condition at a higher rate than men do.
Surprisingly, one study found elderly who suffered at least one fracture had an increased risk of mortality. This increased risk of mortality was as much as 25% higher in the first year after the fall than their counterparts who had no fall. Bone density declines naturally with age, and this is why diet is important and medical and supplemental intervention maybe needed to prevent osteoporosis.
There are two elements that go into building strong bones: exercise and food. These are the two contributing factors for every health concern ever known to man. Well, maybe not every health concern, but they are pretty significant, and they play a big part in your bone health too.
A study conducted by the University of New Mexico found that elderly patients could build bone mineral density with exercise. Moderate and vigorous resistance training resulted in both increases in bone density as well as increases in their lean body mass.
What about the Food?
When it comes to eating for bone health, there are a few things you should include in your everyday meal plan and a few things you may want to consider eliminating or cutting back on.
Eat More Of
According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation key foods for bone health are:
1. Fortified Dairy Products: These contain both Vitamin D and Calcium, essential for bone mineral density growth.
2. Fatty Fish (Salmon, Mackerel, Tuna, Sardines): Vitamin D
3. Dandelion greens, mustard greens, collard greens, turnip greens, kale, okra, Chinese cabbage, and broccoli all contain Calcium!!!
4. Potassium rich foods – bananas, tomatoes, potatoes, sweet potatoes, raisins, spinach, papaya, plantains, oranges, orange juice, and prunes: Potassium is essential for the bone building process as well, and these foods have it in spades.
5. Fortified Cereal, Fortified Bread, Soy Milk, Rice Milk, and Snacks: all fortified foods are required to have calcium and Vitamin D inside.
Things to Watch Out For
The National Osteoporosis Foundation also wants you to know about some foods that may be blocking your body’s absorption of calcium. If you can’t take in enough calcium, you won’t build strong bones. Here are some foods that may be harming your efforts for dense bones.
1. Beans: these contain phytates, which interfere with your body’s ability to absorb calcium. To get rid of the phytates make sure you soak the beans for several hours before you cook them in cool water.
2. Meat and High Protein Foods. High protein diets can cause your body to lose calcium, you can make up for the calcium loss by eating extra calcium, but it is important to discuss this concern with a dietitian or physician!
3. Salt: Sodium causes the body to lose calcium. Since most processed foods are laden with salt, it is important to make sure you are monitoring your salt intake as well as eating enough calcium and Vitamin D to build strong bones.
4. Alcohol, Caffeine, Soft Drinks: While one drink is not going to cause bone leaching if you consume several alcoholic, caffeinated, or soda drinks a day you could be causing bone loss. Drink these all with moderation.
Eat Up The Sun!
Ok, yes you can’t eat the sun, but your skin can! Your body has the ability to absorb vitamin D from the sun through the skin. It will store excess vitamin D for up to 6 months. The recommended dose for this is 30 minutes of unprotected sun exposure a day. Unprotected sun exposure means without sunscreen, as it can block the body’s ability to absorb vitamin D.
Now you have a whole arsenal of information on what you can do to build strong bones. Which are your favorite foods to eat? Did you get any new information here? Tell us about it!