‘Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.’ — Hippocrates
by Dr. Kimberly Albarran, PT, DPT, Physical Therapy and Nutrition Coaching
This quote acknowledges the importance of healthy eating. That being said, there are foods that have protective and healing properties and there are foods that can wreak havoc on the body.
Let’s take a look at this in relation to bone health.
Peak bone mass occurs between the ages of 25-35 years. If not maintained through a healthy lifestyle with diet and exercise, the rate of bone breakdown can start to exceed the rate of bone production. This is when we start to see osteoporosis and osteopenia occur.
Other risk factors for developing osteopenia and osteoporosis include being female, Caucasian and Asian, and experiencing menopause. Men can be at risk as a result of lowered testosterone levels & sedentary lifestyles.
Digestive disorders (such as acid reflux),Crohn’s and Celiac disease, low fruit and veggie intake, depression and anxiety, parathyroid and thyroid conditions, certain medications (such as acid blockers, corticosteroids, immunosuppressants, anticoagulants, some diuretics, chemotherapy, laxatives, & some antibiotics) and eating disorders (such as Anorexia & Bulimia) can cause difficulty with nutrient absorption and demineralization.
Smoking, alcohol (two drinks per day), caffeine intake (three 3 cups caffeinated coffee per day), sodas containing phosphoric acid, high sugary and processed foods high in sodium and phosphorus pull calcium out of the bone and cause weakening of the bones.
Speak with your health care provider about bone density screenings. Have your vitamin D levels checked. Vitamin D helps the body digest bone building minerals such as calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, zinc, manganese, copper and boron.
Foods high in vitamin D include mushrooms and wild sockeye salmon, which contains nearly 1200 IU of vitamin D for 6-ounce serving. Nori, a dried seafood vegetable, also is rich in bone-building nutrients. Enjoy 4 ounces of nuts and seeds daily for calcium intake. Drink more water and less soda and caffeinated drinks, and warm herbal teas to help improve digestion.
Reduce animal protein and dairy because both create acid precursors increasing the need for calcium from the bone to bind with them and eliminate them in the kidneys. Increase your intake of fruits and veggies, especially dark leafy greens, which are higher in minerals and aide in reducing the acidity of the body.
Engage in strength training and load-bearing exercise to stimulate bone growth.