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How to Strengthen Your Bones with This Surprising Food

By Skye Sherman  •   June 20, 2022

Brittle bones are a common part of aging, but they don’t have to be. Bone loss happens in many people, especially as they get older, but there are steps you can take to strengthen your bones, prevent bone loss, maintain bone density, and even reverse or slow down bone loss if you are already experiencing this condition.

But you might be surprised by the food that can most help your bone health. Everyone knows that the calcium in milk can help build strong bones. People were long trained on the ways that milk might benefit your health. But there’s an even better food for improving your bone health and it’s not a very hard or dense food at all.

In fact, it’s leafy greens! These soft, fluffy, flavor-packed foods can reap huge rewards when incorporated into a balanced diet. Read on to learn more about the effects of leafy greens, why they’re good for bone health, what causes bone loss, and what you can do to reverse bone loss. We also provide some cooking tips for easily incorporating leafy greens into your daily diet.

Effects of leafy greens: Why are they good for bone health?

Leafy greens are a staple of many Asian diets. Have you heard of the Asian greens rapini, bok choy, water spinach, napa cabbage, or gai lan? Maybe you’ve never tried them before, but they are delicious!

A mixture of Asian and Western leafy greens is especially delicious. These greens contain many nutrients, from calcium to vitamin D, vitamin K, and more. The more greens you consume as part of your daily diet, the better.

The main reason that leafy greens are so good for those dealing with bone loss is that leafy greens are a great source of calcium, which is essential to bone health. They actually contain the most bioavailable form of calcium, which means your body can readily absorb and use calcium in this format. Did you know that leafy green vegetables can also help balance the pH, which is “critical to retaining bone density,” according to the Save Institute?

But evidence of the power of leafy greens doesn’t stop there. Save Institute adds, “From kale to Swiss chard, dark green vegetables are a rich source of Vitamin K. This fat-soluble vitamin is important for the function of many bodily processes and staves off age-related conditions.”

In fact, they continue, “One study found that people with the highest Vitamin K intake were 39% less likely to die from all causes than those with the lowest intake.” This is amazing news! They can also help reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, coronary heart disease, and more, as well as prevent kidney and artery calcification and inhibit the growth of human cancer cell lines.

Lastly, leafy greens are a good source of B-complex vitamins, which “allow your body to turn your food into the energy that fuels every cellular function of your body.” That includes running, digesting, and even thinking. They also help balance your cholesterol, keep your eyes healthy and strong, and detoxify your liver. Never forget that leafy greens lead to a healthy liver which leads to strong bones!

What causes bone loss?

When it comes to bone loss, the main thing you need to know about is osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is a chronic condition caused by a loss of bone density. As you age, you naturally lose some bone density, but in some people, it progresses more quickly than in others.

The biggest risk of insufficient bone density (and the main complication of osteoporosis) is breaking a bone. Typically this happens as the result of a fall. Not only is breaking a bone extremely painful, it can lead to other complications, especially for older people. These can include chronic pain, decreased mobility, and a loss of independence. In addition, bone loss can lead to shrinking in height, poor posture, and overall discomfort.

The good news is that there are ways to reverse bone density despite the fact that osteoporosis is a chronic condition. There are some therapies, medications, and other types of treatments that can help to slow your loss of bone density, or even maintain or increase the bone density you do have.

As Healthline puts it, “Your doctor may recommend taking certain medications to prevent or treat bone loss, and some may even help you rebuild bone density. You can also help prevent fractures and other symptoms of osteoporosis with:

● a nutritious diet

● regular exercise

● healthy habits

● the use of supplements (possibly).”

However, there are a few other lifestyle factors that can also contribute to bone less. These include alcohol, caffeine, and soda. Keep your consumption of these unhealthy beverages to a minimum or avoid them altogether to give your bones the best bet. Smoking and eating unhealthy foods can also contribute to bone loss.

Other ways to treat bone issues

If you have osteoporosis, your doctor may recommend treating it with medication. A doctor can also recommend a vitamin that helps your body absorb calcium and phosphorus, like Ostoforte, if that is part of the issue. Taking a prescription osteoporosis medication can help to prevent the condition from getting worse, and may help to reduce your risk of fracturing your bones.

There are two main types of osteoporosis, antiresorptive medications and anabolics.

According to Healthline, antiresorptive medications “slow the breakdown of bone density” while anabolics “generate more bone than you are losing [which] helps to rebuild your bone density.” While antiresorptive medications are available in the form of oral tablets, nasal sprays, injections, and IVs, anabolics are only available through injection. Obviously, these must be administered by a trained medical professional.

On the other hand, antiresorptive medications are commonly prescribed as bisphosphonates such as alendronate, risedronate, zoledronic acid, and estrogen-like medicines such as denosumab and calcitonin.

Specific examples of prescription osteoporosis medications include Actonel, which is a bisphosphonate that works by slowing bone loss while increasing bone mass (which may prevent bone fractures), and Evista, which is a selective estrogen receptor modifier, or SERM, which slows the breakdown of bone and promotes the building of new bone in the body.

Other tips to reverse bone loss

Obviously, exercise and diet are two of the main ways to prevent or reverse bone loss. Eating yogurt can only help, and doing weight-bearing exercises, resistance exercises, and stretches on a regular basis is a vital part of bone health. And as one Instagram post points out, “weight-bearing exercise doesn’t necessarily mean weights or exercise.” Instead, you can do weight-bearing movements and make lifestyle changes.” But there are other ways to reverse bone loss, too.

Did you know there are some drinks you can consume to strengthen your bones as you age? And no, milk isn’t the only option! It’s true that you need more calcium as you age, but it doesn’t necessarily have to come from milk.

According to MSN, “The main nutrients that are crucial for strong bones include calcium, vitamin D, magnesium, vitamin K, phosphorus, boron, vitamin C, and potassium.” That’s why fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and lean protein can be the ideal balanced diet to boost your nutrient intake and build and maintain strong bones. In addition to (or instead of) a big daily glass of whole milk, they recommend drinking prune smoothies, green tea, green juices, and the probiotic fermented drink kefir.

There are many alternative therapies, too. Have you ever heard of pulsed electromagnetic field (PEMF) therapy? One Instagram post talks about how effective it is in stimulating repair processes in the body: “Some of the main benefits seen by utilizing the PEMF modality are improved microcirculation and heart health, healing and regeneration, bone health, energy and vitality, rejuvenating sleep, and pain and inflammation reduction. Many [people] use it as an adjunct to loading to build bone density. There are thousands of peer reviewed studies on PEMF used as a medical device for bone health. It works by activating the pathways that reduce excessive age-related bone resorption and optimizing your ability to build healthy new bone.”

Maybe there is a PEMF therapy location available near you! But can you actually reverse bone loss through any of these methods? Yes! If you make these healthy choices, you can increase your bone density and improve your general health outcomes.

Daily recipe and leafy green cooking tips

To get your daily dose of leafy greens, incorporate them into as many meals as you can throughout the day, even if it’s just a small amount.

You can add a cup of spinach to almost any meal and it’s barely noticeable when it’s cooked. The next time you make pasta, stir in a cup of raw spinach into the sauce as it simmers. It won’t change the flavor, but it will boost the nutrient level of your dish! This is also a great idea for your morning smoothie. Simply blend in a cup of raw spinach and then sip the health benefits.

How to Strengthen Your Bones with This Surprising Food

Another way to cook with leafy greens is to stir them into soups. Asian greens are especially tasty this way. If you’ve ever had a steaming bowl of ramen on a cold day, you know how hearty and delicious the bok choy can be!

For yet another way to get your leafy greens, eating a cup of raw greens can be refreshing on a summer day. Cook a piece of grilled chicken or salmon and top it with a pesto, then put the whole thing on a bed of greens with a little rice on one layer, too. Not only is this hot-cold meal a delight to eat, it’s packed with vitamins, minerals, and nutrients necessary for bone and overall health.

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Disclaimer:

The purpose of the above content is to raise awareness only and does not advocate treatment or diagnosis. This information should not be substituted for your physician's consultation and it should not indicate that use of the drug is safe and suitable for you or your (pet). Seek professional medical advice and treatment if you have any questions or concerns.