Jump in your mouth

In his latest column, Andrea Lucchetti, owner of Wymondham Chiropractic Clinic, discusses osteoporosis – and how the ‘jump in your mouth’ saltimbocca dish reminds him to ask his patients to be aware of this silent condition.

For those who have not read my column before, I need to share that I am from northern Italy – and as such, I relate everything to food. From spaghetti to tiramisu, I have linked chiropractic and back-related issues to some of my favourite dishes through the pages of nourish. After all, what better food to nourish the soul than Italian!

Saltimbocca is one of the classic Italian dishes that, although originates from Rome, is made in most kitchens throughout Italy. The name of the dish literally means jump in your mouth – as the explosion of flavours does just that. Like most Italian dishes, saltimbocca has many regional variations, but my family makes it by adding a sage leaf to a slice of Parma ham, which is attached to a thin piece of chicken – often butterflied and flattened – using a toothpick. In the original recipe, veal is used, but I prefer chicken. The saltimbocca is then gently fried in butter, before adding wine – we use a mixture of Marsala and a dry white wine. Finally, add a bit of flat leaf parsley, salt and pepper and you have achieved the explosion of flavours!

As a skeletal specialist, I relate jump in your mouth to the importance of jumping with your feet, but generally, with creating an impact to stimulate your bones. This relates to osteoporosis – a silent condition that affects roughly one in five women over 50 years of age. An amazing number, almost 66%, of women over 50 are at high risk of fracture, but are not diagnosed, treated, or assessed. 

Osteoporosis is caused by weakening bone fibres and it especially affects the wrists, hips, and spine. Risk factors include smoking, very low BMI, heavy alcohol consumption – sadly, we need to keep to 14 units a week – and maternal history. Osteoporosis is a silent condition that often first presents itself with a fractured bone. So, can diet help? And what about impact exercise on bone strength?

Having a healthy, balanced diet is always the key. With bone health, having good levels of calcium and Vitamin D are helpful, but so are good levels of many other minerals and oils. Interestingly, tofu contains higher amounts of calcium per gram than red meat, fish, or chicken. Lettuce and broccoli are also big hitters.

Bones also like impact and being stimulated by muscles that attach to them. So, by using the stairs at work, walking quickly, and other daily prescribed impact exercises by your specialist can help. Swimming, cycling and weight training also all help stimulate the bones.

My final note for ladies aged over 50 who are reading this is: if you had an early menopause, have a family history of osteoporosis, have or continue to smoke heavily, or have or had a low BMI, go and see a GP or specialist. And something we can all do right now, regardless of your age, gender, and health history, is to eat lots of vegetables and fruit, as well as oily fish occasionally. It will all help to make your future both better and stronger.

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