You probably already know that certain foods, particularly those that contain calcium and vitamin D, are good for your bones, but you may not be aware that there are also foods that are bad for your bones.
That’s right. There are foods that can wreak havoc on your bones, doing everything from reducing your bone’s mineral density to preventing your body from absorbing calcium.
Here’s a quick look at 9 foods that are bad for your bones. While some aren’t all that surprising, others will definitely shock you.
1. Soda and Coffee
Sadly, starting your day off with a Coke, Pepsi, or coffee and continuing to drink them throughout the day is a big no-no when you’re concerned about your bone health. Even sadder, researchers say this only applies to women.
Men’s bones aren’t affected in any way by these drinks. Scientists in multiple studies have compiled data linking soda and coffee consumption to bone density loss in women, putting them at a higher risk of osteoporosis and/ or fractures. (1) They aren’t entirely sure why this is, but believe it may be related to the calcium-leaching phosphoric acid they contain.
It could also be that sipping on these drinks stops you from drinking beverages that promote bone health. There’s also the theory that caffeine they contain could be the cause, yet black tea, which contains caffeine, doesn’t impact bone density.
To sum it all up, researchers know that soda and coffee are linked to bone density loss, but they haven’t determined the specific reason.
2. Any Food Covered in Salt
If you are a person who has to put salt on everything, you should be aware that researchers have found in countless studies that the more salt you eat, the more calcium you lose. This leaves you with fragile bones.
While this applies to everyone with a high-salt diet, it especially applies to postmenopausal women, who have more than four times the risk of fracturing any bone outside of the spine. (2) This is true, regardless of what her bone density is.
By the way, a high-salt diet is one that exceeds 2,300 mg (less than 1 teaspoon) of salt a day.
Interestingly, legumes, which includes a variety of beans, peas, and peanuts, are high in fiber, magnesium, and other nutrients that are important for osteoporosis prevention. Unfortunately, they can also prevent the body from absorbing the calcium they contain, making them bad for your bones.
This is because they contain phytates (also known as phytic acid), which block calcium absorption. (3) Phytates also block the absorption of iron, magnesium, and zinc.
To reap the nutritional benefits of legumes, soak any beans in water for several hours before cooking them. This decreases their phytate level.
4. Wheat Bran
While there are plenty of health benefits associated with eating wheat bran, this doesn’t apply to your bones. Wheat bran not only has high levels of phytate, but has also been shown to reduce the absorption of calcium in other foods eaten at the same time. (4) (This isn’t the case with the phytate contained in legumes.)
If you want to reap the health benefits of eating wheat bran, while also supporting your bone health, you may want to take a high-quality calcium supplement. Just be sure to eat any foods containing wheat bran at least two hours before or after taking the supplement.
5. Red Meat
The animal proteins found in red meat are known for leaching calcium from the bones, allowing it to be excreted through the urine. (Be aware that this can also occur with vegetable protein, though at a lesser rate.)
In a landmark study conducted by researchers at Harvard Medical School, more than 115,000 women were followed for a 10-year period. At the end of the study, researchers had found that women who consumed red meat a minimum of five times a week were more likely to suffer a fracture than the women who consumed red meat just once a week. (5)
6. Leafy Green Vegetables
Just like several other foods on this list, leafy green vegetables, particularly raw spinach, are well-known for their amazing health benefits. Despite this, they can be damaging to your bones. This is due to the high levels of oxalates they contain.
Oxalates often bind to minerals, such as calcium, preventing them from being absorbed into the body. (6) This is even more likely to occur when oxalate is combined with fiber.
7. Carrots and Sweet Potatoes
Carrots and sweet potatoes are an excellent source of vitamin A, which is vital for healthy bone growth. However, consuming excessive amounts of vitamin A can actually trigger an increase in osteoclasts. Osteoclasts are the cells that are responsible for breaking down bone. (8) Vitamin A can also interfere with vitamin D, which is necessary for preserving bone.
The good news is that you’d have to eat quite a bit of these orange vegetables to consume excessive levels of vitamin A. At the same time, you do need to pay close attention to any supplements you are taking to ensure you aren’t getting too much vitamin A from them.
Excessive alcohol consumption can greatly affect your bone health. (7) During your teen years and young adulthood, it does this by interrupting hormones that are crucial for bone growth, such as estrogen in women and testosterone in men, while simultaneously inhibiting bone-forming cells from developing. This results in decreased bone formation.
At the same time, drinking alcohol puts you at a higher risk of falling. Heavy consumption is linked to an increased risk of spine and hip fractures. According to the Mayo Clinic, you should drink no more than one or two alcoholic beverages a day.
In addition to soda, coffee, and tea, caffeine can be found in some foods, such as chocolate and ice cream. Unfortunately, all of these things can affect your bone health.
Several studies have associated the consumption of caffeine with decreased bone mineral density, increasing the risk of fractures, particularly in elderly women. (9) It is worth noting that other studies show this is only the case if you are consuming extreme amounts of caffeine each day. (10) The research involving caffeine and bone health is ongoing.
Before you decide to eliminate everything listed above from your daily diet, remember that moderation is key. If you want a cup of coffee, drink it. If you’re craving carrot sticks, eat some. Just don’t go overboard. Besides, maintaining a healthy diet means including lots of variety.