When people think about how their diet affects their health, most think about how it directly impacts their weight. Some might go deeper and consider the effects of diet on heart health, cholesterol, and diabetes. But few are aware of the link between food and bones.
Missing that connection can have devastating effects, so our bone experts at The Woodlands Sports Medicine Centre are here to explain bone health basics and how your food choices can turn weak bones into the strong support system they were designed to be.
Back to bone basics
It’s easy to think of your bones as a static structure that doesn’t change much. But your bones are actually living tissues that constantly renew, much like your skin.
Bones contain a significant supply of collagen, the protein that gives your skin and connective tissues strength and resilience. In your bones, collagen forms a soft framework for the hard tissue to build upon. They also have plenty of calcium phosphate, a mineral that gives your bones their hard quality.
This combination of hard and soft tissues gives your bones enough stiffness to keep you upright and enough flexibility to handle stress and impact.
The consequences of ignoring bone health
You don’t have to do much for your bones to keep them healthy. In fact, two simple measures can do the job, and the same measures benefit your overall health: diet and exercise.
We say maintaining bone health is simple because it’s well within everyone’s grasp, but if you ignore these two pillars of bone health, you risk much.
The most common problem that arises from ignoring your bone health is osteoporosis — a disease that weakens your bones and leaves you vulnerable to fractures. According to the Bone Health and Osteoporosis Foundation, about 54 million Americans have low bone mass and osteoporosis, and 2-3 million fractures are directly related to this problem yearly.
How to nourish your bones by making the right dietary choices
Now that you know what your bones are made of and what happens when they weaken, let’s look at which foods feed your bones and help ward off fractures, osteoporosis, and other bone diseases.
Calcium is the cornerstone of strong bones. Adults up to age 50 need 1,000 milligrams per day. After 50, men need 1,000 milligrams; women need 1,200 milligrams. Dairy products are the go-to calcium foods most people think of, but you can also get calcium from fish with soft bones; dark green, leafy vegetables; and fortified foods, like breakfast cereal.
Calcium without vitamin D is almost useless because your body needs vitamin D to absorb calcium. Get plenty of vitamin D from fatty fish, liver, egg yolks, and fortified foods. You can also up your vitamin D supply by spending a little time in the sun.
Foods that are bad for bone health
Just as foods like these strengthen your bones, some foods may harm your bone health.
For example, salty foods can cause your body to lose calcium and lead to bone loss, and high-caffeine drinks can interfere with your body’s ability to absorb calcium.
Exercise is like food for your bones
Even though exercise doesn’t strictly fall under “eating for bone health,” it certainly qualifies as food for your bones. Weight-bearing exercises like walking, jogging, or climbing stairs can help build strong bones and slow bone loss.
Despite your efforts, fractures can still happen due to traumatic injuries, overuse, and repeated stress. If and when it does, The Woodlands Sports Medicine Centre is here to help. Our specialists can diagnose fractures and other bone health issues, develop a personalized treatment plan to heal your bones, and set them up for long-term health.
To learn more about bone health or seek treatment, make an appointment online or call The Woodlands Sports Medicine Centre today. We have two offices: in The Woodlands and Conroe, Texas.