Dietary Dangers: Foods to Avoid for Osteoporosis
Osteoporosis is a type of bone disease that results from the body losing bone and being unable to produce enough to replace it. This disease can cause bones to become weaker and break more easily. Simple falls can often cause fractures for those with Osteoporosis while severe cases can result in broken bones from minor bumps or even sneezing. It is a condition that must be monitored and managed closely. Said management often includes specific dietary changes and making sure to stay away from dangerous foods that can negatively impact your ability to absorb your needed amounts of calcium. Let’s take a look at a list of foods you’ll want to avoid if you have Osteoporosis or just want to ensure optimal bone health.
Foods High in Salt
Sodium (the primary component of table salt) causes calcium excretion from the body, which is harmful to your bones. Keep away from anything high in salt content, such as fast foods, chips, and crackers, and try to stay clear of processed foods. Canned vegetables and soups- aside from also being generally less nutritious than their fresh or homemade counterparts- contain added salts that you should also work to avoid. Try to limit your daily intake to no more than 2,300 mg of salt whenever possible. Feel like you’re missing some flavor? Experiment with different spices, herbs and lemon juice to make your meals more healthy and flavorful.
Surplus Vitamin A
Vitamins are good for you right? Well, there can be too much of a good thing. High levels of Vitamin A in the body have been associated with adverse effects on bone health. If you’re not taking vitamins and supplements, you probably don’t have cause for concern. However, those taking multivitamins or fish liver oil supplements should consult their doctor to ensure they’re not taking in excess Vitamin A.
Liver contains significant amounts of Vitamin A (as discussed above) and should be avoided by those with Osteoporosis. The United Kingdom’s National Health Service came out publicly advising that people should not eat liver more than once per week. Keeping liver consumption to once a week- or avoiding liver altogether- can help to ensure that your body’s store of Vitamin A doesn’t go above the medically recommended level and begin causing problems.
Legumes & Beans
Beans possess healthy attributes that can be beneficial for women experiencing Osteoporosis. However, they are also very high in phytates, which are compounds that can affect your body’s ability to absorb calcium effectively. You can reduce the phytates in your beans by soaking them in water for two to three hours before cooking them with fresh water. This will be especially important for vegans and vegetarians who eat legumes and wheat bran more often.
Research suggests that caffeinated soft drinks like colas and other sodas may contribute to bone loss. Scientists are still working to discover precisely why soda may damage bones. Some researchers have suggested that phosphorus- a prevalent ingredient in many soda brands- may cause bones to weaken gradually over time. One Framingham Osteoporosis study conducted back in 2006 found that those who drank three or more sodas a day had up to 4% lower bone density. Other scientists have stated that phosphorus in soft drinks isn’t likely to have such impacts on the body, but there isn’t enough data to provide us with a definitive answer.
Whatever the impact of carbonated beverages on bone, sugary sodas have long been known to impact people’s health negatively, and they add no essential nutrients to your regular diet. So consider reaching for a glass of water instead next time you’re feeling thirsty.
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Wheat bran is an extremely nutritious food that serves as a great source of fiber, protein, and various antioxidants. Wheat bran is also recommended to those looking to decrease their risk of certain cancers and cardiovascular disease. However, it’s important to note that 100% wheat bran can also reduce the body’s ability to absorb calcium from other foods effectively. For example, pouring wheat bran into your morning breakfast cereal may decrease the amount of calcium that your body can absorb from the milk.
While you don’t need to give up on your favorite tea and coffee altogether, it’s essential to keep an eye on the amount of caffeine that you drink. According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, consuming more than three cups of caffeinated tea or coffee a day on average can decrease your body’s ability to absorb calcium and contribute to bone loss over time. Cutting back on daily caffeinated pick-me-ups and restricting your intake to less than three cups per day can help you avoid this.
For optimal bone health, replace that second or third cup with another beverage. We always recommended water, but occasionally orange juice with calcium and Vitamin D, fat-free plain or chocolate milk, and fruit smoothies made with fat-free yogurt can be healthy alternatives. Just watch out for sugars and fats with these.
Avoiding foods with excessive amounts of added sugar is a must for those with Osteoporosis, even though it can be challenging. Cakes, cookies, juices, pasta sauces, granola bars, canned soups, and so many other products contain surprising amounts of added sugar. Replacing these with healthier alternatives like walnuts, pumpkin seeds, pistachios, seafood, and almonds can prevent bone loss and other conditions like Type 2 Diabetes.
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Soy supplements and products like tofu, edamame, and soy-based beverages contain helpful bone-building proteins that can assist in protecting older women from Osteoporosis. However, it’s essential to keep an eye on the amount of soy you are ingesting, as it also contains plant compounds that can inhibit calcium absorption into the body, similarly to caffeine, wheat bran, and carbonated beverages.
Alcohol (in excess)
The Mediterranean Diet has popularized the idea of alcoholic beverages being useful for your health- In fact, moderate intake of wine or beer has been shown to have positive correlation with bone health.
In contrast, chronic and heavy alcohol consumption can lead to bone loss. As such, it’s essential to both limit and monitor your overall alcohol consumption. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans has defined “moderate” alcohol consumption as being up to two drinks per day for adult men and one drink per day for adult women especially post menopause.
For those who are at risk of or experiencing Osteoporosis, it is important to moderate or steer clear of the items on this list when possible. Lifestyle changes are difficult, but essential for maintaining a good quality of life for years to come. Have you found any tasty, yet healthy substitutions for items on this list that we didn’t mention? Tell us about them below!
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Disclaimer: The article is for informational purposes only and not to be taken as medical advice. If you’re suffering from Osteoporosis and concerned about your diet, consider consulting a registered nutritionist dietitian.