Accredited Practising Dietitian and Exercise Physiologist.
Double Masters Degree – University of Wollongong MSc, APD, AccSD, AEP
Director of NuActive Health
Healthy Bones and the Importance of Dairy
There has been a lot of talk about what is healthy for our bones. So this is from a health professionals opinion, which is supported by clinical research, so we only work with the actual facts, not our personal opinions or theories.
Bones, they are the foundations and building blocks that make up our body. They are there to protect all our soft vital organs including our brain, heart and lungs. Bones store essential minerals such as calcium and contain marrow where white blood cells are made.
It’s very important to have healthy bones at every stage of our lives. From babies, to older people, we need to ensure good bone health is essential for a long and active life. Young children, teenagers and older women all have greater than average requirements.
We begin life drinking milk as a baby and what a great start that is! Our bones are still developing and this gives us the essential vitamins and minerals we need to create a great foundation for bone strength. Children are generally very good at consuming milk and dairy products which are a great source of calcium needed for our bone and teeth development. As the years go on, we sometimes consume less dairy, forgetting that it is an essential part of our diet. Our bones can become brittle and break more easily without the calcium intake.
Other factors that can contribute to lower levels of calcium in our body are medications. As this is the case for many Australians for different reasons, we must remember to try and increase the amount of calcium we consume.
Good sources of calcium include dairy foods like cheese, yoghurt and milk, leafy green vegetables, fish and calcium-fortified products, such as soymilk or rice drinks and breakfast cereals. Try to include at least two of these in your diet every day.
Milk is one of the biggest sellers in supermarkets. There is a variety of milk you can choose from, so which on is suitable for you? Count your milk towards one of your daily dairy serves. We need 2-3 serves of dairy per day depending on your sex and age. A glass (250ml) of milk is one serving.
– Regular milk
– Reduced and low fat (reduced fat)
– Skim milk (no fat)
– Lactose free (the natural sugar) in the milk is removed for those individuals who are lactose intolerant and are unable to digest lactose in milk.
– Milk powder (if made to the manufacturer’s instructions on the packet these milks are the same as the regular milk)
– UHT milk – stands for ultra high temperature treatment, simply meaning you can store it for longer, it still has the same nutritional component as fresh milk
– Higher in protein (eg. Shape)
– Fortified with Omega 3 fats for a healthy heart and brain development (eg. Farmers Best)
– Contain plant sterols to assist with lowering cholesterol levels (eg. Dairy Farmers HeartActive).
– Fortified with vitamin D – Vitamin D is important for strong bones. We mostly get out vitamin D from the sun.
– Soy milk – Soy milk is naturally high in estrogen hormones so these sorts of milk are not ideal for kids, or men, they can however be beneficial for post menopausal women. Ensure your soy milk has added calcium to benefit bone health.
– Rice and almond milk – Lower in protein and calcium so make sure you get one that has been boosted with protein and calcium.
However, if we don’t do enough physical activity, our bones can weaken even if we are eating a healthy diet including enough calcium. Our bones need regular aerobic and resistance style exercise to continue to stimulate our bones to not only enhance strength, but exercise also reduces age related loss.
Exercise has many ways.
– In children and inactive adults with low bone mass, adding regular exercise can improve bone density.
– In normally active adults, exercise helps to prevent and slow typical age related bone loss.
– Exercise can improve the shape and quality of bones in ways that make them stronger
– Exercise increases muscle strength and improves balance, which reduces the risk of falling.
Bone mass changes based on life stages. Bone mass peaks around 17 to 30 years. It is maintained until around age 50 (menopause for women). After age 50, there is rapid loss. At different ages we need different types and amounts of exercise. From teen years to age 30, aerobic exercise and strength training improve bone mass. Mature adults (aged 30 to 50 years) need more weight-bearing aerobic and strength exercise. This will allow them to maintain and improve bone mass.
The most important step to take if you are worried about your bone health is the one to your doctor, they can discuss assessment of your bone health, medications if required and a referral to a accredited exercise physiologist if required.
Until next time .. Joanne
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