Bones are very critical to the entire function of a human being. They are the storage spaces for calcium and form the basic structure of the skeleton framework. A bone fracture occurs when there is a break in the bone, which could be caused due to multiple reasons such as trauma, injury, stress, high-force impact, or even due to medical conditions such as osteoporosis which weakens the bones and makes them highly prone to breaking even at the slightest of external force. A bone fracture, depending on the place, can affect mobility and the overall quality of life. It can be painful and also take some weeks, months or years to recover depending on the extent of the damage. While medications and supplements work effectively to heal the fracture, a healthy diet can further aid towards the refurbishment of the bone strength. A rich, well-balanced diet is the key to rebuild the fractured bone and must consist of the below:
Proteins: Proteins form half of the bone structure, which gets lost when the bone breaks. Hence, to rebuild and refurbish the strength of the broken bone, a protein-rich diet must be adopted. Foods such as meat, fish, eggs, cheese, cottage cheese, tofu, yoghurt, nuts, beans, seeds, soy, fortified cereals, pulses, etc. are enriched with protein and must be included in a post-fracture diet plan. Protein further enables the body to absorb and use calcium from food, which is another critical element of bone health.
Calcium: Calcium forms the basic essence of bones and hence, is very helpful in regaining bone strength and healing the fractured bone. On a normal day, an adult should intake between 1,000 to 1,200 mg of calcium. There are many calcium-rich foods, which can be included in the diet such as, milk, kale, broccoli, yoghurt, fortified cereals, juice, almond milk, salmon, soy, beans, etc. In many cases, the doctor will also recommend calcium supplements for patients with bone fractures.
Vitamin D: Vitamin D is required by the body to absorb calcium and use it to provide good health to the bones. It helps to heal the fractured bones by building in minerals required. Vitamin D is present in the sun rays, while it is also naturally found in some foods including egg yolks, fatty fish, salmon, cod liver oil, sardines, swordfish, milk or orange juice. Generally, adults should ideally intake 600 IU of Vitamin D per day, and for people aged 70 years or above, the intake should be at least 800 IU.
Vitamin C: Vitamin C is required to reconstruct the broken bone because it helps the body produce collagen, which is essential for overall bone health. Vitamin C is naturally found in various fruits and foods including fresh fruits, green vegetables, peppers, tomatoes, potatoes, berries, etc.
Iron: For people with less iron and suffering a bone fracture, a diet enriched with iron foods, needs to be prioritized. Iron helps the body make collagen which necessarily promotes restructuring of bones, while also enabling the bones to get enough supply of oxygen. Iron can be easily obtained from red meat, dark-meat chicken, turkey, whole-grain bread, green leafy vegetables, dried fruits, nuts, oily fish, eggs, etc. People with iron deficiency and a bone fracture can suffer complications if iron intake is not increased.
Potassium: A person tends to lose a certain amount of calcium when they pee, which should be minimised in case of patients dealing with a bone fracture. Hence, adding potassium to the diet will help retain calcium in the body and eventually less calcium will be lost with the urine outflow. Fresh fruits such as bananas and oranges are very rich in potassium. The mineral is also found in potatoes, nuts, seeds, fish, meat and milk.
While the above minerals and food should be included in a post-fracture/trauma diet, here is a list of foods which must be avoided or limited to ensure proper bone recovery and adequate strength.
Alcohol: Consumption of alcohol can significantly hamper the bone rebuilding process since it can slow the process of healing. Moreover, it tends to affect the balance of a person, which can lead to another fall or stress on the existing fractured bone.
Salt: Too much salt can lead to increased loss of calcium through urine. It is always advisable to opt for a low sodium diet generally and especially for patients with a healing bone fracture. Foods such as chips, pickles, processed food, ketchup, sauces, etc, should be limited or avoided on the while, if possible.
Coffee: Excessive intake of strong coffee above a certain amount can cause the bone healing process to slow down. It could also increase the urine, leading to more loss of calcium from the body. However, a person can consume 1-2 cups of tea or coffee without guilt.
Moreover, foods which are rich in sugar (such as colas, and other caffeinated drinks) or include high preservatives should be avoided. Smoking tends to alter the flow of blood to the bone which is ultimately responsible for supplying nutrients to the bone; thus, smoking should be strictly avoided to allow the bone to heal properly.
To allow a fractured or traumatized bone to heal properly, a healthy diet is very essential to ensure the bones are supplied with all the nutrients and minerals needed for rebuilding and gaining strength. Lack of care in these times could affect the overall bone and cause long-term impacts such as pain in changing seasons, lack of strength, etc.