Osteoporosis is a condition that usually develops as people age and their bones weaken. It can result in back pain, loss of height, a stooped posture, and more frequent bone fractures. In fact, osteoporosis is often not detected until the patient breaks a bone.
The most common factor in the development of osteoporosis is a poor diet that is deficient in calcium. However, there are also other ways in which food can negatively affect bone health and lead to the onset of osteoporosis.
Here are five foods that worsen bone health:
1. High-salt foods
Even if you consume enough calcium, excessive consumption of high-salt food can deplete the body’s calcium stores. Salt contains oxalate, which is a naturally occurring chemical compound that can block calcium absorption, reducing bone density and increasing risk of osteoporosis. Moreover, a diet high in sodium can also lead to high blood pressure, which can also increase calcium depletion and bone loss. While getting rid of sodium entirely is impossible (and unhealthy), the first step to cutting down on sodium is to moderate your intake of processed and fast food.
2. Alcoholic beverages
While no one thinks that excessive drinking is necessarily good for you, it might surprise you to learn just how damaging it can be for your bones. Studies have shown that consuming over two alcoholic drinks a day can significantly decrease bone density and increase risk of osteoporosis. This is due to a variety of factors. Primarily, alcohol inhibits the body’s ability to absorb calcium. However, it also decreases testosterone and estrogen levels and increases cortisol levels, both of which can contribute to the onset of osteoporosis. Therefore, when consuming alcoholic beverages, it is best to stick to moderate amounts.
Patients with osteoporosis, especially women, should limit their caffeine intake. Though not as bad as salt, caffeinated drinks, such as coffee and soft drinks, can also cause calcium depletion and weaken the bones. Moreover, many soft drinks contain high amounts of phosphorus, which also contributes to bone loss. Luckily, studies have shown that reducing caffeine intake to 300 milligrams a day is enough to limit the risk of osteoporosis, especially if you are also consuming enough calcium. If you still need that caffeine fix, try switching to tea. Though caffeinated, tea has actually been shown to help strengthen bones.
4. Foods with excessive vitamin A
While vitamin A is part of your essential daily vitamins, excessive amounts can weaken your bones and lead to osteoporosis. In general, studies have found that women only need 700 micrograms a day, and men only need 900 micrograms, which can be easily accomplished through a normal, healthy diet. Moreover, bone weakening is primarily caused by preformed vitamin A, a form of the vitamin found in animal products, particularly liver, and dietary supplements. By contrast, other forms of vitamin A, such as beta carotene, do not impact bone health. As such, to avoid excessive consumption of vitamin A, simply ensure that your daily multivitamin does not contain vitamin A and avoid eating liver. It is also worth noting that nightshade vegetables contain a large amount of vitamin A, so you should consume these vegetables in moderation.
5. Beans and legumes
Beans and legumes may inhibit calcium absorption in your body. Some beans, such as pinto beans, navy beans, and peas, are rich in phytates. Phytates can impair the body’s capacity to absorb calcium. However, don’t skip beans entirely, as they’re high in magnesium, fiber, and other minerals that help osteoporosis management (and improve your general health). Simply soak beans in water for a few hours before boiling them in freshwater to minimize the phytate level.
While avoiding these foods can help prevent or delay the onset of osteoporosis, the best way to avoid developing the condition is to ensure you are getting enough calcium into your diet. It is best to consume at least 1,000 milligrams of calcium daily to keep the bones strong.