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Preventing Osteoporosis with Excellent Nutrition

I’m happy to have Dr. Joel Fuhrman here to share about which foods are good and bad for bone health and preventing osteoporosis. Because of the milk industry, so many people believe that milk builds healthy bones, but Dr. Fuhrman is here to explain why that just isn’t true:

Preventing Osteoporosis with Excellent Nutrition
By: Joel Fuhrman, M.D.

Bone health is directly linked to nutrition. Certain foods promote breakdown of bone and osteoporosis. Other foods, such as beans and vegetables, supply your body with the nutrients necessary to build and maintain healthy, strong bones and prevent osteoporosis.

The worst foods for bone health: 

  • Animal protein and other high protein foods leave acidic residues in the blood, and the body responds by dissolving bone to release basic calcium salts to neutralize the acid, which results in loss of calcium in the urine. Many studies have found animal protein intake to be associated with low bone mass.[i],[ii]In contrast, plant protein intake is associated with decreased hip fractures in the elderly.i  Natural plant foods do not leave an acidic residue in the blood or promote urinary calcium excretion.[iii],[iv]
  • Saltpromotes the excretion of calcium in the urine.[v] (Careful here! It’s okay to have a small amount of good quality salt, like from miso or shoyu, but most people go way overboard. Check out The Kind Diet or for more info on salt. – AS)
  • Caffeine also contributes to urinary calcium loss. High caffeine intake is associated with increased bone loss and osteoporotic fractures.[vi],[vii]
  • Soda, including diet and decaffeinated soda, is associated with bone loss.[viii],[ix] Soda consumption increases parathyroid hormone (PTH) in the blood, which increases blood calcium concentrations by stimulating bone breakdown. This increased blood calcium is then excreted in the urine.[x]

The best foods for bone health:

Studies show that individuals with the highest consumption of vegetables have the strongest bones.[xi],[xii]
Whole plant foods are the best foods for bones:

  • Beans, seeds, and greens. A diet full of natural plant foods provides the calcium required to build strong bones. Green vegetables in particular are rich calcium sources. For example, one four-ounce serving of steamed kale has just as much calcium as one cup of milk. Broccoli, bok choy, spinach, sesame seeds, and garbanzo beans are also excellent calcium sources. Furthermore, the body absorbs over 50% of the calcium in green vegetables, compared to only 32% of the calcium in milk.[xiii]
  • Green vegetables are high in vitamin K, which is a crucial component for maintaining healthy bones.[xiv]
  • Nuts and seeds are rich in magnesium, an essential mineral for the formation of bone tissue.[xv] They also help maintain adequate calorie and protein intake, to maintain muscle and bone mass without having to rely on high acid-forming animal products.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Please share this with your veg and non-veg friends and family!
Do you have more questions about this?
Post them in the comments and I’ll try to answer in a future blog.

Dr. Fuhrman is a best-selling author, nutritional researcher and board certified family physician specializing in nutritional medicine.  Learn more by visiting his informative website at and his blog at, and following Dr. Fuhrman on Facebook and Twitter.
Photo source: / akeg

[i]Sellmeyer DE, Stone KL, Sebastian A, Cummings SR. A high ratio of dietary animal to vegetable protein increases the rate of bone loss and the risk of fracture in postmenopausal women. Study of Osteoporotic Fractures Research Group. Am J Clin Nutr. 2001;73(1):118-122.
[ii]Devine A, Dick IM, Islam AF, et al. Protein consumption is an important predictor of lower limb bone mass in elderly women. Am J Clin Nutr. 2005;81(6):1423-1428.
[iii]Welch AA, Mulligan A, Bingham SA, Khaw KT. Urine pH is an indicator of dietary acid-base load, fruit and vegetables and meat intakes: results from the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC)-Norfolk population study. Br J Nutr. 2008 Jun;99(6):1335-43.
[iv]Massey LK.. Dietary animal and plant protein and human bone health: a whole foods approach. J Nutr 2003 Mar;133(3):862S-865S.
[v]Teucher B, Fairweather-Tait S. Dietary sodium as a risk factor for osteoporosis: where is the evidence? Proc Nutr Soc. 2003;62(4):859-866.
[vi]Rapuri PB, Gallagher JC, Kinyamu HK, Ryschon KL. Caffeine intake increases the rate of bone loss in elderly women and interacts with vitamin D receptor genotypes. Am J Clin Nutr. 2001;74(5):694-700.
[vii]Hallström H, Wolk A, Glynn A, Michaëlsson K. Coffee, tea and caffeine consumption in relation to osteoporotic fracture risk in a cohort of Swedish women. Osteoporos Int. 2006;17(7):1055-1064.
[viii]McGartland C, Robson PJ, Murray L, et al. Carbonated soft drink consumption and bone mineral density in adolescence: the Northern Ireland Young Hearts project. J Bone Miner Res. 2003 Sep;18(9):1563-9.
[ix]Mahmood M, Saleh A, Al-Alawi F, Ahmed F. Health effects of soda drinking in adolescent girls in the United Arab Emirates. J Crit Care. 2008 Sep;23(3):434-40
[x]Larson NS, Amin R, Olsen C, Poth MA. “Effect of Diet Cola on urine calcium excretion” ENDO 2010; Abstract P2-198.
[xi]Tucker KL, Hannan MT, Chen H, et al. Potassium, magnesium, and fruit and vegetable intakes are associated with greater mineral density in elderly men and women. Am J Clin Nutr 1999;69(4):727-736.
[xii]New SA, Robins SP, Campbell MK, et al. Dietary influences on bone mass and bone metabolism: further evidence of a positive link between fruit and vegetable consumption and bone health? Am J Clin Nutr 2000;71(1):142-151.
[xiii]Weaver CM, Plawecki KL. Dietary calcium: adequacy of a vegetarian diet. Am J Clin Nutr 1994;59(suppl):1238S-1241S.
[xiv]Feskanich D, Weber P, Willett WC, et al. Vitamin K intake and hip fractures in women: a prospective study. Am J Clin Nutr 1999;69(1):74-79.
[xv] Rude RK, Singer FR, Gruber HE. Skeletal and hormonal effects of magnesium deficiency. J Am Coll Nutr. 2009 Apr;28(2):131-41.

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