It’s inevitable that when we reach a certain age, our bones become weaker and lose density. Osteoporosis, which literally means “porous bone,” is a disease that results in a sustained loss of bone density. Low bone density is quite common; it affects 54 million Americans, with one out of every two women over the age of 50 likely to break a bone due to osteoporosis, according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation. Women are more likely than men to experience osteoporosis, but men can experience it, too. One out of every four men over 50 is likely to break a bone from osteoporosis.
Whether or not an individual develops osteoporosis depends on genetics, gender, age, medical history, and lifestyle choices. But the latter is the only factor within our control. Smoking, inactivity, and high alcohol consumption can affect bone health, but one of the most impactful lifestyle choices that can reduce the risk of osteoporosis is committing to a well-balanced diet.
Though it’s impossible to guarantee a life without hip surgeries and bone-related hospital visits, there are certain foods that can improve calcium absorption, bone density, and bone strength by providing adequate amounts of essential nutrients such as calcium, protein, vitamin D, and magnesium. However, some foods, such as animal proteins, can have adverse effects on bone health by leaching calcium — you want to be wary of that. So in order to give your bones the strength they need, these critical nutrients need to come from the right sources. Fight back against osteoporosis with these nine foods.
Holly Van Hare and Michael Serrur contributed to this story.