As Baby Boomers age, it’s important to do everything we can to prevent osteoporosis, especially if you’re a woman. It’s a degenerating bone disease that leads to a risk of fracture. If your bones are brittle and break, you may be in danger of having a lifelong disability and/or chronic pain.
There are supplements to decrease your risk, but it’s what you eat that counts the most.
Foods you can eat to help prevent osteoporosis
A diet high in salt causes the minerals in your bones to deteriorate.
Salty foods include:
- Hot dogs, and packaged deli meats (turkey, ham, beef, etc.)
- Fast Foods – fries, pizza, tacos, burgers
- Frozen dinners including reduced calorie meals
- Canned soups, vegetables, and vegetable juices
- Bread and breakfast cereals found in grocery stores that aren’t whole grain.
Carbonated beverages increase bone loss because they contain excessive levels of phosphorous. In America, many people cannot go through the day without a Coke or 7 Up. There are no nutritional benefits to any soft drink and they are usually high in sugar or sugar substitutes are known to cause cancer. Substitute your soda pop for orange juice fortified with calcium and vitamin D, fruit smoothies made with yogurt and banana, low-fat milk or chocolate milk. If you love carbonation, drink sparkling mineral water that’s free of phosphoric acid and squeeze in lemon, lime, or another fresh fruit juice.
Caffeinated beverages can leach calcium from your bones and make them weaker. Go easy on coffee and caffeinated tea.
Sugar and Sugar Substitutes
Excessive amounts of sugar create high levels of cortisol that may cause osteoporosis. Stick with stevia, honey or maple syrup. Artificial sugar substitutes don’t cause osteoporosis directly but are known to cause cancer.
Eat these foods to prevent Osteoporosis
Humans need protein. Our bones are approximately 50% protein and require a steady stream of amino acids.
Foods high in protein that also contain calcium are:
- light tuna
- fresh or canned salmon
- canned sardines or anchovies
- Fat-free plain yogurt
- reduced fat milk and cheeses
If you’re vegetarian or vegan it’s important to eat alternative protein sources to prevent bone loss. In some cases, supplementation may be needed.
Vegetarian sources of protein:
- non-dairy milk
- nut butter
- sprouted whole grain bread
Be aware that soy products like edamame, tofu, tempeh and soy beverages are rich in bone-building protein, but may contain plant compounds that will hamper calcium absorption.
Other foods that are known to help build and maintain healthy bones include;
- Fresh green peas – high in vitamin K, B6 and folate
- Spinach – high in vitamin K, folate, vitamin B6, magnesium and calcium
- Green tea – Alkalizes tissues and contains trace elements essential for bone health. Avoid sweetened green tea
- Asparagus – Alkalizing and a good source of trace elements. One of the most nutritionally balanced vegetables and very good for bone health
- Steel Cut Oats – Contains minerals essential for bone health. Instant oatmeal contains junk additives and should be avoided.
- Parsley – High in vitamin K1, folate.
- Lemons – alkalizing (although it is an acidic fruit) High in trace minerals needed for bone health. Because lemons are high in vitamin C drinking lemon juice mixed with pure water will help you absorb calcium into your body.
Broccoli, Kale, Collard Greens, Pumpkin/Squash, Black Eyed Peas, Beans Blackstrap Molasses, poppy seed, sesame seeds, almond, figs and Organic Dairy are additional bone building foods.
Other Lifestyle Changes Needed to Prevent Osteoporosis
Baby Boomers and seniors need to keep up activity levels and avoid becoming sedentary. Safe exercises include walking, swimming, yoga, dance, moderate strength training, and even light jogging. If you’re just beginning an exercise program, ease into it and avoid extreme sports that may cause injuries.
Excessive weight loss or low body weight may contribute to Osteoporosis
A person over 50 who is too thin has less padding and fat and is more vulnerable to injury. Frequent dieting or extreme weight loss will cause a person to lose not only fat and muscle but also bone density. Fat and muscle will eventually come back but bone density loss may be permanent. It’s safer to lose weight slowly and to maintain a weight that is neither too skinny or overweight. In other words, you may not want to set a goal to be as skinny as you were in high school. Besides, a few curves are sexier and may be better for you in the long run. Have your doctor run a test for bone density at your next exam.