Eating for Healthy Bones
Rates of osteoporosis are climbing and this puts people at significant risk for hip fractures. Incidentally, some of the drugs that are supposed to increase bone mineral density can actually contribute to these fractures, crazy! There are many ways we can build stronger bones including weight training and spending time in the sun but for this article I’m focusing on food.
What are some dietary risk factors for fractures?
- too much white flour and sweets (processed and refined foods wreak havoc on your body)
- too many nightshade vegetables such as tomatoes, eggplants, potatoes, bellpeppers (can promote inflammation)
- consumption of soda including diet soda (deplete bones of calcium)
- not enough vegetables (acid/base balance)
- not enough quality fats (help with hormone balance)
- insufficient protein intake (individuals consuming low protein diets demonstrated reduced bone density and increased rates of bone loss in several studies)
Interestingly enough, countries with the highest dairy consumption have higher incidence of fractures; makes you think twice about those Got Milk? ads!
Bones are made up primarily of calcium, which makes bones strong, and collagen, which makes bones flexible. There are many other nutrients necessary for healthy bones including vitamin D, phosphorus, vitamin A, protein, vitamin C, healthy fats, magnesium, and vitamin K.
Some foods that can be beneficial for building strong bones include:
- vegetables – especially leafy greens (high in calcium)
- protein (protein is a major constituent of bone)
- nuts and seeds (good source of minerals)
- bone broths or stocks – fish, chicken, beef (rich in calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, as well as glucosamine, chondroitin, and gelatin which are good for the joints)
- edible bones – like those from sardines (high in calcium and other minerals)
It’s important to keep in mind that everyone is different on a biochemical level so you have to find the right way of eating that works for YOU and YOUR body.
This article is based on Annemarie Colbin’s live lecture “Whole Food for Strong Bones” at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition in New York on May 23rd, 2010. You can find more about Annemarie Colbin, Ph.D. at www.foodandhealing.com.