May is National Osteoporosis Month, an important time to raise awareness for the millions of people suffering from osteoporosis in the U.S. This common bone-weakening disease causes fractures and damage, and due to its gradual onset, people often don't realize they have it.
The good news is that, even though there is no definitive cure, you can follow an osteoporosis diet and natural treatments to ease pain and improve bone health.
Osteoporosis is a condition that causes your bones to become fragile, increasing the chances of bone fractures and breaks. Small holes form within bones, weakening them from the inside and causing pain.
One in two women is affected, although anybody can develop the disease.
The main causes are thought to be inactivity, aging, hormonal imbalances, emotional stress, low vitamin D levels, chronic inflammation, and long term use of certain medications.
Typically medications are prescribed to control pain, but there is no cure. In most cases, doctors will advise you to try weight-bearing exercises to strengthen your bones or a healthy osteoporosis diet.
By eating certain foods and avoiding others, you can enhance the strength of your bones, thus preventing the development of osteoporosis. Taking daily joint supplements can help relieve the inflammation that can lead to many joint problems.
Calcium and vitamin D are already well-known as key nutrients for bone health, so foods rich in those are ideal.
Magnesium: Magnesium is important because it plays a critical role in calcium metabolism. It helps calcium dissolve in the blood for more efficient transport and also stimulates the thyroid’s production of calcitonin, which is a bone-preserving hormone.
Magnesium also plays a vital role in the conversion of vitamin d to its active form. Lower magnesium levels are linked to lower bone density and increased risk of osteoporosis.
Vitamin K: The vitamin is necessary for your body to form a protein that is critical to healthy bone formation. Vitamin K also ensures that calcium remains in the bones and out of the arteries.
This makes calcium absorption more efficient. The presence of vitamin K ensures that bone density remains within healthy levels and reduces your risk of fractures.
Strontium: Not many are aware of this mineral, let alone its benefits. Strontium has been shown to increase bone mineral density.
You want to include foods that protect and increase the production of protein and collagen as well as those that boost calcium and vitamin D content. The foods below are the best for improving bone density and health.
Raw Cultured Dairy: Food items include kefir, raw cheese, and yogurt. Each of these contains high levels of calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and vitamins D and K.
Phosphorus is a key mineral involved in bone health, and it works within a delicate balance with calcium. These two elements combine in the blood to form a mineral crystal that increases the strength and structure of your bones.
Wild-Caught Fish: The omega-3 fatty acid content within fish helps to fight and control inflammation. Widespread or chronic inflammation has been linked to the development of osteoporosis.
An increase in the presence of inflammatory markers in the blood is linked to increased risk for bone loss and fractures. Inflammation directly inhibits the function of osteoblasts, which are the cells that build bone and stimulates osteoclastic bone resorption.
Your bones are constantly being remodeled but this causes older bone resorption and less new bone formation, resulting in weaker bone structure.
Green Leafy Vegetables: Veggies, like spinach, Swiss chard, and kale, are full of vitamin K, which is essential for improving bone density and calcium absorption. Vitamin K is necessary for the calcium-binding activity of bone matrix proteins.
A lack of this vitamin can lead to increased risk of bone fracture because bone strength is significantly reduced when calcium is unable to bind with proteins.
Alkaline Foods: Osteoporosis has been linked to an overly acidic environment. By increasing the intake of alkaline foods, you can restore a healthier pH within your body.
Your body will force the bones to draw in excess calcium when the environment is too acidic. Over time this weakens bones and increases the risk of osteoporosis.
Fresh fruit (except for citrus fruit) and vegetables are the best sources for alkaline elements, and they will balance the acidity obtained from meats, sugar, and processed foods.
As mentioned, inflammation is linked to osteoporosis, so avoiding foods that trigger the inflammatory response is the first step. You can also take daily supplements that work to encourage joint health with boswellia serrata, collagen, and turmeric while reducing inflammation.
Heavy alcohol consumption is a major contributor to chronic inflammation, so alcoholic beverages should be limited.
Sugar is another culprit for triggering inflammation, but you have to be careful with this one. Watch for hidden sugars in sauces, drinks, salad dressings, and processed foods to ensure you are not getting too much.
Phosphorus is a beneficial mineral for bone health as long as amounts are not excessive. Too much phosphorus can cause calcium to be removed from your bones, weakening them from within.
To avoid high phosphorus levels, limit or remove soda drinks from your diet. There are also high sugar levels in soda drinks, so cutting them out protects you from unnecessary inflammation too.
Salt (or sodium) is another ingredient to avoid if you want to keep your bones strong and healthy. Too much sodium in your body causes calcium and bone mineral loss. Currently, the recommended daily dose of calcium is so high because the typical American diet has such a high salt content.
If you cut down on your salt intake, your body will naturally require less calcium because it will not be lost from your bones so easily.
The Bottom Line
Osteoporosis can be serious because it can develop without your awareness. Taking a preventative approach is the best option, and by incorporating bone-friendly foods or taking daily supplemental formulas, you can work to lower your risk of the condition developing.
Bones weaken naturally as we get older, but that doesn’t mean you have to get osteoporosis. Following the right diet can strengthen your bones, prevent fractures, and keep you moving with ease.