Dietitian tips to keep your bones healthy

Health essentials for bone health from a dietitian

Lite n’ Easy dietitian, Ashleigh Jones shares the importance of protecting your bone health and tips on how to keep your bones in good condition.

Why is bone health important?

Osteoporosis currently affects more than one million Australians. It occurs when our bones lose minerals, such as calcium, causing them to become brittle and more prone to breaking. This debilitating disease significantly increases the risk of serious fractures. This can lead to a loss of independence and even death, so taking care of your bones should be a high priority.

Osteoporosis is typically thought of as an older person’s disease, but it can affect anyone at any time. To prevent osteoporosis, we must build strong, healthy bones in our younger years. It’s much harder to increase your bone density after the age of twenty.

When it comes to strong, healthy bones, there are three key factors to consider – calcium, weight-bearing exercise and vitamin D.

 

1. Calcium

Calcium is found in a variety of foods, but the richest sources are cows’ milk, cheese and dairy yoghurt. As a dietitian, I am concerned about people following dairy-free diets. This is because many plant-based milk alternatives do not contain sufficient calcium. If you are going to go dairy-free, it’s essential that you choose plant-based milk alternatives that contain added calcium and vitamin D. See our article on which milk is best for you here.

There is a common misconception that leafy greens such as broccoli and kale contain just as much calcium per serving as cows’ milk. But this simply isn’t true. These foods contain plenty of other nutrients and should be included in our diets, but they are not a substitute for dairy products.

 

2. Exercise

Exercise is not just about weight loss. It’s important for maintaining our muscle and bone mass in young and mid-adulthood, and minimising bone loss and preventing falls in our older years. Weight-bearing exercise, which is exercise done while on your feet so you bear your own weight, is best for bone health. Examples include walking, jogging, skipping, aerobics, dancing and team sports such as basketballs, netball and tennis. Resistance training is also great to include as part of your exercise routine. Activities such as swimming and cycling are great for your heart and lungs but are unlikely to build bone mass on their own. If you love these sports, keep them up, but try adding some weight-bearing activity into the mix as well.

 

3. Vitamin D

We are all spending more time at home, and many of us indoors due to COVID-19. This is bad news for bone health, as our bodies source most of their required vitamin D from the sun. It’s important to prioritise some healthy sun exposure during these difficult times. It’s not just great for your bone health, but also your mood! If you live somewhere with a backyard then now is the time to show your garden a little bit of TLC. Or why not kick some exercise goals while you’re at it, and do some skipping or a no-equipment exercise circuit in the backyard. There are plenty of free programs available online.  If you don’t have a backyard then keep abreast of local restrictions. If you’re allowed out of the home to exercise, aim to get out for a walk or run while the sun is still out.

Keep in mind that skin cancer, specifically melanoma, is a very real risk in Australia, so sensible sun exposure is key. Try to avoid peak UV times, remember to slip, slop, slap when you are outdoors, and make sure you book a yearly skin check with your doctor to keep an eye out for any troublesome spots.

 

Why Lite n’ Easy?

Lite n’ Easy’s meal plans provide a nutritionally balanced diet, which is the foundation for healthy bones. Give us a call on 13 15 12 or order online now.

 

Ashleigh Jones is an Accredited Practising Dietitian with extensive dietetics experience working across hospitals, corporate health, private practice and the food industry. A published researcher, she has collaborated actively across several disciplines including genetics, multiple sclerosis and sports nutrition.  Ashleigh specialises in endocrine disorders with particular interest in weight management, pituitary and thyroid disorders, and management of diabetes. Ashleigh is passionate about promoting healthy habits, especially for busy people and offers simple and sustainable nutrition solutions.