Most of us are well aware of the foods that help make our bones strong. These foods are rich in calcium, vitamin D, potassium, magnesium, vitamin C, and vitamin K. Foods that have higher levels of these nutrients include canned sardines, leafy green vegetables, and some fruits. Many foods are fortified with calcium and vitamin D, to increase the amount of these essential minerals in our diet. Fortified foods include dairy products, various kinds of nut milk, and breakfast cereals. Even with a diet rich in these foods, most women require additional supplementation of calcium and vitamin D to ward off osteoporosis. Because we know what we should eat, let’s take a look at what not to eat if you have osteoporosis. You may just be surprised...
Wait A Minute… What is osteoporosis?
Our bones are living tissues, which means they are continually remodeling, a process of bone breakdown (called resorption), and rebuilding (called formation). In people with osteoporosis, the breakdown of bone cells outpaces the rebuilding, which means that bones lose their density and become porous. Bones are most dense in our early 20s and then begin to decline as we age. Globally, women are at higher risk for osteoporosis, where 1 in 3 women and 1 in 5 men over age 50 will be at risk for a bone fracture due to osteoporosis. In the United States, an estimated 10 million Americans have osteoporosis, and 80% are female.
Why Are Women At Greater Risk For Osteoporosis?
Females have smaller and thinner bones compared to males
Estrogen levels protect bone health. Thus, osteoporosis and menopause often go hand in hand because estrogen levels decline significantly in menopause.
Females tend to reach their peak bone mass a few years before males in puberty.
So, You Want To Avoid Fracture. Here’s What’s Not On Your Osteoporosis Diet.
Spinach, rhubarb, and beet greens - Wait...WHAT? We know. These foods actually contain calcium, but they also have oxalates, which blocks calcium absorption in your gut. Oxalates are natural substances in food that bind to calcium during the digestive process and ultimately causes calcium to exit your body in the stool. You can certainly eat these foods, but you will not want to rely on them for your daily calcium intake.
Red Meat and Processed Meat - You certainly need to have an adequate amount of protein for bone health, but too much protein can actually cause you to lose calcium. Try to get some red meat to make sure you are getting enough iron, but lean a little more heavily on lean proteins and other protein and calcium sources, such as dairy products.
Nightshade Vegetables - These foods contain pro-inflammatory compounds that can increase inflammation throughout your body, including your bones. Foods in this group include:
While these foods may increase inflammation, they are also packed with vitamins and minerals essential for your health. So, don’t totally avoid them, but make sure you are getting plenty of calcium daily through other ways in your diet and through supplements.
Legumes - Beans can contain an abundance of beneficial nutrients, including magnesium and fiber. However, they also contain phytates, which are substances that occur naturally in certain foods. Phytic acid is a significant storage center for essential vitamins and minerals in foods such as legumes, cereals, nuts, and oils. The human digestive system cannot tap into the bioavailability of these nutrients, which can lead to micronutrient malnutrition when eaten in larger quantities. Certainly, eat legumes but understand you may not get your daily recommended intake of calcium and other nutrients to prevent the progression of osteoporosis.
Salty Foods - A high sodium intake can cause your body to lose calcium and thus increase the rate at which you lose bone. Try to limit foods that are processed or canned as these foods are often high in sodium content, and avoid adding table salt to your food if possible.
Caffeine - High caffeine intake may interfere with calcium absorption in people that drink 3 cups of caffeinated beverages per day, such as soda, tea, and coffee. Some of these drinks, like soda, are also high in sugar and phosphorous, contributing to bone loss.
Wheat Bran - Like legumes, wheat bran is high in phytates. Many people eat wheat bran with other calcium-rich foods such as milk. Unfortunately, the phytates in the wheat bran will block your ability to absorb some of the calcium in the milk. If you eat 100% wheat bran like for breakfast, try to take calcium supplements 2 hours before or after so that you get the full benefit of your supplement.
Alcohol - Heavy drinking has been found to contribute to bone loss. Limit your alcohol consumption to 2 drinks or less per day. Some studies have found that women who drink more alcohol have lower bone mineral density scores than women who do not drink.
Curious how other women are warding off osteoporosis in menopause? Join fellow peri women and perimenopause experts in the Perry Community!
Disclaimer: this is not medical advice, does not take the place of medical advice from your physician, and is not intended to treat or cure any disease. Patients should see a qualified medical provider for assessment and treatment.
Meet The Author
Perry Babe Julia ( RN, BSN, BA) is a registered nurse. based in Colorado. Julia's nursing background in women’s health has ranged from neonatal and postpartum care to labor and delivery, to outpatient gynecological medicine for both adolescent and adult populations.
Much of her education and clinical experience are related to educating women on women’s health topics ranging from lifestyle improvements, disease management, and general health education.
Find Julia's Perry community profile right here.