You’ve probably heard it before: you are what you eat.
Although this saying may be cliché, what you eat affects every part of your body. Your diet can help the functioning of your brain, heart, liver and digestive tract. It also impacts the strength of your hair, skin, nails and your bones.
Keeping your bones strong can help make them more resilient to accidents. This is especially important when we’re little (and love to jump off things we probably shouldn’t), and again as we age and lose bone mass.
You’re probably aware that calcium helps build strong bones. But did you know that vitamin D is the tool that helps your bones absorb calcium?
Other minerals like Zinc, Boron, Copper, Magnesium, Iron, Phosphorous and Potassium all lend a hand in keeping your bones strong, too.
When it comes to bruising, weak blood vessels are usually the culprit. But just like with your bones, there are foods you can eat to strengthen your blood vessels and increase their flexibility, making them more resilient when you do have a fall or blow.
So what types of foods should you be including in your regular diet to protect you from bumps, bruises and breaks?
Here’s your guide to a healthy bone and bruise-proof diet.
Food for strong bones
The classic milk commercials were right: calcium is at the top of our list for minerals that can help build strong bones.
This mineral keeps your bones strong so you can hike, bike or swim. But calcium also supports life-giving functions like your heartbeat, blood’s ability to clot and your muscle movement.
Your bones can’t absorb calcium all by themselves. They need the help of vitamin D to absorb healthy bone-building nutrients.
Lesser known but very important are magnesium and potassium, which build bone strength and help keep bones from decaying.
Here are some foods that provide calcium and Vitamin D, plus magnesium and potassium:
Spinach, kale, chard — take your pick. These tasty leaves are packed with calcium. Just one cup has 20-25% of your daily recommended calcium intake.
They’re also a good source of vitamin K, which helps prevent the bone condition osteoporosis, and fiber, iron, and vitamin A, which has the added bonus of promoting healthy skin.
As if you didn’t already love yogurt, milk and cheese, these dairy products are all packed with calcium.
You don’t need to eat a lot of dairy to get the nutritional benefits, which helps balance out the calorie count for some full-fat dairy products:
- A single serving of milk or yogurt will get you 30% of your daily calcium need.
- It only takes 1-2 ounces of cheese to get 20-30% of your daily calcium intake.
If you aren’t a big fan of dairy, many dairy alternatives such as soy, coconut and almond kinds of milk are boosted with extra calcium and vitamin D.
These tasty orange spuds contain magnesium and potassium — 2 important minerals for bone health.
Over half of Americans aren’t getting enough magnesium in their diet. But strong bones crave magnesium — 2/3 of the magnesium in our body is in our skeletons.
Magnesium also helps regulate heart rate, blood pressure, blood sugar, and helps balance the vitamin D in your body.
Potassium has salts that neutralize acids in our bodies. Those acids are a natural by-product of the body’s metabolism, and they’re totally fine if you keep potassium levels in balance with them. Without this balance, those acids can eat away at our bones.
Sweet potatoes get extra credit for being a superfood that’s great for your skin and hair, too. Sweet potatoes contain vitamins B & C, fiber, and copper, which are minerals your complexion and crown crave.
Grapefruit & other citrus fruits
Vitamin C is important in preventing bone loss, which becomes a more prevalent risk factor as we age. And your morning grapefruit could be your best defense against this bone loss.
If a grapefruit is a bit too sour, oranges and other citrus fruits are packed with Vitamin C too.
Some studies also show that show the limonoids found in grapefruits and lemons have anti-breast-cancer properties.
Figs & prunes:
Figs are especially good sources of the 3 heavy hitters for bone health: calcium, potassium, and magnesium.
One serving of prunes will get you the boron you need for the day. People with a vitamin D deficiency often have a boron deficiency, increasing their risk for osteoporosis.
Salmon & tuna:
Fatty fish like salmon, tuna, and sardines are packed with vitamin D. And canned salmon has quite a bit of calcium thanks to minuscule bones that are ground up in the final product.
These fish are also a good source of omega 3 fatty acids, which are great for skin health. And they can even lower your blood pressure and decrease your risk for a heart attack or stroke. Looks it’s time to go fishing!
These crunchy snacks offer tons of calcium and potassium (just two tablespoons a day will give you a good head start on your daily recommended intake).
As an added bonus, almonds are also packed with vitamin B, or biotin, which stimulates cell growth, making them great for your hair and nail health.
We’ve all done it — banging your shin on a chair, wall corner or door seems to be an unavoidable pain of being human.
But just like your bones, there is food you can eat to help minimize your likelihood of bruising after an accident.
Bruising happens when your blood vessels are damaged. When your smaller blood vessels are fragile, you’re more likely to bruise.
To strengthen your capillaries, you need to get plenty of protein, essential oils, vitamin C, and bioflavonoids.
Bioflavonoids are antioxidants that are found in most fruits and vegetables. But they’re also found in wine and dark chocolate, so be sure to treat yourself regularly!
Just like with your bones, the minerals found in salmon, tuna and almonds help keep your capillaries flexible and resilient. And the vitamin C and bioflavonoids found in grapefruits and oranges can also strengthen your capillaries and keep your skin bruise-free.
Protecting yourself from accident pain – literal and financial
Strong bones can help you prevent fracture or breaks in the case of an accident. But even the best diet can’t always protect you from injury when you’re on the slopes or playing a pickup game of soccer.
Accident insurance is a smart supplement to your healthy diet. It’s the last box to check in your accident-preparedness list.
Accident insurance can help cover your out-of-pocket medical and non-medical expenses and help protect you from lost income and other costs related to an accident.