A Diet Designed For Healthy Hips
Over time, women are especially susceptible to hip injuries resulting from progressive bone weakness caused by osteoporosis. Although diet alone can’t prevent osteoporosis, it can help to keep bones healthy.
With the holiday season upon us, our schedules are filling up with activities to celebrate with friends and family. From dashing out for groceries to cleaning the house and decking the halls, we depend on the strength and mobility of our hips to realize our holiday plans—without even being aware of how critical healthy hip joints are to our quality of life.
It is much easier to protect our hips if we take steps to keep them strong while we are younger. As we age, the muscles supporting our hip and leg motion lose strength. At the same time, bone density and strength declines. As bones become more fragile, chance of hip fracture increases. Women are particularly at risk; half of all women age 50 and older will fracture or break a bone due to osteoporosis.
When the injured bone is a hip bone, the consequences are especially serious. Half of people who suffer a hip fracture don’t regain full function. One quarter of them lose their independence, requiring nursing home care. Hip fractures are life threatening. One out of every five people who experience a hip fracture die within a year of the injury.
The good news is that there are a number of proactive steps you can take now to reduce your fracture risk. Regular exercise, awareness around fall risks, monitoring bone density, and avoiding smoking are all important.
You can also help to reduce your fracture risk by cultivating a bone-healthy diet with an emphasis on calcium and vitamin D. Good sources of calcium and vitamin D include the following:
- Low-fat dairy products like milk, yogurt, and cheese.
- Fortified foods such as breakfast cereal and orange juice.
- Leafy greens like spinach are also good, but you’ll need to eat a lot more of them to equal the calcium benefits of dairy foods.
- Fatty fish is a good source of vitamin D, so keep salmon on the menu regularly.
Calcium fuels an array of body functions. When there isn’t enough calcium in your diet, your body will take it from your bones. Women over 50 need 1,200 mg of calcium a day. Too much calcium, however, won’t make a good thing better. If you eat more than 2,000 mg a day, your risk of developing kidney stones increases.
Vitamin D is the agent that enables your body to absorb the calcium you consume. You need between 800 and 1,000 IUs of vitamin D each day, but don’t overdue it. More than 4,000 IUs every day can lead to kidney and cardiovascular problems.
If you incorporate sensible amounts of calcium and vitamin D into your diet, you may never discover—the hard way—how much your hips mean to you.
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