Top Doctor Reveals 5 Foods That Deplete Bone Density And What To Eat Instead To Improve Bone Density And Avoid Fractures
Many of us are aware that calcium and vitamin D are beneficial to bone health as a result of classic “Got Milk?” advertisements. But have you ever considered the foods that have the opposite effect?
According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, approximately 54 million Americans have low bone density. A fracture is frequently the first sign of poor bone density, and it is much more difficult to improve bone health at that point.
In fact, fractures not only make it more difficult to improve bone health, but they can also result in a permanent loss of independence for seniors at a certain age.
According to data from the National Hospital Discharge Survey, the risks only increase with age.
People lose bone mass and density as they age (particularly women after menopause), which is why fractures, falls, and accidents are more common in these populations.
This loss of bone mass is caused by the fact that our bones lose calcium, essential amino acids, and other minerals required to provide strength and density to our skeletal system with each passing year.
Not only that, but certain dietary habits can exacerbate bone mass loss, resulting in weaker, more brittle bones, putting people over 60 at an even higher risk of falls and fractures.
We compiled a list of the most bad-for-the-bone foods to avoid for preserving bone health – and which primary nutrients seniors can eat more of to repair bones while protecting against fractures and falls – after consulting with Dr.Chad Walding, Doctor of Physical Therapy and leading Senior Nutrition Expert.
Here are some of the most common dietary irritants that can damage our bones.
Soft drinks (yes, also diet soda) are high in phosphoric acid, which causes the blood to become more acidic.
As a result, the body extracts calcium from our bones in order to restore natural acidity levels.
Dr. Walding says, “When calcium intake is minimal, consuming excessive quantities of phosphoric acid promotes rapid calcium loss from the body.”
Worse, almost all soft drinks are devoid of calcium. When you consider that these risky beverages often increase calcium excretion in our urine, it’s easy to see how they serve as a double whammy for bone health, placing seniors at serious risk of developing degenerative bone diseases.
Although sodium is vital for our overall health, consuming too much table salt or eating too many high-sodium foods can make it difficult to maintain a strong skeleton.
According to studies, postmenopausal women who eat a high-salt diet lose more bone minerals than women of the same age who eat a low-salt diet.
Standard table salt, not just sodium, has been shown in studies to cause calcium loss, which weakens bones over time. This is significant because salt accounts for approximately 90% of our sodium intake in the United States.
In addition, we consume about twice as much sodium as we should. The 2005 American Dietary Guidelines recommend restricting sodium intake to 2,300 milligrams a day, or around a teaspoon of salt. However, the majority of Americans consume at least 4,000 milligrams a day.
Participants who ate salty foods often were more likely to develop osteoporosis, a bone-thinning disorder, according to a report published in the Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition in December 2016. This connection was discovered in postmenopausal women, according to a report published in the journal Osteoporosis International in January 2017.
“In general, for every 2,300 milligrams of sodium we consume, we lose about 40 milligrams of calcium in the urine – which is a significant concern for seniors,” says Dr. Walding.
Replace standard table salt with pink Himalayan salt as a good starting point.
Pink Himalayan salt contains up to 84 other minerals and trace elements, including potent doses of common minerals like potassium and calcium that help maintain the essential mineral balance required for healthy bones*.
Dr. Walding suggests limiting salt consumption for optimal bone health. “Aim for less than 2,300 milligrams a day, and replace table salt with pink Himalayan sea salt,” he advises.
Caffeine, when consumed in large amounts, can begin to leach calcium from bones, weakening them.
When a woman doesn’t get enough calcium per day to begin with, over-consumption of caffeine (from soda, coffee, or other caffeinated drinks) becomes an issue.
“For every 100 milligrams of caffeine we eat, we will lose up to 6 milligrams of calcium,” says Dr. Walding.
While this isn’t as significant as a loss of salt, it is concerning for coffee drinkers who refuse to reduce their caffeine intake.
For comparison, a 16-ounce cup of coffee contains 320 milligrams, which is more than the daily recommended amount for maintaining solid, healthy bones.
The good news is that restricting caffeine intake to 300 milligrams a day while eating enough bone-building nutrients will help reduce the effects of excessive caffeine consumption.
Coffee addicts may find that drinking half regular and half decaf coffee progressively reduces their caffeine intake.
Hydrogenated oils are man-made fats that are produced by contaminating vegetable oils with hydrogen gas under extremely high pressure, resulting in synthetic artery-blocking trans fats.
The naturally occurring trans fats found in animal products and coconut oil are not to be confused with this man-made type of trans fat – Natural trans fats have been shown to be beneficial to our wellbeing, while synthetic trans fats have been shown to be harmful.
Since the synthetic processes used to make hydrogenated oil kills any naturally occurring vitamin K in the vegetable oils, this is the case. Since vitamin K is essential for strong bones, experts advise avoiding all foods containing non-natural trans fats (think fast food, frozen food, pastries, and most store-bought coffee creamers).
Check the ingredient list (even if the label says trans-fat-free) for any “hydrogenated oils” or “partially hydrogenated oils” to make sure your food isn’t tainted. Such terms are interchangeable with synthetic trans fats, which are likely to be found in your food.
Wheat bran, like beans, is rich in phytates, which keep the body from consuming calcium. Unlike beans, however, 100 percent wheat bran appears to minimize the absorption of calcium from other foods consumed at the same time.
When you eat 100 percent wheat bran cereal with fortified milk, for example, your body’s ability to absorb calcium from the milk is severely hampered.
Dr. Walding advises cereal and bread lovers to move from wheat bran to sprouted grain products, such as those sold by the Ezekiel company. Phytates are broken down during the sprouting process, making nutrients like magnesium, B vitamins, and nutrients from companion foods (like calcium from fortified milk) easier to absorb.
Furthermore, the sprouting process breaks down some of the starch present in whole wheat bran grains, making sprouted grain products more digestible. Sprouting grain products are the preferred option for general health and wellness, not just for bones.