How does reducing your osteoporosis risk by 30% sound? Well, just drinking three or more cups of black tea daily could mean just that according to an new Australian study.
If you have any family history, or several risk factors, then such a simple method of reducing that risk can’t be a hardship.
Who is at risk?
Obviously if anyone in your family has suffered then there is a clear risk, but others may not be so obvious. Although men too can get osteoporosis, women are more likely to have it because of our smaller bones and menopause accelerates the process of bone turnover and loss. These are the most common risk factors:
1 If one of your parents has broken a hip, you may be more susceptible to developing osteoporosis and fragile bones.
2 We are increasingly at risk as we age as our bones become more fragile and more likely to break. By the age of 75 about half of the population will have osteoporosis.
3 If you have low BMI (body mass index) below 19g/m2 you are at greater risk of developing osteoporosis.
4 Anorexia or a history of crash dieting will also have an effect.
5 Excessive exercising can also deplete the bones.
6 Previous fractures because if you have already broken bones easily, then you are much more likely to have fractures in the future.
7 Smoking is a hazard as current smokers are more likely to break bones.
8 Alcohol is also a risk if you have an intake of more than 3 units daily.
How can tea help?
Your bones continue to grow, be broken down and built up as long as you live. So it is best to provide optimum conditions for healthy bones whose structure is a dynamic system with different cells forming bone (osteoblasts) and clearing out old bone (osteoclasts). At menopause and beyond there is a tendency for more bone clearing than rebuilding but the flavonoid polyphenols in tea are thought to maintain bone density. They do this through a number of mechanisms including a general antioxidant activity allowing cells to function optimally as well as specifically maintaining and even encouraging osteoblast (bone forming) activity.
The study involved a total of 1188 women over a ten year period and compared their osteoporosis risk to their daily tea intake. The Australian researchers found that, compared with the lowest tea intake category who drank only one or fewer cups of tea a week, the women who drank three or more cups of tea each day had a 30% reduction in their risk of osteoporotic fracture, and that is a statistically significant decrease.
What else can help?
Osteoporosis means that the bone is not as strong as it should be and there is therefore an increased risk of fractures. To be able to build up new healthy bone it is essential that there you have good, normal hormone balance and this means you have sufficient amounts of progesterone and reduce any risk of oestrogen dominance.
Simple measures such as having regular load bearing exercise, a diet that is rich in fruit and vegetables that naturally have high mineral citrate content. Raw rather than cooked is best so to get this you should be regularly eating bananas, oranges and other citrus fruits, apricots, melons, and tomatoes.
Adequate amounts of vitamins D and K are essential but generally most diets are lacking in them and we get vitamin D from sunlight. However, if that is not available then increase the amount of vitamin rich foods such as oily fish like salmon and sardines. eggs and some fortified breakfast cereals. Vitamin K is found in green leafy vegetables so increasing your intake of spinach and broccoli will boost your levels too.
Calcium is also needed, and it is best from your diet as there can be side effects from high supplement doses. Good sources include dairy products, green leafy vegetables, tofu and nuts.
Osteoporosis cannot be diagnosed by looking, but if you want to assess your vulnerability, and you have a family history of the disease then your GP can arrange a scan. If you wish to do this privately then a simple non-invasive service is offered here: