5 healthy habits that help prevent osteoporosis

October 2, 2015

1. Increase that calcium: alternatives to dairy.

If the only time you buy milk is when you bake a cake or young children are visiting, don't despair! A glass of milk isn't the only way to get your calcium. In fact, it may actually be the worst form of calcium because it's so high in protein, which contributes to bone breakdown.

Calcium goals are 1,200 milligrams a day. Here are some of the best nondairy dietary sources:

  • 175 grams (3/4 cup) whole-grain breakfast cereal
  • 1,104 mg250 grams (1 cup) cornmeal
  • 483 mg250 grams (1 cup) wheat or enriched white flour
  • 423 mg250 grams (1 cup) cooked collards
  • 357 mg250 grams (1 cup) cooked rhubarb
  • 348 mg75 grams (3 ounces) sardines with bone
  • 325 mg250 grams (1 cup) cooked spinach291 mg
5 healthy habits that help prevent osteoporosis

2. Add a fruit or veggie to every meal.

While calcium and vitamin D get all the glory when it comes to osteoporosis prevention, a Scottish study of 62 healthy women between ages 45 and 55 found that those who consumed the greatest amounts of foods containing

  • Zinc
  • Magnesium
  • Potassium
  • Fibre
  • Vitamin C

had the highest bone mineral density.

Best sources of all these micronutrients? Fresh fruits and vegetables.

3. Switch from soda to skim milk or water.

Regular, diet and decaffeinated sodas had produced similar results.

When researchers measured the bone mineral density at the spine and hips of 1,413 women, they found that those who drank soda every day — whether regular, diet, or decaffeinated — had average hip bone mineral densities 3.7 percent lower and spine densities 5.4 percent lower than those drinking less than one soda a month.

4. Munch on dried plums.

Plums improved bone formation.

What used to be known as prunes may hold the key to restoring bone loss in postmenopausal women. A study from Florida State University found that supplementing your diet with about 9 or 10 dried plums a day improves markers of bone formation in postmenopausal women. Meanwhile, feeding dried plums to rats whose ovaries had been removed (putting them into menopause) significantly restored bone mass. Researchers don't know exactly why the dried fruit has such an effect but suspect that it's related to an increased rate of bone formation through some plant-based chemicals on osteoblasts.

5. Switch to decaf.

Less caffeine revealed  higher bone density.

A study of 96 women with an average age of 71 found that those getting more than 300 milligrams of caffeine a day (the amount in two to three cups of regular coffee) had much higher rates of bone loss than women getting less. The really interesting thing here is that the bone loss only occurred in women with a certain gene that affects how the body uses vitamin D.

If you have a family history of osteoporosis, you may have this genotype and could significantly benefit from cutting out caffeine.

Adding these habits to your daily routine cannot hurt.

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