Written by Emma Caldwell @emma_caldwell_nutrition
Did you know that over the age of 60, one in two women and one in three men will break a bone because of osteoporosis? Osteoporosis occurs when bones lose calcium and other minerals, making them fragile and more likely to fracture. In Australia, osteoporosis affects 1.2 million people.
Eating to Reduce your Risk
Due to the onset of menopause and the rapid drop in the hormone, oestrogen, women over the age of 50 years are at an increased risk of bone loss. Consuming plenty of calcium-rich foods every-day is beneficial for reducing your risk of osteoporosis. So how much is “plenty?” For women over 50 years and men over 70 years, it is recommended to consume 4+ serves of dairy daily. One serve is equal to:
- 1 cup (250ml) of fresh, UHT long life, reconstituted powdered milk or buttermilk
- 1 cup (250ml) of soy, rice, or other cereal drink with at least 100mg of ADDED calcium per 100ml
- ¾ cup (200g) of yoghurt
- 2 slices of hard cheese (40g) (ie – cheddar)
- ½ cup (120g) ricotta cheese
Participating in regular exercise and enjoying regular and safe sun exposure for adequate vitamin D production is also beneficial for bone health. Studies have shown that smoking and excessive alcohol intake are unfavourable for bone health, and certain medications and medical conditions can further reduce our bone density.
Foods to Aid Bone Resorption
We now understand the foods we can eat to protect our bones, but there is also foods we can eat to help reduce ‘bone resorption’ – the breakdown of bone that exceeds the rate of bone growth as we age.
- Flaxseed Oil: a plant-based omega 3 fatty acid which helps reduce bone breakdown and protect bone strength. To get the beneficial nutritional components from flaxseed oil, store it in the fridge. Once flaxseed oil is heated, the nutritional components of the oil changes, reducing its protective benefits.
- Tofu: a fantastic source of isoflavones – chemicals that can help protect women against osteoporosis during later life. Tofu is also a great source of calcium.
- Prunes: a study of postmenopausal women demonstrated that women who ate 10 prunes daily, significantly suppressed the breakdown of bone resorption.
Summary: Nutrition to boost your Bone Health
- Include a serve of calcium-rich foods at breakfast, morning tea, afternoon tea and dessert. For example: yoghurt and fresh fruit, cheese and biscuits, a glass of milk or a fruit smoothie.
- Include flaxseed oil as a dressing on salad or main meals
- Add prunes to your breakfast cereal or as a healthy snack throughout the day