Fruit and Veggies Fortify Bones
April 2, 1999. Two different bone conditions may afflict men
who have prostate cancer -- osteoporosis (or bone loss) caused or made
worse by hormonal blockade; and spread of cancer to the bones. Drugs
may be needed to combat osteoporosis, but diet may play a part in protecting
Americans are taught from childhood up about the importance of milk and other calcium-containing foods for bone health. But a new study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition shows that fruits and vegetables are important in the prevention of osteoporosis.
The authors evaluated participants from the Framington Heart Study and found that lifelong dietary intakes of potassium, magnesium and fruit and vegetables were determinants of bone mineral density in elderly men and women.
Katherine L. Tucker, PhD, Associate Professor of Nutrition at Tufts University and lead investigator of the study says, "This suggests that a good quality diet in adulthood is important to bone health beyond the better known contributions of calcium and vitamin D, and provides yet another reason to emphasize the intake of fruits and vegetables."
Many people know that eating antacids like Rolaids or Tums helps a little bit to protect against osteoporosis. But why so? And how does this link with fruit and vegetables?
Douglas Kiel, who teaches at Harvard Medical School and researches the health of people who attend Hebrew Rehabilitation Center for Aged, explains. "Normal digestion produces increased acidity," he points out. "In this environment, bone acts as a buffer base. Minerals are drawn out of the bone to neutralize the acid, thereby reducing the strength of the bone. Fruits and vegetables help to prevent this loss of bone mineral density because they create a more alkaline environment in the body-they neutralize the acid without depending on the buffering effects of the bone minerals. It is also possible that potassium and magnesium have direct effects on bone cells."
People who eat a lot of highly processed foods often lack adequate potassium and magnesium. Good sources of potassium include fruits and vegetables such as bananas, oranges, tomatoes, potatoes, broccoli and melon. Good sources of magnesium include a variety of whole foods including fruits and vegetables, milk, fish and whole grains.
Osteoporosis affects roughly 25 million Americans, often leading to bone fractures. Men who are at risk of bone loss caused by drug treatments for prostate cancer need to be especially aware that bone density is constantly affected by diet and exercise. Although the body builds and stores bone more efficiently during the younger years, it is never too late to start protecting your bones. Although fruits and vegetables may not afford sufficient protection, eat plenty of them while checking with your doctors as to whether you need protective medication as well.
The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition is published by The American Society of Clinical Nutrition