The biggest mistake so many people make with regards to bone health is waiting until it’s too late to take action. They suffer a stress fracture only to find out from their doctor that they have a very brittle skeletal system, and by this point, the damage is done. It’s much harder to repair and help bones maintain integrity once they are already in that weakened state. Do what you can to promote stronger bones while they’re still healthy. In other words, prevention is the best medicine. This week, I’ll be sharing some great foods to help you do just that so you can lead an active lifestyle for many years to come.
Most people are already aware that consuming calcium-rich foods will go a long way towards promoting bone strength. Greek yogurt is high in calcium. It’s also a great source of vitamin D, another nutrient that’s vital for strong bones. Vitamin D works with calcium to maintain proper bone integrity. It is made naturally in the body when you’re out in direct sunlight, but many people don’t get enough sunlight each day to meet the minimum daily intake requirements. Greek yogurt is also packed with protein, which is needed for bones to grow and repair. But, cow’s milk and cow’s milk-derived products are somewhat of a controversial topic in the world of nutrition these days. There is evidence to suggest that cow’s milk is linked to prostate cancer and diabetes. So, if you want to err on the side of caution until the debate is over, non-dairy milks and yogurts can be a good source of calcium too.
While some people might turn their nose up instantly when they see them, sardines are excellent for fostering stronger bones once you can find a way to prepare these in a manner you enjoy. Sardines are a great source of calcium and vitamin D and are ideal especially for the lactose intolerant (which is most of the world’s population) or those wary about cow’s milk. In addition to this, you’ll get some healthy fats from this fish. Many people fall too low in their omega-3 fatty acid intake so this will satisfy the requirements for optimal health. It’s good to know that the bones of canned sardines can actually be eaten (with caution!) and doing so will increase the amount of calcium you receive per serving.
If you’re a vegetarian who wants strong bones or just someone who is looking to keep their calorie intake down, spinach is a must-have food. Spinach is not only far richer in nutrients than lettuce, but it’s also a great source of calcium, iron and vitamin K. These three nutrients will work together to make sure that your bones stay as healthy as possible, helping to reduce the risk of stress fractures or other breaks. There is some concern about the oxalate content in spinach but lightly cooking the vegetable before eating it helps to remove some of the oxalate.
If you’re at risk of osteoporosis, consider a grapefruit a day instead of an apple a day. Researchers have found that the grapefruit juice and pulp boost bone health thanks to its ability to enhance bone mineral deposits, increasing bone density. They also discovered the pulp of red grapefruit had the ability to slow down the rate of bone loss The high antioxidant levels in grapefruit could be responsible for this. Just be careful when mixing grapefruit consumption with certain medications as it can affect the speed of your metabolism and therefore the amount of the medication you absorb.
EHA and DHA are the more famous types of omega 3 fatty acids. But plant-based omega 3 fatty acids, also known as alpha-linolenic acids, can help keep bones strong. In a study from Penn State University, researchers reported a decrease in the rate of bone breakdown and noticed that the amount of bone formation stayed constant when middle-aged men were given a diet rich in walnuts. They note that the effect of dietary fats on bone strength may be more pronounced in men. But that doesn’t mean women can’t benefit from a handful of walnuts taken regularly, since walnuts can help lower blood pressure and stress as well.
The Mediterranean diet contributes to an improvement in heart health, but also to a reduced risk of osteoporosis. This is thanks to the olive oil consumed. A Spanish clinical study showed that men who followed a Mediterranean diet high in olive oil had the highest levels of osteocalcin, a marker of good bone health found in the blood. The marker doesn’t dictate a reduced risk of fracture, but rather that bone is being preserved. Plus, olive oil is rich in the phytonutrient oleocanthal and confers other health benefits too. Because olive oil is rich in healthy fats that your body needs in moderation, it’s a good idea to add it to your diet.
Eggs are a good source of calcium, vitamin D and protein – all of which are essential for bone health. 100 grams of egg contains 50 milligrams of calcium. The yolk provides 5-10% of the daily recommended vitamin D. Doctors used to tell patients with heart disease to avoid eggs because of its cholesterol content but it’s now off the naughty list so you can enjoy eating it knowing you are getting a lot of bone-benefitting nutrition in that small package.