Last month my 74-year-old mother while walking, tripped on a small tuft of grass, fell - and broke her rib! Her recovery has been painful, debilitating and at times depressing. It also affected my elderly father who relies heavily on her day to day.
Surprisingly, this instance of fracture was not due to osteoporosis. However my mom's experience caused me stop and think deeply. As a 40-something woman, am I doing everything possible to keep my skeletal system in tip-top condition?
Once we get past the inevitable scrapes of childhood, during our middle years we don't give too much thought to our bones. We understand that bones make up our structural frame, but we tend to think of our bones like the frame of a house. Supporting and rigid, and that's it.
The truth of it is that bone is an active, living tissue. Bone is constantly changing, undergoing synthesis and remodeling itself. Like all other bodily tissue, bone is totally dependent on many different micronutrients and enzymes for optimum bone function and health.
Unfortunately the typical western diet is now so heavily weighted with white flours, refined sugars and fats it is deplete of many of the micronutrients required for healthy bones.
There are other aspects of concern with the typical western diet. Do you regularly drink carbonated beverages? Did you know that carbonated drinks increase the body's intake of phosphorus - which, in turn, decreases our absorption of calcium. Decreased absorption of calcium can lead to an unhealthy, nutrient-starved skeletal system. And in time this can lead to osteoporosis.
Whilst calcium is necessary, it is not the only critical micronutrient for healthy bones. Make sure your diet has an adequate supply of magnesium, zinc, silicon, boron, folic acid, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, Manganese, vitamin K, vitamin D and magnesium. These trace elements are important and many of us are not getting them from our regular food consumption patterns. For instance, the Journal of Nutritional Medicine reports between 80 to 85 per cent of Americans consume a magnesium-deficient diet!
The good news is that if many of us with diet deficiencies which may have impacted our bone health, can improve our situation with a few lifestyle adjustments. Medical evidence supports an improvement in bone density where people make lifestyle changes to incorporate weight bearing exercise, a diet more rich in fresh fruit and vegetables, complemented with high quality nutritional supplements.
Why wait until you bones start breaking before you think about ensuring a healthy skeletal system?
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