How excessive diet affects your bone health – Firstpost

A diet high in sugar can also have harmful effects on the skeleton. Pixabay/Representative Image

In a recent Instagram post, actress Jameela Jamil revealed that she has poor bone density despite being only 30 years old.

Jamil attributed this discovery to 20 years of dieting – urging his followers to be aware of the damage diet culture can do to your health.

Bone density is important for many reasons, primarily because it serves as a reservoir of many important minerals needed for our bones to function well. Many factors can affect your bone density – and as Jamil points out, diet is one component that has a significant impact on bone health.

Bone is a living tissue. This means that our skeleton grows and remodels itself according to stress and strain. Everything from fractures to exercise requires our bones to change their shape or density. This is why the skeleton of a weight lifter is more dense than that of a marathon runner.

The biggest fundamental changes we experience occur in our youth. But bones change throughout life, depending on how active we are, what our diet is, and whether we have had any injuries or illnesses.

Bones are made of proteins, such as collagen, as well as minerals – primarily calcium. It is a key mineral for us, as it keeps our bones and teeth strong and helps repair and rebuild any injured bone.

But other minerals and vitamins are also important. For example, vitamin D supports calcium, playing an important role in bone mineralization. This is where calcium combines with phosphate in our bones to form the mineral crystal hydroxyapatite. This crystal is important for our bone mineral density (also known as “bone mass”), as it helps remodel bones and maintain their structural strength.

A DEXA scan – the type of scan Jamil describes in his post – can measure the density of these crystals in the bones. The more hydroxyapatite crystals found, the healthier the bones.

We reach peak bone mineral density in our late teens and early 20s, when our bodies are at full size and our metabolism is working at its best. From here, with the right diet and activity, it is possible to maintain stable bone mass into the late 30s for women and early 40s for men. But after this point it starts declining.

Bones are made of proteins, such as collagen, as well as minerals – primarily calcium. Pixabay/Representative Image

Diet and Bone Density

We collect calcium over many years. It comes initially from our mother, then later from our diet. Our body stores calcium, so it can adapt to times when demand for calcium exceeds the amount we can get from our diet – such as during pregnancy, when the fetus needs calcium to build its bones. Is.

However, relying solely on this skeletal calcium store cannot be maintained over long periods of time or repeatedly because of the time it takes to be replenished. This is why diet is so important for bone density – and why a poor diet can cause extreme harm, especially when certain food groups or minerals are consistently left out.

For example, studies have shown that consuming soft drinks (especially cola) more than four times a week decreases bone density and increases the risk of fractures. This is true even after adjusting for many other variables that affect bone density.

These carbonated and energy drinks contain varying levels of vitamins – often without any minerals, including calcium, which the body needs to function optimally. If calcium is not being supplied elsewhere in the diet, this causes the body to draw on its stores.

A diet high in sugar can also have harmful effects on the skeleton. Excess sugar causes inflammation and other physical changes like obesity. High sugar intake is associated with decreased calcium intake, especially in children who replace sugary beverages with milk. Excessive sugar intake causes the body to flush out excess calcium instead of reabsorbing it in the kidneys as the body normally does.

Low- and high-fat diets have also been linked to an increased risk of osteoporosis (a condition that weakens the bones) in women — although larger studies are needed to better understand the effects of removing entire food groups on bone health. is required.

Anorexia nervosa also has a significant impact on bone density – which affects the majority of people with the condition.

Low bone mineral density – especially in the spine – puts people with anorexia at increased risk of fractures because the thickness of their bones decreases, increasing the likelihood of developing osteoporosis, which is associated with increased fractures. .

Anorexia is especially challenging in young adulthood. This is the phase where the skeleton is preparing itself to reach peak bone mass, so it is depositing calcium at a record pace. When the diet is inadequate and the body has already begun to deplete its mineral stores, it is likely that bone density or calcium stores in the body will never be optimal – increasing the risk of fractures for the rest of that person's life. goes.

improving bone health

Optimal bone health begins in utero, but our prepubertal years are important for preparing our skeleton for later life. People who are behind the curve in early life may have difficulty reaching their peak, because poor bone mineral density affects everything from our appetite to how efficient our gastrointestinal tract is at absorbing vital nutrients (including calcium). Might affect something. The effectiveness of supplements is limited because our body can only absorb a certain amount of any vitamin or mineral at a time.

Although it is possible to limit some of the decline in bone density that naturally occurs as we age, some of the choices we make – such as not consuming enough calcium – can accelerate the decline. Biological sex also has a significant impact on our bone health as we age – post-menopausal women are at greater risk of osteoporosis because they produce less estrogen, which helps keep bone-degrading cells in check. Does.Conversation

Adam Taylor, Professor and Director of the Clinical Anatomy Learning Centre, Lancaster University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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