Five Foods for Bone Health
Guest Author : Your health is your wealth. If you’re ready to improve your health, we’d get along! I’m Frances Arnold Johnson, RD, a Renegade Dietitian and Yoga Teacher. People work with me to help trim their weight and improve their energy, digestion, aches & pains. Connect with me at www.NamasteNutritionist.com. I hope to meet you soon!
In today’s world, it’s difficult to get all the nutrients we need. Depleted soils just don’t offer all the nutrients to plants that they used to. Pollution, chemicals and toxins that end up in our food, air and water also reduce the amount of nutrients we are able to absorb. Inflammation, compromised gut lining, sugar and stress all drain our system of nutrition. With all of this working against us, what’s a person to do to maintain healthy bones?
In my integrative nutrition practice, I recommend high quality foods and supplements as part of a therapeutic lifestyle. While quality nutrition supplements are important for bone health, such as the plant supplements produced by AlgaeCal, your daily food choices still matter. Even if you take all the best quality supplements in the world, poor food choices can undermine how much your supplements help you. Therefore, let’s explore five amazing foods for improving your bone health.
- Stock (aka “Bone broth”): This is produced from bones of pastured or organic animals, and you really can’t afford to be without its mega-nutrients! Bones from animals contain the minerals that human bones need and high gelatin content, which supports your bones, joints and gut. A healthy gut is ESSENTIAL to absorb nutrients that support your bones (Vitamins D & K, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, etc). Note: the bones from animals raised with good nutrition, like grass-fed are healthier because they have a better fatty-acid profile than “conventionally” raised animals. Animals raised in conventional factory-farms produce very little gelatin in their broth. Also, animals who are allowed to enjoy physical activity likely have a better bone-mineral profile than animals raised in crowded pens. Finally, fish with small bones intact, such as sardines and canned salmon, are excellent for bone health.
- Simple approach: Toss bones into a large crockpot and cover with water. Then, add 1-2 tsp vinegar, as acid helps demineralize bones. Add any herbs and spices for flavor. Simmer gently up to 24 hours & strain. Bigger bones can be simmered several times.
- Fermented Foods (Probiotics): The microbes in fermented produce Vitamin K2. This powerful vitamin helps strengthen your bones and play a key role in calcium absorption. Feed your microbes with probiotics from fermented foods, such as sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, natto, yogurt, kefir, and ginger-bug, to name a few. (Sorry, alcohol doesn’t count.) When it comes to fermented foods, follow these suggestions:
- Buy yogurt or kefir that contains at least six different bacterial strains.
- Be careful about the added sugar in yogurt & kefir, as it degrades the probiotic culture on the shelf. It’s better to buy plain yogurt and add your own jam or honey at home if you want it sweetened.
- Purchase RAW sauerkraut, kimchi or kombucha. Beneficial microbes are easily destroyed by the heat of pasteurization.
- Fermented foods are inexpensive and fun to make at home. For a terrific guide, check out any book by Sandor Katz. Sandor recently spoke with me on fermented foods, which is here.
- Dark, leafy greens: Kale, chard, spinach, bok choy, cabbage, Brussels sprouts and broccoli provide a magnificent, bone-building nutrient called Vitamin K1. Vitamin K1 is an essential regulator in calcium absorption. Vitamin K is a fat-soluble vitamin, and its foods must be consumed with fat to be properly absorbed. You can discover more about vitamin K-rich foods here.
- Liver: Vitamin D is stored in liver, and is critical for regulating bone building and bone loss. Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, and must be consumed with fat to be properly absorbed. Choose liver from healthy animals (pastured or organic animals).
- Omega-3 rich foods: Omega-3 fat DHA “appears to be a vital constituent of [bone] marrow and enhances bone mineral content”, according to a British study in rats. Research for NASA scientists suggests that EPA from Omega-3 animal foods may reduce bone loss during space flight. Fatty fish, walnuts, chia, pumpkin seeds and grass-fed animal products all contain the omega-3, in which we are increasingly deficient. Animal Omega-3 foods are much better absorbed than plant-based omega-3 foods. (Source: British Journal of Nutrition April 27, 2010; 1-12, Pub Med)
Don’t get overwhelmed by this list. Just start with one item, and work on making it a part of your life. When you feel comfortable with how well you’ve incorporated it, then start with the next item. Take immediate action and tell someone else what you’ve learned. That’s how good information really sticks!
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