Our modern lifestyle has brought about a lot of activities and conveniences that have had a huge negative impact on our musculoskeletal system. “Use it or lose it”, never has it been more true in the case of our muscles and bones. The rise in jobs that limit physical activity, as well as the number of unhealthy food is on the rise, and the fact that you have to pay to go to the gym is certainly not encouraging.
There’s really no way around it, our body craves physical activity. If you want to be healthy, you will need to exercise, but exercise alone isn’t enough. Every time you exercise, you damage your muscles and bones, and you will have to consume the right amount of protein, carbs, vitamins and minerals, not only for fuel, but to rebuild.
What exactly is the Musculoskeletal System?
The musculoskeletal system basically refers to our muscular and skeletal system, which is composed of our bones, muscles, cartilage, tendons, ligaments, and other connective tissues. The musculoskeletal system is responsible for our body’s support, movement, and stability.
Our muscles and bones are very much intertwined and have a direct effect on each other, which is why specialists like chiropractors like to use the term “musculoskeletal” instead of referring to just either one.
Muscles are essential strands of protein while bones are made up of calcium and collagen, so guess what you need to eat a lot of to repair them. That’s right, protein, calcium and collagen.
However, you also need some carbs, vitamins and minerals to enable better absorption of protein and calcium. Given this, what are some go-to foods that can give you a good fix of nutrients for good musculoskeletal health?
Here are the top 5 choices
Eggs – are often considered as the “gold standard” of protein as they contain all the essential amino acids. It is also a good source of vitamins, and Vit D in particular, which helps in the absorption of calcium. It’s also very versatile and can be used in a number of dishes, and are incredibly cheap.
Grass-fed beef – there are a number of top choices for protein, which includes chicken and fish, but beef wins because it has significantly higher levels of vitamins, minerals, and a chockful of other benefits like
- Conjugated linoleic acid – improves cardiovascular health and brain function, and increases bone density and aids in fat loss
- Stearic acid – reduces cholesterol in the liver and plasma
- Vaccenic acid – increases Adiponectin which regulates glucose and lipid metabolism
Dark leafy greens – like spinach, kale, collards, arugula are high in calcium, but are also loaded with vitamins. These are also high in magnesium, which is very important for the absorption of calcium: it makes sure that the calcium goes to the bones, instead of being deposited in our soft tissue, which causes arthritis.
ALSO READ: The Importance of Leafy Greens in Your Diet
Cheese – here’s your chance to indulge in something tasty: aside from being high in calcium, cheese is also a good source of protein, phosphorus, zinc, vitamin A and vitamin B12. If you happen to be watching your weight, just go for the low-fat/fat-free option!
Almonds – aside from being utterly delicious, almonds have an incredible nutrient profile. It has a good combo of carb and protein for your muscles, calcium, magnesium, and phosphorous for your bones. It is also high in Vit E, an antioxidant which helps reduce cholesterol and improves skin health.
Scroll down and discover which foods you should avoid for optimal musculoskeletal health.
Bonus: Foods to avoid
When you’re building muscle, the rule of thumb is that you eat a LOT. While this is true, not all foods will contribute positively to your gains. In fact, a lot of them won’t even be “benign” and will instead have a negative impact on your muscles and bones.
In general, these would be foods that have been subjected to a lot of processing and cooking. Here are some particularly bad ones you need to avoid:
Soda – soda is bad for a number of reasons! Studies have linked artificial sweeteners in soda such as Aspartame to muscle pain, cramps, and fibromyalgia. Phenylalanine, a component of aspartame, increases our resistance to endorphins. This increases our food cravings and makes it more difficult for us to shed fat. Also, the phosphoric acid and caffeine in soda leach our bones of calcium.
Alcoholic drinks – alcohol has been shown to block the absorption of calcium and also prevents osteoblasts from repairing our bones.
Processed meats – most cured meats are loaded with sodium and nitrates. Sodium makes us excrete calcium through sweat and urine while nitrates, a preservative, causes oxidative stress on the body.
So there you have it! As you can see, the idea here is to have a balanced diet composed of organic, all-natural, unprocessed foods. It’s also a good idea to have your levels tested if you want to monitor them closely, especially if you have a condition, but it is highly unlikely for an average healthy adult to get nutrient imbalance from eating healthy food.
Guest post by Dr. Jason:
Dr. Jason Reinarts is a Board certified Chiropractor in Franklin, Tennessee. As a Chiropractor with more than 10 years of experience, Dr. Reinarts is committed to promoting the health and well-being of his patients.
Thanks for reading. Until next time!
Crazy cat lady, life and food lover, certified biologist, and holistic health coach.