Three ways to give kids a strong foundation for lifelong healthy bones
Each little body boasts over 200 bones that allow for movement, protect organs, create blood cells, and store vital nutrients – quite an important system for growing kiddos.
These bones continue to build density until around the age of 30. After this it’s important to maintain their strength to ward off breakdown as we grow older.
Therefore being mindful of kids’ bones at an early age and taking care of them while they are still forming is essential for both their current health and their upcoming adult years.
And there’s no need to wait.
Here are five ways to set kids up for healthy bones starting now.
1. Encourage movement – especially outdoors.
Most kids love to move, squirm, and explore. And in no other place is this as enjoyable and beneficial as outdoors.
Paired with vitamin D produced in the body from the sun, fresh air, and room to move make outdoor play a win-win for kids’ desires as well as for their bones.
Encourage activities such as hiking, gardening, jumping, biking, swimming, and other outdoor interests that get them inspired to live an active lifestyle.
2. Offer a healthy diet – variety is key.
It’s easy to get in a rut of serving the same foods to children repeatedly. However, expanding a child’s diet to consist of a wide variety is most beneficial for bone development.
Some of those well-loved foods kids like so much are nutrient-deficient (such as fried, fatty, and sugary items), in which bones can be yearning for vitamins and minerals needed to flourish.
In addition, kids’ bone health benefits from more than just a glass of milk (good news for those who don’t like it or are lactose intolerant).
Think outside the usual menu and try adding such bone supporting foods as:
– dark leafy greens (such as kale chips, green smoothies, or collard wraps)
– bone broths or stocks (soups or stews)
– nuts and seeds (added in homemade granola or trail mixes)
– fermented soy (like miso soup or tempeh)
– fortified juices or cereals
3. Be mindful of sensitivities and choices – identify and change them.
What kids consume affects the body and for some kids, it can negatively impact bone growth.
Both unhealthy diet choices as well as food sensitivities can harm the skeletal system.
Limiting sodas, excessive sugar, and high calorie/low nutrient-dense foods and replacing them with a variety of lean proteins, healthy fats, fresh fruits and vegetables, and whole grains whenever possible is a good start to nourishing bones.
In addition, sensitivities to foods such as gluten, dairy, eggs, and/or soy factor into the body being unable to properly digest and extract the nutrients needed for strong bones. Food sensitivity evaluation can be a valuable tool in discovering if this is an issue.
Giving kids the foundation to build strong, healthy bones through an active lifestyle and a diverse diet free of foods that they may be sensitive to affords children the opportunity to not only enjoy childhood but to experience the benefits long into adulthood.