The Save Institute has long held that proper nutrition is an effective tool for reversing bone loss and preventing fracture. In this article, we bring you a brand new study that shows yet again that an anti-inflammatory diet reduces the risk of bone loss and protects from fracture.
A previous Save Our Bones article examined a study from 2012 in which researchers studied nearly 5,000 participants for more than six years and found that people with the highest levels of hip-fracture-linked inflammatory markers saw a 73% higher risk of hip fracture.1
That’s clear evidence that reducing inflammation helps prevent fracture. Today’s bone-health news completes the circle, showing that with a proper diet you can reduce inflammation to build stronger, more resilient bones. Read on to learn about this reassuring new study and how you can act on the findings to improve your diet and protect your bones.
Reducing Bone Loss In Women Through Anti-Inflammatory Diet
A recently published study in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research aimed to establish the relationship between Dietary Inflammatory Index (DII) score, bone mineral density (BMD), and fracture risk in postmenopausal women. The researchers accomplished the goal first through longitudinal data from the Women's Health Initiative Observational Study and Clinical Trials, and second by evaluating changes in Dietary Inflammatory Index and bone mineral density scores.
The 160,191 participants, whose mean age was 63 years, completed food frequency questionnaires at the beginning of the study, and again at year 3 and year 6 to assess their DII scores, and how their diets changed over time. They then compared this data with the results of BMD tests and reported fractures.
While it’s worth keeping in mind that this study wasn’t taking into account other bone-building actions, such as exercise or other dietary features, it still uncovered a clear and striking pattern: the women with the least inflammatory diets (as shown by their DII score) lost the least hip BMD when compared with women whose diets were more inflammatory.2
This was true even though the women who maintained their BMD had the lowest BMD to begin with. This is an excellent reminder that bone health and clinical BMD measures are not a one to one equation. Bone density, while a factor in bone health, is not enough to protect from fracture.That flawed concept is promoted by Big Pharma to sell more osteoporosis drugs.
Here’s how the researchers wrapped up their report:
“In conclusion, a less inflammatory dietary pattern was associated with less BMD loss in postmenopausal women. A more inflammatory diet was associated with increased hip fracture risk only in white women younger than 63 years.”2
The fact that women with low DII scores had less BMD loss isn’t surprising since we already know that inflammation leads to bone loss, but this direct link between diet – a huge factor in causing or avoiding inflammation – and bone loss further confirms the power of good nutrition.
Below are nine foods that cause inflammation. Reducing their consumption (or eliminating them from your diet) will help you to reduce inflammation in your body and protect your bones.
1. Refined Grains
The phrase “processed foods” probably makes you think of fast-food cheeseburgers or packaged pastries, but many of the grains you might think of as natural are also processed. These refined grains have been stripped of much of their fiber and B-complex vitamins.
They include white rice, white flour, and pasta, and offer little more sustenance than the calories they contain. They have a high glycemic index and can contribute to degenerative diseases.3
Instead of eating white bread or white rice, try a hearty whole grain bread or substituting brown rice. The same applies to pasta, and always look for whole oats, bran and grains you can see. Also, try to experiment with grain-free flours, such as coconut flour. Those are the sorts of fiber-rich vitamin-laden grains that your body- and taste buds- will appreciate.
Sugar is an enormous culprit of inflammation and many other ailments. It’s linked to type 2 diabetes, obesity, metabolic syndrome, and a host of poor health outcomes.4 It’s very easy to consume large quantities of sugar in the typical Western diet because processed foods are full of it.
Reduce your sugar intake by avoiding soda (like colas and ginger ale), fruit or sport drinks, and packaged pastries or sweets. Be aware that sweet snacks can quickly accumulate into a large sugar intake.
Instead of sugar, use honey or stevia as a sweetener for dishes you prepare yourself. If you feel your sweet tooth tingling, turn to fresh fruits that contain valuable antioxidants and vitamins. Once you’ve cut out sweetened processed foods and sugary beverages, you’ll find you’re better able to taste and appreciate naturally sweet foods!
3. Omega-6 Heavy Cooking Oil
Most vegetable oils have a high omega-6 fatty acid profile, and not much omega-3 to balance it out. This off-kilter combination increases inflammation and has been linked to heart disease and cancer.5,6
The primary offenders are polyunsaturated vegetable oils such as grape seed, corn, cottonseed, sunflower, and safflower oils. Instead, use oils rich in omega-3 like extra-virgin olive oil and extra-virgin coconut oil.
4. Dairy Products
Dairy should already be on your list of foods to minimize (or even eliminate) in a bone-healthy diet. Milk is particularly insidious since it contains calcium, but in truth, drinking milk harms your bones for a variety of reasons, including its inflammatory effect.7
Everyone has a different response to dairy, but even an intolerance with mild symptoms could be resulting in system-wide inflammation.
5. Animal Protein
Animal protein is acidifying and when eaten in excess, inflammatory, increasing the risk of a range of health conditions, including cancer.8,9 That isn’t to say you can’t enjoy animal protein as a part of your diet, but moderation is key.
The meat from commercially raised animals is particularly inflammatory. They are typically fed a diet of refined grains, such as soybeans and corn, and they’re prevented from getting any physical exercise. The result is meat high in saturated fats. Additionally, hormones and antibiotics are used to make the animals grow faster and prevent the illnesses brought on by poor treatment.
The healthiest (and tastiest) meat possible is organic, free-range beef and poultry. The good news is that when you follow a pH-balanced diet, you’ll be automatically reducing the quantity of animal protein.
Regularly drinking large amounts of alcohol causes inflammation of the esophagus, larynx, and liver. The chronic inflammation that develops over time can promote tumor growth and cancer.10
Drinks such as red wine and beer contain antioxidants and other useful compounds, but moderation is key. Avoid beverages with high alcohol content, and remember that an occasional glass of wine with dinner is fine, but a long night of drinking is damaging to your bones.
7. Trans Fats
Trans fats, also known as trans-unsaturated fatty acids, wreak havoc on your health. One example is its detrimental effect on cholesterol, skyrocketing your LDL cholesterol while lowering HDL. This can lead to a litany of cardiovascular issues. Trans fats are also highly inflammatory.11
While trans fats exist in small amounts in nature, mostly in dairy and meat, it has become common through an industrial process that adds hydrogen to vegetable oils. For this reason, it is sometimes called partially hydrogenated oil.
Trans fats are commonly found in pre-made baked goods, fried foods, bagged snacks like potato or tortilla chips, non-dairy creamers and margarine, and refrigerated doughs for biscuits, cinnamon rolls, or pizza.
This one is easy to avoid by simply reading the nutritional label on the food products you purchase. An even better way to make sure you don’t consume trans fats is to cook your own meals.
8. Processed Meat And Red Meat
You might know that excess consumption of red meat has been shown to cause cancer. This equation is supported by the science behind it, but it leaves out a step: inflammation. Scientists at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine identified a molecule in red meat that the human body does not produce on its own.12
When you eat red meat, your body encounters this foreign molecule and creates antibodies in an attempt to defend itself from this intruder. This immune response can cause a chronic inflammatory response, in which the body is continually on ‘alert’. Continuous low-level inflammation takes a toll on the body, and has been linked to cancer, heart disease, and bone loss.13
Processed meat causes an even more severe response, and is closely linked to colon, rectum, esophageal and even lung cancer. “Processed” refers to meats that have been smoked, cured, salted or chemically preserved.
If you’re in the habit of regularly eating red meat, try substituting poultry or fish for some of those meals, and try to incorporate more vegetables. It’s best to never eat processed meats, but when you do treat yourself we recommend you select lean cuts from organic grass-fed animals with the least amount of added chemicals.
9. Artificial Food Additives
Processed foods often contain artificial additives to create flavor, color and texture. Some of them, like aspartame and monosodium glutamate (MSG) are reported to cause an inflammatory response in many people– especially if they already have an inflammatory condition.14 So if you buy packaged food, look closely at the labels to be sure you’re not eating something you don’t want in your body.
Avoiding these foods is one good solution, but you can also consciously include anti-inflammatory foods to fight inflammation in your body. OsteoCleanse™, The 7 Day Bone Building Accelerator is a step-by-step guide that shows you how to take a healthful break from any bad habits or guilty pleasures, and give your body a chance to get rid of toxic chemicals (including osteoporosis drugs) that harm your bones and your health.
In just seven days, OsteoCleanse™ improves your liver and kidney function, so you’ll be able to cleanse your body of acidifying toxins and get on the path to stronger bones and a fuller life.
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Till next time,
1 Barbour KE, Boudreau R, Danielson ME, et al. “Inflammatory markers and the risk of hip fracture: the Women’s Health Initiative.” J Bone Miner Res. 2012;27:1167-1176. Web: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22392817
2 Orchard, T., Yildiz, V., Steck, S. E., Hébert, J. R., Ma, Y., Cauley, J. A., Li, W., Mossavar-Rahmani, Y., Johnson, K. C., Sattari, M., LeBoff, M., Wactawski-Wende, J. and Jackson, R. D. (2017), Dietary Inflammatory Index, Bone Mineral Density, and Risk of Fracture in Postmenopausal Women: Results From the Women's Health Initiative. J Bone Miner Res, 32: 1136–1146. Web: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/jbmr.3070/abstract
3 Spreadbury I. “Comparison with ancestral diets suggests dense acellular carbohydrates promote an inflammatory microbiota, and may be the primary dietary cause of leptin resistance and obesity.” Diabetes Metab Syndr Obes. 2012;5:175-89. Web: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3402009/
4 Schultz A, Barbosa-da-Silva S, Aguila MB, Mandarim-de-Lacerda CA. Differences and similarities in hepatic lipogenesis, gluconeogenesis and oxidative imbalance in mice fed diets rich in fructose or sucrose. Food Funct. 2015 May;6(5):1684-91. Web: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25905791
5 Tamma SM, Shorter B, Toh KL, Moldwin R, Gordon B.“Influence of polyunsaturated fatty acids on urologic inflammation. Int Urol Nephrol.” 2015 Nov;47(11):1753-61. Epub 2015 Sep 28. Web: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26411429
6 Yang LG, et al. “Low n-6/n-3 PUFA Ratio Improves Lipid Metabolism, Inflammation, Oxidative Stress and Endothelial Function in Rats Using Plant Oils as n-3 Fatty Acid Source.” Lipids. 2016 Jan;51(1):49-59. Web: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26526061
7 Feskanich D, Willett WC, Stampfer MJ, Colditz GA. Milk, dietary calcium, and bone fractures in women: a 12-year prospective study. American Journal of Public Health. 1997. Web: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9224182
8 Kabat, G.C., et al. “A cohort study of dietary iron and heme iron intake and risk of colorectal cancer in women.” Br J Cancer. July 2007. 97(1): 118-22. Web. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17551493
9 Uribarri J, Woodruff S, Goodman S, Cai W, Chen X, Pyzik R, Yong A, Striker GE, Vlassara H. “Advanced glycation end products in foods and a practical guide to their reduction in the diet.” J Am Diet Assoc. 2010 Jun;110(6):911-16.e12. Web: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3704564/
10 Oliveira A1, Rodríguez-Artalejo F, Lopes C. Alcohol intake and systemic markers of inflammation–shape of the association according to sex and body mass index. Alcohol Alcohol. 2010 Mar-Apr;45(2):119-25. Web: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20083478
11 Iwata NG, Pham M, Rizzo NO, Cheng AM, Maloney E, Kim F. “Trans fatty acids induce vascular inflammation and reduce vascular nitric oxide production in endothelial cells.” PLoS One. 2011;6(12):e29600. Web: https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0029600
12 Maria Hedlund, Vered Padler-Karavani, Nissi M. Varki and Ajit Varki. “Evidence for a human-specific mechanism for diet and antibody-mediated inflammation in carcinoma progression.” PNAS 2008 December, 105 (48) 18936-18941. Web: https://www.pnas.org/content/105/48/18936
13 Renata Micha, RD, PhD, Sarah K. Wallace, BA, and Dariush Mozaffarian, MD, DrPH. “Red and processed meat consumption and risk of incident coronary heart disease, stroke, and diabetes: A systematic review and meta-analysis.” Circulation. 2010 Jun 1; 121(21): 2271–2283. Web: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2885952/
14 Han SN, Leka LS, Lichtenstein AH, Ausman LM, Schaefer EJ, Meydani SN. “Effect of hydrogenated and saturated, relative to polyunsaturated, fat on immune and inflammatory responses of adults with moderate hypercholesterolemia.” J Lipid Res. 2002 Mar;43(3):445-52. Web: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11893781