We all want to keep on living longer, and to see our health improve alongside life expectancy, and one reason behind the not-so-new antiaging "trend" is that we don't want to end up frail or with serious fractures. The pharmaceutical industry has told us that there is either nothing we can do, or to take synthetic hormone replacement therapy in the hope that our bones will remain strong and healthy. However, research has shown that some foods and medicinal herbs may in fact help us maintain a youthful bone density, without the risk of dangerous side effects.
It may sound strange that something so common could be so beneficial! In a population study, researchers tracked 1,188 women over the age of 75 for ten years, measuring their food and beverage intake against the incidence of osteoporotic fractures. Over these ten years, 288 women suffered fractures, and 212 were described as major osteoporotic fractures. Compared to women who drank black tea no more than once a week, women who drank three or more cups per day had a 30% lower risk of these fractures. When women in the highest and lowest thirds of total flavonoid intake (from both tea and other foods or drinks) were compared, those in the highest category had a 35% lower risk of all osteoporotic fractures and a 42% reduced risk of hip fracture. In a study on menopausal rats, black tea extract was shown to increase the number of cells that build bone; reduce the number of cells that break it down; relieve inflammation; improve protein synthesis in bone and increase the expression of oestrogen receptors.
You may have noticed noni juice in health food stores, which at first glance looks like another exotic fad. In fact, noni has been used for many centuries in the South Pacific, as a poultice to treat wounds, sprains and even broken bones, as well as for internal use. This same study on rats demonstrated that noni, both its fruit and leaf extracts, had the ability to strengthen bones just as black tea did. Noni leaf extract was also able to reduce menopausal weight gain in a dose-dependent fashion. Excessive intake of noni fruit may be harmful to the liver, so either consume products made from its leaf or use the fruit in moderation, as part of a health-promoting diet and lifestyle.
Vitamin K is best known for its cardiovascular health benefits, but it may help you keep a youthful bone density too. Around two and a half thousand people, who participated in the Framingham Heart Study, had their data analysed to compare vitamin K intake (from plants) with their bone mineral density, to see if there was a connection. Women in the highest quarter of vitamin K intake had a femoral bone density of 0.888g/squared centimetre (cm2) and a spinal (L2-L4) bone density of 1.19g/cm2; women in the lowest quarter had femoral and spinal bone density measurements of 0.854g/cm2 and 1.14g/cm2, respectively. There was no significant association among men. In other research, vitamin K2 has been shown to protect bone density and strengthen bones, even in people with age-related osteoporosis and corticosteroid-related bone weakness. Vitamin K2 is found in organ meats and natto, which is a fermented soy food.
You don't have to be a victim to age-related bone loss. For the best results, a holistic treatment plan from a qualified naturopath, such as myself, is best.