Why are healthy bones important?
Bone health is paramount in a healthy, long life as we age. Your bones take on many roles in the body, such as:
Providing physical support for our organs and tissues
Allowing us to move and stay active
Protecting vital organs, such as the heart and brain
Storing essential minerals, such as calcium and phosphorus for a wide array of uses in the body
Bone health and aging
The thing is as we get older, our ability to regenerate and preserve bone density dwindles and, as a result, this leads to more brittle and fragile bones. (1) In real life, this shows up as bones that are prone to fracture, breakage, and deformation. (1)
A condition called Osteoporosis occurs when the rate of regeneration in your bones cannot keep up with the rate of breakdown, which leads to loss of bone mass and increased brittleness and fragility. While both men and women can get osteoporosis, post-menopause women are at particular risk of developing this due to the drop in estrogen levels after menopause.
The best practice around bone health is to begin caring for your bones early in life through consistent exercise and resistance training, as well as a diet rich in nutrients that support bone mass maintenance. These nutrients include calcium and vitamin K.
Nutrition for healthy bones
Calcium is an essential mineral that comprises the majority of the mineral deposits in your bones. A decrease in calcium is strongly associated with loss of bone mass and bone health. Calcium can be found in abundance in cultured dairy products, such as kefir and yogurts, as well as bone broths made from animal or fish bones, and dark leafy green vegetables, including bok choy, kale, broccoli rabe, and spinach. (2)
Vitamin K, on the other hand, has been proven to improve bone density in individuals with osteoporosis and reduce fracture rates. (4) In comparison to calcium, it gets far less attention, while being a key player in the preservation of healthy bones.
Keep in mind that vitamin K comes in 2 forms. vitamin K1 exists in plant sources, such as dark leafy greens and seaweed foods, including kelp or nori, whereas vitamin K2 is produced by the beneficial bacteria in your gut, otherwise known as your gut flora. (5)
Gut health for bones
Additionally, your gut flora and gut health are very important in the absorption and use of the mineral-rich foods you consume. Simply making healthy food choices is insufficient if you are not able to adequately digest and absorb nutrients. Your gut flora consists of big colonies of bacteria that live synergistically in your gut. The majority of your flora is located in your large intestines.
Minerals like calcium, magnesium, and iron are optimally digested with the help of these bacteria as they feed on fibres from your food to produce short-chain fatty acids called butyric acid that aid in the uptake and bioavailability of these minerals. (3)
The best way to support your gut flora is to replenish its population with probiotic-rich foods, like R’s KOSO. This Japanese fermented drink is rich in probiotics and prebiotics, which are nutrients that feed and grow the bacteria in your colon. So from this one drink, you can experience two-fold benefits for your gut health and bone health!
As we enter into a new month, please remember to give your bones some much-deserved love and care, they do some much for us. You can do so by including calcium-rich, vitamin K-rich, and probiotic-rich foods into your diet.
Keren Chen | CBT Nutritionist
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