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What Makes A Good Diet For Osteoporosis Treatment And Prevention?

A good diet for osteoporosis prevention and treatment will emphasize fruit and vegetables and limit excessive consumption of meat and soda beverages.

An alkaline diet that emphasizes lots of fruits and vegetables is generally considered the best diet for the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis. Unfortunately, this is not the diet that is familiar to most North Americans.

THE NORTH AMERICAN DIET

There is growing consensus that a good diet for osteoporosis will avoid excessive acid-forming foods and beverages such as meat, soft drinks and coffee.

In “Strategies for Osteoporosis”, the National Osteoporosis Foundation warns that this excessive protein consumption can be damaging to bone health.

“Excessive protein and sodium intake can increase calcium loss through the kidneys. In fact, an individual's daily calcium requirement increases in direct proportion to the amount of protein and sodium in his/her diet.”

The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS) repeats this warning:

“Although a balanced diet aids calcium absorption, high levels of protein and sodium (salt) in the diet are thought to increase calcium excretion through the kidneys. Excessive amounts of these substances should be avoided, especially in those with low calcium intake.”

North American consumption of these foods may be a partial cause of the high incidence of osteoporosis relative to other countries.

Meat

The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) of protein for men is 56 grams/day and for women 46 grams/day from all food sources including meat, tofu, eggs, grains, legumes and dairy products.

Statistics Canada reports that Canadian consumption of red meat (including beef, pork, mutton and veal) and chicken has been slowly declining since 1999 to approximately 77 pounds (35 kg) per person in 2007 or 25 grams of protein a day. (This calculation is based on a conservative estimate of 25% protein for the combined meat groups. In Canada, red meat comprised 24.5 kg per person and poultry 10.6 kg per person.)

Meat consumption may be declining in Canada but it is steadily increasing in the U.S. to an extraordinary 101 kg (223 pounds) per capita in 2007-or 72 grams of protein a day from meat alone... not including eggs, dairy, grain or legumes. As this includes every man, woman and child, adults are clearly consuming far more than the recommended level of animal-protein.

Soft Drinks and Coffee

Medical research has also identified a clear link between

cola and osteoporosis -but in the United States, soft drink consumption continues to increase. A study conducted at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, showed that energy intake from soft drinks in the United States increased 135 percent between about 1977 and 2001. Young adults ages 19 to 39 drank the most soft drinks, increasing their intake from 4.1 percent to 9.8 percent of total daily calorie consumption during that period. Among coffee drinkers (i.e. not per capita) the average coffee consumption in the United States is 3.1 cups of coffee per day (National Coffee Association) and consumption is increasing.

According to Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, per capita consumption of soft drinks in Canada has declined during the past decade but was still almost 110 liters per capita in 2006. Soft drinks still hold the largest market share of all beverages that are sold (15%) although coffee consumption is increasing and was over 14% of the beverage market in 2006. Together these two acid producing drinks comprise almost 30% of beverages consumed by Canadians.

Research now suggests that people who are trying to build a diet for osteoporosis prevention or treatment should avoid cola drinks and drink decaffinated coffee if they can't live without their java. An even healthier choice would be to follow a diet for osteoporosis that emphasizes alkaline foods (fruits and vegetables) and non-caffeinated drinks such as green tea.

CONCLUSION

We do not have to become vegetarians to have a healthy diet for osteoporosis treatment. But following alkaline diet guidelines by reducing our soda and meat consumption and increasing vegetables and fruit in our diet is definitely indicated. A general rule-of-thumb is to have a diet consisting of 20% acid-forming foods (grains and protein) and 80% alkaline-forming foods (fruits and vegetables). A healthy goal would be to include at least two vegetable or fruit servings at every meal and to eat no more than two daily servings of carbs such as bread, cereal and pasta.

With mad cow disease, swine flu, avian flu, extensive use of antibiotics and hormones and unacceptable environmental damage from factory farms threatening us... eating more yummy leafy greens and fresh fruit is a great alternative.