May 2022 Nutritionist Guide

Improving Bone Health

Nutrition

May is Osteoporosis Awareness Month. Even if you have not been diagnosed with Osteoporosis, it is important to keep your bones strong and healthy throughout all stages of life. 

What is Osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis means “porous bones” and is a degenerative condition that results from a slow, insidious loss of calcium in the bones. Although it is absolutely normal to lose bone mass as we age, deficiencies in certain nutrients and excess consumption of certain foods can increase bone loss over time. Healthy bones are important to provide shape, allow movement and protect the body. As the main storage for calcium (99% of the body’s calcium), bones also become the body’s regulator to maintain calcium levels in the blood, vital to muscle contractions, including the heart muscle. An imbalance of calcium in the blood could lead to arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat). In order to protect the heart, the body steals calcium from the bones.

Supporting Bone Health

You can increase bone density through:

1. Optimizing bone-building nutrients (i.e. calcium, vitamin d, vitamin k, magnesium)
2. Reducing mind and body stressors
3. Removing/Reducing toxic chemicals

Nutrition & Bone Density

Optimizing the intake of nutrients is vital to reduce bone loss and the risk of fractures by eating a balanced diet of whole foods and minimizing processed foods and sugar. While dairy products do contain calcium, plant-based sources of calcium provide other minerals in a balance that supports the absorption of calcium and alkalizes the body (dairy sources of calcium have an acidic effect on the body’s pH). It is important to maintain pH balance so that the body doesn’t steal calcium stores to alkalize itself. Bone broth is an excellent source of minerals, especially calcium. Bone broths can be made using chicken, beef or fish bones. These broths contain many nutrients like calcium, phosphorus, magnesium and potassium. Consuming bone broth can also help reduce inflammation, heal a leaky gut, support immunity and strengthen teeth, joints, skin and hair.

Great sources of natural calcium include:

  • Vegetables: green leafy vegetables (collard, turnip, beet and mustard greens), kale, broccoli, dulse, brussel sprouts, summer squash, arugula, swiss chard, spinach, bok choy, fennel, parsley, asparagus, celery, wheatgrass
  • Beans: red kidney, chickpeas, green/french
  • Fruit: apricots, raw figs, currants, oranges, goji berries, coconut, acai berries
  • Meat/meat products: sardines, salmon, bone broth
  • Nuts/Seeds: almonds, brazil nuts, hazelnuts, sesame seeds/tahini, walnuts, hemp seeds
  • Spices/Herbs: cinnamon, cumin, basil, garlic, oregano, cloves, black pepper, turmeric

Stress and Toxins

When we experience significant, regular stress, this can lead to hormonal imbalances and nutritional deficiencies in the body that contribute to bone loss. Identifying sources of stress and taking steps to eliminate or reduce stressors as much as possible is an important part of supporting bone health. Engaging in a moderate amount of exercises, such as weight lifting, climbing stairs, and yoga, can also help to reduce stress while supporting your body in building bone.

Heavy metals such as mercury and lead can significantly impact bone density as they displace minerals like calcium in the body. Other toxic substances such as those found in plastics can also create hormonal imbalance and cause stress in the body. There are two general ways in reducing the body’s burden of toxins:

  • Reduce exposure to gases, paints, glues, preservatives, dyes, heavy metals, plastics, phthalates, bisphenol-A, electromagnetic radiation, etc.
  • Enhance elimination of toxins by optimizing bowels (fibre and hydration), liver (cruciferous vegetables), lymphatic system (dry brush and exercise), kidneys and skin (infrared sauna, exercise).

Overall, consuming foods rich in calcium, magnesium, vitamin D, vitamin C, vitamin K and essential fatty acids, and other minerals (e.g. silica, zinc, copper) will provide the necessary nutrients needed for bone health. In order to consume all these essential nutrients, it’s important to eat whole organic foods. Need help making these changes? Visit our nutritionist team in-store or email us at [email protected]

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