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Osteoporosis Diet Dangers: Foods to Avoid

Salt, soda, caffeine: Could your daily diet be damaging your bones -- even leading to osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis Diet Danger 2: Some Popular Drinks

Many soft drinks and certain other carbonated soft drinks contain phosphoric acid, which can increase calcium excretion in your urine. And nearly all soft drinks lack calcium. That combination spells trouble for women at risk of osteoporosis.

"Excess phosphorus promotes calcium loss from the body when calcium intake is low," Massey explains.

The occasional soda is fine, but many people, particularly women, consume more than an occasional can or glass. To make matters worse, soft drink consumers may also avoid calcium-laden beverages that bolster bones, such as milk, yogurt-based drinks, and calcium and vitamin D fortified orange juice.

To prevent osteoporosis, instead sip these drinks:

  • Eight ounces of orange juice fortified with calcium and vitamin D
  • A mixture of fortified orange juice and seltzer or club soda that's free of phosphoric acid
  • Fruit smoothie: Combine 8 ounces fat-free yogurt, one medium banana or a cup of fresh or frozen berries and 2 ice cubes in a blender or food processor
  • Fat-free plain or chocolate milk

Osteoporosis Diet Danger 3: The Cost of Caffeine

Caffeine leaches calcium from bones, sapping their strength.

"You lose about 6 milligrams of calcium for every 100 milligrams of caffeine ingested," Massey says.

That's not as much of a loss as salt, but it's worrisome, nonetheless. Caffeine is a particular problem when a woman doesn’t get enough calcium each day to begin with.

The good news is that limiting caffeine intake to 300 milligrams a day while getting adequate calcium probably offsets any losses caffeine causes, Massey says.

Coffee is a major caffeine source. For example, a 16-ounce cup of coffee can provide 320 milligrams. High-caffeine sodas can contain up to 80 milligrams per can or more.  

Although tea also contains caffeine, studies suggest it does not harm, and probably helps, bone density in older women, regardless of whether they add milk to the beverage. Researchers think that tea contains plant compounds that protect bone.

Ready to curb caffeine? Here are some tips:

  • Wean yourself from coffee by drinking half regular and half-decaf drinks to start
  • Avoid caffeine-laden drinks
  • Reach for decaffeinated iced tea or hot tea
  • Splurge on a decaf, fat-free latte drink and get 450 milligrams of calcium in the bargain

Osteoporosis Diet Danger 4: Is Protein Problematic?

The idea that protein, particularly animal protein, is problematic for bones is a myth, says bone researcher Jane Kerstetter, PhD, RD, professor of nutrition at the University of Connecticut. "Protein does not dissolve bone. Just the opposite."

Bones are about 50% protein. Bone repair requires a steady stream of dietary amino acids, the building blocks of body proteins.

"Adequate calcium and vitamin D cast a protective net around bones, but protein comes in a close second," Kerstetter says.

Next Article:

Osteoporosis Glossary

  • Bone Mineral Density - A measurement of the amount of calcium and minerals in bone tissue.
  • Calcium - A mineral in (and vital to) your bones. If your body lacks calcium, it takes it from bones.
  • DEXA (dual energy X-ray absorptiometry) - a test used to measure bone mineral density.
  • Osteoporosis - A decrease in bone density, which increase the risk of fractures.
  • Vitamin D - A vitamin that helps your body absorb calcium.
  • View All Terms

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