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Keeping your bones strong and healthy throughout life is an important part of preventing osteoporosis and other bone diseases as you age.
There are many things you can do to improve your bone health, including staying active, monitoring your calcium intake, and maintaining a healthy weight.
With diet alone, you can positively impact your bone health by following a specific eating plan that increases the likelihood of stronger bones as you age. The key to improving your bone health with diet is reducing intake of sodium and sugar while increasing intake of foods high in Vitamin K2 and Calcium.
A balanced diet that includes the right combination of these foods will support your bones now and into old age. Have a look at the food pyramid below- these are the foods that are required to keep our bones strong and healthy.
What Is a Bone-Healthy Diet?
A bone-healthy diet is a way of eating that promotes strong bones and the nutrients needed to keep your bones healthy. The diet is rich in foods that are high in Vitamin K2 and Calcium, nutrients that are essential to bone health.
Eating a wide variety of foods from all food groups will give you the nutrition you need to maintain strong bones and avoid osteoporosis. When building a bone-healthy diet, you’ll want to focus on increasing the amount of calcium and vitamin K2-rich foods you eat, such as dairy products and leafy greens.
You can also increase calcium intake by eating more dark green vegetables, nuts, seeds, and fish with edible bones.
Limiting added sugars and sodium, as well as other unhealthy fats, will help keep your bones healthy over time.
Foods for Strong Bones
There are certain foods that you should add to your diet in order to get the most benefit from calcium. These foods are rich in various vitamins and minerals that can promote strong bones and help prevent osteoporosis.
- Dairy products – Milk, yogurt, and other dairy products are high in calcium, which is important for bone health. They are also high in protein, which helps you stay full, as well as potassium, which helps regulate blood pressure. Other dairy products, like cottage cheese, are good sources of vitamin K2, which also supports bone health.
- Dark green vegetables – Leafy greens like broccoli, Spinach, kale, and bok choy are among the best sources of calcium. They also contain a mix of other vitamins and minerals, including vitamin K2 and vitamin A, that support eye health and vision, as well as bone growth and strength.
- Nuts and seeds – Nuts and seeds are particularly high in vitamin K2, which is essential for bone health. They can also be a good source of protein, healthy fats, and magnesium, which helps maintain a normal heartbeat. Other seeds, like pumpkin seeds, are also high in calcium.
- Fish with edible bones – Fish like salmon and sardines are high in calcium and vitamin D, which is essential for strong bones. They are also rich in protein, which helps you feel full longer.
- Fruits like sapota [Chikoo], custard apple, pomegranate are good source of calcium and vitamins.
Here’s an article I wrote few months back on how to age gracefully with diet-
Foods to Avoid for Strong Bone
There are certain foods that you should avoid in order to promote healthy bones. These foods are high in sodium, sugar, and fats that can negatively impact your bones.
- Bread – White Bread is a high-sodium food and can lead to weight gain, which can damage your bones. Bread is also a refined grain that can spike blood sugar and insulin, which can lead to weaker bones in the long run.
- Soda – Soda is high in sugar, sodium, and calories, which can all negatively impact bone health.
- Processed meats – Processed meats like ham, bacon, and hot dogs are high in sodium and saturated fat. These can lead to weight gain, which can increase the risk of osteoporosis.
Bone healthy diet for Vegetarians and Vegans
The best diet for your bones is a balanced one, including lots of vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, and legumes. Vegans, however, need to be particularly mindful of how many calories they’re getting, as well as their calcium intake, since many of the best sources of calcium are dairy products.
The following foods can help boost your calcium intake without dairy-
- Soy – Soy is a good source of protein and calcium, which is important for bone health. Many soy products are fortified with vitamin D and other vitamins and minerals that support healthy bones and promote growth. Be sure to choose unsweetened soy milk and other soy products, however, as they are free of added sugar.
- Dark green vegetables – Dark green vegetables like broccoli, bok choy, kale, and spinach are high in calcium and other minerals that support bone health. Extra bonus: they are also rich in vitamin A, which promotes eye health.
- Nuts and seeds – Nuts, seeds, and legumes are all good sources of protein and calcium. You can also find many of these foods fortified with other vitamins and minerals that support bone health.
Bone healthy diet for non-vegetarians
If you do not follow a vegetarian or vegan diet, there are lots of other foods you can eat to promote bone health. Certain meats and fish are high in calcium, as well as eggs and milk. Fish with edible bones like shark, salmon and sardines are a good source of calcium.
I sometimes recommend bone-broth or soup to strengthen the bones.
Many grains, like oats and quinoa, are also good sources of calcium. Dairy – Dairy products like milk, yogurt, and cheese are a great source of calcium. Many dairy products are also fortified with vitamin D, which is essential for bone health.
Grains – Many grains are a good source of calcium, including quinoa, oats, wheat, and barley. You can also find calcium-fortified breakfast cereals.
Other than diet, follow these tips too for having good bone health-
- Stay active – The best diet in the world won’t do you much good if you’re not getting any exercise. Being active can help support stronger bones and can help you maintain a healthy weight.
- Limit added sugar – Many processed foods, like baked goods and other sweets, are high in added sugar. Limit your intake of these foods, as added sugar has been linked to weaker bones over time.
- Limit sodium – Excess sodium can lead to weight gain, which can damage your bones over time. You may also want to monitor your potassium intake, since many people also have a high sodium intake.
- Get enough vitamins and minerals – Calcium is one of the most important nutrients for bone health, but it’s not the only one. Remember to eat a balanced diet rich in vitamins and minerals to promote healthy bones.
A diet high in vitamin K2 and calcium is crucial for promoting strong bones and preventing osteoporosis. While you can’t change your genetics, you can take steps to improve your diet and lifestyle to support your bones. Eating a diet high in protein and calcium, as well as vitamin K2-rich foods can help to promote strong bones.
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