Having healthy bones and joints are imperative for living a long, healthy life. The most common ailments people suffer from in their bones and joints are osteoporosis and arthritis. Osteoporosis is a condition in which bones lose density and become more likely to fracture. Arthritis conditions affect the joints and surrounding tissues such as in the wrists, knees, fingers, toes and hips. In order to combat issues such as osteoporosis and arthritis, there are changes that can be made to one’s diet, exercise regimen and lifestyle.
The food you eat and beverages you drink can make all the difference when it comes to strengthening bones and joints. Bones need a variety of nutrients including calcium and Vitamins C, D and K.
Calcium intake is crucial to keeping bones strong, and it can come from low-fat dairy products like yogurt and milk, as well as non-dairy options like enriched soymilk or almond milk. Calcium can also come from salmon, mackerel, tuna and tofu. In a recent study that monitored women in early menopause, who are at a high risk of developing osteoporosis due to a decrease in estrogen, reduced their risk of osteoporosis by taking soy protein supplements.
The best way to get vitamins and minerals is by incorporating fruits and vegetables into your diet. Kale provides a healthy dose of vitamin K in addition being a good source of calcium. You can also get Vitamin K from greens like broccoli, spinach and cabbage. Vitamin C can be found in red and green bell peppers, as well as strawberries, Brussels sprouts and pineapples. If eating these foods is still not giving you the required amount of nutrients, ask your doctor about taking supplements.
Moderating alcohol and caffeine intake can also greatly impact changes in bone density and joint inflammation. Limiting alcohol intake to one drink a day and switching soft drink consumption for milk and fortified juices can also decrease the likelihood of bones and joints getting weaker.
In addition to eating well, leading an active lifestyle can create positive changes in bone and joint health. Weight-bearing exercises like brisk walking, dancing or hiking can promote heart health and build stronger muscles, which protect joints. Stretching and flexibility exercises like yoga and Tai Chi guard joints and preserve range of motion. Proper form during exercise and taking days off in between workouts to allow your body to recover are critical to preventing injuries.
The food we eat and the activities we partake in make all the difference when it comes to building stronger bones and joints. Eating fruits and vegetables, increasing vitamin intake and limiting alcohol and caffeine intake will strengthen bones and joints in the long run. Beginning to exercise or maintaining an active lifestyle will protect bones and joints as you get older. Be sure to consult with your doctor about bone and joint health and the changes you can make to your daily routine.
Jaime Venditti, State Coordinator, New York Health Works