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Food for Thought: A List to Keep Handy

By Krista Elliott

"Eat your broccoli!" Who hasn't heard that one growing up? Was your mother just nagging for nothing, or did her preaching have merit?

It turns out that Mom was right. We should be eating our veggies, and other nutritious foods, for optimal health. Along with exercise, eating a well balanced, healthy diet, can keep our weight within the healthy range, ward off disease such as type 2 diabetes, and keep our heart ticking well.

Plus, we wouldn't be The Joint if we didn't mention your spine and joints. As it turns out, keeping our weight down is good for our back and joints, as we'll have less of ourselves to lug around and support. Filling our diets with a variety of nutritious foods can help us achieve that goal, as well as keep the rest of our body working the way it should.

Vitamin Power

Here's a snapshot of some of the vitamins and minerals that we should focus on for healthy bones, joints, muscles, tendons, and ligaments:

  • Vitamin A - Fights inflammation, supports cell growth, and helps repair muscles. Can be found in meat, dairy products, and orange fruits and vegetables.
  • Vitamin B12 - Important for healthy bone marrow, and helps the spine develop and function normally. Can be found in meat, dairy, and eggs.
  • Vitamin C - Helps in the production of collagen, which is important for healing injuries to the spine, tendons, and ligaments. Can be found in citrus, strawberries, spinach, and tomatoes.
  • Vitamin D - Aids with calcium absorption, which is important for bone development, and the prevention of brittle bones and breaks. Can be found in fortified milk, fish, eggs, and by enjoying some time out in the sun.
  • Vitamin K - Helps the body use calcium. Can be found in dark leafy greens, such as kale.
  • Calcium - Important for bone health and the prevention of osteoporosis. Can be found in dairy products, dark green vegetables like broccoli, beans, legumes, and some fish.
  • Iron - Important for healthy blood hemoglobin, which is what carries oxygen from the lungs to your body's soft tissues. Can be found in meat, leafy greens, eggs, beans, and lentils.
  • Magnesium - Helps with the relaxing and contracting of muscles, and helps maintain muscle tone and bone density. Can be found in whole grains, nuts, potatoes, and shellfish.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids - Important in reducing inflammation such as arthritis, not to mention heart and brain health. Can be found in fatty fish like salmon, olive oil, and flax seed.

Now, even with our best intentions, we don't always eat the way we should, and can find ourselves going down an unhealthy path. The important thing is to keep trying. Even small changes can have a big effect. Every meal is a new opportunity to make good and healthy choices, so if you have an off day, don't throw in the towel. Find new ways to cook your veggies. Roasted or grilled root vegetables are often MUCH tastier than steamed or boiled ones, so get that oven or grill going!

By expanding your palate and making healthy choices, you'll be starting a new, healthy habit that will benefit you for the rest of your life. So show that broccoli some love, because it definitely loves you back. 


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