Rule 3 Develop and Maintain Nutritional Balance, part 1Can you see what this man is made of? His musculature and skeleton are images from real medical scans. Muscles like that are built from turkey and tofu. Cantaloupe, packed with vitamin C and beta carotene, formed the eyes. His bones are strengthened by yogurt and spinach. Eating is a daily opportunity to choose new building blocks for a stronger, more healthful body. You cannot choose your genes. You cannot choose the experiences that have built the body you have now. But you can choose a salmon filet, knowing that the omega-3 fatty acids will help you avoid coronary heart disease and macular degeneration. You can reject the heart-threatening trans fats in many convenience foods for a more healthful monounsaturated fat, like olive or canola oil. Knowing what you are made of, and what nutrients you need to maintain balance, will be essential to building a life of health and wellness.
Spotlight on Osteoporosis: Build Up Your Bones
There seems to be no part of your body so impenetrable and permanent as the skeleton. Bones protect your organs, provide the framework for your muscles, and make it possible for you to stand erect and move. Yet every bone in your body is in a constant state of flux. In the lacy interior of the spongy, or trabecular bone tissue, old tissue is broken down by cells called osteoclasts. At the same time new bone, formed by osteoblasts, replaces it. Under ideal conditions, these two kinds of cells do their work in concert, simultaneously unraveling and reweaving your skeleton in a process called remodeling. But this system can go haywire, creating too few new bone cells and leaving fragile, porous areas inside the bone. This condition is known as osteoporosis. It can lead to fractured bones, a stooped posture and chronic back or joint pain. The range of factors that can throw skeletal remodeling off balance include low calcium or vitamin D levels, too little exercise, menopause and certain medications.
The earlier in your life you build up a strong, resilient skeleton, the better chance you have of steering clear of osteoporosis later. Because remodeling is an ongoing process, you can intervene on your bones’ behalf. Increasing dietary calcium will ensure an ample supply of that key building block, so include dairy products, leafy greens and legumes in your diet. Safe exposure to sunlight will give your body the vitamin D it needs. Weight-bearing exercise is also associated with increased bone density. The strain on your frame from walking, jogging, running, climbing steps or skipping rope stimulates bone cell formation. Lower impact workouts like swimming and cycling are great for your cardiovascular system, but are not associated with the bone benefits gained from weight-bearing exercise. Some osteoporosis risk factors are unavoidable. Being a woman, being over 50, having a slight frame or having a family history of osteoporosis put you at greater risk for fractures. In addition to eating healthfully and getting exercise, you may benefit from supplemental calcium or other medications.
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