Better Bones - with a twist!

     Lifestyle as Medicine is a popular theme these days.  That's because scientific evidence supports the fact that nutrition, lack of sleep, too little activity, smoking, etc. contribute to chronic diseases like diabetes and cancer.  The flip side is that making positive lifestyle changes may be effective in preventing disease as well.

     Osteoporosis, or loss of bone mass, causes bones to become weak and break easily.  That can mean loss of height, pain when bones break, limited mobility - and worse.  Twenty percent of seniors who break a hip die within one year from related complications.

     The good news is you can make changes to better your bone health!  Yes, lifestyle is just what the doctor ordered.  Get more physical activity; drink alcohol moderately; consume more calcium and vitamin D; more fruits and veggies; plus have a moderate intake of protein - and eat more prunes.  Yes, prunes!

     Bones are living tissue.  They need nutrients to support and maintain them throughout life.  Yes, calcium and vitamin D are essential; so is potassium, magnesium and vitamin K.  The latter is where prunes come in.  In addition to the dietary fiber they contain that promotes digestive health, prunes (or dried plums) contain potassium, magnesium and vitamin K which are nutrients that help support healthy bones.  For instance, vitamin K helps to improve bone mineralization.  A 40g serving of dried plums (4-5 prunes, about 100 calories) is considered an excellent source of vitamin K, and provides 30% of the Daily Value.

     New research shows eating about 5 to 6 dried plums daily may help prevent bone loss in post menopausal women. (1.)  Another study in the British Journal of Nutrition suggest eating two servings of 10-12 prunes daily may improve bone density and slow the rate of bone turnover. (2.) in post menopausal women.

     October 20th is the day the National Osteoporosis Foundation designates every year to launch a campaign to raise global awareness of the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of osteoporosis.  The 2015 theme is Serve Up Bone Health to raise the awareness of the right nutrients to stay health and strong.  Serve up some prunes along with fruits, vegetables, nuts and low- and non-fat dairy products.  A balanced diet combined with regular exercise are recommended to maximize bone health and prevent osteoporosis.

1.  Metti D, Shamloufard P, Cravinho A, Cuenca PD, Kern M, Arjmandi B, Hooshmand S (2015) Effects of low dose dried plum (50 g) on bone mineral density and bone biomarkers in older postmenopausal women. FASEB. 29; 738.12.

2. Hooshmand S, Chai SC, Saadat RL, et al. (2011) Comparative effects of dried plum and dried apple on bone in postmenopausal women. Br J Nutr 106, 923–930.

Photo courtesy California Dried Plum Board; and National Osteoporosis Foundation