Eating for bone health isn’t something to consider only once bone damage has occurred. It’s necessary to consider from a ripe young age!
Here are a few tips for everyone to keep in mind:
1. Dear, old dairy:
A source of calcium that we all know about is from the humble dairy family. Dairy is a source of calcium, phosphorus, and vitamins, as well as providing different forms of protein, which contain growth-promoting elements. In many countries it is also fortified with Vitamin D, further enhancing its relevance for bone health!
Luckily for people who have trouble digesting dairy products, we can get also calcium, protein and a range of nutrients from other foods.
2. Dark green leafy vegetables
Not just food for rabbits, vegetables like kale, spinach, broccoli, rocket, watercress, bok choy are all fantastic to include in a healthy diet.
For anyone taking a blood thinner like warfarin, it is necessary to be aware of Vitamin K containing food as Vitamin K has a role in the clotting of our blood.
3. Eat the Rainbow!
Greens are important for our bones, but so are all the colours of the rainbow. Different fruits and veggies get their colors from the various phytochemicals they contain, and these phytochemicals are associated with different nutrients.
While this is a simple, easy way to categorize different vegetables, it is best to eat a balanced diet that is combines a variety of colours, foods, vitamins and nutrients.
4. Happy Joints Fish Curry
Talk about a meal that can pack a punch! This Fish Curry is full to the brim of foods that naturally contain nutrients required in our body to fight inflammation and promote overall health. Of course, it also tastes great.
5. A Delicious Brunch of Eggs & Mushrooms
Not the first foods that comes to mind when you think of bone health, but think again! Egg yolks are one of the few sources of dietary Vitamin D (and it also contains Vitamin K2), along with fatty fish, cod liver oil, beef liver, cheese and certain mushrooms.
Vitamin D is important for bone health as it helps to absorb and utilise calcium from our foods. Without this mechanism, our bones can become thin, brittle or malformed.
Studies show that mushrooms increase their concentration of various types of Vitamin D (D2, D3 and D4) after being exposed to sunlight and UV radiation.
6. Eat up the Sun
The best advice to avoid Vitamin D deficiency is to be like a mushroom and get safe sun exposure often as well as to eat plenty of foods high in vitamin D3.
Different amounts of sunlight are required depending on the strength of the UV light at the time of year, skin colour, age and serum level of Vitamin D. However, studies show that an average time of 30 minutes of skin in direct sunlight between 10am and 3pm in Australia is enough to maintain Vitamin D status.
7. Bones for Bones!
Soups made using traditional home-made bone broths are full of a range of nutrients that our body requires for the production of collagen – one of the key ingredients in human connective tissue. Not only do these gelatinous soups add to our intake of amino acids (what we need for collagen synthesis), they are also such a great, cheap staple to add in to your weekly meals.
It’s hard to nail down exactly how much glucosamine, chondroitin, glycine, calcium, magnesium, etc, that a batch of homemade broth contains, as it depends in the quality of the bones, the life of the animal and how the broth is prepared. At the same time, you won’t be taking in the same nutrients from a beef stock cube. It needs to be the real stuff made from real bones for the full flavour benefits!
8. Try sipping on some tea.
YAY! Another excuse for tea, but which one is best?
- Rosehip Tea - multiple studies have demonstrated that rosehip contains anti-inflammatory compounds that may be helpful to relieve joint pain and reliance on rescue medication.
- Turmeric Mylk - a drink revered by Ayurvedic hipsters and health-lovers alike! Turmeric mylk is a drink of turmeric powder mixed in with any form of milk. This is a great way to boost your intake of turmeric, as curcumin (its active ingredient) is highly lipophilic (fat soluble) and best absorbed when ingested with fats.
- Black Tea - black tea is a major source of manganese, and can provide all the manganese recommended for our daily intake.
REMEMBER – tea and coffee both contain tannins, which provide the bitter and astringent properties of the drink. This tannic action can inhibit absorption of minerals, nutrients and various medications so it is always recommended to take medications and supplements 1 hour away from a cuppa
9. Seeds + Legumes - a powerhouse of vegetarian nutrition
Vegetarians and vegans will naturally consume foods that are lower in bone nutrients that their omnivore friends, but luckily this doesn’t mean their bones will become brittle! Here are some plant foods to remember that are high in calcium:
- Chickpeas, beans.
- Soy beans, tofu.
- Dark green leafy vegetables.
- Backstrap molasses.
Chia seeds are also a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, which may be beneficial in reducing inflammation in joints.
10. Indulge in weight bearing exercise.
Another thing to include in your recipe for bone strength is weight-bearing exercises. Including 1-2 doses of these in your week can increase bone mineral density in boys and girls, men and women of all ages.