How Junk Food Could Weaken Bones, Lead to Osteoporosis

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french friesWe know junk food can make us fat, cause type 2 diabetes and increase our risk of heart disease. It seems as if every day we learn about another negative consequence of these over-processed foods. Did you know junk food can also potentially cause osteoporosis?

According to research from Ron Zernicke of the University of Michigan’s School of Kinesiology and Cy Frank of the Alberta Bone and Joint Health Institution, excess sugar and fat could weaken the bones and lead to osteoporosis, an ailment characterized by brittle bones.

These two researchers say that diets rife with junk food (marked by high saturated fat and sugar intake) can prevent calcium absorption. Also, according to Natural News, these fats also create a sort of soap or barrier on the inside of the intestines, further blocking the absorption of essential nutrients.

“Right now, roughly 12 million Americans age 50 have osteoporosis,” said Frank. Zernicke added, “Boomers themselves—the oldest now 66—have reached the stage in life when they’re most susceptible to bone and joint disorders.”

Sugar and fat aren’t the only culprits, says Linda K. Massey, PhD, RD of Washington State University. She remarks that table salt, used in excess in the average diet, causes calcium loss. For every single teaspoon of salt consumed, 40 mg of calcium is lost through urine.

And if that wasn’t enough, caffeine is directly responsible for decreased calcium too. Dr. Massey says that every 100 mg of caffeine you take in, 6 mg of calcium is lost. For reference, the average cup of brewed coffee contains anywhere from 95 to 200 mg of caffeine, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Caffeine, salt, sugar, and saturated fat—these four bone breakers are the four basic food groups of the Standard American Diet (SAD). Without them, many people wouldn’t know where to turn. Fortunately, there is an answer—it’s called whole, natural foods.

Given all we know about junk food, processed food, and fast food (all the same, right), it isn’t so surprising to hear that osteoporosis could be yet another result of consuming these foods. Some research, conducted by scientists from the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and the University of Granada, found that junk food ignites depression, while other studies have linked damage of the arteries.

Don’t try to beat your bone destruction by popping supplements. Instead, swap your energy drink for green tea, your potato chips for roasted chick peas, and your candy for fruit. Leafy green vegetables are loaded with calcium (and a whole lot of other good things).

Changing your long-term health outcome begins with small but significant steps. And it begins now.