When in PA school, we started talking about osteopenia and osteoporosis for aging patients, but I think there’s ample opportunity to start these recommendations and habits much younger.
Traditionally, the teaching is to increase dietary sources of calcium and vitamin D. But I think we can dive a bit deeper and provide more comprehensive recommendations including more than two singular nutrients. Below are 6 ways to improve bone health to prevent osteoporosis and osteopenia!
You’ll notice a few of these include incorporating the high quality product and flavor from California Prunes. Research has looked specifically at prunes and how they can benefit bone health. I’m so thrilled to be partnering with California Prunes to share some of this research with you!
- Adding in more essential nutrients. Not only calcium, but also vitamin D, vitamin K2, omega-3 fatty acids, and magnesium.
- Calcium: Dairy can be difficult to digest for most, so finding plant-sources of calcium may be a bit more beneficial if you can more easily absorb them! Sesame seeds, chia seeds, green leafy vegetables, and fatty fish all contain great sources of calcium
- Omega-3 fatty acids from sources like sardines, salmon, and other fatty fish. These fatty acids improve bone quality by helping to prevent bone decay and strengthen bone mineralization ( 4 )
- Other trace minerals: vitamin K2, magnesium, vitamin D. California Prunes include a lot of these minerals, particularly vitamin K, potassium, magnesium, and B vitamins! They’re also rich in antioxidants, containing almost twice the amount of polyphenols as other popular fruits like nectarines and peaches. Polyphenols down regulate inflammatory markers, especially those associated with joint and lung diseases. Plums also help balance blood sugar because of their high fiber content. Stable blood sugar throughout the day is another way to prevent inflammation.
- Decreasing chronic inflammation. This in and of itself is a huge topic, but a pro-inflammatory diet has been shown to damaging to bone health. This means more mindful consumption of things like: sugar, alcohol, caffeine, soda, processed foods, refined oils and carbohydrates, and salt.
- Smoking cessation! No surprise here – smoking has been shown repeatedly to have negative effects on bone health.
- Improving gut health: gut microbes can help regulate preventing osteoporosis ( 5 ). Adding in more fiber rich foods and improving digestion can have a powerful impact on bone health! I love adding in a handful of California Prunes as a snack or to a smoothie for super simple way to increase fiber intake.
- Managing stress: a high stress lifestyle can also lead to bone loss, too! Just as important as food, or in fact more so, is taking daily measures to unravel stress. I love to counsel my patients on finding little pockets of mindfulness throughout the day. Rather than being on autopilot for mundane tasks like washing your face, brushing your teeth, or making breakfast, instead take that time to focus solely on that one topic. Notice the different smells, tastes, and sensations. And if your mind starts to wander, simply refocus to the task at hand without judgement. If you’re wondering what to make for a mindful breakfast, may I suggest a delightful overnight oats recipe featuring California Prunes below!
- Start moving! Any activity that utilizes muscles is helpful for bone health. Try incorporating more walking, strength training, weight lifting, and body weight exercises to your daily routine.
Not only do prunes help prevent bone loss, they may also help reverse bone loss that has occurred. Compared to other fruits, prunes seem to be the most effective and preventing and reversing bone loss. In fact, just 50g of prunes daily have been found to reduce bone resportion after 6 months when eaten by osteopenic, postmenopausal women ( 1, 2, 3 )
They’re also super easy to add to your diet! I love adding just a bit of California Prune juice to a chia seed pudding, or adding in some prunes to overnight oats. They add a rich and earthy touch of sweetness!!
Raspberry chia seed spread:
- ½ cup frozen raspberries, thawed
- ¼ cup chia seeds
- 2 tbsp California Prune juice
- ½ cups oats
- 1 cup almond milk
- 1-2 tbsp maple syrup or honey
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- Spices: cinnamon, nutmeg, ground ginger, pinch of sea salt
- ¼ cup chopped California Prunes
- 2 tbsp raspberry California Prune chia seed jam (above)
Combine oats, almond milk, syrup, vanilla extract and spices and let soak overnight. In the morning, layer with prunes and prune chia seed jam.