Top Tips for Bone Healing

If you’ve ever experienced a fractured bone, you’ll know how frustrating and painful it can be. While it can take weeks, if not months, to heal, depending on the severity of the break you can promote bone healing by optimising your diet.

Bone fractures can occur at any age and there are a number of factors that can influence the recovery and healing process. Depending on the severity of the fracture it can take at least 6-8 weeks for the healing process to complete although the older you are the longer this can take. Bone healing and overall bone health requires optimal levels of the right nutrients. Here are my top tips to support bone healing.

Ensure sufficient Collagen & Protein

When it comes to bone healing protein is the star nutrient. Did you know that protein makes up roughly 50% of the volume of bone and about one-third of its mass? The key protein in bones is collagen. In fact, collagen represents more than 90% of the organic matrix. In osteoporosis, collagen quality is affected which is why it is such an important nutrient when thinking about bone health.

You cannot build new bone or support bone healing without protein. You will slow down your healing if you fail to consume enough. Additionally, protein helps your body absorb and use calcium, another critical nutrient for bone health. Many people fail to get enough protein and when you have a fracture your requirements are higher. Recent research suggests we need at least 1-1.5g protein per kg of body weight especially as we get older. This means that you need to have at least a fist size of protein (e.g meat, fish, tofu, eggs, beans, and pulses) at each meal. If you are vegan, ensure you each plenty of variety to provide all the essential amino acids your body needs to heal. To further support healing take a sachet of Bonebalance collagen daily (delicious in smoothies or mixed with juice or water). Bonebalance has been optimized to be highly absorbed into bone tissue where it can help to stimulate the body’s bone building cells. Its Bioactive Collagen Peptides® have demonstrated in independent studies to start to work within six days, helping to start build bones.

Optimise Bone Friendly Nutrients

Studies have shown that getting sufficient bone building nutrients is vital for healthy bones and healing. Remember bone is living tissue. It has a network of blood vessels which help them grow and repair. Your bones need a wide range of nutrients including vitamins and minerals to heal and maintain optimal bone density. These include minerals like calcium, magnesium, boron, copper, manganese, silica, phosphorous, potassium and zinc. Vitamins are also important particularly vitamin C, D and K2. This means your diet needs to be focused on nutrient dense, unprocessed wholefoods at each meal. If your appetite is low consider nutrient packed smoothies, soups, and stews. Take a bone multi-nutrient formula and check your vitamin D levels particularly over the winter months. 

Eat More Fruit & Vegetables

As part of the healing process there is a lot of inflammation. Too much however can hinder repair and contribute to more damage by increasing oxidative stress. Studies have also found that inflammation is a key driver for lower bone density by increasing the activity of specialised cells known as osteoclasts. When you are trying to repair and heal you want to reduce oxidative stress and inflammation. This is why increasing your intake of antioxidant rich foods is so important – they help to neutralize oxidative stress and its consequences.  One of the key players is vitamin C (found in fruits and vegetables). Vitamin C has been widely studied for its antioxidant activity on bone healing. It is also vital for building collagen which is so essential for healthy bones. Various studies have shown that increasing your intake of certain antioxidants can improve facture healing. Try and include a colourful selection of fruits and vegetables daily with as much variety as possible. Use herbs and spices in cooking especially turmeric. Curcumin (the active component in turmeric) has been shown to rebalance the immune system and support bone health[4]. Add in avocado, nuts, and seeds too which are rich in vitamin E another important antioxidant.

Drink Green Tea

Another great way to support bone healing is to drink green tea. Various studies have indicated that the polyphenols present in green tea suppress the rate of bone breakdown and promote new bone formation due to their ability to fight oxidative stress. The most bioactive component of green tea, epigallocatechin-3-gallate(EGCG) has also been shown to reduce inflammatory chemicals that contribute to bone loss. Add some matcha lattes or smoothies to your daily routine or drink green tea through the day.

Eat More Oily Fish

One of the best ways to help lower inflammation and support healing is to eat more oily fish. Oily fish (salmon, trout, sardines, mackerel etc) is rich in the essential omega 3 fatty acids. Research shows that omega 3 fatty acids play a key role in healthy bone remodelling and bone metabolism. So, aim to include oily fish in your diet 2-3 times a week or consider taking an omega 3 supplement.

Get Physical

To support the bone healing process, you need to keep moving. Exercise supports blood flow and circulation to the fracture site delivering valuable nutrients for healing. Work with a physiotherapist for advice on when to start exercising and the type of exercises that are best for you. Exercising too soon could adversely affect your healing so listen to your consultant. Physiopedia is a great online resource for rehabilitation exercises.

What to Avoid

In addition to ensuring your diet supports bone healing be mindful that other factors can slow down the healing process. Smoking has been widely studied to have a negative effect on bone healing. Alcohol consumption can also have an adverse effect on bone metabolism, increasing oxidative stress and impact the quality of the healing process. Instead keep hydrated with water through the day. Did you know that healthy bones contain approximately 31% water? In fact, drinking natural mineral water may even aid the healing process[3].