Bones do a lot more than just hold you upright. They perform many critical functions in the body, including: providing structure, helping you to move, protecting your organs, protecting your delicate brain and spinal cord, acting as mineral storehouses and even creating new blood cells. You need strong and healthy bones for a healthy body. So, what can you do to build strong bones and prevent bone loss that often occurs with age?
According to research, you can enjoy eating the Mediterranean way. That’s because the Mediterranean Diet has been shown to have even more health benefits than the known heart and cancer ones we hear so much about.
Recent research in the journal Amercian Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that the diet combined with supplemental vitamin D prevented bone loss in those suffering from osteoporosis. According to the study seniors who followed the Mediterranean Diet for a year had much slower rate of hip bone loss than those who did not follow the diet. The study took place over a year and assessed 1294 older people with the disease.
Osteoporosis is a disease in which the bones become porous and are prone to fractures and breaks. Sadly, people become vulnerable to hip breaks or fractures, which are serious injuries.
While we tend to think of bones as hard, dry and static, the reality is much different. Bones are alive and undergo an ongoing process known as resorption. During this process, old bone is removed. The body then works to make new bone to replace the old stuff that has been eliminated, which is known as bone formation. Bone density and strength tend to peak in our early adulthood—around the age 30. After that the bones can become vulnerable to decline and resorption tends to outpace formation, which can leave the bones at risk of breaking.
According to the new study, however, people who have osteoporosis can significantly slow the rate at which their bone density and mass is lost by eating the components of the Mediterranean Diet on a regular basis. The main components of the diet include: lots of vegetables and fruits, whole grains, legumes, fish, olives and olive oil.
How to Eat the Mediterranean Way
It’s easy to incorporate this diet into your daily life. Here are some guidelines:
Make vegetables the star of every meal. Enjoy them in a wide variety of ways. Mediterranean people often eat sautéed greens, tomato sauce, leafy green salads, stuffed and cooked grape leaves and usually make veggies the focal point of the meals.
Enjoy seasonal fruit, whether you choose pomegranates, figs or other favorites. If you have a sweet tooth, choose fruit first.
Make your primary sources of protein legumes, nuts or fish. You can omit fish altogether if you prefer a plant-based variation of the diet. Enjoy chickpeas, lima beans or other beans sautéed in a little olive oil, garlic and some lemon juice. You can also add pine nuts, walnuts, pistachios or other nuts to your meal to boost its protein and healthy fat content.
Add fresh herbs like garlic, basil, oregano, parsley, rosemary or other herbs you enjoy. Chop finely and add just before serving your food. The herbs will add a burst of flavor and freshness to everything you eat.
Rather than just grabbing the salt shaker and dousing your meal in the white stuff, squeeze the juice of a fresh lemon wedge over your sautéed greens, salad, beans, fish or other food.
Cook with extra-virgin olive oil and keep the temperature fairly low as olive oil smokes around 325 degrees Fahrenheit. After that, toxic acrylamides can form and the oil can cause inflammation rather than offset it.