PART ONE: BONES
Bones. Most people don’t think about their bones until they break one, or until their joints hurt. We take for granted that our bones do multiple jobs and we may not spend much time considering how important healthy bones are to the overall quality of our lives. Our bones are not static. They are constantly breaking down and rebuilding from the inside. Many people think that bones hold our bodies upright, but if you took away all the ligaments, tendons and muscles, our bones would fall into a pile on the floor. Bones can be bent, twisted, curved and straightened due to tension in the muscle. So when your grandmother told you to sit up straight, she was on to something! Bones require strong muscle to remain dense and strong. Astronauts who have spent long periods of time in gravity free conditions often develop painful arthritis because the weightlessness of space makes muscles weak. That weakness takes the healthy pressure off bones and joints. Without it the bones become weak and brittle and the joints become arthritic. That is why weight bearing exercise is recommended for all stages of life.
Our bones also store minerals and nutrients which are crucial for healthy brain, heart and muscle function. They store calcium, which most people know, but they also store magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, Vitamin D (which is only absorbed with sunlight, but we’ll talk about that another time) among many other necessary vitamins and minerals. Without proper nutrition and a healthy endocrine system, our bones will become porous and brittle.
Some foods that we may not think of as being great for bones are: broccoli, spinach, cauliflower, collard greens, dandelion greens, salmon and sardines. I know you might be thinking that dairy products like milk and cheese are good for bones, but these can actually deplete bones because they convert to sugar in the body. Lactose is a sugar and sugars generate inflammation and negatively impact bone density. A diet rich in colorful, nutrient dense vegetables and fruits is the best way to keep your bones healthy and strong. The more nutrition you get from your food, the more easily accessed it is for your bones to utilize. Remember, the less processed a food is, the more nutritious it is, so choose wisely!
Words by Catherine Cusumano M.S., L.A.c, Pellegrino Healing Center Team Member