We all know what to eat to maintain healthy bones… but do you know what to avoid to prevent your calcium from being depleted? It isn’t just aging and menopause alone, it’s our foods, too.
SALT: Dr. Felicia Cosman, an endocrinologist, says that the more salt you eat, the more calcium you lose. “Salt is known to cause excessive calcium excretion through the kidneys.” One winter I brought a can of Progresso Soup to work daily for lunch, with a piece of fruit. After a week or so I began to feel awful – my blood pressure was high and it was because of the soup! Lesson: Avoid overly salty foods, and anything packaged that is high in sodium. Let fries, chips, and canned soup be an occasional treat.
SUGAR: Many women I know will regularly trade off healthy foods for sugary snacks in the name of counting calories, i.e. salad with grilled chicken vs. chocolate cake. If you’re craving sweets, opt for dried plums, cranberries, raisins, or dates. All are full of antioxidants and won’t deplete your calcium. Again, let sweets be an occasional treat.
SODA: In a 2014 study of 73,000 women, it was found that drinking a daily soda – whether it was regular or diet, caffeinated or not, and cola or non-cola – is associated with reduced bone mineral and a higher risk of fracture. You need to drink 1 1/2 – 2 quarts of water a day anyway, and it’s great for your hair/skin/nails/digestion.
CAFFEINE: Here’s the rub; yes, it is an antioxidant, and in smaller amounts it is good for you. But, for every 100 mg we drink, (on average that’s about one 8-oz cup of coffee) we lose 6 mg of calcium from our bones. This can add up over time. Tea has less, so does dark chocolate, but they too contain caffeine. Go easy on it.
MODERATION IN ALL THINGS, INCLUDING MODERATION – Oscar Wilde
BEANS: Beans (pinto, black, kidney) are rich in magnesium, fiber and other nutrients, but they are high in phytates which can interfere with our ability to absorb calcium. There is an easy fix for this: soak them in water for a couple of hours, rinse and add fresh water to cook them.
ALCOHOL: Chronic alcohol consumption (we aren’t talking one antioxidant-rich glass of wine each evening here) is a contributor to low bone-mass and an increased incidence of fractures. This isn’t just important to those of us who are older… it’s become a big problem among 19-30 year old women. Those who drink a lot have lower bone-density scores than those who do not, and there is also an upswing in liver disease in young people. Talk to your daughters/granddaughters/nieces. None of us want to have osteoporosis later… because we’ve been having too much fun now.
Review your diet, and if you haven’t yet, talk to your doctor about a bone-density test. We want to be “rockin’ it” well into our sixties and beyond!
For more information on everything food, I highly recommend the book: Food and Healing, by Annemarie Colbin. I’ve had mine so long it’s in tatters, but it’s a great read that has served me for years.
Stay strong, my friends!