What to eat to help with osteoporosis

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Eat it to beat it!

Up your intake of the following nutrients for optimal bone health. The National Osteoporosis Society (NOS) recommend healthy eating for strong bones:

Calcium*: get plenty into your body and keep it there, (calcium can be leached by eating and drinking certain things) for the best chance of healthy bones. Calcium to be found in:

  • All dairy products, especially yogurt according to a study in Osteoporosis International 2017. A small matchbox portion of cheddar provides 40 per cent of your daily calcium. Or if lactose intolerant, soy based milk products fortified with calcium.
  • Dark, leafy greens; broccoli, sprouts, kale, pak choi, edamame beans being a fantastic source of calcium
  • Beans: chick peas, soya, cannellini and pinto beans (soak dried beans in water to draw out phytates which block calcium absorption)
  • Nuts:  almonds, peanuts, cashews, pine nuts.
  • Seeds: sesame seeds and tahini
  • Fish: sardines, pilchards and tinned salmon, with the bones please!

*Parents take note: building up your daughters ‘bone bank’ during her teenage years helps to prevent osteoporosis in later life, they need the same calcium rich diet during adolescence.

Vitamin D: is essential as calcium can only be used effectively by your body if you are getting enough vitamin D. The best source is sunshine. In winter months, or sunless summers, we can get additional Vitamin D from our diet by eating: 

  • oily fish, such as salmon, sardines and mackerel, according to findings published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2017 help to prevent going through menopause before the age of 45, therefore beneficial in the prevention of osteoporosis.
  • eggs, fortified fat spreads and fortified breakfast cereals. 

Apart from calcium and vitamins we need a range of minerals for bone health.

  • Magnesium: Helps calcium and vitamin D absorption. Eat more: seeds, bananas, dried fruit, avocados, wholegrain bread, brown rice, tap water (hard water more than soft).
  • Boron: May affect how minerals are used in our body and reduces mineral loss in urine. Eat more: green vegetables, avocados, potatoes, eggs, milk and according to the NOS - wine!
  • Copper*: Not getting enough may reduce bone strength as it effects the formation and mineralisation of collagen. Eat more:
  • nuts, seeds, fruit, beans, sunflower oil, mushrooms and shellfish.
  • Potassium: can reduce the loss of calcium in our urine as it has an alkaline influence on our diet. Eat more:
  • bananas, orange juice, milk, pulses, fish and shellfish, beef, chicken and turkey.
  • Zinc*: Is necessary for bone building, mineralisation and growth. Eat more:
  • Brazil and pecan nuts, eggs, cheese, yogurts, shellfish and a limited amount of red meat

*According to the NOS “some studies have shown that high intakes of copper and zinc using supplements may increase bone loss and having too much of one can affect the work of the other. You can get the right amounts of copper and zinc by having a healthy, varied and balanced diet.”

High fibre diet: A 2018 publication of the American Council on Science and Health, reported that a study on mice showed that a high fibre diet may be more effective than vitamin D in the prevention of osteoporosis. Dr. Mario M. Zaiss from Universitätsklinikum Erlangen, Erlangen, Germany reported that a high fibre diet is valuable in supporting healthy bones. Watch our vlog with Registered Nutritional Therapist Jackie Lynch on Nutrition and Lovely Bones.

Eat:

  • Beans; all beans from baked beans, kidney beans, black beans.
  • Wholegrain and wholemeal; skip white bread and pastas, it's wholemeal from now on.
  • Brown or wholegrain rice, white rice has less fibre.
  • Pulses; lentils, chickpeas, as well as beans, they are also high in protein and low in fat.
  • Porridge; oats are a perfect start for the day, blitz them in a smoothy if you don't like porridge.
  • Nuts; walnut, almonds and pecan nuts have more fibre than other nuts.
  • Greens; especially brussels sprouts and broccoli, also artichokes and avocado.
  • Fruit; raspberries and blackberries are high fibre, plus dried fruit, especially figs and apricots. 
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