Experts in health, nutrition and sports medicine agree: Take care of your body, and your body will take care of you. This is particularly sound advice with regard to the crucial role that everyday nutrition plays in maintaining bone health and repairing injuries, and ensuring that your skeletal system is strong enough to endure the rigors of an active lifestyle.
Kevin D. Plancher, MD, head of Plancher Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine, PLLC (www.planch
“Strengthening the skeletal system and keeping it healthy with the right combination of nutrition and exercise is the best way to prevent bone injuries from occurring in the first place,” says Dr. Plancher. “People of all ages need to focus on proper nutrition as a significant means of preventing skeletal problems and injuries that can occur due to bone loss.”
This is also a perspective shared by Alix Landman, a highly experienced and sought-after registered dietitian and president and owner of Landman & Associates, Inc. in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. A professional colleague of Dr. Plancher and an expert on nutrition and preventive programs for everything from sports nutrition, weight loss, gastric bypass and cholesterol reduction to eating disorders to cancer prevention.
Bone “is constantly renewing itself,” Ms. Landman explains, “and it needs proper nutrition in order to do that.” The skeletal system needs a constant supply of calcium, phosphorus and Vitamin D, along with trace minerals. “A lot we can get from a healthy diet,” she points out, “but we also need to fortify” with supplements, while avoiding substances that can negatively impact the skeletal system. Alcohol, diet soda, poor eating habits and habitual dieting can wreak havoc on bones by denying them the nutrients they need to restore themselves. In the case of women particularly, chronic dieting and hormonal changes can result in the loss of bone mass, which can lead to osteoporosis. “That’s when you move from bone building to bone breakdown,” she adds.
The bone density test is the “gold standard” in determining the strength of the skeletal system, Ms. Landman states. Ninety-nine percent of the calcium in our bodies is in our bones, she notes; as such it’s important to maintain proper levels of calcium to shore up bone health.
When it comes to athletes, Ms. Landman says, “every single person should have his or her nutrition evaluated, and get a Vitamin D test.” Clients should also be evaluated for their Single Nucleotide Polymorphism, or SNP, which can detect a variation in the sequence of DNA and affect the skeletal system. “If you have a variant, we can go after it with proper nutrition and supplements,” she says. Bone mineralization and remodeling can also be pursued to shore up bone health. And for everyone interested in healthy bones, being proactive makes the most sense. “It’s important to heal with the right mix of nutritional products,” Ms. Landman states. Supplements such as calcium carbonate “will do nothing for you unless you fix your diet and exercise,” she stresses.
“Physicians need to be educated about the critical nature of nutrition as it relates to orthopaedics,” Dr. Plancher explains. “Physicians and dieticians really need one another; we are not independent, and not mutually exclusive. When we work together, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts and our patients receive the benefits.”
Dr. Plancher and Ms. Landman are both strong proponents of preventive action in thwarting injury to the skeletal system. This involves consultation with the physician and with a dietitian to determine the best course of action in shoring up vitamin and mineral deficiencies, and following through with regular visits to ensure that a patient is healthy enough — and the bones strong enough — to allow for physical activity at the appropriate level and intensity.