BETTER BONES by Kirsten Alexander

Strangely, the festive season is a common time for household injuries; reports document injuries like those from falling off ladders while putting up Christmas lights; slipping while trying out a child's toy and adventurous fitness activities.
If you've ever experienced a break or a fracture, you'll know that the healing process can be arduous. It's not just the cast that's restricting, but also the chance your bone will remain fragile. But what's amazing about the human body is that it's perfectly designed to respond to whatever happens to it. A fractured bone is no different. Immediately after a fracture occurs, the body begins a healing process. The first step in the process is inflammation. While most people understand that inflammation is a sign of something wrong, it's wise to remember it's also a sign your body is responding to what's wrong. During this process, clean up cells are busy laying down the matrix for new bone to be built. Around two weeks later, proteins begin forming soft 'callus', which eventually hardens as its woven together to form the new bone structure. What happens next is that this matures and remodels itself into what's known as lamellar bone.   A HELPING HAND While all this activity is taking place around the wound site, your body draws on various reserves to support the healing process. One of the first demands is for more calories.[i] That's not to say if you've fractured your toe it's an excuse to binge on doughnuts. Your body is going to be using up more energy and it's also going to need more protein, because that's what the bone-building cells will demand. Inflammation, although part of the body's healing process, is also quite painful so one of the first things you're likely to do is reach for a painkiller. But, take too many and you might just slow down the healing process. Instead, increase your intake of Vitamin C, bioflavonoids and flavonols like quercitin; proanthrocydins, and omega-3 fatty acids. Your mineral and vitamin intake also need to be upped to support the extra amounts required for the bone-building process. For healing, good blood flow is essential. Bad habits like smoking will slow down the process. While exercise might be the furthest thing from your mind when dealing with a fracture, a little goes a long way in assisting blood flow.   BONE BOOSTERS Give your body all the help it needs by increasing your intake of food and supplements geared towards bone health. Eat: '      Calcium rich food. If you're not a dairy fan, you can also get your calcium from sesame seeds, asparagus, salmon, broccoli, almonds, spinach and tofu. '      Vitamin K helps your body absorb calcium, so pair your calcium-rich food options with eggs, avocados, cauliflower and brussels sprouts. '      Lysine helps your body use protein effectively and assists with calcium absorption. It's found in fish, lentils, dairy products, beef, pork, soy products and lima beans. '      Vitamin C. To enhance your immune system, stock up on green peas, mangos, berries, citrus fruit and brussels sprouts. Supplement with: '      Calcium, magnesium and phosphorous. Very often you'll find this combination of minerals in one supplement. Calcium and phosphorous are the main ingredients in bone material. Magnesium assists the absorption of calcium into the body and contributes to bone production. '      Zinc. This helps with bone cell production as well as collagen, which is an important connective fibre in bone production. '      Vitamins B-6, C, D and K. All assist in healing and calcium or protein absorption. '      Omega 3. This is a great anti-inflammatory that won't impede the body's healing process.   DID YOU KNOW? Your bones are alive and every seven or so years your bones will have completely regenerated themselves. By weight your bones are 70% minerals and reach peak density by your early 30s. KEEP THEM STRONG The usual advice is as true for bone strength as for overall health; balanced nutrition, regular exercise and avoidance of bad habits like smoking or excessive drinking. When it comes to exercise, however, weight bearing exercises are really good for increasing bone strength (this is any kind of exercise that forces you to work against gravity).

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