Maintaining strong, healthy bones is a concern that is definitely on the minds of many runners.
To protect your leg and foot bones, modifying your running foot strike by switching from a heel strike to a forefoot strike landing, allows for less bone stress, thereby reducing your risk of bone fractures. And remember, cushioned heeled running shoes makes it increasingly difficult to avoid high-impact heel strike landings, this is why minimalist running shoes are safer for running because barefoot-like running shoes allows you to gain better control over your forefoot strike.
But let’s focus on how diet can greatly affect your bone health and hardness by identifying the best foods for your bones. Below, I list the main study-proven healthy foods that improve the shock-resistance capacity of your bones, keeping your bones fracture-proof for running.
How to Strengthen Bones Naturally for Running
Snacking on prunes have been found to be a powerful dietary aid to keep your bones strong for running. Also known as dried plums, prunes were found to be abundant in essential nutrients that expand the bone-building capacity of osteoblasts, which are cells that are a prerequisite for adequate bone formation to occur, according to reports in the Journal of Medicinal Food. Thus, enjoying prunes on a regular is a delicious entry point that may help you attain sustained bone strength for running!
Kale (Vitamin K!)
You can intensify your bone strengthening efforts for running by eating more kale. Why make kale a priority in the involvement in fostering more concrete-strong bones? Kale safeguards your bones because it is rich in bone strengthening vitamin K.
According to Michelle Shroffro Cook, phD and author of the book, Be Your Own Herbalist, eating just a 1/2 cup of raw or cooked kale may deliver more than double the amount of vitamin K needed for strong, healthy bones whereby ½ cup of kale contains 440-mcg of vitamin K. Cook affirms that vitamin K is essential for stronger bone formation and the prevention of fractures. More specifically, Cook noted that vitamin K processes a natural compound in the bones to strengthen them.
You may want to cut back on sugar to help you achieve more desirable outcomes in better bone density and health. Evidently, sugar drains away calcium from your bones, thereby potentially deterring your body from building and sustaining strong bones.
In her book, Cook mentioned that the body prefers to be alkaline (which means that the conditions in the body are more basic and less acidic) which helps the body function more optimally AND helps provide a better stronghold for better bone health. However, Cook states that eating too much sugar turns the sugar acidic which drains alkaline calcium from your bones in efforts to help restore balance in response to sugar-driven acidic conditions.
What you can do to help your bones reclaim calcium is by substituting sugar with stevia, which will help disarm eroding acidic conditions in the body, preventing acidity from escalating, enabling your bones to take more hold of calcium for strength.
Avoid Cooking in Nonstick Pans!
This one is a really pressing issue in terms of bone health. Health experts strongly insists there may be bone-brittling implications to cooking in nonstick pans as the chemicals in nonstick pans may prevent your bones from getting stronger and denser.
According to new reports from Wright State University, found that nonstick pans increased levels of perfluoroalkyl (the substance that gives nonstick pans their slippery surface) in the blood, may influence bone weakness.
- the researches pinpointed a strong link between women who cooked with non-stick pans and osteoporosis!
Conversely, there is backing evidence that the better, healthier alternative is to cook in a stainless or a well-seasoned cast iron pan to help better protect your bones!
Ditch the Pop!
Drinking pop may greatly interfere with the bones capacity to absorb calcium. In fact, most healthcare professionals would strongly agree that eliminating soda from your diet is a big step forward in protecting your bones and help avoid getting a running-related bone injury. This is because the jury is out on the bone-weakening effects of pop. Why is pop so corrosive on the bones?
- All sodas, including non-colas, are typically high in phosphoric acid, which has been scientifically linked to eroding bone strength by removing calcium from the bones!
The evidence is clear however, that if you like drinks that give a fizzy sensation in your mouth, drink flavored sparkling water or club soda, which poses no risk of reducing bone density.
Cheese does something even more than taste delicious, it can enrich bone strength! Cheese was found to set in motion more calcium accumulation within the bones, thereby may reduce your risk of bone-brittleness. How?
- Cheese is a well-known source of calcium AND vitamin D which plays a critical role in ensuring strong, more injury-proof bones.
According to research from City University in NY, subjects who consumed several servings of cheese on a weekly basis had a significantly lowered risk of bone fractures compared to subjects who did not incorporate cheese in their diet. At best, your body needs vitamin D to pump more calcium into the bones, and again, cheese provides both calcium-shuttling vitamin D and bone-building calcium, so eat up!
Boron, which is a micro-nutrient, was found to boost bone strength and my help stave off age-related bone ailments. Firstly, boron was found to halt and resolve bone thinning. Secondly, according to USDA research, taking 3 mg of boron daily may reduce your risk of osteoporosis by 44%. According to the study, boron leads to stronger bones by switching on key enzymes that help your body convert bone-strengthening minerals, such as calcium and magnesium, into stronger, more shock-resistant bones. Foods naturally high in boron include avocados, ½ cups of nuts, raisins, prunes and other dried fruits.
According to the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, eating one red grapefruit daily helps boost bone strength by 15%. Red grapefruit is high in a natural plant compound, lycopene which keeps bones strong by prompting the release of osteoblasts which are bone-building cells. The same study also found that cooked tomatoes, guavas and cooked red bell peppers are other great sources high in lycopene.
Green tea is a well-proven natural remedy that diverts weak bones to becoming strong. According to research out of Texas Tech University, green tea is high in natural plant compounds called polyphenols, which prevents bones from thinning, even for those who are at a high risk for osteoporosis. According to the study, the facts are pretty clear that the polyphenols improve bone hardness and density by reducing the chronic form of inflammation responsible for bone thinning and bone brittleness.
Eating nuts is another great approach for keeping your bones strong for running. Eating 2 cups of nuts, which are exceptionally high in bone-strengthening minerals, improves bone flexibility and shock absorbing capacity, allowing bones to adapt to high-impact environments, keeping them resilient.
Calcium! (milk vs supplements)
I hate to defame calcium supplements, but you really need to be careful on how much calcium supplements you take on a daily basis. For instance, studies have found that calcium supplements greater than 600-mg, may increase your risk by 32% of developing clogged arteries and heart disease. An ideal approach of acquiring safe calcium levels is by consuming 1 cup of milk (preferably almond milk), cottage cheese or Greek yogurt, to make your bones stronger.
There are different approaches for maintaining strong bones, such as weight-training and running itself, but your diet should really be your primary path to make sure your bones remain strong in the long run.
BSc Neurobiology; MSc Biomechanics candidate, ultra minimalist runner & founder of RunForefoot. I was a heel striker, always injured. I was inspired by the great Tirunesh Dibaba to try forefoot running. Now, I'm injury free. This is why I launched Run Forefoot, to advocate the health & performance benefits of forefoot running and to raise awareness on the dangers of heel striking, because the world needs to know.