Foods that will keep your bones strong and help prevent osteoporosis

Of late, women in their early 30s are being diagnosed with osteoporosis. “The earlier average age was about 50 years, around the time when menopause would set in. The reason is that with menopause the body experiences a dramatic drop in estrogen production that results in bone loss. This was labeled as a growing old disease since the two big reasons for developing osteoporosis are when the body fails to form enough new bone or when the old bones are reabsorbed by the body, but not anymore,” said Swati Kapoor, a nutritionist who consults on Practo.

The experts explain that calcium and phosphate are two minerals that are essential for normal bone formation. Throughout youth, your body uses these minerals to produce bones. Mineral intake during adolescence and early adulthood lays the foundation of healthy bones for the coming years. Not getting enough calcium and body not being able to absorb enough calcium from the diet adversely affects bone production and bone tissues.

“Bone is a dynamic living tissue that becomes strong when exercised or used, and becomes fragile when unused. Mostly we are advised to eat foods rich in calcium for bone development and excluding foods that lead to loss of bone mineral in the body like sugar, sodas, table salt, coffee and alcohol. But you may be forgetting nutrients which directly or indirectly benefit bone health, like vitamin D for better absorption of calcium, vitamin K which activates osteocalcin which is a bone protein which bonds calcium, vitamin C which improves bone absorption and other bone minerals like magnesium, phosphorous, boron etc,” she told indianexpress.com.

Though dairy is the most popular source of calcium, many other nutrients required for prevention and better bone health can be consumed from plant based sources like vegetables and fruits which are rich in various nutrients. Optimum levels of the following nutrients in your diet will improve your bone health as well as overall fitness.

knee pain Not getting enough calcium and body not being able to absorb enough calcium from the diet adversely affects bone production and bone tissues. (File photo)

“Women are more prone to developing osteoporosis than men due to two reasons: first they are genetically born with a lower bone mass than men and secondly, due to the estrogen levels. Estrogen plays an important role in keeping bones strong and healthy, in both men and women. Changing levels of estrogen especially in women make them more vulnerable to this disorder,” she shared.

Foods bad for bone health

Salt: Over consumption of salt could make you lose calcium. You require 2400 milligrams of sodium in a day. Not only do you consume sodium through salt in foods but some foods naturally contain salt which could create an excess. Eat salt in moderation to avoid loss of calcium.

Soda: Sweetened soft-drink and aerated drinks cause loss of calcium in the body, and is also excreted in urine. The phosphoric acid which is the fizziness in soda drinks could lead to faster loss of calcium.

Caffeine: Caffeine in excess of 100 milligram can cause loss of some calcium in the body. Caffeine is not consumed by the body just through coffee but some iced teas, energy drinks and other drinks, too.

Alcohol: Alcohol blocks calcium absorption in the body and restricts bone building minerals to be absorbed properly. Bones become weak faster and can cause trouble while healing of bones due to alcohol consumption during fracture.

Some vegetables which immensely improve bone health and maintain them and avoid loss of bone minerals in the body are green peas, cabbage, broccoli, lettuce, spinach, asparagus, oats, parsley, lemons, milk and dairy etc. Though milk and dairy are the best sources, these vegetables have various nutrients to support good bone health and prevent osteoporosis. Exercising, the often most forgotten factor, is critical to bone health as it helps in improvement of bone density and better absorption of nutrients.

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