Osteoporosis Prevention and Management Diet,
Read all of our articles on osteoporosis.
Osteoporosis is a disease characterized by low bone mass and the deterioration of bone tissue, both mineral and nonmineral matrix, leading to enhanced bone fragility and a consequential increase in fracture risk.
In these patients, bone density has been reduced to 2.5 (or more) standard deviations below the young adult mean bone density.
Diminished bone mass can result from a failure to reach optimal bone mass early in adulthood, from increased bone resorption, or from decreased bone formation after peak bone mass has been achieved.
Presumably, in osteoporosis, the rate of bone formation is inadequate compared to the rate of bone resorption and so there is an inability to maintain the structural integrity of the bones of the skeleton.
In the United States, the estimated prevalence of osteoporosis is high, affecting 20-30 million people.
The major risk factors for osteoporosis are increased age, female gender, white or Asian race, positive family history of osteoporosis and thin body build. Other risk factors include decreased lifelong exposure to estrogen, low calcium intake (affected also by low stomach acid and Vitamin D deficiency), sedentary lifestyle (lack of weight-bearing exercise), cigarette smoking, chronic alcohol and drug use, and diet.
The primary goals in the treatment and prevention of osteoporosis are to:
(1) Preserve adequate mineral mass.
(2) Prevent loss of the protein matrix and other structural bone component.
(3) Assure optimal repair mechanisms to repair damaged areas of bone.
Note: At present, there is conflicting scientific information available regarding the benefits and/or risks of soy (or other phytoestrogen-containing foods) consumption by individuals with estrogen receptor positive breast cancer lesions. In such cases, consumption of phytoestrogen-containing foods (such as soy) by these individuals is a personal decision that their physician/clinician can guide them in making.
In addition, the dietary suggestions below include foods to which some individuals may have allergies, intolerances or sensitivities and, in those cases, those foods should be avoided. Dietary choices should be modified to meet your personal dietary needs.
Persons taking medications should not consume any of the herbal teas described without first consulting your physician/clinician regarding potential interactions. See your physician/clinician for further information regarding nutrition and your individual medical condition.
- Avoid sugar, refined carbohydrates, coffee, soft drinks and alcohol.
- Choose whole foods, especially organic, whenever possible. Eat a variety of them, vegetables and fruits especially, paying special attention to those foods that are high in bone-supporting nutrients: calcium, magnesium, boron and other minerals, Vitamins A, D, E and K, B vitamins, C, etc. The boron in pears, for example, helps to prevent osteoporosis. The vitamin E and calcium in almonds, for example, also make this food a good choice.
- Fresh foods are always preferable to frozen and frozen foods are always preferable to canned.
- Avoid excessive intake of animal protein as well as overall protein deficiency. Daily protein goal is 0.8g/kg body weight.
- Excess protein can lead to a high metabolic production of acids that can leach minerals from the bones.Rely more on plant protein sources such as legumes, nuts and seeds, as opposed to meat, poultry, eggs and dairy products. Cold-water fish (halibut, mackerel, salmon, tuna, etc.), in moderation, is still a good protein source and has other nutritional benefits, such as omega-3 essential fatty acids and Vitamin D.
- A diet high in vegetables and fruits favors an optimal physiological phosphorus/calcium ratio and acid/alkaline balance, preventing the accelerated calcium loss that is observed in individuals who consume a diet high in meat, dairy products and grains.
- Use organic low-fat or non-fat dairy products and dark green leafy vegetables that are high in absorbable calcium. The vegetables highest in calcium (in order of calcium content) include turnip greens, lambs quarters (herb), collard greens, rhubarb, spinach, broccoli, dandelion greens, mustard greens and kale.
- Other non-dairy foods that contain significant calcium include oatmeal, fortified rice milk/soy milk/nut milk, soybeans and tofu, sesame seeds and tahini, sea vegetables, chick peas, molasses, almonds, filberts, chestnuts, baked beans, oranges, halibut, flounder, clams, oysters, shrimp, canned sardines or salmon with bones.
- Eat salads and dark green leafy vegetables with lemon juice or cider vinegar to help increase calcium absorption.
- Some studies indicate that foods such as spinach, chard, beet greens and chocolate contain oxalates that bind with calcium, preventing its absorption.
- Phytic acid found in wheat and oats will bind calcium and prevent its absorption.
- Drink two to four cups daily of Amanda’s Bone-Building Tonic Tea (recipe below).
Amanda’s Bone-Building Tonic Tea
- 3 parts wild oats
- 2 parts horsetail stalks
- 2 parts dandelion leaves
- 2 parts dandelion root
- 2 parts nettle leaves
- 2 parts chickweed plant (whole plant)
- 1 part yellow dock root
Combine all herbs and make a decoction by simmering one ounce of this mixture in one quart of water, covered for 20-30 minutes. Strain and drink 2-4 cups daily.
Consult your physician/clinician for a comprehensive osteoporosis prevention or management plan that is tailored to fit your individual medical and personal needs.
1. Brown, Kathleen. Herbal Teas: 101 Nourishing Blends for Daily Health and Vitality. 1999. Storey Books, Inc.
2. Marz, Russell B. Medical Nutrition From Marz, 2nd edition. 1999. Omni-Press.
3. McIntyre, Anne. Drink to Your Health: Delicious Juices, Teas, Soups and Smoothies That Help You Look and Feel Great. 2000. Gaia Books Ltd.
4. Pollack, Jeanine. Healing Tonics. 2000. Storey Books, Inc.