Usually we think of food as putting nutrients INTO our bodies. However, there are certain foods that can end up taking vital nutrients OUT of our bodies. When food depletes the nutrients in our bones it can lead to a loss of bone density & weaker bones—so it’s important to know what foods destroy bone density, what to eat & other tips that can keep your bones strong as you age.
Risks of bone density loss
Here are some of the dangers of weakened bones:
- Increased risk of fractures: Bones that lack density are more likely to break, even with minor falls or bumps.
- Limited mobility: As bone density decreases, the bones may become brittle and break more easily, leading to reduced mobility and independence.
- Chronic pain: Weakened bones can lead to chronic pain and discomfort, especially in the back and hips.
- Loss of height: As the spine compresses, the height can reduce, leading to postural changes, such as a stooped posture.
- Poor quality of life: The combination of chronic pain, mobility issues, and reduced independence can significantly affect the quality of life for seniors.
Best foods for strong bones & joints
The first step in preventing bone loss is to include foods that promote strong bones and joints. Here are some of the best foods for keeping your bones strong:
- Dairy products: Calcium is essential for bone health, and dairy products such as milk, cheese, and yogurt are rich in it.
- Leafy greens: Vegetables such as kale, collard greens, and broccoli are good sources of calcium, magnesium, and other nutrients that support bone health.
- Fatty fish: Oily fish such as salmon, sardines, and tuna are rich in vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids, both of which promote bone health.
- Eggs: Eggs are a good source of vitamin D and protein, which are crucial for strong bones and joints.
- Nuts and seeds: Almonds, sesame seeds, and other nuts and seeds are rich in magnesium, an essential mineral for bone health.
What foods destroy bone density?
Unfortunately, there are many foods that can harm our bones. Here are 12 you should know about:
If there’s too much salt in your diet, it can drain the calcium from your bones, causing them to weaken. The average American usually consumes 5,000 mg of salt a day… which causes just over 80 mg of calcium to leave your body. To minimize the impact of salt on bone health, it’s important to limit your intake of processed and packaged foods, which are often high in sodium.
2. High Sodium Foods
In addition to salt, many other high-sodium foods can also increase urinary calcium excretion and contribute to bone loss. These include canned soups and vegetables, deli meats, frozen dinners, and fast food. Try to limit these types of foods, and opt instead for fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins.
3. Hydrogenated Oils
Hydrogenated oils, also known as trans fats, can interfere with the body’s ability to absorb and use calcium, which can lead to bone loss. To avoid these harmful fats, steer clear of fried foods, baked goods, and processed snacks that contain hydrogenated oils. Instead, opt for whole, minimally processed foods that are rich in healthy fats, such as nuts, seeds, and avocados.
Drinking too much alcohol can also interfere with the body’s ability to absorb calcium and other important bone-building nutrients, such as vitamin D. Over time, this can lead to bone loss and an increased risk of osteoporosis. Limiting your alcohol intake to no more than one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men will help you prevent bone loss.
5. Food With Lots Of Vitamin A
Just because Vitamin A can impact your bone density, that does not mean you should cut it out altogether! Vitamin A is important for healthy vision and skin. But consuming too much of this nutrient can actually weaken bones over time. This is because high levels of vitamin A can interfere with the normal process of bone remodeling, which can lead to bone loss. So just limit your intake of vitamin A-rich foods, such as liver, sweet potatoes, and carrots, but don’t cut them out completely.
6. Soft Drinks
Soft drinks often include phosphoric acid which increases the amount of calcium excreted in your urine. Drinking too many sugary beverages can also lead to weight gain, which can also weaken bones. Protect your bone health by limiting soft drinks and other sugary beverages, and opt instead for water, unsweetened tea, and other low-calorie beverages.
The bad news? Coffee can lead to bone loss. The good news? You don’t have to cut out your morning brew entirely if you don’t want to give up your little pick-me-up. The problem isn’t coffee—it’s the caffeine in coffee. It can interfere with the body’s ability to absorb calcium and other important bone-building nutrients. Try to limit your intake of coffee and other caffeinated beverages to less than 3 cups a day and opt instead for decaf coffee or other low-caffeine alternatives.
Surprise! This nutritious calcium-rich superfood isn’t your best way to build strong bones. That’s because it also contains oxalic acid, which actually interferes with the body’s ability to absorb this important mineral. That doesn’t mean to avoid spinach—it’s still packed full of nutrients that are good for you. It just means that you should balance your intake of spinach (and other oxalate-containing foods) with other calcium-rich foods that are more easily absorbed by the body.
9. 100% Wheat Bran
Another surprise. While wheat bran is considered a healthy food that is rich in fiber, consuming too much of this food can actually weaken bones over time. This is because wheat bran contains phytic acid, which can interfere with the body’s ability to absorb calcium and other bone-building nutrients. There are still many benefits to including 100% wheat bran in your diet, but if protecting your bone health is your priority, it would be best to choose other sources of fiber that are less likely to interfere with calcium absorption.
10. Processed Meats
This one shouldn’t come as a surprise, given what you now know about salt. Processed meats, such as bacon, sausage, and deli meats, are often high in salt and preservatives, which can deplete the calcium from your bones. In addition, these meats are typically high in saturated fat, which can interfere with nutrient absorbing capabilities. Try to eat lean proteins such as chicken, fish, and tofu instead.
11. Charred & Burnt Foods
Sorry to tell you, but that flavor bursting char you love so much is actually, scientifically speaking, a type of reaction between sugars and proteins or fat (that causes the browning or char). This reaction can produce harmful compounds known as advanced glycation end products (AGEs), which can interfere with the body’s ability to build and maintain healthy bones when consumed in excess.
Surprise again! While legumes such as beans and lentils are a nutritious source of protein and fiber, they also contain compounds known as phytates, which, like most items in this list… can interfere with your ability to absorb calcium and bone-building nutrients. But don’t go cutting them out just yet! All you have to do is get rid of the phytates. And that’s as easy as soaking your beans in water for 12 hours. Just make sure to drain and rinse when you’re ready to use them.
How to prevent bone loss as you age
In addition to limiting bone-destroying foods, one of the best things you can do to prevent bone loss is weight-bearing exercise. These activities stimulate bone cells to produce more bone tissue, which can help to maintain or increase bone density.
To slow the rate of bone loss & get stronger bones you don’t need to lift huge amounts of weights. Even just a couple of soup cans will do the trick. It’s as easy as spending just 10 minutes a day doing gentle weight-bearing exercises to protect your bone health.
Check out “Seated Bone Density” by Better5 and start getting stronger bones in just 10 minutes a day!