The importance of bone health:
Bones are a frame of the human body, and they provide support while helping us move. They also protect the major organs like the heart and the brain from extensive injury. Our bones also are powerhouses that store minerals and calcium, these components keep the bones strong and sturdy, and the minerals are released into the body whenever needed.
You can keep bones healthy by consuming a diet that is rich in minerals and vitamin D, intake plenty of sun, and maintain a healthy lifestyle. An unhealthy lifestyle can harm your bones, making them weak and brittle. Weak bones are susceptible to fractures and other long-lasting health problems.
Bone health is as important as any other component in our body, and if you want to keep serious and debilitating illnesses such as Osteoporosis at bay, then you have to focus on your bones and to keep them as healthy as possible. This includes getting a bone density test from your Orthopedic doctor regularly. Regular check-ups will help you manage your bone health and also set you on the right path towards maintenance and prevention.
What can affect your bone health?
What you choose to consume as a part of your diet has a huge impact on your overall health, and this includes your bone health as well. Therefore, it’s always better to be mindful of what you’re eating because nutrition has a vital role in preventing Osteoporosis.
Bone diseases can have a traumatic impact on a person, causing them pain, deformity, and a negative impact on their mental health. So to avoid these problems, you must have healthy bone mass, structure, and mechanics.
Now, it’s common knowledge that bones require calcium to be healthy but not many people know that calcium is absorbed by bones with the help of vitamin D. The human body requires a certain amount of vitamin D to absorb calcium fully, and without the combination of calcium and vitamin D, you are at risk of weak and damaged bones.
Fish and milk are good sources of vitamins, but they are obtained in limited amounts, and vitamin D is absorbed from the sun by the skin. However, you can’t be reliant on the sun for vitamin D because too much exposure may lead to skin damage. So, you must understand the nutritional value of the food you consume so that your body can absorb it fully. If your diet is poor in sources of Vitamin D, you must add Vitamin D supplements to your health regimen to avoid Vitamin D deficiency.
How does diet affect your bone health?
Whether it’s your bone health or your overall health, having a healthy diet is important; you have to maintain a good diet from a young age so that you can avoid the onset of various diseases when you age.
As mentioned before, for optimal bone health, you need to have sufficient calcium and vitamin D foods. Poor bone health can lead to diseases like Osteoporosis and Rickets, and also make you vulnerable to fractures and other painful bone-related injuries. Maintaining a good diet is the foundation of strong and healthy bones, and this is inclusive of physical activity and ensuring that you avoid any risk factors.
It’s recommended that adults should get 1000 mg of calcium daily, and this is possible if you follow a balanced and varied diet. The best sources of calcium are as follows:
- Dairy products like milk and cheese
- Leafy vegetables such as spinach and other beneficial greens like broccoli, cabbage, and ladyfingers
- Soya beans
- Fish that have soft bones like sardines
- Whole grain bread
Some of the food sources for vitamin D are:
- Fish that are rich in omega fats like salmon, sardines, and mackerel
- Beef Liver
If you’re suffering from Osteoporosis, then your Orthopedic doctor will prescribe you with vitamin D and calcium supplements. These supplements will be given along with your regular medication, and it will be done only if they think your calcium levels are too low.
Diet plans for at-risk groups:
Some people are at a greater risk of bone diseases than others because they don’t have enough vitamin D and calcium in their system. It’s highly suggested that they take vitamin supplements every day, some of the major groups are:
- Infants and toddlers, from birth till they are one-year-old, partially or exclusively breastfed from six to five years old (unless they are on formula)
- Children aged 1 to 4 years
- People who are weak and confined to home
- People who cover their skin when stepping out in the sun
- People who have dark skin, like African or South Asian descent.
Diet plans for Vegans:
Many people have the misconception that if you’re a vegan, then you can suffer from weak bone health because they don’t include dairy or meat in their diet. However, they can get the necessary nutrients from other food sources like:
- Soya, oats, and rice drinks
- Various pulses
- Brown bread
- Dried fruits like apricots, prunes, figs, and so on.
The vegan sources of vitamin D are as follows:
- Sufficient exposure to sunlight, but remember to wear sunscreen and protect your skin from burns
- Soya drinks and breakfast cereals
- Vitamin D supplements
Diet tips for healthy joints and bones:
Calcium and vitamin D may be the main components that help with bone health, but other nutrients will help maintain strong bone structure too. Some of them are:
Vitamin K: You will find this nutrient-packed in green leafy vegetables like spinach, kale, and Brussel sprouts. Try steaming or boiling them with some lemon juice and seasoning, and you will have a tasty, nutritious meal. Avoid overcooking these veggies because they will lose all the nutrition.
Potassium: This mineral is mostly found in bananas and prunes. If you’re picky with prunes, then you can find Potassium in other foods like potatoes, spinach, raisins, and oranges.
Vitamin C: It’s common knowledge that oranges and other citrus foods are packed with vitamin C, but you will find this nutrient in broccoli, strawberries, and papaya as well.
Magnesium: Once again, you will find this mineral in various veggies like plantains, spinach, sweet potatoes, and raisins.
To ensure that you get a good dose of vitamins and minerals in your daily meal plans, you have to include a good amount of vegetables and fruits. You can start by including 1.5 cups of fruits and two whole cups of vegetables daily. This will help maintain your bone and overall health. Try out interesting and tasty recipes with your veggies, so that you feel like having nutritious meals and don’t cave and have any junk or processed foods.
The best foods to boost bone health:
As mentioned above, many nutrients are considered as the building blocks for optimal bone health. Now, let’s have a look at specific foods and see why they should be included in your daily meal plans, as well.
Not many people are aware that you can get a sufficient amount of calcium from vegetables; this information is useful if you’re sticking to a dairy-free diet. However, if you are consuming dairy along with veggies, then you can consider having dark leafy greens like Bok choy, Collard greens, Spinach, and Turnip greens. The bonus element of having green leafy veggies is that you are consuming calcium and Vitamin K. These veggies can also reduce the risk of Osteoporosis.
Many Orthopedic doctors praise the benefits of Magnesium and Potassium for healthy bones, and you can get these nutrients from delicious sources like potatoes and sweet potatoes. Try baking these spuds, to get their full benefits, without any salt.
Get your daily intake of vitamin C by eating a grapefruit for breakfast. This habit will not only wake your taste buds, but it will also maintain your bone health. One pink grapefruit will have almost 91 mg of vitamin C. Thereby, meeting your vitamin C requirement for the entire day.
Salmon is a fish that is filled with omega fats and vitamin D. These nutrients allow your body to absorb calcium. Try to purchase canned salmon because they include more vitamin D; this is because the soft bones of the fish are included with the meat, and this makes the portion more nutritious. Don’t worry, the bones won’t cause any hindrance, and you won’t notice it at all.
Prevention is better than cure:
If you are at risk of bone deterioration or are just trying to maintain healthy bones, then prevention is better than cure. This means you have to include a good amount of exercise and healthy foods into your daily lifestyle; this is the best way to keep your skeletal structure strong. To ensure that you have good bone density, and keep Osteoporosis at bay, visit your nearest Orthopedic center and get a check-up.
When to consult an Orthopedic doctor?
As you age, it’s always a good idea to schedule regular check-ups with your doctor and make sure that your body is in good condition. When it comes to bone health, you should visit your Orthopedic doctor if you are experiencing the following:
- Pain or stiffness that is interfering with your daily activities
- Chronic pain that lasts for more than 12 months
- Decrease in mobility
When you visit the Orthopedic doctor for a regular check-up or to seek help for an existing injury, you have to select a medical professional who will give you the treatment and recovery that you need. Ensure that you conduct proper research on the hospital and treatments before you make your choice.
Dr. Amarnath Reddy, Consultant – Orthopaedic & Joint Replacement Surgeon, Narayana Multispeciality Hospital, HSR Layout, Bangalore