Approximately 10 million Americans have osteoporosis. OP, as it is sometimes called, affects one in three women. Osteoporosis means that the bones have become porous. Putting it another way, the bones develop holes in them. Bone tissue is constantly subjected to processes that build up bone and processes that destroy it. When the processes that break down bone happen faster than the building-up processes occur, osteoporosis results. Most Americans know that calcium and vitamin D are essential for strong bones, but there is more. Could your breakfast contribute to your bone health?
Enjoy Breakfast Foods Rich in Fiber.
Trade that glass of orange juice for an orange. If you need a protein drink, make a whole fruit smoothie instead of juicing. Emphasize whole grains. Why? Consuming a high fiber diet regularly may reduce your risk for OP. How? Fiber encourages the proliferation of friendly gut bacteria in produce beneficial short chained fatty acids (SCFAs). Some of these compounds have an anti-inflammatory effect on bones as well as a positive effect on bone density.1
Eat a Well-Balanced Breakfast.
Breakfast may be one of the best prevention for osteoporosis. Studies have shown that those who eat breakfast may be giving their bone health a lift. Most of the foods and beverages that are fortified with calcium are eaten in the morning, such as fortified orange juice, milk, and cereal. Unfortunately, 60% of teen girls skip breakfast at least once a week, and nearly twenty girls out of one hundred skip breakfast every day. This puts the girls at risk for decreased “bone gain” during growth, increased fracture risk, and osteoporosis later in life.2
Enjoy Citrus and Other Colorful Fruits.
Orange and grapefruit juice were found to be a very important component of breakfast, according to the Texas A & M University. It was found that the bones of rats were stronger when given citrus juice each morning. An animal study suggests that a phytochemical in citrus, hesperidin, may help to protect from bone loss.3
However, citrus is not the only class of fruit to enjoy. Fruits provide vitamin C. This important vitamin helps the manufacture of collagen, which acts like super glue to hold the architecture of the bone together. Deeply colored fruits such as oranges, berries, and apricots— just to name a few, are rich in antioxidants and significantly affect the strength of our bones.4 In part, our skeleton is made up of trabecular or spongy bone tissue. In this type of bone tissue, the framework is organized into a three-dimensional latticework of bony processes, called trabeculae, arranged along lines of stress.
How Fruits Actually Strengthen Our Bones
These colorful fruits help our bone strands to be tighter, thicker, and more plentiful. They also encourage the formation of bone tissue and suppress the natural occurrence of bone deterioration.5,6 The trace mineral boron improves the metabolism of both calcium and magnesium, two minerals which are essential for healthy bones. Boron is found in relatively high levels in apples, pears, grapes, and nuts, as well as leafy green vegetables. You can see that with all these benefits, it is wise to include a good variety of colorful fruits in the diet.
In a one-year study using postmenopausal women who were fed 100g of dried plums per day (roughly 10-12 prunes), researchers observed significantly increased bone mineral density at the spine and ulna compared with baseline and the dried apple control group. Dried plums may also help protect the spine and certain aspects of the tibia from bone deterioration.7,8 There are about 240 kilocalories in 10-12 prunes. Individuals with prediabetes or diabetes should choose other options for strengthening their bones.
Get Sufficient Protein and Calcium.
Whole grains also provide important amino acids and magnesium, another important mineral in bone health. Whole grains, when combined with either a serving of nuts or a serving of legumes, provide all the essential amino acids that our bodies cannot make. Legumes based breakfasts are excellent ways to get enough protein. Diabetes increases the risk for OP. Regular legume consumption improves the blood glucose levels in individuals who have diabetes.
Be sure you get your protein for breakfast. Dairy milk is a good source of protein and calcium. It is usually fortified with vitamin D. Unfortunately, the milk protein casein increases cholesterol levels. Dairy milk itself doesn’t seem to be protective against osteoporosis. Because of the common practice by dairy farmers, of using antibiotics and hormones to stimulate greater milk production, more and more people are using milk alternatives to avoid getting these drugs second hand. Soy milk (preferably organic) is the only milk substitute that has comparable amounts of protein to that of dairy milk. So it is the best milk alternative unless one is allergic to soy. It is advisable to get a milk alternative fortified with calcium, vitamin D, and B-12. B-12 deficiency compromises protein synthesis in bone and elsewhere in the body. Vegans are at risk for deficiency in both vitamins.
Soy Could Be Helpful!
Unless you are allergic to soy products, consider using scrambled tofu or soybeans twice a week. Half a cup of calcium-enriched tofu contains over 400 milligrams of calcium. Soy isoflavones in soybean products may not only help some menopausal symptoms but may prevent postmenopausal osteoporosis to some extent by improving bone strength, increasing bone mineral density in the lumbar spine, and reducing fractures. They also decrease the bone resorption marker urine deoxypyridinoline.9 Bone resorption is the process by which certain bone cells actually break down bone and release the minerals, resulting in a transfer of calcium from bone into the blood. Rodent studies show soy protein improves cortical (compact) and biomechanical properties in bones in female low-fit rats.10 Cortical bone is the dense outer, protective layer of bone. See https://wildwoodhealth.com/blog/got-calcium/ for information on how to get adequate calcium from plant foods.
Enjoy A Small Handful of Nuts.
Nuts are rich in magnesium. Magnesium is necessary to convert vitamin D into its active form so that it can turn on calcium absorption. Magnesium stimulates the hormone calcitonin which helps to preserve bone structure by drawing calcium out of the blood and putting it into the bones. Almonds and walnuts are also a good source of boron, a trace mineral necessary for strong bones. Additionally, walnut consumption encourages the proliferation of friendly gut bacteria that protect from inflammation and chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes and osteoporosis. Walnuts exert probiotic actions. 11
Eat More Alkaline Foods.
In health, the body balances the pH of the blood. There is some significant evidence that acid foods like meat weaken the bones. Generally, fruits and vegetables promote alkalinity.12 Meat and wheat are acid foods whereas barely, millet, amaranth, quinoa, spelt, and oats are alkaline foods. So, if you are at risk of or have OP, we would encourage you to eat potassium-rich foods and vegetables and more alkaline grains than acid grains.
Skip Coffee – Easy on the Salt.
Both caffeine and excess sodium 13 increase the loss of calcium from the body.
Since osteoporosis is a major health threat in industrialized countries, in the future we will cover it more in detail. Meanwhile be sure you walk and engage in resistant and weight bearing exercise.
- University of Erlangen-Nuremberg. “Can Muesli help against arthritis? Fiber affects autoimmune diseases.” ScienceDaily. 12 January 2018.
- Nagata, K, Skipping breakfast and less exercise are risk factors for bone loss in young Japanese adults: a 3-year follow-up study. J Bone Miner Metab. 2013 Sep 20.
- Texas A&M University – Agricultural Communications. “Orange, Grapefruit Juice For Breakfast Builds Bones In Rats.” ScienceDaily.ScienceDaily, 6 June 2006. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/06/060606224839.htm
- Sacco, S, Phytonutrients for bone health during aging. Br J Clin Pharmacol. Mar 2013; 75(3): 697–707.
- Weaver, CM, Flavonoid intake and bone health, JJ Nutr Gerontol Geriatr. 2012; 31(3):239-53.
- Shen CL, Fruits and dietary phytochemicals in bone protection. Nutr Res. 2012 Dec; 32(12):897-910..
- Yan, XT, Evaluation of the antioxidant and anti-osteoporosis activities of chemical constituents of the fruits of Prunus mume. Food Chem. 2014 Aug 1; 156:408-15. \29.
- Rendeina, E, Dried plum’s unique capacity to reverse bone loss and alter bone metabolism in postmenopausal osteoporosis model. PLoS One. 2013;8(3):e60569.
- Taku, K, Soy isoflavones for osteoporosis: an evidence-based approach. Maturitas. 2011 Dec;70(4):333-8.
- Hinton PS. Soy protein improves tibial whole-bone and tissue-level biomechanical properties in ovariectomized and ovary-intact, low-fit female rats. Bone Rep. 2018 May 18; 8:244-254.
- Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center. “Walnuts may promote health by changing gut bacteria.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 28 July 2017. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/07/170728100832.htm.
- University of Alberta Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry. “Diets high in salt could deplete calcium in the body.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 July 2012. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120724131604.htm.
- Frassetto L Acid Balance, Dietary Acid Load, and Bone Effects—A Controversial Subject. Nutrients. 2018 Apr; 10(4): 517.