If your skeleton were a character in a movie featuring your body, it would be playing multiple roles–providing structure, protecting organs, anchoring muscles, and storing calcium. While the foundation of healthy bones is laid during your childhood and adolescence, you can also strengthen your bones in your adult years. A diet rich in macro nutrients (protein and fats) and micro nutrients (vitamins and minerals) are fundamental for bone health.
Calcium is essential for maintaining adequate bone mass to support the skeleton.As food and supplements are the sources of calcium for your body, your dietary habits should ensure you nourish yourself adequately with the right foods. Here is a list of healthy practices that will go a long way in strengthening and nourishing your bones:
- Choose calcium-rich foods:Foods such as dairy products (milk, yog hurt, cheese), cauliflower,broccoli, turnip greens, almonds, beans, nuts, and seeds are some rich sources of calcium. Add these to your daily diet for adequate intake.
- Get your vitamin D: Also known as the sun vitamin, vitamin D helps you absorb calcium in foods. Milk, brightly-coloured fruit and vegetables, fatty fish (salmon and sardine), and egg yolk should be a part of your regular diet to build and preserve bone mass.
- Eat healthy fat: High-quality, healthy fats play a key role in the absorption of calcium and fat-soluble vitamins such as D and K. Foods such as oil-rich nuts, avocado, seeds, and fatty fish (salmon and mackerel) are rich in essential fatty acids.
- Consume bone-building minerals:Potassium and magnesium help your body absorb and use calcium.Eat a variety of healthy foods such as vegetables and fruit, legumes (beans, peas, lentils), nuts, seeds, whole grains, and fish.
- Power your bones with protein: Muscles keep your bones strong, and proteins build muscles. So eat protein-rich foods such as meat, poultry, fish, shellfish, legumes (beans, peas, lentils), nuts, and seeds.
- Exercise for bone endurance:Lifting weights builds bone mass and improves posture and balance. Improved balance and coordination lower your risk of falling and breaking bones.Also, exercise builds muscle, which keeps your bones healthy.Aim for 20 minutes of physical activities containing one or all of the following:
- Weight-bearing exercises–running, walking, hiking, low impact aerobics, dancing, tennis, golf
- Resistance training –lifting weights, push-ups
- Stretching exercises–yoga and tai chi
- Avoid refined sugar, alcohol, and caffeine:These are acid-forming foods that erode bones of calcium and other minerals, thus weakening them. Excess of caffeine can decrease the amount of calcium you absorb. Too much alcohol can contribute to bone loss. So it’s advisable to limit the consumption of these substances.
Your body is continuously forming new bones and breaking down the old. When you’re young, the pace of formation overtakes the rate of breakdown, increasing the bone mass.In later years, there is a reversal of pace as you lose more bone mass than you gain as the bone remodelling continues. Therefore, it’s essential that with diet and exercises your body, at its peak, banks adequate bone massso that you’re not afflicted with ageing ailments such as osteoporosis later in life.