Like exercise, proper nutrition provides a wealth of benefits-both physical and emotional-that contribute to your body's strength and its ability to ward off disease and disability.
A healthy diet translates into a healthy body; the proper mix of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients are the best recipe for ensuring your skeletal, muscular, nervous and circulatory systems function smoothly.
Following are some dietary tips that will help you keep your spine, joints, and muscles healthy:
- Ample amounts of water are actually quite good from a dietary standpoint: Water keeps your cells hydrated and helps your blood work more efficiently in carrying nutrients throughout your body. Tea, coffee, sodas and alcohol actually have the opposite effect. Drinking excessive amounts of soda and other carbonated beverages could interfere with calcium absorption, which may lead to bone loss and osteoporosis.
- Calcium (milk, broccoli, salmon and kale) keeps your bones strong.
- Choose foods rich in fiber. A goods rule to follow is an intake of 25-30 grams of fiber per day. Foods rich in fiber include whole-grain breads and cereals, beans, nuts and some fruits and vegetables.
- Foods high in vitamin C (broccoli, bell peppers, citrus fruits, cabbage, cauliflower, spinach, and strawberries) help ward off osteoarthritis. Vitamin B and amino acids may help reduce the pain from contact sports. Thiamine can help promote healing. Also consider Vitamin A to strengthen scar tissue.
- Fortified dairy products and fish rich in Vitamin D help preserve your cartilage.
- Organically grown foods usually have smaller amounts of toxins in them, so they are arguably safer and healthier.
- Raw foods. Canned tomatoes are the rare exception here, but many raw foods retain vast amounts of minerals and other nutrients that are destroyed or diminished by the process of cooking.
- Eat the skins of fruits and vegetables because they often contain more nutrients than what's inside.
Children should eat a balanced diet, one that includes fruits and vegetables; breads and cereals; milk and dairy products; meat, fish, and eggs.
Minimize starchy foods, such as crackers, pasta, pretzels and potato chips.
About calcium and children's bones
Your child's intake of calcium and the long-lasting benefits it provides bones and spinal structures in later years cannot be overstated.
Calcium can be found in many foods other than milk. Broccoli, salmon, and kale are just some of the foods rich in calcium.
The recommended calcium intake for children ages 4 to 8 is about 800 mg per day. Children ages 9 to 18 should take in almost double-approximately 1,300 mg per day. Three 8-ounce glasses of milk will fit the bill for children under the age of 8. Milk substitutes such as those made from soy are acceptable alternatives, as long as they are fortified with vitamins and calcium. Orange juice can be a source of calcium if your child doesn't prefer or can't tolerate milk.