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. http://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. http://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. http://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.