Full Day Menu of Bone-Building Foods
By Leah Kleinschrodt, MS, RD, LD
November 28, 2017
If you’ve ever hunted for houses, you’ve probably heard the adage “It’s got good bones.” This means that the house framework is strong and sound, even if the 1970’s shag carpet could use some updating! Don’t we want the same thing for our own bodies? A strong, solid foundation of bones that allows us to move gracefully, confidently, and pain-free into our later decades? Yes, who doesn’t want that! Unfortunately, how to build and maintain good bones is confusing for many given different approaches. We’re here to help relieve that overwhelmed feeling with nutrition recommendations you can start today.
As discussed in a previous blog post, Foods That Help Osteoporosis, we shared that poor nutrition and lifestyle habits can lead to, or worsen, osteoporosis, which threatens to weaken our bones and bring down our structure. Luckily, there is plenty we can do nutritionally to prevent, and even remedy, bone loss.
Eating adequate amounts of protein, healthy fats, and vegetable carbohydrates several times per day helps us to strengthen our active bone material, as well as providing the key nutrients that create and maintain new bone structure – regardless of your age.
Here’s an example of what a day of bone-building foods looks like:
- 2 eggs + 2 turkey sausage patties (1oz each)
- 2 cups cooked broccoli & peppers + ½ cup mashed butternut squash
- 1 Tbsp. butter
Protein is essential to build the collagen material that supports bones. One study found that lower intakes of protein were significantly related to bone loss in the upper leg and spine, with effects similar to if you were carrying an extra 10lbs of weight!1
For women, we recommend about 4oz of animal protein with each meal, and for men this means about 6oz with each meal. Yes, this includes breakfast! When it comes to snacks, we recommend 2-3oz of protein.
- 1-2 slices nitrate/nitrite-free deli meat (2-3oz total)
- 1 cup cucumber slices + ½ cup carrots
- 2 Tbsp. hummus
- Spicy Coconut Stew
- Serve over ½ cup brown rice
This is one of my favorite Nutritional Weight & Wellness recipes, and perfect for the cool winter and fall months. I will sometimes add a few raw cashews on top for a little extra healthy fat and some crunch!
- ½ cup full-fat plain yogurt
- ¼ cup pear chunks
- 1 Tbsp. pumpkin seeds
Regularly incorporating probiotics in the form of fermented foods (yogurt, kefir, kimchi, sauerkraut, etc.) like this yogurt or quality probiotic supplements can help your bones in addition to your gut. A 2016 study using female mice showed that probiotic supplementation helped the mice retain their bone density after ovary removal, while the control group (no probiotics) lost half of their bone density.2 The mice who received the probiotics had healthier intestines and a healthier immune system, which prevented the hormone-related bone loss.
- 4oz salmon or cod fillet
- 12 spears asparagus, 3-4 red baby potatoes
- 1-2 Tbsp. butter (for asparagus & potatoes)
- 1 cup bone broth
- ½ cup apple slices
- 1 Tbsp. almond butter + dusting of cinnamon
The benefits of drinking bone broth are numerous, but we’ll keep it simple and say that a daily cup of bone broth supports many tissues in our body, including our bones. It supplies us with more of that structural collagen protein, and the longer the simmering time, the more minerals that are extracted from the bones. While bone broth can be sipped anytime during the day, consider drinking a cup at night since it’s high in glycine, which is a relaxing amino acid that can promote a more restful sleep.3 For simple, delicious homemade broth, watch our step by step video on how to make your own bone broth. If you were surprised to see us recommend a bedtime snack, read why they are crucial to a good night’s sleep.
For more resources on bone health, check out these other sources of information on our site.
And of course, my fellow nutritionists and I are all here to help you create a targeted, specialized approach to strengthening your bones, or whatever your health goals may be. If that sounds helpful, I’d encourage you to sign up for a nutrition consultation, available by phone or in-person.
- Hannan MT, Tucker KL, Dawson-Hughes B, Cupples LA, Felson DT, Kiel DP. Effect of dietary protein on bone loss in elderly men and women: the Framingham Osteoporosis Study. J Bone Miner Res. 2000;15(12):2504-2512. DOI: 10.1359/jbmr.2000.15.12.2504. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11127216
- Li JY, Chassaing B, Tyagi AM, et al. Sex steroid deficiency-associated bone loss is microbiota dependent and prevented by probiotics. J Clin Invest. 2016; 126(6):2049-2063. DOI: 10.1359/jbmr.2000.15.12.2504. Retrieved from https://www.jci.org/articles/view/86062
- Bannai M, Kawai N. New therapeutic strategy for amino acid medicine: glycine improves the quality of sleep. J Pharmacol Sci. 2012;118(2):145-148. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22293292