Its Spring time in Ireland and the leaves are starting to bud on the trees again – I’m always amazed at the way trees can seem dormant through the winter but with the right amount of sunlight and increasing temperatures, they grow and regenerate new life. Which of course makes me think of bone health – also dependent on sunlight for Vitamin D, but responsive to changes and choices in how we eat, move, sleep and manage our stress.

Did you know?

  • In women, the lifetime risk of hip fracture is 1 in 6, compared with a 1 in 9 risk of a diagnosis of breast cancer.
  • A 50 year old woman has a 2.8% risk of death related to hip fracture during her remaining lifetime – that’s equivalent to her risk of death from breast cancer and 4 times higher than that from endometrial cancer.
  • Worldwide, 1 in 3 women over age 50 will experience osteoporotic fractures.
  • One in five women do not receive an osteoporosis diagnosis until after three or more bones have been fractured
  • After first experiencing a fracture, one in eight of those affected with Osteoporosis will go on to break another bone within a year…and 20% of women who sustain a hip fracture will die within twelve months

Osteoporotic changes in the spine can affect:

  • Breathing
  • Cardiac function
  • Digestion
  • Mobility
  • Pain
  • Continence
  • Mental Health

 

So that’s the bad news

The good news is that there is much to be done to improve bone health – and as usual for this blog, it boils down to what you eat, how you move and how you manage lifestyle issues like sleep and stress. Bone is living tissue and responds to stimulus from exercise, weight bearing and strength training – but choosing the right type of exercise is important as not all types of exercise will be osteogenic or bone building

The most common site for osteoporotic fractures are the spine, the hips, the wrists and the shoulders so choosing exercises that load these areas is vital – walking and swimming are great exercises for cardiovascular health but they don’t build bone – so what does the research tell us is the best method of building and maintaining healthy bones? And can we eat our way to healthy bones? (yes!)

Salmon:

When it comes to eating salmon for bone health, canned may be a better choice than fresh. Canned salmon is rich in protein, vitamin D, calcium (from the bones) and healthy omega-3 fats. Omega-3 fats are also brain and heart healthy fats. The salmon that we generally buy fresh has been farmed, whereas canned salmon tends to be wild caught. Its important to buy (and eat!) the salmon with the bones – but lots of people don’t like the texture – my advice is to smush the salmon up with some lemon juice, a half teaspoon of turmeric and a twist or two of black pepper (can you say ‘anti-inflammatory powerhouse?!) and have it on some toast or crackers, as the crunch can help fool you brain 😊 Another way I like to enjoy canned salmon is in sushi – with chopped carrots or cucumbers for a distracting crunch and the bonus of some seaweed nori wraps with some anti-inflammatory ginger and if I’m feeling a little sinus-y or stuffy, plenty of wasabi!

Dairy:

If you can tolerate it, dairy can be a good source of bioavailable bone building nutrients – but a lot of women find that as they become perimenopausal that their tolerance for dairy declines. Sometimes sticking with fermented dairy like yoghurt or kefir is ok though – bonus: healthy probiotics and a happy gut microbiome. In a 2014 study, the conclusions reached were that ‘…a positive effect of probiotic on bone metabolism and bone mass density.’ Always read the label – your fermented dairy products shouldn’t contain much more than milk and bacteria like lactobacillus and its friends (watch out for stealthy sugar being added)

Plant based – dark green leafy vegetables:

It wouldn’t be a blog post from me without mentioning dark green leafy veggies! In Asia/ Africa we see osteoporosis rates 50-70% less than US. What’s the difference? They eat more phytoestrogens: consider the traditional Japanese diet – fish, seaweed, vegetables, fermented soy – tamari, miso. We see a lower rate of osteoporosis (and breast cancer) in women who follow a traditional Japanese diet, but when these women adapt a typically Western diet, their levels match ours. Not only do the Calcium & Vitamin K substances of green leafy vegetables protect bones from osteoporosis and give us the nutritional building blocks to improve bone density, they may also help to prevent or reduce inflammatory diseases. Remember if you’re a midlife woman eating cruciferous veggies (broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts or kale) its probably better to have them cooked rather than raw to support good thyroid health

In part two of this blog next week, I’ll discuss the evidence behind specific exercise strategies for preventing, managing and possibly reversing osteoporotic changes – make sure you sign up for one of the free resources on celebratemuliebrity.com/resources to get it sent directly to your inbox

And of course, if you’re interested in diving deeper….

Until next time

Onwards and Upwards!

Mx