Your body is quite astonishing, always working away on microscopic processes that are incredibly complex. Like miniature communities, the cells and micronutrients in your body work together to make big things happen.
Today we’re going to delve into the world of your digestive system, and reveal two important yet often overlooked micronutrients and their role in your bone health.
As I write in the Osteoporosis Reversal Program, it’s vital to take in all the nutrients your body needs to build bone. You can find the full list of nutrients along with their dosages and the foods that contain the highest levels in chapters 10 and 11 of the Program. But all of these nutrients are useless if they are not absorbed.
Nutrient absorption begins in the gut. As we age, digestion may become less efficient, often because of underlying health issues associated with aging.
A study published in the Journal of Nutrition indicates that micronutrient absorption is ultimately dependent on health, not age:
“It was assumed by many basic investigators and geriatricians that malabsorption of both macronutrients and micronutrients was a common problem among elderly persons. We now know that this is not the case; elderly persons who malabsorb macronutrients do so because of disease, not because of age.”1
So take heart – aging does not necessarily mean you won’t absorb nutrients. For people of all ages, optimal health = optimal digestion.
Getting Your Body Ready to Absorb Nutrients
If you do any gardening, you know that the soil has to be prepared before you can plant anything if you expect the garden to flourish. The body is not unlike a garden in this respect. You need to set the stage for bone-healthy vitamins and minerals to be taken up and distributed where they are needed.
It Starts on a Microscopic Level…
Like so many aspects of health, getting your body for optimal health starts with the foods you eat. It turns out there’s a substance in certain foods that has been scientifically shown to strengthen your bones. Introducing…
Fructooligosaccharides, the Tiny Nutrients with the Big Name
Fructooligosaccharides, abbreviated FOS, are actually a type of naturally-occurring sugar molecule. Amazingly, they survive the digestion process because the body can’t break them down. So they end up in the gut intact where they provide food for the healthy bacteria in the intestines.
Substances that stimulate and feed good bacteria are called prebiotics. FOS are a kind of prebiotic, and there are two kinds of FOS that are particularly healthful: inulin and oligofructose.
Both inulin and oligofructose stimulate Bifidobacteria and Lactobacilli, bacteria the are essential for digestive health and strong bones. When inulin and/or oligofructose nourish these health-promoting bacteria, they strengthen them and give them an edge over not-so-healthy microbes that are also present in the gut (such as Candida and bacteria that produce toxins and pathogens).
The concept is really quite simple – the bacteria that “win” are the strongest, and to be strong, they need to be well-nourished. Inulin and oligofructose provide this nourishment.
Inulin, Oligofructose, and Your Bones
Inulin and oligofructose are known in the scientific community as “fructans.” This has to do with their molecular structure.
A fascinating study shows that these two fructans promote bone health by enhancing calcium and magnesium absorption.
“Scientific studies have suggested that fructans stimulate the growth of healthful bacteria in the large intestine in a way that increases the body’s absorption of minerals, including the calcium and magnesium important for bone growth.”2
This is not the only study that shows how inulin and oligofructose are good for your bones. According to a report published in the Journal of Nutrition:
“It has been shown in over 10 studies that inulin and oligofructose increase both the absorption and the deposition of calcium in the bones of rats and humans. … There are promising indications that inulin and oligofructose may contribute to the prevention of osteoporosis.”3
In addition, inulin and oligofructose…
Promote Bone Remodeling and Resorption
As “Savers” know, remodeling is the process by which your body sheds old bone and replenishes it with new, healthy bone. This process is vital to bone strength and integrity.
“Both experimental and human data already support the hypothesis that the beneficial effects of inulin-type fructans target not only the mineral absorption phase but also other aspects of bone health, especially bone mineralization, bone density, and bone accretion and resorption, i.e., bone turnover.”4
Where to Obtain Inulin and Oligofructose
You may be wondering now about the sources of inulin and oligofructose. The good news is that when you follow the Osteoporosis Reversal Program, you’re ahead of the game. You see, many Foundation Foods described in the Program contain both inulin and oligofructose.
Foods that Contain Inulin and Oligofructose
Several foods are particularly high in inulin and oligofructose, and most of them, as I mentioned earlier, are Foundation Foods in the Osteoporosis Reversal Program.
In the Save Our Bones Recipe Sampler, you’ll find all kinds of ways to prepare and serve these foods, and more!
1 Russel, Robert M. “Factors in Aging that Effect [sic] the Bioavailability of Nutrients.” Journal of Nutrition. April 1, 2001. Vol. 131 no. 4 13595-13615. Web. https://jn.nutrition.org/content/131/4/1359S.long
2 Roberfriod, Marcel B. “Inulin-Type Fructans: Functional Food Ingredients.” Journal of Nutrition. November 2007. Vol. 137 no. 11 24935-25025. Web. https://jn.nutrition.org/content/137/11/2493S.full
3 Niness, Kathy R. “Inulin and Oligofructose: What Are They?” Journal of Nutrition. July 1, 1999. Vol. 129 no. 7 14025-1406s. Web. https://jn.nutrition.org/content/129/7/1402S.full
4 Coxam V. “Inulin-type fructans and bone health: state of the art and perspectives in the management of osteoporosis.” Br J Nutr. 2005;93: Suppl 1:S111–23.
Comments on this article are closed.
Here is my latest update. Although I am not following Save our Bones Program, I have very good news from my docto’s visit today. I still refuse to take medications. Since using natural treatments, I no longer have osteoporosis in my hips. The rest of my bone density is stable, and will aim for further improvement. Thank you for your encouragement Vivian. Mostly I thank God for his help.
Vivian, thanks for the information you are sending me. I am interested in your program; but I dont know how to contact with a personal trainer. Since my writing is not very good ! might experience some difficulties doing it. I have several questions to make and as farest I know we only can contact you through these comments. It’s another way to get in contact with the trainer or may ! get in contact in Spanish?
Thank you Vivian for the health tips. I enjoy using the Save our bones programme. I purchased your book when I had joint pains and my GP felt it could be osteoporosis. Thankfully I do not have osteoporosis, but it is no harm to keep it at bay. Your programme of food and exercise worked wonders for me. I am diabetic so I have to choose my food wisely. Your recommendations fit in very nicely with my food programme.
Thank you for the great research and clear guidance.
I’m on a fodmap free diet so i can only eat the tomato on the list, I’m also gluten & lactose intollerant
Hi, me too – I am on FODMAP diet so cannot eat FOS. (And gluten and lactose intolerant.) Does anyone have any ideas about why some people are FODMAP intolerant and is there anything they can do to fix it? My gut tests showed that I had no lactobacillus or enterococcus. I am wondering whether it is related to that….
Thank you Vivian for all your work and support.
Pearl, I understand that you have specific dietary needs! But don’t worry – there are lots of other healthful foods in the Osteoporosis Reversal Program that you can eat to build your bones. 🙂
Thankyou, that’s good to know, I’m looking forward to receiving the book, I just have to be patient for awhile.:)
Hi Viv: what do you think about the Fod Map program…I have IBS and osteoporosis.. I ordered the calicum you advertised and seem to set with my stomach nicely..but there are so many foods that i am not supposed to eat with this program..I try to get a variety of nutrients…cook fresh nightly..thnx
I’ve sometimes been prescribed probiotics whilst taking antibiotics and I’ve thought that these should be taken regularly, not only during treatment. I seem to be on the right track! So would it be adviseable to take probiotics tablets daily for example?
I haven’t previouslly heard of prebiotics, but I can see the connection. Thanks again for your useful information –
best regards, Crete
Many people do like to take probiotic supplements every day. 🙂
Only problem is that some people have trouble digesting inulin and the Fod Map diet from Monash University in Melbourne Australia will offer a good bit or researched information. Fructans can be a real problem with some IBS patients.Your work is so very useful, and wanted to share this piece of terrific work.
Can you please suggest which tablets I could take to ensure that I am having all the individual vitamins you state are necessary to strengthen my bones. Thank you
Many thanks for the information
Does this also imply that for best absorption that we should eat meat that has been raised without being given hormones and antibiotics and has been grass fed?
That sounds like a healthy choice, Forrest! While beef is acidifying, I write in the Osteoporosis Reversal Program that “organically raised chicken and beef have more lean meat
and more polyunsaturated fatty acids than their conventional counterparts.” 🙂
Once again, a breath of fresh air!! Thank you for the information Vivian. I’ve had to have two surgeries within 4 months (appendix & gallbladder removal)which really messed up my digestive system because I couldn’t eat much until I healed but each time I took extra dosages of Probiotics to combat the antibiotics. This makes so much sense and I am so glad for the discovery!! Thanks for passing it on!
I am so glad this information is helpful to you, Terry! I wish you full health and a speedy recovery from your surgery.
What are some of the “Natural Antibiotics” that one could use, in place of using a pharmaceutical prescription, since it is easy to become resistant to the other?
I am all for using natural for everything. I have switched from using store bought cleaning supplies to going to vinegar, baking soda, etc. I have started using Melauca (sp) dishwasher & laundry detergents, and vegetable wash solutions.
Do you have suggestions?
Thanks for all of the newsletters that keep us informed.
I understand and applaud your use of natural solutions around the home, Joyce!
One natural antibiotic we’ve talked about on this site is propolis. You can read about it here:
If you’re looking for more natural alternatives to antibiotics, I highly recommend Dr. Mumby’s book – the link is at the bottom of the article. 🙂 It is chock-full of alternatives to synthetic antibiotics.
Good morning Vivian,
Is the inulin fiber which I see listed on some multi vitamins the same as the one you are referring to?
Very likely! Some researchers classify inulin as a fiber. 🙂
It seems that since antibiotics are having a very bad name with the public that a trend against them is intensifying (even politicians are talking about it!), the Big Pharm will have to find new ways to use these medicines, so now it is for ‘back pain’! A Danish team claims that 40% of back pain sufferers can be cured using a course of antibiotics rather than surgery. If you see the Guardian link (https://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2013/may/07/antibiotics-cure-back-pain-patients)you’ll find that some people claim that they had felt some relief of their joint pains when on antibiotics, but obviously, since the study says 100 days on antibiotics, imagine the havoc that would cause to the system – 100 days!
Ghassan, thank you for being such a vigilant member of the Save Our Bones community! Your conclusions about Big Pharma’s scramble to find new uses for antibiotics are very insightful. 🙂
The article you cited even cautions about antibiotic overuse causing resistant strains…I wonder if any of the study participants would have found relief with natural antibiotics that wouldn’t contribute to this problem!
The grain you recommend…Barley contains Gluten. Gluten has been found to disable intestine villi, preventing the intestine from absorbing nutrients. Also a study from Finland implicates Gluten in causing mental problems.
I just read the comment from Clint that Barley contains Gluten and Gluten disables intestinal villi, preventing the intestine from absorbing nutrients and that it causes mental problems. Are these 2 statements true? I am very much interested because I take a product called Barley Max every day which is a green power and is supposed to very good for you. I do not feel my food is absorbed correctly and have felt like that for some time. I cannot gain any weight. I only weigh 110. The product comes from Halleluiah Acres and is a well established company. Please, I need help on this.
I have been on 300 mg daily of Venlafaxine (Effexor XR) for approx. 18 yrs. I am 66 years old and was diagnosed with osteoperosis 6 years ago.
Can you tell me how this drug is effecting my bones and calcium absorption?