Healthy Bones and Joints

To celebrate healthy bones week, we will look at what is important in keeping bones healthy and strong. Bone is a dynamic, living organism, that is remodelling constantly. This remodelling occurs due to two main bone cells, osteoclasts and osteoblasts. Osteoclasts break the bone down by stimulating the production of acids and enzymes that dissolve protein and mineral in the bone, this is called resorption. Osteoblasts rebuild bone by creating a protein matrix, mainly collagen, that provides the framework where mineralisation can occur. It is this delicate balance of bone resorption and bone formation that ensures healthy remodelling can take place. When there is an imbalance between bone removal and bone replacement, then bone loss occurs, creating the potential for an osteoporotic environment.

Bone health

So, what assists this process of maintaining a delicate balance of bone removal and remodelling? Nutrition is a key influence, and there are some major players, such as the mineral, calcium and vitamins D and K, however, there are a few other less talked about nutrients, let’s take a look:

  • Calcium
  • Vitamin D
  • Vitamin K
  • Boron
  • Magnesium
  • Silica
  • Vitamin C
  • Copper
  • Zinc

Now that we’ve looked at the range of nutrients that are needed to keep bones remodelling the way they should, let’s have a look at what foods you can acquire these nutrients from:

Calcium – milk and dairy products, salmon, almonds, green leafy vegetables such as kale, spinach, broccoli and turnip/mustard greens

Vitamin D – there isn’t vast amounts in food sources, however, it can be found in cod liver oil, salmon and sword fish, canned tuna, egg yolk, and fortified milk

Magnesium – almonds, cashews, peanuts, bran cereal, potato skins, brown rice, kidney beans, black-eyed peas and lentils

Silica – beer, whole grain cereal, prunes, apricots and granola

Vitamin K – Kale, collard greens, spinach, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, lettuce, and prunes

Boron – prunes are a high source of boron, with approximately 3-4mg boron for every 85 g prunes, almonds, peanuts, apricots and avocado

Vitamin C – oranges and orange juice, grapefruit juice, broccoli, strawberries, tomato juice, kiwi fruit, capsicum, chilli, rockmelon

Zinc – oysters, red meat, dairy products, nuts/seeds, lamb and beans

Copper – available in a range of foods such as meat, seafood, nuts, grains and cocoa products

Zinc rich foods

Now that the fundamentals of nutrition have been covered, let’s take a look at what else encourages healthy bones:

Physical activity

  • One hour of moderate exercise each week is shown to prevent bone loss and increase bone mass. Both resistance and strength training are beneficial in the development and maintenance of bone
  • Additionally, exercise decreases the risk of falls by improving muscle tone, balance and coordination, thereby making it even more important in achieving and maintaining healthy bones

Protein intake – excessive or inadequate levels

Healthy lifestyle practices such as cutting out smoking (smoking increases cadmium levels which is shown to be a contributor of osteoporosis), and reducing alcohol intake to no more than 2 standards drinks per day

Acid/base homeostasis – ensuring the consumption of alkaline fruit and vegetables while minimising acid forming foods such as meat, dairy and alcohol

Limiting the intake of foods that promote calcium excretion, such as, sugar; salt; coffee; and soft drinks

Keeping stress levels manageable as chronically high cortisol can also contribute to osteoporosis

Eating healthy

So, as we can see, there are many different things that can positively and negatively affect bone health, however, starting with diet is the fundamental underpinning of both bone and general health all round. Increase your intake of fruit and vegetables to ensure you are keeping yourself topped up with all the micronutrients your body needs while keeping in mind some of Wonder Foods all-time favourite greens, such as Spirulina, Green Barley Grass and Aloe Vera. These are all great alkalising additions to your diet. Add them to your overnight oats or an Acai bowl for a daily boost of alkalising goodness.

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