Food and Osteoporosis
Some Foods May Stunt Healthy Bone Growth
There are ways to prevent osteoporosis, and eating a diet rich in calcium and vitamin D is one of the easiest and most enjoyable. But unfortunately, not all foods are beneficial for your bones. In fact, some nutrients may harm your bones when consumed in very high amounts.
That said, you don't have to completely remove these foods and nutrients from your diet—in most cases, it wouldn't be healthy. But you should recognize that they are best consumed in moderation.
High caffeine intake (more than four cups of coffee per day) decreases calcium absorption, which in turn, increases your risk for fractures. Coffee and tea naturally contain caffeine, but soft drinks present even larger concerns. Some experts believe that soft drinks' caffeine content isn't the only danger—it's also that people are substituting them in place of milk and other calcium-rich beverages.
Protein is an essential part of any balanced diet—particularly because it helps build healthy, lean muscle mass. But a diet very high in animal protein (beef or pork as opposed to plant sources such as nuts and grains, for instance) may cause calcium loss. This is because animal proteins contain sulfur, which forms an acid in the body. To maintain an acidic balance, the body may release calcium from bones to neutralize the acid.
How much is too much protein? There's no set amount—just stick to your daily requirement, which is determined by your body weight. To find out how much you need, take your weight in pounds and multiply it by .37. That will tell you how many grams of protein you should be consuming each day.
Consuming too much sodium (salt) makes it difficult for your body to retain calcium, which can cause bone loss. Much of the convenient, processed foods available today are extremely high in sodium, so try to eat fresher foods and resist the salt shaker when seasoning your meals.
Leafy, green vegetables are some of the best foods to eat when your goal is to strengthen your bones. However, spinach can actually prevent your body from effectively absorbing calcium because it contains a high amount of oxalate. Oxalate is a chemical that interferes with your body's ability to absorb calcium. Fortunately you don't have to remove spinach from your diet; rather, you may need to simply alter how you eat it. Spinach is best eaten cooked because cooking destroys much of the chemical.
100% Wheat Bran
100% wheat bran is unique in that it's the only food that can actually lower the absorption of calcium in other foods when consumed simultaneously. If you're taking a calcium supplement, you can help lessen the effects of this process by taking your supplement a couple hours before or after eating foods with 100% wheat bran.
You certainly don't need to completely cut out these foods from your diet, but they should be consumed in moderation if you're concerned about your bone health. Focus on eating a balanced diet. This will help build strong bones when you're young and maintain them as you age.
Now that you understand some of the foods that may stunt healthy bone growth, take our Osteoporosis Food Quiz. In it, you'll learn osteoporosis food facts to help you create a bone-healthy diet.
Of course, helping prevent osteoporosis is hardly the only benefit of learning healthy eating habits. A nutritious diet will promote the overall function of every part of your body.