Flax seeds, sesame seeds, but also whole grains, berries and broccoli, here are the foods that you should never miss to protect the health of your bones. In fact, these foods provide lignans, a type of antioxidants, and fibers that, as shown by a very recent scientific research published in the journal Nutrients (Liu et al, Nutrients, 2022), counteract the loss of bone mass and the risk of fractures.
Nutrition and bone health
Our bones are subjected to constant remodeling. In healthy bones there is a balance between the absorption of bone tissue by the osteoclasts and the formation of new tissue by the osteoblasts. When this balance is broken, due to advancing age, hormonal changes, stress or a poor diet, and the absorption of bone tissue prevails, then osteoporosis can develop with an increased risk of fractures. Nutrition plays an important role in preserving bone health. For example, foods that contain phytoestrogens, which are estrogen-like substances in the body, can reduce bone loss and thus the risk of fractures. Among the phytoestrogens we include lignans, which are easily found in our diet as they are contained in seeds, fruit, whole grains and some vegetables. In addition, the lignans counteract inflammation and this is also a type of process with which these substances act to preserve bone mass. The intake of lignans is connected to those of fiber, contained in abundance in the aforementioned foods. Fiber promotes calcium absorption and thus bone health. This is the result of in vitro studies but until now there was no study conducted on a large sample of the population on the effects of lignans and fibers on bone health.
The benefits of lignans and fibers
The researchers of the study we are talking about today were based on the data of a large study that lasted 6 years and involved more than 1000 people. Volunteers were asked to fill in questionnaires in order to assess their eating habits, and from here deriving the amount of fiber and lignans, and the state of health of the bones. What emerged was that those who consumed more lignans and fiber actually had a significantly lower risk of fractures. The study estimated a 70% lower risk of fracturing a bone. Not only that, a diet rich in lignans and fiber was associated with an increase in bone mass.
The strength of this study is that it evaluated the beneficial action of lignans and fiber taken with the diet, therefore it is an intervention within everyone's reach. Small tricks are enough, such as serving foods that contain these precious substances with a little more frequency. Lignans are found in cashews, linseed and sesame, fruits, such as berries, grapefruits, apricots and peaches, vegetables, such as carrots, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage, green peppers, courgettes, cucumbers and shallots, and whole grains.