Age related illnesses, Nutrition, Bones | October 13, 2018 | Author: Naturopath
Our bones are constantly remodelling to form new bone, but this process starts to slow down by our mid 30’s. We often don’t think about bone health until they start to cause problems and looking after your skeletal system is easier than you think. It’s all a matter of healthy lifestyle choices, diet, key nutrients and physical activity.
206 bones make up what is called the skeletal system. These include the bones of the skull, spine, ribs, arms and legs. Bones are made of connective tissue reinforced with calcium and specialised bone cells. Most bones also contain bone marrow in their cavities. This is a jelly-like substance where blood cells are made. Bones play many important functions such as protecting organs, storing minerals such as calcium, providing structure and allowing movement.
Having healthy bones protects against osteoporosis—a condition where the bones are weaker and more porous.
Bones are constantly changing by making new bone and breaking down old bone. During childhood and adolescence, more bone is being made than broken down, to allow for growth and strength. Bone density peaks around the age of 30 and after this bone density starts to decline.
Osteoporosis is generally seen in women over the age of 50, although younger women and men can develop this condition. It’s estimated that about 50% women and 25% of men over the age of 50 will break a bone at some point due to osteoporosis. Other symptoms of osteoporosis include bone pain and a Dowager’s hump (an abnormal outward curvature of the thoracic vertebrae of the upper back, causing the appearance of a hump).
Osteopenia is another condition that’s associated with bone loss, but it’s not as severe as osteoporosis.
Whether you have osteoporosis or want to ensure healthy bones in the future, here are some simple things your can do.
Making sure you eat a well-balanced diet from all food groups is essential for healthy bones. This includes eating calcium rich foods such as milk, cheese, yoghurt, sardines, almonds and broccoli.
Plant-based foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables, beans, nuts and seeds are also recommended.
About half of our bones are made up of protein. It is recommended that you eat 1g per day of protein for every kg you weigh.
Examples of protein rich foods include soy, grass-fed meat, seafood, lentils, dairy, nuts and seeds.
Eating a diet high in salt is thought to increase the body’s loss of calcium. Australian adults are recommended to consume less than 4g salt which is equivalent to 1,600mg of sodium. Try to avoid adding salt to food and instead flavour meals with herbs, spices and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. Processed foods such as sauces, chips, bread, stock and soups are usually high in sodium. When reading labels only purchase foods that contain less than 120mg of sodium per 100g.
Studies have found that drinking more than two alcoholic drinks a day can interfere with calcium absorption and contribute to weaker bones and falls. Additionally, smoking tobacco products are detrimental to the skeleton as well as to overall health. Caffeine reduces calcium absorption and its consumption should be avoided or reduced. Caffeine is found in tea, coffee, soft drinks, energy drinks and chocolate.
Regular weight bearing activities such as walking, jogging, climbing stairs, tennis and dancing should be done at least three times a week. Other exercises which have been found to build coordination and strong bones includes tai chi and yoga.
People who are physically inactive have a higher risk of osteoporosis than do their more-active counterparts.
Resistance exercises such as bicep curls, push-ups and squats strengthens muscles and in return prevents bone loss. Exercise has other benefits including improved flexibility, co-ordination and even mood.
If you are deficient in vitamin D this increases your risk of osteoporosis and brittle bones. Vitamin D is needed to absorb calcium which is essential for strong bones. We naturally get vitamin D from sunlight exposure on the skin, but some people may still be deficient in this nutrient even if they spend adequate time outdoors. Vitamin D is also found in foods such as eggs, cod liver oil, organ meats, oily fish and fortified foods.
Being underweight is a risk factor for osteoporosis and increases your risk of falls. It is recommended that you stay within the healthy weight range for your age and height.
Nutrient intake is an important modifiable factor for bone health.
A deficiency of certain nutrients important to bone increases the risk for bone loss and osteoporosis.
The process of bone formation requires an adequate and constant supply of nutrients such as calcium, protein, magnesium, phosphorus, vitamin D, potassium, and fluoride.
However, there are several other vitamins and minerals needed for metabolic processes related to bone including manganese, copper, boron, iron, zinc, vitamin A, vitamin K, vitamin C, and the B vitamins. More recent studies have found a benefit if you take omega-3 with calcium. It has shown to increase the amount of calcium absorbed.
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Orchard TS, et al. A systematic review of omega-3 fatty acids and osteoporosis. Br J Nutr. 2012 Jun;107 Suppl 2:S253-60