After the recent blast of cold air that blanketed the country, including the deep south, I had planned to write about comfort foods and share my favorite soup recipes, but then I fractured my wrist and have been focusing on healing nutrition. Working with athletes for many years has given me a glimpse into the healing process, but I never had to experience it for myself.
Healthy bone needs more than calcium--it takes 17 different nutrients to make a strong bone. Let's start with protein--a key building block of bone. Protein is needed for growth and repair so I am focusing on high quality protein that provides all of the essential amino acids--low-fat milk, yogurt, eggs, lean meat, and low-fat cheese. Soy protein is another complete source of protein, and beans, while not providing all 22 of the essential amino acids, has the highest protein content of vegetables.
Zinc and copper help heal bone by building collagen--the protein matrix for wound healing. Seafood, sunflower seeds, nuts, mushrooms, and wheat germ are all good souces of these trace minerals.
Two vitamins that are frequently overlooked in the healing process are vitamins A and C--vitamin A promotes bone growth and remodeling and vitamin C is also needed for collagen formation and bone repair. Citrus foods and dark red and green veggies and fruits provide both vitamins.
OK, we do have to recognize the superstar, calcium, since 99% of calcium is found in bone. I like low-fat dairy because not only does it give me needed calcium, but also vitamin D, protein, and vitamin A. Drink calcium-fortified orange juice for both calcium and vitamin C. A multi-vitamin mineral supplement doesn't give you enough calcium, so take calcium carbonate or citrate every day. I prefer calcium citrate as it is well absorbed without food. The recent 2009 position paper from the American Dietetic Association recommends taking no more than 500 milligrams of calcium at one time, so split your dose.
My perfect bone healing meal? Lean beef fajitas with red and green peppers, mushrooms. and a side of black beans and citrus fruit salad. A big glass of cold low-fat milk--the margarita will have to wait until after the bone heals. Alcohol is not good for bones. Now, if only I could find a nutrient that would help me type faster with my left hand.....