What you eat affects everything that happens to your body, and osteoporosis is no exception. Find out 9 foods to avoid with osteoporosis ahead!

It’s important to take extra precautions with your diet if you have osteoporosis, because the foods you eat can either help or hinder your body’s ability to build and maintain healthy bones.

As osteoporosis progresses, bones become thinner and more fragile, making them susceptible to fractures and breaks that can lead to serious injuries and even death.

Your diet can help lower your risk and protect you from dangerous bone fractures, spinal cord injuries, and other serious complications of the disease.

What is osteoporosis?

According to the International Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF), osteoporosis refers to a bone condition that makes your bones weak and fragile, causing them to break easily with a minimal impact from a fall or bump. Osteoporosis increases the risk of fractures, especially in the hip, spine, and wrist.

The National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF) says that nearly one in three women and one in five men over the age of 50 will have an osteoporotic fracture in their lifetime.

The NOF also estimates that there are currently more than 10 million Americans living with osteoporosis, making it one of the most prevalent bone diseases among adults.

Besides increasing your risk of fractures, osteoporosis can also increase your risk of death from other conditions like pulmonary issues and heart disease.

What causes osteoporosis?

Research shows that women are more prone to osteoporosis than men, and there are a few reasons for this.

One reason is that women have less bone mass than men. This means that they have less bone to lose as they age.

Another reason is that estrogen helps protect bones, and women’s levels of estrogen decline as they enter menopause. This can lead to a decrease in bone density and an increased risk of osteoporosis.

Osteoporosis, or porous bones, can be a debilitating condition if left untreated, but most people who have it aren’t aware of it until symptoms begin to occur.

1. Smoking

Smoking is one of the leading causes of osteoporosis. The chemicals in cigarettes damage the bones, making them more fragile and susceptible to breakage.

In addition, smoking decreases the body’s ability to absorb calcium, which is essential for strong bones. Quitting smoking is one of the best things you can do for your bone health.

2. Drinking alcohol

We all know that drinking too much alcohol can lead to serious health problems, but did you know it can also contribute to osteoporosis?

When you drink alcohol, your body gets rid of calcium and other minerals needed to keep your bones healthy.

This can lead to weak, brittle bones that are more likely to break. If you’re going to drink, do so in moderation and get plenty of calcium and other minerals in your diet to offset the loss.

3. Excessive exercise

If you’re the type of person who goes to the gym religiously or likes to go for a run every day, you might be surprised to know that too much exercise can actually lead to osteoporosis.

A study found that while moderate exercise can strengthen bones and prevent osteoporosis, too little or too much can result in osteoporosis.

Too much exercise also overwhelms your ability to adapt, which puts stress on the bones, leading to stress fractures.

4. Low calcium in your blood 

If you don’t have enough calcium in your blood, your body will take calcium from your bones to make up the difference. This can lead to weak and brittle bones over time.

Calcium is essential for strong bones, so it’s important to make sure you’re getting enough through your diet or supplements.

A lack of calcium can be caused by several things, including certain medications like diuretics (water pills) that get rid of extra fluids from your body.

It could also be due to celiac disease or an inflammatory bowel disorder like Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis because these conditions affect how much calcium gets absorbed in the gut.

Menopause is another reason for low calcium levels, especially in older women. This is because, after menopause, there’s less estrogen production.

Estrogen is a reproductive hormone that also plays a role in calcium absorption and its retention within the bones. Women with low estrogen levels may also need more calcium to stay healthy as they age.

5. Vitamin D deficiency

Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium, and without enough of it, the body cannot absorb enough calcium to maintain healthy bones.

Additionally, vitamin D helps reduce inflammation, which can cause bone damage.

6. Certain medications

Some medications can interfere with the body’s ability to absorb calcium, which can lead to osteoporosis.

Medications that may cause osteoporosis include birth control pills, hormone replacement therapy (HRT), corticosteroids, anticonvulsants, and some cancer treatments.

If you are taking any of these medications, talk to your doctor about the risks and possible ways to prevent osteoporosis.

7. Old age

As we age, our bones become more fragile and susceptible to osteoporosis. This is because the bone-forming cells in our body slow down, and the bone-destroying cells speed up.

Additionally, our bodies don’t absorb calcium as well as they used to. All of these factors contribute to an increased risk of osteoporosis in older adults.

Hip bone graphic, one healthy and one with osteoporosis

9 foods to avoid with osteoporosis:

Osteoporosis is a condition that causes bone thinning, making them more brittle and fragile.

If you have osteoporosis, it’s essential to take steps to make sure you’re not further reducing your bone density by eating foods that can harm your bones even further.

Here are ten foods you should avoid if you have osteoporosis:

1. Dairy

Dairy products are a major source of calcium and thus are often recommended for people with osteoporosis.

However, some studies have shown that dairy may increase the risk of osteoporosis. Dairy products contain high phosphorus levels, which can leach calcium from bones.

This increases the risk of osteoporosis, especially in postmenopausal women.

The protein in dairy has also been linked to osteoporosis. This is because protein can increase the amount of calcium that is excreted in the urine.

Dairy products are also high in saturated fat, which can further contribute to bone loss.

2. Wheat

If you have osteoporosis, it’s important to avoid wheat. Wheat is a major source of gluten, which can irritate the gut and cause inflammation.

Gluten can also bind to calcium and prevent its absorption. This can lead to bone loss and further worsening of osteoporosis. 

Wheat also contains phytates, which can further reduce the absorption of calcium. If you’re concerned about osteoporosis, it’s best to limit your wheat intake. So stay away from bread, pasta, and other wheat or gluten products. 

3. Soda

Soda is one of the most popular drinks in the world but also one of the worst things you can drink for your bones. It not only leaches calcium from your body but also increases your risk for osteoporosis.

Soda is very acidic, and so it causes an acidic environment in the body. This acidity causes calcium to leach from the bones to help buffer the acid.

With continued soda intake, soda drinkers can experience lower bone calcium levels, which can eventually lead to osteoporosis.

In addition to causing calcium loss, soda also increases your risk of osteoporosis by increasing inflammation throughout your body.

Inflammation is a known risk factor for osteoporosis, and soda promotes inflammation by increasing oxidative stress.

Also, soda contains phosphates, which can bind to calcium and prevent it from being absorbed by the body.

This means that even if you are getting enough calcium in your diet, if you are also drinking soda, you may still be at risk for developing osteoporosis.

4. Processed meats

We all know that processed meats are not good for our health. They are high in saturated fat and sodium, which can lead to high blood pressure and other health problems.

But did you know that processed meats like ham, bacon, and sausage can also cause osteoporosis?

These meats are high in sodium and phosphorus, which can leach calcium from the bones. This can make the bones weaker and more susceptible to fractures.

If you have osteoporosis or are concerned about osteoporosis, you should eliminate processed meats from your diet.

5. Caffeine

Caffeine can interfere with calcium absorption and also increase calcium excretion through urine. This can lead to a decrease in bone density and an increased risk for fractures.

For people with osteoporosis, it’s best to limit caffeine intake or avoid it altogether. In fact, research shows that you lose about 6 milligrams of calcium for every 100 milligrams of caffeine you consume.

A study done on Mexican postmenopausal women found that consuming caffeine contributed to low bone mineral density in the participants.

While there are different food sources of caffeine, coffee is one of the worst offenders since it has three times the amount of caffeine as a regular cup of tea.

Other sources of caffeine include chocolate, soda pop, and energy drinks. Be careful with cocoa too, because cocoa beans are naturally high in caffeine.

6. Sodium rich foods

While sodium is an essential mineral for human health, too much can lead to serious health problems like osteoporosis.

Sodium helps regulate blood pressure and fluid balance in the body, but it can also cause calcium to be excreted from the bones, leading to bone loss and osteoporosis.

Most people consume too much sodium in their diet, especially if they eat a lot of processed and fast foods. These foods are often high in salt, which is made up of sodium and chloride.

Too much salt can also cause hypertension, or high blood pressure, which strains the cardiovascular system and can lead to stroke, heart disease, and kidney disease.

Cutting back on sodium can be difficult, but it’s important to consider how much sodium you’re eating each day.

Be mindful of the sodium content of your food, and try to cook more meals at home using fresh ingredients.

When you do eat out, look for restaurants that offer low-sodium options. By making small changes to your diet, you can improve your condition and lower the risk of other issues associated with high sodium intake.

7. Sugar sweetened foods

Research shows that too much consumption of added sugar can negatively affect your bones in various ways, including:

  • Lowering the level of vitamin D: Sugar can reduce the active form of vitamin D, and since vitamin D is essential for calcium absorption, you’ll have impaired calcium absorption.
  • Increased elimination of magnesium and calcium through urine
  • Impairing new bone cell formation. This can cause poor and weak bones that are susceptible to fractures
  • Increased inflammation. There is a strong link between inflammation and osteoporosis. When the inflammation is chronic, it produces inflammatory chemicals that break down bone tissue. Over time, this can lead to loss of bone density and increase the risk of fractures. Inflammation also damages collagen, which is a protein that helps give bones their strength.

8. Red meat

Red meat has been shown to cause osteoporosis. This is because red meat is high in saturated fat, which can promote inflammation in the body.

Inflammation causes the release of chemicals that can break down bone tissue. In addition, red meat is also high in purines, which can increase the level of uric acid in the body. Uric acid can also promote the breakdown of bone tissue.

9. White flour

There are many reasons why white flour can cause osteoporosis. One reason is that it is highly refined and processed. This removes many of the nutrients that are essential for bone health, including vitamin D, calcium, and magnesium. White flour is also usually high in sugar, which can lead to inflammation and reduce bone density.

Final thoughts

Osteoporosis is a medical condition that affects millions of people around the world. It’s estimated that 10 million Americans have osteoporosis, while more are at risk of developing it.

When you have osteoporosis, it’s essential to pay attention to the foods you eat, as many of them can worsen your condition, and you should avoid such.

They include processed meats, red meat, wheat, dairy, added sugar, a high sodium diet, white flour, caffeine, and soda.

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