A European trial of approximately 1,150 people suggests that the Mediterranean diet could be good for bone health.
How can the Mediterranean diet help with bone health?
It discovered that seniors with
osteoporosis who followed a Mediterranean-like diet for 12 months had a much slower rate of hip bone loss than peers who did not follow the diet.
Osteoporosis increases the risk of fracture by reducing bone mass and degenerating the structure of bone tissue.
Hip fracture is common in older people with osteoporosis.
This adds to a growing body of research on the many health benefits of the Mediterranean diet, which is rich in vegetables, fruits, nuts, fish, wholegrains, and olive oil.
A paper on the trial — which was led by the University of Bologna in Italy — is now published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Reduced rate of bone loss
The year-long study randomly assigned over 1,000 volunteers, aged 65–79, living in France, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, and the United Kingdom to one of two groups.
One group adopted a “Mediterranean-like diet” for the duration, and the other — the control group — did not.
The trial is the first to examine the effect of a Mediterranean diet on bone health in seniors across several European centers over this length of time.
The Mediterranean-like diet had little or no effect on the participants whose bone density was normal, but it did reduce the rate of bone loss in individuals with osteoporosis.
Commenting on the results, corresponding study author Susan J. Fairweather-Tait, a professor at the University of East Anglia’s Norwich Medical School in the U.K., explains that a year isn’t long compared with the time it takes for bone to form.
“So,” she explains, “the fact [that] we were able to see a marked difference between the groups even in just this one area is significant.”
Bones and osteoporosis
Bone is not a dead material, but a living tissue that can replenish itself. Its main components are the protein collagen and a mineral called calcium phosphate. Together, these make bones flexible, strong, and resilient.
Bone goes through a continuous cycle of resorption — during which old bone is taken away — and formation. From birth through adolescence and early adulthood, ” formation outpaces resorption ,” and bones increase in size, weight, and density.
But at around the age of 30, bone density and strength peak, and bone mass begins to decline as resorption gradually outpaces formation.