Back to another condition that tends to affect the elderly, osteoporosis. Osteoporsosis means “porous bones” and it makes your bones become weak and brittle. They’re so weak that even mild stress like bending over or coughing can cause a fracture. Fractures are the most common result of osteoporosis, with spine, hip, and wrist being the most popular sites.
Just look at our little lady here! This is what happens to most elderly; let’s go back to that shuffling old person you see scuttling down the street afraid to pick their feet. Why do they shuffle and not pick their feet up? Because walk imitates falling and picking up their feet means they could fall, and if they fall they’re likely to break one of their frail and brittle bones!
What causes the bones to get this way? Low levels of calcium and other minerals is generally the cause, although hormone levels can affect bone density as well. It’s a fact that women are more susceptible to osteoporosis than men. After menopause when estrogen levels drop, bone loss increases dramatically. In men low estrogen and testosterone levels can affect muscle mass as well.
Risk Factors for Osteoporosis
Risk factors for osteoporosis include:
- Low calcium intake
- Tobacco use
- Eating disorders
- Sedentary lifestyles
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- Corticosteroid (treatments for asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, and lupus) medications
- Inadequate vitamin D
What can You do to Prevent Osteoporosis?
First off you can eat calcium rich foods, such as almonds, cooked kale, canned salmon with the bones, and sardines. Here are some more great foods for bone health.
Broccoli – A highly alkalizing vegetable, broccoli is high in magnesium, calcium, vitamin K, folate and vitamin B6. It’s also high in vitamin C which significantly improves calcium’s absorption. For bone health, broccoli truly has it all.
Lettuce – Lettuce tends to get a bad wrap in the nutrition world because its high water content and low nutrient content rate it low on the nutrient density scale. However, lettuce contains the trifecta of nutrients essential to healthy bones – calcium, vitamin K1 and boron.
Cabbage – Another from the cruciferous family, cabbage is very high in vitamin K, folate and vitamin B6, all essential for bone health. Cabbage is also high in the all important mineral calcium and is high in vitamin C which significantly improves the absorption of calcium
Brussels Sprouts – provide the essential vitamin K that activates a protein found in bones, called osteocalcin, which keeps the molecules of calcium in place, helping against osteoporosis.
Spinach – Massive amounts of vitamin K and folate, along with substantial amounts of vitamin B6, magnesium and calcium, spinach makes for a great addition to the dinner plate if you’re worried about bone health. Squeeze on some fresh lemon to make the minerals in spinach more bioavailable.
Green tea – Green tea contains many trace elements essential to bone health and alkalizing the tissues. Make sure you’re brewing a quality tea yourself, though. Avoid sugar-loaded green tea junk beverages as they will do more harm than good.
Asparagus – Asparagus is one of the most nutritionally well-balanced vegetables you can get and it’s in season now! Contributing to an alkalizing diet and a good source of trace elements, asparagus will help keep those bones healthy and strong.
Lemons – Despite being acidic on the palette, lemons have an alkalizing effect on the body when eaten. They are high in trace minerals needed for bone maintenance and are high in vitamin C which increases calcium absorption.
Parsley – High in vitamin K and folate, parsley is one of many leafy greens that will help maintain bone health. Vitamin K1 (found in vegetables) prevents the overactivity of osteoclasts, the cells that break down bone to release minerals into the blood. Probiotics, the friendly bacteria in the digestive tract, convert some vitamin K1 into vitamin K2 which activates osteocalcin, the major protein in bone which is what anchors the calcium molecules in bone.
What can You do Besides Eat to Promote Bone Health?
Get plenty of sunlight. We’ve talked about this several times, but getting adequate sunlight provides vitamin D (that’s free too!). Why do you need vitamin D? It doesn’t do you any good to be loading up on calcium if your body cannot absorb it. That’s what vitamin D does is absorb the calcium that strengthens your bones.
What else? Strength training and weight-bearing exercises helps to strengthen muscles and bones. Don’t be that shuffling old person, get your calcium (from whole foods like the ones I mentioned, rather than through dairy products) and plenty of sunlight to absorb it!