Have you been cracking your bones with your teeth? Here’s what I mean by that…
Every time you eat something you make a choice to either build your bones or weaken them.
Here are 5 bone-busting foods to avoid and what to eat instead.
I’m not calling your mother a liar, but when she said you had to drink your milk to build big strong bones… well, she might have steered you wrong.
A Swedish study tracked over 60,000 women for 20 years and over 45,000 men for 15 years. Researchers found that drinking more milk did NOT lead to lower bone fracture risks.[i]
In fact, women who drank three glasses of milk per day broke MORE bones. Compared to women who drank less than one glass per day, heavy milk drinkers had a 60% greater risk of breaking a hip and a 16% higher risk of breaking any bone.
The researchers suggested that high levels of two sugars in milk – lactose and galactose – were part of the cause. Studies link D-galactose to a shortened life span, oxidative stress, chronic inflammation, neurodegeneration, decreased immune response, and gene transcriptional changes.
Another reason may be milk’s acidic nature. Your body’s ideal pH level is 7.35 to 7.45 but milk’s level is 6.5 to 6.7. Milk shifts your blood pH levels to an acid state. Your body’s natural response is to re-balance itself by robbing your bones of calcium (which is alkaline).
The Natural Food Solution: Instead of cow’s milk use almond milk which is high in calcium. Here’s an easy to follow video for you: Making Almond Milk. Or get your calcium from the same place that big-boned animals get theirs – leafy greens. They are naturally alkaline and are rich in the beta carotene form of vitamin A, which supports bone growth.
You’ve been told since your first Halloween that sugar will rot your teeth. And in a way, it will also “rot” your bones.
This happens for a number of reasons. First, sugar is acidic and your body likes to be slightly alkaline. When you eat too much sugar, your body becomes overly acidic and starts leaching calcium out of your bones and excreting it. If you do it enough, you’ll be losing lots of calcium and your bones will be weaker.
Excess sugar also depletes your body of phosphorus, a mineral that is important in helping your bones absorb calcium.[ii]
Americans today eat a whopping 139 pounds of sugar per year. Compare that to our grandparents who ate just 10-12 pounds per year.
It’s not that we’re all munching on sugar cubes. The problem is that sugar is hidden in most processed foods today, including salad dressing, canned soup, canned fruits, juice, bread, ketchup, sports drinks and just about any other packaged item. Read the labels.
The Natural Food Solution: Satisfy your sweet cravings with naturally sweet foods like whole fresh fruits and naturally sweet roasted vegetables like sweet potatoes, beets, onions and carrots.
Yes, I mean even diet colas/sodas!
Drinking more colas per week is associated with reduced bone mineral density (what makes our bones hard) and increased risk of fractures.[iii]
What’s the problem? It’s not absolutely clear. Some researchers have pointed the finger at carbonation but the fizz doesn’t seem to be the culprit.
Researchers more recently have suggested that the problem is in the cola. Phosphoric acid, a food additive only found in colas, breaks down and is acid forming to the body. To rebalance its pH levels, the body draws calcium and magnesium out of the bones.
If you’re drinking colas every day, that can be a real risk to your skeleton. Give yourself permission to slowly cut down with the goal of removing this bone-busting beverage completely.
The Natural Foods Solution: Replace your habitual diet cola with fizzy mineral or spring water (Perrier, San Pellegrino). Bottled mineral/spring water can contain up to four times as much calcium and magnesium as regular tap water. One of my favs is Mountain Valley Spring as their mineral content is high and in some areas they deliver. http://www.mountainvalleyspring.com.
During your transition from soda/diet soda, dress up your water with a flavor such as an organic vanilla with stevia. Or add slices of lemon, cucumbers or berries. You’ll get the fizzy effect, but none of the phosphoric acid. And the lemon will help to alkalize your body and balance out all those acidic foods you might be eating.
You may think you need it to pry your eyes open in the morning, but there is evidence that drinking a lot of coffee—about four or more cups per day— increases the risk of bone fractures.
The problem once again is that caffeine, like sugar, tends to leach calcium from the bones and excrete it in the urine.
For every 100 milligrams of caffeine you drink, it’s estimated that you lose about 6 milligrams of calcium.[iv] So you can see that the more you drink, the weaker your bones.
The Natural Food Solution: Try decaf coffee. Or switch to green tea which gives you an added advantage: research has found that green tea combined with a daily tai chi practice improves bone health in post-menopausal women.[v] Even better, try mineral-rich tea infusions: Red Clover, Nettles, Oatstraw.
I hate to be a party pooper, but the truth is that chronic and heavy alcohol consumption contributes to low bone mass, decreased bone formation and more falls and fractures.
Heavy drinking also interferes with the bone remodeling process because it prevents osteoblasts, the bone-building cells, from doing their job. In addition, the hormones important to bone health can be affected. Alcohol is believed to decrease estrogen and that can lead to a slowing down of bone remodeling and eventually to bone loss.[vi]
Alcohol acts as a calcium-blocker, preventing this critical mineral from being absorbed by your body. It interferes with the pancreas, so absorption of both calcium and vitamin D suffers.
Drinking may also increase cortisol, the stress hormone, which leads to decreased bone formation and increased bone breakdown. It can also increase parathyroid hormone, which leaches calcium from bones.
Sadly, another problem with alcohol is the simple fact that it makes us less steady on our feet so the risk of falling and breaking bones is higher.
The Natural Food Solution: The good news is that alcohol in smaller amounts does not harm your bones. For optimal bone health and osteoporosis prevention, consume alcohol only in moderation. That means no more than one drink a day for women and no more than two drinks a day for men.
When it comes to choosing the right foods to optimize your bone health, what is the single biggest challenge, frustration or problem you’ve been struggling with?
Please let me know so I can write content that meets your needs.
Plus I have wonderful alkaline salad dressing waiting for you on the other side to thank you for your time 🙂.
From my delicious bones to yours,
[i] Michaëlsson K, Wolk A, Langenskiöld S, Basu S, Warensjö Lemming E, Melhus H, Byberg L. “Milk intake and risk of mortality and fractures in women and men: cohort studies.” BMJ. 2014 Oct 28;349:g6015. doi: 10.1136/bmj.g6015. [ii] “The Health Hazards of Drinking Coca Cola and Other Soft Drinks.” The Organic Consumers Association https://www.organicconsumers.org/old_articles/school/cocacola021605.php (Retrieved 6/16/15) [iii] Katherine L Tucker et al. “Colas, but not other carbonated beverages, are associated with low bone mineral density in older women: The Framingham Osteoporosis Study.” Am J Clin Nutr October 2006 vol. 84 no. 4 936-942. [iv] “Osteoporosis Diet Dangers: Foods To Avoid” WebMD http://www.webmd.com/osteoporosis/living-with-osteoporosis-7/diet-dangers?page=3 (Retrieved 6/16/15) [v] Shen Cl et al, “Effect of green tea and Tai Chi on bone health in postmenopausal osteopenic women: a 6-month randomized placebo-controlled trial.” Osteoporos Int. 2012 May;23(5):1541-52. [vi] H. Wayne Sampson, PhD, “Alcohol’s Harmful Effects on Bones.” Alcohol, Health & Research World 1998, Vol. 22, No. 3, 190-4.