ICYMI it’s actually National #osteoperosismonth. It’s one of those things I’d never know about if my insta feed wasn’t filled with beautiful food photos and nutrition insp from other amazing RD’s. So, here’s the downlow on bone health & what you need to know.
Not many of the 20 something women (and men) I work are aware of the huge role nutrition plays when it comes to bone health. For many of my clients, a history of disordered eating or an eating disorder is present, which means that providing education on ways to support bone health is paramount- also you likely don’t want to be struggling with bone fractures in your adult life #amiright? During periods of energy restriction & disordered eating behaviors, hormone changes occur. If there is a decrease in body fat percentage, estrogen production is decreased which means for women that menstruation ceases as well (amenorrhea). Estrogen is protective against bone loss because it stimulates bone formation & decreases bone resorption (break down of bone). Essentially your body haults any chance at reproduction due to disruptions in nutrition. It’s important to normalize eating behavior and weight to restore baseline body fat levels to normalize estrogen production because it protects against bone loss which can lead to osteopenia or osteoporosis.
If you have osteopenia, the good news is that you can prevent it from progressing to osteoperosis (which is irreversible). If you already have a diagnosis of osteoperosis you can not reverse the damage, however you can prevent it from continuing to progress and further damage the bone matrix. Heres the thing- the only way to measure bone density (& diagnosis osteopenia/osteoperosis) is via a DEXA scan- in non medical terms AKA a “bone scan.” A DEXA scan might be recommended depending the length and severity of malnutrition.
If you are in recovery from an eating disorder or struggle with disordered eating here’s 3 tips to support bone health:
Normalize Eating Behavior & Weight
Normalize weight by consuming adequate nutrition will provide the best basis for supporting bone health
Integrate weight bearing activity moderately
This can support bone building, however it will not be beneficial if body weight is not normalized and intake is not supporting the activity
Consume a diet adequate in CA and Vitamin D
Typical recommendation is ~1000 mg/d for young women, you can get this from 3-4 servings of calcium rich food a day. Of course your best sources will be your dairy products such as milk, yogurt & cheese but other sources such as salmon, dark leafy greens such as kale, spinach & mustard greens as well as some beans can provide calcium as well.
+ here’s 3 recipes to inspire you & boost your bone health!
Curious about more ways to support bone health in recovery? Send me an email to chat at firstname.lastname@example.org.