Bone Health

Our bodies are an incredible piece of machinery. We take it for granted when they move and perform well and get frustrated when they become injured or don’t function properly. However, there is a lot we can do to optimise bone and joint health and recover from injury.

If we chose a car we would try and opt for one whose parts were made of quality materials and wouldn’t expect it to function without water, oil, petrol, brake fluid etc. The same principles should apply to taking care of our body. Bones are made from quality materials  which are sourced from the foods we eat. Bones are constantly being formed and absorbed and are completely new every 10 years. If you have ostopeania, osteoporosis, osteoarthritis then you could still have an impact on the future of your bone health.

Food for strong bones
Bones are composed of protein, calcium, magnesium, phosphorous and require vitamin C and B, copper and zinc for their formation. Vitamin D is required for the absorption of calcium. To make bone, Vitamin K activates the bone forming cells called osteoblasts. A protein matrix of connective tissue (collagen and elastin) is laid down first and then the calcium, magnesium and phosphorous are added to it.  The foods listed below may help optimise bones health and density (Journal of Nutrition 2007):

  • Calcium rich foods are dairy products, sardines, soya beans, fortified cereals and dark green leafy vegetables such as curly     kale, spinach and broccoli
  • Magnesium rich foods are nuts, seeds, soya beans, spinach and salmon
  • Phosphorous rich foods are meat, nuts, seeds and dairy
  • Vitamin C rich foods are citrus fruits, peppers, dark green leafy vegetables, strawberries, pineapple and kiwi etc
  • Vitamin B rich foods are meat, fish, dairy, eggs, milk, wholegrains, green leafy vegetables
  • Zinc rich foods are organ meats, beans, nuts, seeds and wholegrains
  • Copper rich foods are beans, peas, whole wheat, avocados, nuts, seeds, potatoes, tomatoes
  • Vitamin D is found is oily fish such as salmon, tuna, sardines and also in eggs, dairy and fortified breakfast cereals. Vitamin D is manufactured in the body through exposure to sunlight
  • Vitamin K is found in green leafy vegetables, tomatoes, green tea, liver and lettuce
  • Phytooestrogens from soya based foods such as tofu and fermented soya products (Nutrients 2010)

Keeping bones healthy
Bones are built up until the early twenties and after that gradually lose density. Women generally lose bone density faster than men due to hormonal changes after the menopause. To optimise bone health:

  • Perform regular exercise. The force of muscles pulling on bones increases bone density
  • Eat a varied diet high in nutrients which support bone health
  • Reduce alcohol, caffeine and salt intake
  • Stop smoking if necessary as this reduces bone density
  • Avoid fizzy drinks which leach calcium from bones
  • Limit high protein foods that are animal products, these produce acids in the body, the majority of which needs excreting by the kidneys to protect the pH of the body. If acidity is still too high then muscle and bone which are alkaline are broken down to neutralise the acidity compromising bone density