Top 10 Bone-Building Foods and Exercises
May 9, 2012
What is Osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is a Greek term meaning porous bones. Osteoporosis is an extremely disabling disease defined as thinning of bone tissue and loss of bone density over time. The most common type of osteoporosis is referred to as postmenopausal osteoporosis and surfaces during menopause when the production of bone-strengthening estrogen in women diminishes and bones begin to weaken.
Who is at greatest risk?
Here are the most common risk factors for the development of osteoporosis:
• Women are at much greater risk than men.
• Advanced age.
• Estrogen deficiency (in women) and testosterone deficiency (in men).
• European and Asian heritage.
• Genetic predisposition.
• Small stature.
• Excessive alcohol consumption.
• Cigarette smoking.
• Vitamin D deficiency.
• Underweight and inactivity.
10 Tips for keeping your bones healthy and strong:
1. Perform strength/resistance training exercises.
Did you know that of all the athletes, bodybuilders have the highest bone density? In fact, it has been scientifically shown that muscle mass correlates with bone mineral density (i.e. more muscle = stronger bones). Try to perform “axial loading” type exercises (movements where the weight compresses your spinal column from above such as squats), stability and balance exercises frequently.
2. Perform weight-bearing cardio exercise.
Performing daily cardio exercise is not only great for cardiorespiratory fitness and weight control but also is invaluable for boosting your bone density. Weight-bearing exercise is the kind you perform on your feet, with your bones and muscles supporting your full body weight. Examples of weight-bearing exercise include: walking, running, stair-climbing and the elliptical machine.
3. Eat calcium-rich foods.
The most abundant mineral in the body, calcium is a critical mineral to bone up on in the diet for bone health. When it comes to osteoporosis prevention and treatment, adequate daily calcium intake is a must. Aim for consuming 1200 mg/day from mostly food sources. The foods highest in calcium include fat-free plain yogurt, fat-free or low-fat milk and cheeses, calcium-fortified OJ and tofu, soybeans, beans, canned salmon with bones, collard greens, kale, broccoli, and almonds.
4. Get in enough Vitamin D
Along with calcium is the sister mineral for boosting bone health; vitamin D. Calcium actually depends on Vitamin D for absorption and transport to the bones. Your body can make vitamin D with the help of sunlight, but many of us (especially those in northern climes) simply do not get enough. The best food sources of vitamin D are fatty fish including wild salmon, herring, mackerel, and sardines; milk (fat-free), soy milk, and yogurt. Few of us consume enough in our diet, so you may need to take a supplement (ask your personal physician if a supplement is right for you). 1000 IU of vitamin D3/day is the typical recommendation.
5. Eat Vitamin C-rich foods
Vitamin C is an important structural component of healthy bone. It also helps with calcium absorption. Eating vitamin C rich foods on a daily basis will therefore contribute to the strength and structural integrity of your bones. Aim for eating these foods as often as you can: berries, citrus fruits, melon, bell peppers, hot chili peppers, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, tomatoes, and summer squash.
6. Eat Soy Protein
There is some scientific evidence that the isoflavones in soy may help strengthen bones. Note that the studies support soy food consumption and not supplements and appear to be most beneficial for menopausal women in terms of preventing bone loss. Other studies suggest soy food intake may help slow bone loss over time and prevent fractures. Here are some healthful soy foods to try to get into your day: soybeans (edamame), tofu, tempeh, soy nuts, soy flour, soy cheese, enriched/fortified soy milk, soy yogurt, and soy crisps into your diet a few times each week.
7. Get in enough Protein
If you do not consume enough protein in your diet, the research shows that you may be shorting your bone strength. Aim for including a source of lean protein at every meal (but don’t go overboard). Enjoy moderate amounts of high-quality proteins including lean meats (skinless white meat turkey and chicken, lean beef), fish, egg whites, fat-free and low-fat milk, cheeses, and yogurt, beans, legumes, and nuts.
8. Eat foods rich in Magnesium
Did you know that half of your body’s store of magnesium is found in bone? Magnesium is one more mineral that help your body to maintain a strong bone structure. Plus, the mineral is necessary for the absorption of calcium. Get magnesium from wheat bran, nuts, spinach, whole grains and beans.
9. Eat lots of Potassium-rich fruits and veggies
Although not as famous as calcium, this mineral is also a bone health superstar. The role of potassium in bone health relates to its ability to neutralize bone-depleting metabolic acids. Many fruits and veggies contain significant quantities of potassium and other nutrients that contribute to bone health. Keep your bones strong by eating a diet rich in these foods: spinach, melon, apricots, prunes, beans, nuts, potatoes, bananas and avocado.
10. Eat food high in Vitamin K
K.O. weak bones with this vitamin, a bone health nutrient required by your body on a daily basis. Vitamin K is essential for the formation of three types of protein found in bone: osteocalcin, matrix Gla protein and protein S .Try to incorporate vitamin K–rich foods into your diet such as: dark leafy greens (especially kale and spinach), asparagus, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, watercress and parsley.