Bone loss is a common concern among most women and with legitimate reasons. In the US, more than a million osteoporotic fractures occur each year. More than half of these are spinal fractures, followed by the hip and wrist. It is projected that by year 2050, the worldwide incidence of hip fractures will increase by 240% in women. The most disturbing news is that the majority of women affected by osteoporosis are unaware until a fracture occurs.
That’s the bad news. The good news is, osteoporosis is one of the top preventable diseases. Prevention is key to keeping bones strong and stable throughout your lifetime. A recent review was published in the Nutrition Research Journal on the topic of fruits and their role in protecting bone health (fruits and dietary phytochemicals in bone protection. Nutrition Research – December 2012). It’s quite intuitive to know that fruits are good for us, but this article hones in on specific fruit and why they are so good for our bones.
We have all heard of oxidative stress, inflammation and free radicals. Nevertheless, have we considered how these processes are affecting our bones? Our bones are in constant flux of breaking down and rebuilding; 10% of adult bone is remodeled each year! The skeleton has special cells for building bone up and special cells for breaking it down. Research has shown that excessive oxidative stress inhibits new bone formation while accelerating bone destruction. There is, “a strong correlation between excessive ROS [reactive oxygen species] and bone loss in the development of osteoporosis.” So where does fruit come in? Fruit are rich in antioxidants and essential vitamins. Antioxidants are exactly what we need to fight the negative effects of oxidative stress. The following fruit have been studied in depth and identified as having the ability to protect us from bone loss.
Tomatoes contain a powerful antioxidant called Lycopene. The article states that, “more than 80% of lycopene consumed in the diet is obtained through consumption of tomato and tomato products.” A study found in a group of post-menopausal women with higher lycopene intake over a four month period that their total antioxidant capacity was significantly higher than the control group. This with several other studies appears to show that lycopene may suppress bone resorption and thus reduce risk for osteoporosis. Try this refreshing summer recipe below to assist in getting bone protective lycopene into your diet.
Recipe: Julie’s Chilled Tomato Basil Soup, www.juliehasson.com
¼ cup raw cashews (soaked)
2 cups cool water
2 large cloves garlic, or to taste
28-oz of organic diced tomatoes
About 12 large fresh basil leaves
Sea salt, to taste
Fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced to garnish
In jar of a blender, combine the water, cashews and garlic. Blend until completely smooth. Add the tomatoes and blend again until smooth. Add the basil leaves and pulse lightly just until the basil is blended into pieced, not pureed.
Season with salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with a sprinkle of basil slivers.
Dried Plums (aka Prunes)
Dried plums are ranked as one of the most powerful antioxidants among the most commonly consumed fruit. Dried plums also are packed with many essential trace minerals such as magnesium, selenium, and potassium, which are all important in bone metabolism. Studies are finding dried plums encourage bone formation and suppresses resorption activity.
Buying dried plums from bulk at your local health food store and snacking on them is the best way to get this amazing food into your diet every day. Keep in mind they are also a strong digestive aid, so be careful how many you eat in a day.
Apples, Oranges, Grapefruit, Blueberries, and Grape
Flavonoids found in these fruit have shown to have pronounced protective properties for our cells by providing high antioxidant load that decrease oxidative damage. The review article also summarized these fruits to have bone building properties such as stimulating the proliferation of the cells that create bone matrix. In grapes, the property resveratrol was found to increase overall bone strength.
Integrate this recipe below into your morning routine for a high daily dose of flavorful antioxidants. You will be well on your way to protecting yourself from bone loss. Additionally, the rest of your body will reap the benefits as well!
1/3 cup frozen blueberries
1 frozen banana
4 apple slices
¼ cup fresh grapefruit juice
¼ cup fresh orange juice
¼ cup organic concord grape juice
1 cup plain yogurt
Add all ingredients to the blender and blend until smooth. You may add ice to thicken. You can also freeze your juices before adding them. This will create more of an icy, which is wonderful for hot summer mornings!
Chwan-Li Shen, et al. Fruits and dietary phytochemicals in bone protection. Nutrition Research – December 2012 (Vol. 32, Issue 12, Pages 897-910, DOI: 10.1016/j.nutres.2012.09.018)
Jacobs-Kosmin MD, FACP, Dana. “Osteoporosis.” Medscape. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 June 2013. reference.medscape.com.
By Haylee Nye, NCNM Naturopathic Medicine Program; Edited by Dr Elise Schroeder