Osteoporosis is responsible for millions of broken bones and billions of dollars in healthcare cost every year. In my last blog I spoke to the importance of strength training for improving bone health. Nutrition also plays a vital role. Most of us are probably aware of the need for calcium and Vitamin D in our diet to keep our bones strong but you may not realize what types of foods have a negative impact. There are also healthy foods that may not effectively contribute to our calcium supply despite being present. Below is a list of the foods to keep in mind if you have Osteoporosis or are concerned about your long-term bone health.
5 Questionable foods to be aware of:
– Alcohol Consumption: The effects of alcohol on the stomach and liver can inhibit calcium absorption. Drinking alcohol in moderation, or avoiding all together may be best.
– Tobacco use: Not a food, but now you have one more reason to quit.
– Protein: Very low levels of protein in the diet can be as harmful to your bone health as very high levels. If you’re consuming lots of protein rich food this may be negatively impacting your calcium absorption. Try consuming just a handful of meat per day.
– Sodium: Too much salt draws calcium out of storage; they’re a package deal within the body. Where one goes so does the other.
– Carbonated beverages: The phosphorous in these types of drinks can deplete calcium.
5 Healthy foods to be aware of:
These foods can be part of a healthy diet and are a great source of many essential nutrients. Due to their nature, however, they may not be the best choice for improving bone health. Although many of them contain calcium, these particular foods contain natural chemicals that inhibit absorption, potentially rendering them an ineffective source of the mineral. Many plant-based foods contain these chemicals but these in particular tend to have high levels, something else to keep in mind when looking for sources of calcium.
– Rhubarb: May have the highest levels of Oxalate (a chemical impending calcium absorption) of all vegetables.
– Beets: Similar to Rhubarb and other root vegetables with high levels of Oxalate.
– Spinach: Contains one of the highest levels of Oxalate of any green vegetable.
– Cereal Grains: Rice Bran and Wheat Bran in particular may actually have a negative effect on calcium levels.
– Nut Products: Almonds have of the highest levels of Oxalate of all nuts. Peanuts and Cashews also contain relatively high levels. Pistachios, Pumpkin seeds, and Walnuts may be better choices.
“Osteoporosis Diet & Nutrition: Foods for Bone Health.” National Osteoporosis Foundation. 2017. https://www.nof.org/patients/treatment/nutrition/, 15 September 2017.
“Oxalate Content of Foods-Urology-Wake Forest Baptist”. Wake Forest Baptist Health. http://www.wakehealth.edu/Urology/Kidney-Stones/Oxalate-Content-of-Foods.htm. 10 21 2016.
Krall, E. A., & Dawson‐Hughes, B. (1999). Smoking increases bone loss and decreases intestinal calcium absorption. Journal of Bone and Mineral Research, 14(2), 215-220.