Osteoporosis is a condition that thins and weakens the bones, making those who suffer from it significantly more vulnerable to fractures and injuries. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), roughly 40 million Americans are either living with or are at an elevated risk for osteoporosis.
The condition tends to impact seniors, particularly post-menopausal women and those with a predisposition toward low bone mass. According to the NIH, the most notable symptoms of osteoporosis are brittle bones and diminished strength. The NIH explains that throughout our lives, we are constantly losing and replenishing bone. Osteoporosis occurs when the body is no longer efficiently reproducing lost bone. The consequence is a loss of density within the bone structure and, outwardly, a much higher susceptibility to falls and breaks.
Fortunately, there are steps that you can take to reduce the risk or impact of osteoporosis. Exercise, medication and good diet can all go a long way toward lowering your risk and improving your ability to fight the symptoms of osteoporosis. Our focus today is the dietary aspect of prevention and condition management.
What Should I Avoid?
First and foremost, you should know which foods can intensify the symptoms of osteoporosis. High-sodium and heavily salted foods are of particular concern for those with low bone density. According to WebMD, a diet that is high in salty foods can make it more difficult for bone matter to replenish. For many Americans, this poses a genuine nutritional challenge. In general, say doctors, you’ll want to limit your sodium intake to about 2300 milligrams a day. Unfortunately, WebMD notes, most Americans will consume roughly twice that amount in a day.
One easy way to reduce your salt intake is to simply remove the salt-shaker from your dining room table and cook without adding salt when possible. Simply reduce or eliminate this ingredient from many of your existing recipes.
Still, the truth is, the vast majority of your excessive salt intake is probably coming directly from the aisles at the grocery store.
Many processed, prepackaged and preservative-heavy foods will contain a high concentration of salt. In fact, WebMD notes that for most Americans, 75% of sodium comes from prepackaged sources. So be sure to read the sodium content on the wrapper before tossing an item into your shopping cart. According to research, this rule goes double for post-menopausal women. For this demographic, a high-salt diet is shown to result in a greater loss of bone mineral than is seen in women with low salt intake.
What Should I Eat?
In light of the health risk posed by pre-packaged foods, the first step you’ll want to take is to shift toward a diet heavy in calcium and potassium. Start bringing home more fresh produce and preparing home-cooked meals.
According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF), some excellent sources for the nutrients that your bones need to stay strong include dairy products that are low in fat like yogurt and certain cheeses (usually softer, non-aged cheeses such as mozzarella), fortified foods such as cereals and grains, and lots and lots of fruits and veggies.
Come up with some recipes that incorporate leafy greens like kale, collard greens or spinach, all great sources of potassium and calcium. Try steaming or sautéeing these in olive oil for a tasty and healthy dish. Or make a salad containing a mix of fresh, vitamin-rich fruits like the potassium-heavy banana and vitamin-C all-stars like oranges and grapefruits.
If you are a woman over the age of 30, the time is now to begin adjusting your diet.