Osteoporosis is a condition that causes a decrease in bone density, making bones fragile and more prone to fractures. Sadly, it’s a common problem among seniors, especially women. In fact, 10 million Americans suffer from it. And while exercise and medication can help manage the condition, diet also plays a crucial role. Some foods can make osteoporosis worse by reducing bone density or interfering with the absorption of essential minerals. Fortunately, knowledge is power! If you’re an older adult suffering from osteoporosis, you’ll want to stick around. Here’s a list of some diet DOs and DON’Ts.
Sodium is an essential mineral, but consuming too much sodium can be dangerous for your health! In fact, you may not want to reach for the regular table salt, either. That, too, can cause calcium loss and weaken your bones over time. Yikes! In order to keep those bones strong and healthy, avoid high-sodium foods. Processed meats, canned soups, and frozen meals are all sodium bombs in disguise. I know some foods taste better with a little extra salt, but no amount of flavor is worth your bone health!
Guess what? Foods like fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains actually boost bone health. Many fruits and veggies, like tomatoes and bananas, are high in potassium—a nutrient that can build bone health. So, try to include a handful of berries or green leafy things with every meal. Or you can blend them into a nice, refreshing smoothie. Your body—and bones—will thank you!
Studies show that heavy alcohol consumption actually increases your risk of developing osteoporosis. Conversely, people who already have osteoporosis may need to limit their alcohol intake. Alcohol interferes with the body’s ability to absorb calcium, which is important for building strong bones. Of course, it also increases the risk of falls, and falls may cause fractures! Therefore, seniors with osteoporosis should limit or avoid alcohol consumption. If you can’t cut it out completely, try to limit your alcohol intake to one drink per day.
Remember when you were a kid, and your mother would make you drink milk? Turns out, she may have been onto something. Studies show that drinking milk can actually improve bone density. That’s because milk is an excellent source of calcium, a key component in maintaining strong bones. Don’t like drinking milk? No problem! Cheese and yogurt are also chock-full of calcium. So, next time you pour yourself a bowl of cereal, make sure you drink the milk, too! It’s important for your bone health.
If you’re a soda lover, I probably just ruined your day, and I apologize for that. Unfortunately, soft drinks (particularly cola) contain phosphoric acid, which can interfere with calcium absorption. Over time, this can create contribute to a loss of bone density. To maintain good bone health, seniors with osteoporosis should avoid or limit their intake of soft drinks. If you have to drink soda, opt for non-acidic drinks, like ginger ale or lemon-lime soda. Your taste buds may not be happy with you, but your skeletal system will.
Caffeine is nature’s energy drink. It’s found in a lot of drinks we love, like coffee, tea, and soda. Sadly, caffeine can increase the amount of calcium excreted in your urine, decreasing bone density. Seniors with osteoporosis should limit their intake of caffeine. Instead of coffee or tea, try out water with lemon or herbal tea. Of course, you always opt for decaf, too!
Foods high in Vitamin A, such as liver and cod liver oil, should be consumed in moderation by seniors with osteoporosis. While Vitamin A is essential for healthy bones, too much of it can actually have a negative impact on bone health. In fact, an excess of Vitamin A can interfere with Vitamin D absorption, another crucial nutrient for bone health. If you’re not sure about your current Vitamin A intake, consult your doctor and have your levels checked. When it comes to Vitamin A, you truly can have too much of a good thing.
Calcium and vitamin D are essential for building and maintaining healthy bones. Seniors with osteoporosis should aim to get at least 1,200 mg of calcium and 800-1000 IU of vitamin D per day. Sources of calcium include dairy products, leafy greens, and fortified cereals. Vitamin D can be found in fatty fish, egg yolks, and some fortified foods. Taking supplements can also help you get enough of these nutrients. Of course, vitamin D isn’t called the sunshine vitamin for nothing! Spending just 13 minutes in the sun per day may help you maintain healthy vitamin D levels.
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Originally published September 01, 2023