Optimizing Bone Health: Essential Diet Strategies for Osteoporosis

Optimizing Bone Health: Essential Diet Strategies for Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis, also known as bone loss, is a common bone disease. You can prevent and reduce the risk of developing with sufficient exercise and a proper diet. The rule of thumb is that the earlier you start, the better. In addition, the appropriate diet also plays a role if you already have osteoporosis. Because while some foods can strengthen bones, others are more likely to contribute to their breakdown. What not to eat with osteoporosis, and what foods support treatment?

Osteoporosis: prevent early with calcium

The mineral calcium is central to a healthy and resilient skeleton – this is well known. However, most people don’t understand that this critical element is only built into the bones up to a certain age. From age 30, hardly any new calcium is stored in the skeleton. People who eat a diet rich in calcium (lots of milk products, nuts, mineral water) can complete this process by age twenty.

This shows how important early prevention is so that bone diseases do not develop in the first place. Even in old age, the foundation stone for a robust skeleton is laid in childhood and adolescence. After that, the bone mass decreases continuously. However, this process can be decisively influenced by the proper diet.

Vitamin D supports the absorption of calcium.

The supply of vitamin D is also crucial in osteoporosis. The vitamin supports the absorption of calcium in the bones. Conversely, a lack of vitamin D3 contributes to calcium being broken down from the skeleton to maintain blood calcium levels.

Vitamin D is generally formed in the body under the influence of sunlight. Daily walks in the sun can help boost vitamin D production. However, the ability to produce vitamin D itself decreases with age.

In addition, vitamin D3 can also be ingested through food (e.g. liver, fish, milk, mushrooms or egg yolk). However, sufficient intake from food alone is hardly possible since the amounts contained in food are small. Therefore, appropriate dietary supplements are often prescribed for osteoporosis. However, it is debatable how adequate such preparations are in preventing osteoporosis.

The proper diet for osteoporosis – 7 tips

With the help of the following tips, you will achieve a balanced calcium balance and cover the need for other essential nutrients. This is important not only for preventing osteoporosis but also for its treatment. Also, make sure that your children and grandchildren eat a diet rich in calcium to prevent the onset of the disease at an early stage.

 

  1. Versatile diet

Eat a variety of foods in general. Give preference to natural, little-processed products. Avoid foods high in fat, salt, or refined sugar. In this way, you achieve a high content of nutrients (vitamins and minerals) in the energy supplied. A high nutrient density reduces the risk of deficiency symptoms. In addition to calcium and vitamin D, magnesium, vitamin Czinc, vitamin K, and vitamin B6 are particularly important for healthy bones.

2. Dairy products

Dairy products such as cheese or yoghurt are rich in calcium. At the same time, they provide the body with the vitamin D it needs for its absorption. If you cannot tolerate milk, there are plenty of alternatives. Parmesan and other hard cheeses are the leaders in terms of calcium content.

3. Fish

Eat fish twice a week. Due to the high vitamin D content, high-fat representatives such as salmon or mackerel are particularly recommended.

 

4. Fruits and vegetables

Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. Broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, watercress, Chinese cabbage, and kale are particularly suitable since more than half of the calcium they contain is absorbed by our bodies. They also provide other minerals and vitamins that also prevent osteoporosis.

5. Legumes, seeds and nuts

Legumes, seeds and the products made from them (e.g. tofu) are recommended not only because of their calcium content. They also contain valuable protein, vitamins and other minerals. So there are many reasons to include these foods in your diet often. Nuts have a relatively high calcium content and are suitable as a snack.

Grain products and potatoes are also considered essential components of a healthy diet and should be included.

6. Foods with added calcium

Calcium-fortified foods (e.g. fortified orange juice or additionally fortified milk) and mineral water are good sources of calcium. Vegans or people with an intolerance to lactose or other components of milk can particularly benefit from this.

 

7.Phytoestrogens

Studies show that phytoestrogens appear to have an anabolic (building) effect on bone metabolism. This increases bone mass and, thus, stability. The “plant version” of the estrogen hormone in our body is found in exceptionally high concentrations in soy products (tofu, soybean sprouts), flaxseed, lentils and chickpeas. Since these products also contain other osteoporosis prophylactic substances, their consumption is recommended.

Movement and sun: ideal combination

Get out in the sun moderately but regularly. This is good for the mind and boosts your vitamin D production. It is best to combine this with a walk in the fresh air. If your health doesn’t bother you, you can take a longer hike with a backpack. This also keeps your bones on their toes, increases bone turnover, and thus promotes calcium incorporation.

What shouldn’t you eat if you have osteoporosis?

While some foods promote bone stability, other foods or lifestyle habits can have the opposite effect and hurt osteoporosis. The following section introduces you to what can promote osteoporosis, which should only be enjoyed in moderation.

 

  1. Beverages containing phosphates

Try to limit the consumption of phosphate-containing drinks (especially cola). In itself, phosphate is an essential bone-building material and must not be avoided in principle. However, if it is in the wrong ratio to calcium, it prevents the calcium from being absorbed into the bones. Mineral waters with a high sulphate content also reduce the availability of calcium.

2. Salt

Salt can promote calcium excretion. The more salt you eat, the more calcium you excrete. Older people, in particular, lack the mechanisms to compensate for this. Therefore, if you have osteoporosis, you should limit your salt consumption as much as possible.

3. Meat and Sausages

Like cola, meat and sausage products are rich in phosphate and should only be consumed in moderation. Animal proteins can also promote calcium excretion when consumed in large quantities – but proteins are fundamentally crucial for bone formation.

Experts recommend eating no more than 300 to 600 grams of meat and sausage products per week. In particular, very fatty meat products should be avoided. It is better to eliminate salty meat products, such as cured meat.

 

4. Caffeine

For a long time, coffee was considered a calcium robber. We now know that although caffeine promotes calcium excretion, three to four cups a day is fine. It is even better to drink coffee with milk to boost calcium intake.

5. Phytin

Eating a high-fibre diet, which is rich in fibre, has numerous health benefits. However, fibre should be consumed in reasonable amounts. One disadvantage is that the phytic acid it contains binds calcium (and other minerals), which do not even enter the circulatory system. Examples of high-fiber foods with a high phytin content are whole grain products, rice, geste, or soybeans.

However, heating can reduce the phytic content. With sufficient calcium intake, experts also rate the risk of bone damage from phytics as very low.

6. Oxalic acid

Oxalic acid is found in vegetables such as spinachrhubarb, beetroot, and chard, as well as in cocoa and chocolate. The acid combines with calcium and prevents the mineral from being absorbed from the intestine. For this reason, people with osteoporosis should avoid foods high in oxalic acid altogether.

Otherwise, always prepare these foods with foods that contain calcium, such as milk or cream, and simultaneously ensure that you consume a lot of calcium that day.

 

7. Alcohol

The same applies to alcohol: more significant amounts increase calcium loss, worsen the energy balance, and impair nutrient absorption. Wine, in particular, also contains numerous phenolic compounds that further reduce calcium absorption. According to experts, a glass of wine or beer daily does not increase osteoporosis risk.

  1. Nicotine

The effect of smoking on osteoporosis is controversial. Nicotine reduces blood flow, so calcium and other nutrients only reach the bone target organ in small quantities. Therefore, smoking could increase the risk of osteoporosis. In any case, giving up nicotine is good for your health.

Dietary supplements for osteoporosis?

With a balanced diet and enough sun, there is no reason to take additional nutrients in tablet form. However, it is difficult for many people to meet their needs for calcium (about 1,000 milligrams per day for adults to prevent osteoporosis and 1,200 to 1,500 milligrams per day to treat osteoporosis) and vitamin D from food alone, especially if you have a milk allergy or lactose intolerance.

If calcium and vitamin D cannot be ingested in sufficient quantities through food (or produced by the body itself), many sufferers of osteoporosis resort to dietary supplements. To avoid the consequences of a permanent overdose, according to the recommendations of the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR), one should pay attention to the maximum amounts of certain food supplements.

In the case of osteoporosis, the following substances should be included in a dietary supplement with the specified maximum amounts:

  • Calcium: 500 milligrams (best as calcium citrate)
  • Vitamin D: 20 micrograms
  • Magnesium is also helpful: 250 milligrams.
  • The mixture can be supplemented with vitamin A, vitamin C (maximum 250 milligrams), vitamin E, vitamin K, folic acid (maximum 200 micrograms), copper, manganese, zinc (total 6.5 milligrams), boron and chromium.

 

What affects nutrient absorption?

However, the mineral can still develop its effect if you consume calcium-rich foods or supplements. Deficiency symptoms can occur despite average intake – increased loss, increased consumption or reduced absorption in the intestine. Bioavailability ultimately determines what proportion of a nutrient is available to the body.

The following table shows the influencing factors of various nutrients in osteoporosis:

Factoreffect on the bones.

Vitamin D Increases the absorption of calcium in the intestine. Improves calcium balance by influencing kidney function.

Vitamin K is Involved in building the skeleton and, thus, bone density. Indirectly increases the incorporation of phosphate and calcium in the bones.

Vitamin C is essential in forming connective tissue and, thus, bone connective tissue.

Magnesium is essential for the body’s production of vitamin D. It is also involved in bone mineralization.

Fluorine, copper, manganese, zinc, and boron Are suspected to be involved in the structure of the bone. However, more detailed information still needs to be included.

Movement Increases bone turnover and, thus, incorporates calcium into the skeleton.

Licht Increases the body’s vitamin D production.

Oxalic acid, phytic acid (high-fibre diet), sulfate, and phosphate Bind calcium in the digestive tract and prevent its absorption into the bloodstream.

Protein-rich food, table salt, caffeine, and alcohol Increase calcium loss through the kidneys.

As the table shows, correct nutrition in the case of osteoporosis always requires attention to the interaction of the various factors.

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