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Eating THIS Will Help Prevent Osteoporosis

Foods can affect bone mineral density either by adding or removing minerals from bones. Therefore, while some foods are good for the bones, others may weaken them. Even though milk is the most recommended food for strengthening bones, it is actually not the best food for preventing osteoporosis. This article identifies the major foods that can raise bone mineral density and reduce the risk of osteoporosis. It also discusses foods to avoid and lifestyle changes to adopt to make your bones stronger.
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Milk, Butter and Other Dairy Products

Milk is the most popular food recommended for improving bone health. Milk can help prevent osteoporosis because of its calcium and vitamin D content.

Calcium is the most abundant mineral found in bones. Therefore, increased calcium intake from milk can help raise bone mineral density. However, the calcium supplied by milk only gets to the blood after it is absorbed.

Simply raising blood calcium level does not improve bone health. Rather, increased calcium intake is only useful for preventing osteoporosis if it reaches the bones.

The vitamin D found in fortified milk can help drive calcium from the blood to the bones.

However, milk may not be the best calcium source to help your bones. This is because milk can raise the acid level of the body. Therefore, it can leach calcium away from the bones. In addition, the bovine growth hormones found in cow milk can be harmful to the bones.

Therefore, safer acid-neutral dairy products are recommended for improving bone health. Examples of such dairy products are butter, yogurt and cheese. These dairy products are also rich in calcium and vitamin D.

Besides vitamin D, butter is also rich in other fat-soluble vitamins such as vitamins A, E and K.

The most relevant of these 3 vitamins is vitamin K. The form of vitamin K found in butter is vitamin K2. Studies have shown that vitamin K2 is even more important than vitamin D for bone health.

Vitamin K2 promotes the absorption of calcium and the transportation of the mineral to the bones.

In addition, vitamin K2 promotes the binding of calcium to the bones by enhancing the activities of osteoblasts (cells responsible for building bones) while inhibiting osteoclasts (cells responsible for breaking bones down).

Fermented dairy products such as certain varieties of yogurt and cheese (Brie and Gouda) are also especially rich in vitamin K2.

Soy and Soy Products

Soy and soy products such as soy milk are excellent sources of calcium and vitamin D. Soy milk, for example, can serve as a ready alternative to milk because it contains none of the animal hormones found in regular milk.

The combination of calcium and vitamin D in soy milk can significantly improve bone mineral density.

Soybean also contains other minerals that can improve bone mineral density. Some of these are magnesium and potassium.

Fermented soy milk product such as tofu are also excellent for preventing osteoporosis. Besides the usual set of minerals that can improve bone health, the copper found in tofu can also help. Copper promotes bone mineralization.

However, the most important contents of soy and soy products are soy isoflavones. The best examples of soy isoflavones are daidzein and genistein.

Soy isoflavones have estrogenic properties. They help restore falling estrogen levels during menopause.

Therefore, soy and soy products can prevent osteoporosis by significantly slowing down the bone loss that begins at the onset of menopause.

Soy Foods for Osteoporosis
  • Soybeans
  • Soy milk
  • Soy cheese
  • Soy yogurt
  • Soy nuts
  • Soy flour
  • Tempeh
  • Tofu
  • Natto

Vegetables

Vegetables are superstores of essential minerals and nutrients. Both cruciferous vegetables and green, leafy vegetables can help improve bone health.

Vegetables are excellent sources of calcium. In fact, they are more nutrient-dense and better tolerated alternatives to milk for increasing dietary calcium intake. However, you should only choose vegetables that do not contain oxalates.

Oxalates are anti-nutrients that bind to calcium and reduce the absorption of the mineral from the intestines.

Vegetables for Osteoporosis
  • Spinach
  • Lettuce
  • Kale
  • Celery
  • Broccoli
  • Turnip greens
  • Collard greens
  • Dandelion greens
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Artichoke
  • Parsley
  • Asparagus

However, calcium is not the only nutrient in vegetables that can improve bone health. Some vegetables also contain small amounts of zinc and copper.

Zinc, for example, is also one of the minerals found in the bone. It is needed for the formation of hydroxylapatite, the crystalline calcium compound that makes up the bulk of the bone mass.

More importantly, zinc promotes bone growth by stimulating the release of IGF-1 (insulin-like growth hormone). It also stimulates osteoblasts and inhibits osteoclasts.

Besides calcium, vitamin K is the other bone-promoting micronutrient found abundantly in the dark, leafy vegetables on the list above.

Vitamin K promotes bone mineralization by different mechanisms including stimulating the release of osteocalcin from osteoblasts. Osteocalcin is the protein responsible for binding calcium to the bone.

To increase the vitamin K content of vegetables, vegetables can be fermented with specific bacteria that produce vitamin K2. The key to getting vitamin K2-rich fermented vegetables is to use the right starter culture.

Fennel

Fennel is eaten as a vegetable and also known in traditional medicine as an aromatic herb.

Fennel can improve bone health in multiple ways. First, it has a rich store of most of the minerals needed to increase bone mineral density. Such minerals include calcium, zinc, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and manganese.

These are some of the vitamins that make up the mineral content of the bone. While calcium and phosphorus are the most abundant minerals found in bones, others such as zinc and magnesium are also responsible for the structural integrity of the bone.

Zinc promotes the absorption of calcium and also promotes the activities of osteoblasts but blocks osteoclasts (cells that break down the bone).

Magnesium shares most of the benefits of zinc for promoting bone health.

It increases the absorption of zinc. It enhances the effects of vitamin D, calcitonin and parathyroid hormone on the bone. And it restores the acid-base balance of the body, therefore, preventing the body from stripping calcium from the bones in order to neutralize acidic foods and xenobiotics.

Magnesium deficiency makes bones porous, larger, less dense and brittle. Therefore, fennel can reduce the risk of bone fractures.

Besides these minerals, the anethole in fennel can also improve bone health. Studies show that anethole and its metabolites are phytoestrogens.

Therefore, fennel has some estrogenic properties. This is important because falling levels of estrogen is believed to be one of the causes of postmenopausal osteoporosis.

Oats

Oats are the best whole grain food to help prevent osteoporosis. Oats are rich in the right minerals to promote bone mineral density.

This food contains calcium, magnesium, zinc and copper. These minerals are found in the bone. In addition, the latter three minerals improve the uptake of calcium into the bones. Therefore, taking breakfasts of oatmeal can help you prevent osteoporosis.

Besides oatmeal, oat straw is also excellent for the bone. Oat straw tea is an excellent source of silica.

Silica is not commonly found in osteoporosis supplement but it is no less effective. It contributes to bone mineral content and is proven to strengthen bones.

Sardines and Salmon

Fatty fish such as sardines, salmon, tuna and mackerel are not only rich in omega-3 fatty acids but they are also excellent sources of vitamin D.  Vitamin D is necessary for properly binding calcium to bones.

Sardines and salmon canned with their bones are also known to be excellent sources of calcium. In addition, salmon is rich in magnesium and B vitamins.

Therefore, these fish can help prevent osteoporosis as well as improve general health.

Foods to Avoid

Legumes and Wheat Bran

Although legumes are rich in calcium and magnesium, they also contain phytates. Like oxalate (oxalic acid) phytates bind to calcium and reduce its absorption in the intestine.

If you must eat legumes (beans), soak them in water for some hours before cooking. This allows most of the phytate content to leach away into water.

Wheat bran also contains phytates and, therefore, prevents the absorption of calcium. Because wheat bran is usually taken with other foods, it can interfere with the absorption of calcium present in those foods.

Therefore, wheat bran can reduce the absorption of calcium from milk and even calcium supplements.

Animal Proteins

While proteins are good for bone health, high protein diets can actually encourage the bone to lose more calcium than it gains.

High protein diets raise the body’s acidity. To prevent damage to the organs, the body recruits alkalizing agents to restore its acid-alkaline balance. Unfortunately, the calcium stored in the bones is one of the major mechanisms by which acidic components are neutralized.

Therefore, high protein intake promotes calcium loss from the bone. The calcium recruited in this way is eliminated from the body along with the acidic substance it binds.

Salt

Salty foods provide the body with sodium. However, while the body tries to eliminate excess sodium through renal excretion, it also removes calcium along with it.

Experts estimate that 400 mg of calcium is lost for every 2,300 mg of sodium you ingest.

Therefore, daily calcium loss can be considerable given the amount of salt found in processed foods. Regular consumption of refined, processed foods makes it easy to exceed the daily recommended sodium intake.

Such sustained salt intake can only promote chronic calcium levels and raise the risk of osteoporosis.

Therefore, you should limit your salt intake to prevent osteoporosis.

Drinks to Avoid

Certain drinks can interfere with calcium absorption in the intestine. One of these is alcohol.

Regular consumption of alcohol not only prevents the body from absorbing calcium but it can also promote calcium loss through increased renal elimination (urination).

Caffeine is another compound commonly found in drinks that can promote the urinary elimination of calcium. Caffeine not only promotes the excretion of the calcium found in the blood but also leaches calcium from bones.

Therefore, you should limit your intake of coffee, tea (to a smaller extent) and caffeinated drinks.

Soft drinks especially cola drinks are also known to weaken the bone by removing calcium from the bones. Besides caffeine that is usually present in these drinks, they can also weaken the bone by replacing food sources of calcium and proteins from the diet.

Exercise Regularly

There is no substitute for exercise if you want to strengthen your bones and prevent osteoporosis.

Studies show that exercise improves bone strength a lot more than calcium. Exercise is important for bone strength than any food or supplement.

The best exercise for strengthening your bones are weight-bearing exercises. Other beneficial exercises to take up include walking, running and climbing. Any exercise that allows your bones and muscles to work against gravity is good for improving the tensile strength of your bones.

Sources


http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2010/12/07/why-is-butter-better.aspx

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2012/11/19/fennel-plant-prevents-bone-loss.aspx

http://www.nof.org/foods

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