Did you know that nutrition and musculoskeletal health are closely related? Bones are actually living tissue, constantly breaking down and rebuilding as part of normal bone metabolism. To do so, our bodies require minerals such as calcium and phosphate to maintain optimal bone health. But when those same minerals are reabsorbed by the body, and not enough new bone is generated, the end result could be osteoporosis. This month, we’re taking a closer look at how nutrition can play a key role in preventing this “silent disease.”
What is Osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is a disease that causes weak or thinning bones. Affecting about 54 million people in the U.S., women are four times more likely to develop it than men. However, the disease can still affect anyone at any age.
When viewed under a microscope, our bones resemble a honeycomb, but with osteoporosis, the bones have much larger holes and spaces. Larger holes and spaces means the bone is less dense, brittle, and prone to fractures. Bone loss could be attributed to a few factors like:
Menopause – Hormones such as estrogen and progesterone influence bone health, and lower quantities could lead to lower bone density.
Family History – Osteoporosis may be hereditary. Having a close family member (i.e., mother or father) with osteoporosis or a history of broken bones may increase your risk.
Body Weight – Thin, small-framed folks are at greater risk of developing osteoporosis because they have less bone mass.
Medical Conditions – Various health conditions like thyroid disorders, blood disease, and rheumatoid arthritis, can make a person more susceptible to osteoporosis.
Medications – Some medications used for one purpose can end up causing damage to the bones and increase a person’s risk. These include hormone treatments for breast or prostate cancer, steroids, anti-seizure medicine, aluminum-containing antacids, and cancer chemotherapeutic drugs.
Smoking & Alcohol Use – Smoking cigarettes prevents proper utilization of dietary calcium, while excessive alcohol consumption is linked to higher chances of bone loss.
What Good Nutrition Can Do
In the past, we’ve mentioned that a good diet can help with a person’s overall well being. Calcium helps bones stay strong, but when combined with vitamin D, the body can absorb the mineral with ease. Knowing which foods are nutrient-rich can not only drive bone cell growth and prevent fractures, but also help you establish healthier food habits in the process.
When it comes to the best sources for vitamins and minerals, whole foods take the top spot. Consider incorporating the following eats for:
Dairy products – A single serving of milk, yogurt, or cheese provides about 300 mg of calcium.
Dark green vegetables – Collards, kale, turnip greens, and cabbage can provide 100 to 250 mg of calcium per 1 cup of cooked vegetables. Calcium is poorly absorbed from vegetables with high levels of oxalates, for example, spinach and rhubarb.
Calcium-fortified juice or plant-based milks – Soy and plant-based milks can contain as much calcium as cow’s milk. However, be sure to shake the carton before every pour because the added calcium can settle to the bottom.
Canned sardines or salmon – The calcium can be found in their soft bones.
Fatty fish – Salmon, sardines and mackerel, along with other types of fatty fish offer an array of bone-boosting nutrients. In addition to vitamin D, they also contain omega-3 fatty acids, which may also aid bones. One of the best ways to buy salmon is actually canned. Three ounces has 187 milligrams of calcium.
Egg yolks, beef liver, pork and cheese – These foods provide small amounts of vitamin D but can contribute to overall intake over the course of a day.
Meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and dairy products are just a few sources, but consider incorporating plant sources such as beans, nuts, peanut or almond butter, and sunflower seeds. Minerals like calcium give bones their hardness, but protein forms their underlying structural matrix.
Nutrition & Presidio Home Care Aides
Presidio Home Care Aides know that nutrition plays a key role in optimizing bone health. Our team will take the time to understand your loved one’s food preferences so that they can provide fresh, well-balanced and delicious meals. Contact us today to learn more.