For years, experts have urged us to eat healthily for the sake of our heart. But it’s not just our heart that benefits from a Mediterranean-type diet rich in fruit, vegetables, and fish but containing modest amounts of meat and low-fat dairy. Our bones do too.
Osteoporosis is a bone disease that affects over 10 million Americans. Nutritionally-deficient diets and a sedentary lifestyle have been touted as the reasons why the condition is so prevalent. Our bones are living, growing structures of tissue that are constantly being broken down and built up again. Although they look solid, they are not, consisting of a harder outer layer surrounding a softer, sponge-like inner core. Osteoporosis occurs when too much bone is broken done, or too little new bone made. A loss of bone density causes our bones to become brittle and weak, meaning they can easily fracture.
While calcium and vitamin D are most commonly associated with osteoporosis, research indicates other nutrients, such as copper, iron, potassium, selenium, and vitamin K, also have important roles to play in both the prevention and treatment of the disease.
Wholefoods are the best way to add more bone-healthy goodness to your diet. Beat osteoporosis by:
- Making sure you eat at least five servings of fruit and vegetables a day (preferably more)
- Including more potassium-rich foods in your diet such as apricots, bananas, oranges, prunes, and sweet potatoes
- Continuing to eat high-calcium, low-fat dairy foods such as milk and yogurt, but avoid flavored or sweetened products
- Limiting your intake of sodium chloride (salt)
- Avoiding carbonated beverages; water is the best fluid to drink
- Exposing your arms and face to the sun for at least half an hour each day, but avoid sunburn, so during the morning or late afternoon is best
- Moving! Climb those stairs, walk around the block, hike those hills, lift some hand or ankle weights. As little as 30 minutes of weight-bearing exercise daily can really help strengthen your bones
- Not smoking and limiting the amount of alcohol you drink.
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