A majority of women face the threats of osteoporosis, a disease that weakens the bones and leaves them vulnerable to breaking. It’s responsible for an estimated 1.5 million fractures every year – mostly of the hip, wrist, and spine. While osteoporosis affects both sexes, it seems to target women with particular ferocity. But there is a bright spot among all these bleak statistics. You see, osteoporosis doesn’t happen overnight. It takes a lifetime to develop. So if you act now, you can help protect your skeleton from this insidious disease. The best prescription for your bone health? Engage in weight-bearing exercise (such as walking,running, or aerobics), give up smoking (if you do), and – perhaps most important – eat lots of bone – friendly foods. In fact, one estimate suggests that the right diet alone could prevent as many as half of all osteoporosis – related fractures.
Befriend the Bone-BuildersBy no means are we suggesting that you feast on high-fat fare for your bones’ sake. Experts say that there are plenty of healthy ways that you can meet your daily calcium quota through diet. The following nutrition strategies can keep your bone bank in the black – and save your skeleton for a lifetime.
Rediscover dairy :
Have you paid a visit to your supermarket’s dairy case lately? If not, you should. You’ll find an almost mind-boggling array of nonfat and low-fat dairy products, including milk, cheese, and yogurt. And just because the fat is gone doesn’t mean the calcium is . For example, an eight-ounce glass of skim milk contains 300 milligrams of calcium. Drink 3 1/2 glasses a day, and you’ll get all of the mineral you need.
Variation Graze on greens :
They don’t supply as much calcium as dairy products do, but dark green, leafy vegetables can definitely move you a few rungs up the ladder to your recommended daily intake. Among the calcium standouts in this produce group are kale, with 47 milligrams per 1/2 cup, and broccoli, with 36 milligrams per 1/2 cup.
Grow fond of fish:
Certain fish have edible bones that are loaded with calcium. For example, three ounces of canned pink salmon has 181 milligrams of the mineral, while one ounce of canned Atlantic sardines has 92 milligrams. Canned fish does have a lot of sodium, though, so look for brands labeled “low-salt” and, in the case of sardines, rinse them well before eating.
Seek out surprise sources :
Many manufacturers now add calcium to certain packaged foods. Calcium-fortified orange juice, for instance, supplies just as much of the mineral as skim milk: 300 milligrams in an eight-ounce glace.
Nosh at night :
As mentioned earlier, your body is constantly dumping old bone tissue. But at least one study has shown that the process actually speeds up while you sleep, peaking at about 3:00 in the morning. Having a calcium-rich night cap-maybe a glass of skim milk or some nonfat yogurt – may keep your blood level of the mineral more stable during the overnight hours.
Don’t forget D :
Calcium can’t do its job without vitamin D to escort it across intestinal walls and into your cells. Your body can manufacture its own D with a little help from Old Sol. But if you live in northern climate or don’t spend 5 to 15 minutes in direct sunlight without sunscreen every day, you’ll want to make sure that you’re getting enough of the nutrient from food sources instead. Both milk and break-fast cereals are fortified with vitamin D. Aim for the Daily Value (DV) of 400 IU.
Watch your tempeh :
Tempeh, tofu, and other soy foods contain estrogen-like compounds called isoflavones. Scientists at the University of Illinois found that women who consumed 90 milligrams of isoflavones a day experienced a 2 percent increase in their bone densities. You can reach 90 milligrams – the amount used in the study – by eating one cup of roastedsoy nuts (60 milligrams) and drinking one cup of soy milk (30 milligrams). By the way, not all soy foods contain isoflavones. You won’t find them in soy sauce or soybean oil, for example.
Spot the a-salt :
A high-sodium diet delivers a double whammy to your skeleton. Salt not only interferes with calcium absorption but also increases the amount of the mineral that’s excreted from your body. You don’t necessarily have to give salt entirely, but a little moderation in order. Ideally, experts say, you should get no more than the DV of 2,400 milligrams of salt a day – the equivalent of about one teaspoon.
Quaff coffee with caution :
Some studies suggest that drinking a lot of coffee – or any caffeine – laden beverage, for that matter – may raise your risk of a hip fracture. Based on what they know so far, experts believe that you can have up to two cups of java a day without any ill effects. And rather than drinking your coffee black, try adding a little milk. Milk prevents caffeine from stealing calcium from your bones.
Give cola the cold shoulder :
It’s not only the caffeine in cola that can be hard on your bones. Preliminary research suggests that phosphorus – a mineral found in cola as well as in many processed foods contributes to higher rates of bone fracture. Some scientists believe that phosphorus actually steps up calcium excretion. The combination of too much phosphorus and too little calcium leads to osteoporosis. Clearly, more research is necessary to flesh out the phosphorus-osteoporosis link. For now, experts recommend limiting your cola consumption to one 12-ounce serving per day.