Why sugar consumption will increase your risk of osteoporosis
(NaturalHealth365) Osteoporosis – in which bones become increasingly more brittle and prone to breakage – affects 16 percent of American adults over age 65, with postmenopausal women at increased risk.
According to the World Health Organization, this age-related condition poses more of a threat to health than either high blood pressure or breast cancer – with experts predicting that 50 percent of all women over 50 will experience an osteoporosis-induced fracture of the hip, vertebra or wrist.
Now, new research highlights the surprising role of refined white sugar as a major culprit in this debilitating condition.
The undeniable truth is: our national consumption of refined sugar has skyrocketed in recent years – along with the incidence of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity and other chronic conditions. So, let’s take a closer look at how sugar can cause osteoporosis.
Researchers issue a shocking report about osteoporosis
In a review published last June in The Journal of the Missouri State Medical Association, the authors examined studies detailing the effects of a pair of common seasonings – table salt and white sugar – on the development of osteoporosis.
And, their findings turned prevailing medical wisdom on its head.
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While salt – or sodium – has long been considered a risk factor for osteoporosis, the researchers found that sugar was the real villain.
The scientists reported that sugar increased inflammation, boosted renal acid load and elevated insulin levels – while reducing calcium intake and increasing calcium excretion.
Their conclusion? Sugar, when over-consumed, causes the release of calcium and magnesium from bones – and is more likely than salt to raise risk of osteoporosis.
So strongly did the authors feel about the role of sugar that the published title of the study – “Not Salt, but Sugar, as Aetiological (Causative) in Osteoporosis” clearly trumpets the innocuous nature of sodium.
In fact, salt – in appropriate amounts – just could be among your bones’ best friends. Not only does salt help to maintain the balance between calcium and magnesium in the bone, but individuals with low salt intake have a four times greater risk of bone fracture from a fall.
Editor’s note: We highly recommend the use of sea salt – which is not denatured like ‘regular’ table salt.
While federal health authorities advise 1,500 mg to 2,300 mg of sodium a day, some natural health experts advise 3,000 mg a day to help protect against heart disease and bone fractures.
Warning: Refined sugar can jeopardize bone health
Refined sugar, which is rapidly absorbed by the body, can cause a dramatic “spike” in blood sugar levels. Unfortunately, the body’s response is to leach essential calcium from the bones, resulting in increased urinary excretion.
This point was illustrated by an influential 1995 study published in Hormone and Metabolic Research, which showed that 15 minutes of intravenous administration of a sugar solution caused healthy volunteers to experience significant increases in urinary calcium excretion.
Sugar also interferes with the absorption and transport of calcium, the conversion and absorption of bone-building vitamin D, and the activation of a specific enzyme needed for the formation of new bone.
As if that weren’t damaging enough, sugar increases production of lactic acid in bone tissue – and interferes with the activity of osteoblasts (specialized cells that build bone). It also boosts production of the “stress hormone,” cortisol – elevated levels of which can trigger osteoporosis.
While physical inactivity, smoking, medications and low estrogen levels can also contribute to osteoporosis, consumption of sugar is clearly in the forefront of causative factors.
No “upside” – nutritionally worthless sugar contributes nothing in the way of vitamins and minerals
In the early 1800s, people used sugar sparingly – with an average yearly intake of ten to 12 pounds.
But, over the past 200 years, the US population appears to have taken a dive headfirst into the sugar bowl.
University Health News reports that the average American now ingests an astonishing 150 pounds of sugar a year, to the tune of 17 tablespoons (260 calories) a day.
In other words, many people eat their own weight in sugar – every 365 days! And, for some, this amount could represent as much as 20 percent of daily caloric intake.
If a person consumes 20 percent of his or her calories through sugar, that means missing out on the benefits of the bone-supporting nutrients (vitamin D, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and zinc) that would have been introduced into the body from eating a more nutrient-dense, wholesome food.
Sugar lurks behind an array of misleading and confusing labels
Foods that are sky-high in added sugars include breads, cakes, jams, candies, ice cream and pizza. Ketchup, tomato sauce and soups may also be loaded with sugar, along with sports drinks and soft drinks.
Even worse, added sugars have a bewildering variety of “aliases” – and can sneak onto the ingredients list in the form of brown sugar, raw sugar, corn syrup solids, sorghum, high fructose corn syrup, corn sweetener, fructose sweetener, liquid fructose and malt syrup. They also may hide behind the names dextrose, dextrin, sorbitol, and sucrose.
Note: a single can of Mountain Dew soda contains a whopping 14 teaspoons (over the recommended total for an entire day) of added sugars – in the form of fruit juice concentrate and high fructose corn syrup.
It’s worth mentioning: if sugar is listed among the top three or four ingredients, this is a signal that the product is loaded. So, don’t buy it.
Banish added sugars with commonsense techniques
Eating smaller portions, opting for unsweetened foods (such as plain yogurt or almond milk) and limiting processed fruit juice intake – while diluting it with sparkling or distilled water – can help you painlessly reduce sugar consumption.
You can also cut back on sugar in recipes – or utilize some canny substitutions. For example, The American Heart Association advises using unsweetened applesauce instead of sugar. Better yet, make your own applesauce – it’s delicious!
Sharply reduce or eliminate sugar in your tea and coffee. You may be pleasantly surprised to discover how much more flavorful the coffee is.
For dessert, skip the cake and choose fresh, organic fruit. Although fruit does contain a natural sugar known as fructose, the healthy amounts of dietary fiber help to counteract any negative effects.
You can also flavor post-meal treats with antioxidant-rich spices such as cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg.
Just one warning: Avoid all synthetic chemical sweeteners, such as aspartame, saccharin, sucralose and acesulfame potassium. These have been linked to a host of health problems, including cancer and raised triglycerides.
Stevia seems to have an impressive pedigree when it comes to health benefits. This natural sweetener hasn’t been linked with any detrimental effects, and may help alleviate high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes. Just be sure to opt for the ‘pure stevia leaf,’ in liquid or powder form, rather than a commercial blend.
Build bone strength with proper nutrition and supplements
In addition to avoiding refined sugar, you can support bone health by eating a diet that includes high-quality proteins, beneficial omega-3 fatty acids (in cold-water fish, olive oil and coconut oil) and plenty of dietary fiber from fruits and vegetables.
Potassium-rich foods, such as bananas, can help to balance bone-supporting minerals.
And, unprocessed Celtic or Himalayan sea salt – rich in beneficial minerals – is (obviously) preferable to conventional table salt.
Supplementary nutrients such as vitamins D3, C, K1 and K2 can help in the absorption of calcium, magnesium and sodium. Some natural health experts also advise the amino acid glutamate to help prevent bone diseases.
As always, consult with your integrative physician before adding any supplements to your health program.
Now that researchers have revealed the ability of sugar to rob precious minerals from our irreplaceable bones, it seems that this white powder may not be so “sweet” after all.
Sources for this article include:
Food & Nutrition
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