Bones play an important role in our body, providing structure and protecting our organs. It’s never too early or too late to think about keeping your bones, joints and muscles strong…
As with most aspects of our health, diet and exercise play a huge role. In essence, that means eating foods good for bones, increasing your intake of beneficial nutrients and vitamins, and taking part in regular exercise.
A healthy diet is essential, particularly when it comes to the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis; a condition that causes around 500,000 broken bones every year.
According to leading natural health expert Jayney Goddard, eating a plant-based diet that is rich in whole foods will help tremendously: “The overwhelming weight of scientific evidence demonstrates that this way of eating is the most health-supporting. Consume fresh fruits, vegetables and beans, and avoid processed foods, white flours and refined sugars.”
Chronic stress takes a huge toll on our overall health, but it’s also bad for your bones. As stress causes our levels of cortisol to rise, the risk of fractures increases.
While we can’t necessarily eliminate all sources of stress, it’s important to find ways to reduce it, as well as learn to control your reaction to stressful situations.
Exercise should be a priority for every aspect of your health and wellbeing, and it’s also extremely beneficial for your bone health, as women’s health expert Dr Marilyn Glenville points out.
If your bones are normal, choose exercises that you enjoy doing, and can participate in on a regular basis.
If you’re wondering ‘does weight training increase bone density’, the answer is yes! If your bones are osteopenic (you have lower bone density than normal), then using a combination of weight-bearing exercises and resistance training will be beneficial.
Finally, if your bones are already osteoporotic (you’ve been diagnosed with osteoporosis), exercise should still be a priority, just be careful that the exercises you take part in aren’t going to cause your body any further damage.
Did you know that your diet has a huge impact on the health of your bones? This is the best food for bones, muscles and joints.
We’ve always been told to eat our veggies, and it seems their benefits are numerous! Eating green varieties such as leafy veg, broccoli, kale and Brussels sprouts is a great way of incorporating vitamin K into your diet, which helps to build strong bones.
It’s not only what you eat that impacts your bone health, but what you drink as well. Studies have shown that carbonated drinks, even fizzy water, cause us to lose calcium from our bones, owing to their high levels of phosphorus. So keep fizzy drinks and sparkling water to a minimum, opting instead for plain water.
If you’re wondering what mineral is essential for healthy bones and teeth, here are the vitamins you need to be including in your diet.
Bone-healing foods that are rich in vitamin C are key to keeping bones resilient and flexible. So load up on fruit and vegetables such as berries, citrus, peppers and tomatoes.
Magnesium works together with vitamin D in maintaining bone health, and also aids the absorption of calcium.
Magnesium-rich foods include wheat germ, buckwheat, raisins and beans (especially adzuki, chickpeas, black-eyed peas and lentils). If you’re wondering which nuts are good for bones, stock up on almonds, cashew nuts and Brazil nuts.
Our bodies use calcium to build healthy bones and teeth. According to nutritional therapist Henrietta Norton, certain cheeses such as Swiss and Cheddar cheeses are great sources of calcium, as are parsley, globe artichokes, prunes, pumpkin seeds and brewers’ yeast.
In the UK, over three million people are estimated to have osteoporosis, and unfortunately many cases go undiagnosed until bone fractures occur.
One in three women aged 45 and over now suffers from the condition. While men are at risk too, just one in nine are susceptible to developing osteoporosis. So why are females more at risk of osteoporosis?
“The condition is less common in men because of differences in the changes in bone density with age,” Dr Marilyn explains. “While men do not experience the rapid loss of bone around the age of 50 that women do, there is a decline, but it is much more gradual.”
So can osteoporosis be reversed? While conventional medicine has its limits in terms of improving the condition, according to Jayney, changes in lifestyle can offer real improvements.
Here’s how to lower your risk of developing osteoporosis.
“As menopause approaches, bone loss accelerates,” Jayney says. “The loss of bone calcium may be related to the drop in oestrogens and/or progesterone.”
While the use of prescription hormone replacements may help to slow bone loss, it doesn’t usually stop it altogether, according to Jayney. Instead, consider natural progesterone, a safer and more effective alternative that is bio-identical to human progesterone.
If you think you may be at risk of developing osteoporosis or want to prevent it, the first port of call is an ultrasound bone scan, Dr Marilyn notes. You can also consider a DEXA scan, which is essentially a bone density test of your hip and spine, as well as a bone turnover test, which will look at your rate of bone loss.
Meanwhile, a mineral analysis test is a simple way of identifying any main mineral deficiencies in your body. Analysing your digestive system is also useful, as efficient digestion is crucial in the fight against the condition.
According to Jayney, acid-forming diets are one of the biggest problems, particularly for people who follow a conventional Western diet that’s filled with large amounts of animal protein, processed foods, low-quality fats and refined sugars.
In order to protect your bones, it’s important to eat an alkalising diet that includes plenty of plant-based, vitamin-rich foods.
If you suffer from osteoporosis, key vitamins to consider including in your diet are calcium, vitamins C and D, and magnesium.
Foods rich in these include berries, peppers, tomatoes, broccoli and kale, as well as cheese, oily fish, nuts and pulses.
Deeper root vegetables are also great as they’re an excellent source of trace minerals that help to support bone density. Also incorporate healthy fats such as omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids, found in raw nuts and seeds.
It’s also worth understanding what not to eat if you have osteoporosis. Caffeine and salt are both known to diminish calcium levels, so be wary of the amount of coffee you drink, and ensure you consume a low-salt diet.
While supplements should never be your first port of call if you’re suffering from a vitamin deficiency, some people may need to top up.
There are several vitamins that can be helpful in preventing bone loss, maintaining bone density and encouraging bone repair. Here are some of the best bone care supplements to try.
Our bodies are able to make vitamin D from cholesterol when our skin is exposed to sunlight. That’s all well and good in the summer, but from about September onwards, many of us may be deficient in this essential nutrient.
Research shows that the ‘sunshine vitamin’, as it’s also known, can reduce fractures as much as or even more than drug therapies.
Studies have also found a link between chronic lower back pain and a vitamin D deficiency. So if you’re wondering ‘can vitamin D deficiency cause back pain’, the answer could be yes.
Vitamin D and calcium supplements work well together for bone health, and it’s also worth looking at vitamin K2 supplements.
Magnesium oil topical sprays are thought to offer some benefits, as magnesium absorbed through the skin may help with pain in a localised area.
Consider a fish oil supplement or a plant-based alternative. Look out for one with a good level of the omega 3 fatty acid EPA in particular, as this is thought to be the most helpful for reducing inflammation.
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