Tips from Dr Marilyn Glenville
During and after menopause, when oestrogen levels are low, the process of bone loss starts to speed up and it can lead to osteoporosis. In fact, 1 in 2 women will suffer a fracture after the age of 50! *
This week, we asked our experts to give us their top tips on how to take care of our bones.
Top up your mineral and vitamin levels
What vitamins and minerals should you be taking? Vitamin K is an integral part of bone mineralisation and is needed to make a protein that’s essential for bone formation. It can also help to stop deposits of calcium in the walls of blood vessels. Vitamin D and Calcium are very important as they reduce the risk of fractures and beneficial for bone density.
‘Hormonal imbalances associated with menopause have a significant impact on our muscles and joints. Oestrogen gives strength to muscles and ligaments, so when these levels fluctuate at this time, we can feel achy and become more vulnerable to injury. This, coupled with the normal wear and tear of ageing, can cause chronic back pain. Even though, exercise might seem like the last thing that you want to do, when you suffer with back pain, it can actually bring an enormous relief. Try to do Pilates at least twice a week with a well-qualified teacher (www.bodycontrolpilates.com) to strengthen your back muscles and improve core stability. Unlike other sports and exercises, Pilates is done in safe and supportive positions to cut out the risk of strain on joints.’ suggests Lynne Robinson, Founder of Body Control Pilates and author of Pilates For Life.
Make your diet more alkaline
The emphasis for preventing and treating osteoporosis is to make your diet more alkaline. Dr Marilyn Glenville, the UK’s leading Nutritionist, author of Natural Solutions to Menopause (www.marilynglenville.com) explains ‘Your skeleton acts like a buffer and the more acidic your diet becomes the more calcium you will lose to neutralise that acid, and the reverse is true when you make the body more alkaline. The power of fruit and vegetables to keep your bones healthy is enormous!’
‘Research has also shown that higher intakes of animal protein are associated with lower bone density. Another point to bear in mind is that cheese, a traditional source of calcium, is one of the most acidic foods you can eat and you actually be losing more calcium from your bones that the amount of calcium you will get from the cheese.’
4 things to avoid during and after the menopause for bone health
4 x NO
According to Dr Glenville, there are four foods that you should stay away:
Caffeine, sugar and alcohol
Both coffee and sugar cause an acidic reaction similar to that triggered by animal protein and have the same effect of leaching calcium from your bones. If you like your cuppa, don’t drink it at mealtimes because the tannin in tea binds to important minerals (calcium, zinc) and prevents their absorption in the digestive tract. Alcohol acts as a diuretic, leaching out valuable minerals such as calcium and magnesium. This increases bone loss and the incidence of fractures.
Bran is a refined food that contains ‘phytates’. These act like a magnet, attracting valuable minerals such as calcium, zinc and magnesium. These minerals bind to phytates and are then excreted, along with the bran from digestive tract.
Spinach and rhubarb
They contain oxalic acid, which reacts with calcium in the digestive system and stops it being absorbed.
Fizzy soft drinks
Phosphoric acid is added to fizzy soft drinks to give a tangy taste and higher levels of phosphorus in the blood tell your body to release calcium from the bones to balance out the phosphorus.