Eating for bone health

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By BEATRICE NAKIBUUKA

Bone development starts during pregnancy and bones protect delicate organs of the body such as the brain, liver, kidneys and lungs, among others from damage. They also provide a platform for the attachment of muscles and give the body its physical structure.
Bone weight contributes about 15 per cent of a person’s total body weight and according to Dr Vincent Karuhanga, a general practitioner at Friends Polyclinic, the human skeleton is composed of 270 bones at birth but decreases to 206 bones by adulthood as some bones get fused.

Securing bone health
Bone health is greatly impacted by diet. A baby must be fed on breast milk after birth because milk is rich in calcium. If it refuses to breastfeed or a mother does not have breast milk, the child must get milk to fill the calcium gap.
Except for spine malformation, a mother will affect her baby’s bone health by not eating foods rich in Vitamin D and Calcium.

Pineapples
Amanda Tumwebaze, a freelance nutritionist says, pineapples contain manganese which is a trace mineral essential in the strengthening of bones, as well as their growth and repair.

Coconut
She says, “Calcium is an important component of our teeth and coconut oil facilitates absorption of calcium and magnesium by the body which is necessary for the development of teeth and bones. This therefore helps in developing strong teeth, preventing tooth decay by reducing plaque formation and plaque-induced gingivitis.”

Jackfruit
Jackfruit contains calcium, which strengthens and promotes healthy bones. This can also prevent osteoporosis. Jackfruit also contains a good level of potassium, which can decrease the loss of calcium through the kidney and increase bone density.

Sesame seeds
Tumwebaze says sesame contains zinc, calcium, and phosphorus that boost bone health. These minerals are an integral part in creating new bone matter, and strengthening/repairing bones that may be weakened by injury or the onset of debilitating bone conditions such as osteoporosis.”

Lifestyle change
Vitamin D is a sunshine vitamin and the most natural way to get vitamin D is by exposing your skin to sunlight. Vitamin D is necessary for strong bones and muscles and its deficiency is associated with rickets, a disease that causes soft bones and skeletal deformities.
According to Robert Ddamulira, a fitness trainer, exercising has a positive effect on your general body. You will have strong muscles, bones, controlled weight even in old age. “People who are physically inactive have a higher risk of bone diseases than their more-active counterparts,” he says.
Dr Karuhanga says bone weakening occurs faster in women, especially when they reach menopause and this continues into old age. Factors that can contribute to bone weakening include having a diet low in calcium, not exercising, smoking, and taking certain medications such as corticosteroids.”
He adds that poor bone health is likely to cause diseases such as polio (immunisable), arthritis, infections from wounds, causing osteomyelitis and osteoporosis common in women due to hormonal changes.

Bone health and BMI
Dr Vincent Karuhanga, a general practitioner at Friends Polyclinic warns that people with a body mass index (BMI) higher than 26 risk damaging their knee and hip joints because too much weight is exerted on these joints. However, this does not put the extremely thin people at an advantage.
“Thin people with a BMI less than 18 are prone to bone damage because they have a small body frame and might have less bone mass at an early age.” he says.

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