Alternatives to Dairy to Manage Osteoporosis

Alternatives to Dairy to Manage Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is a condition that leads to bone fragility and brittleness due to poor lifestyle choices and underlying health issues. If a person with osteoporosis suffers a fall, they sustain bone fractures that are out of proportion to the severity of the fall. In severe cases, the patient might also suffer fractures due to sneezing or simply bumping into something. This is why it should be treated at the earliest, which can be done effectively with medications and lifestyle treatments for osteoporosis.

Dietary habits
It is very important to change one’s diet to meet the nutritional requirements for optimal bone health. Although there are several other food sources for calcium like greens, soy, and bony fish, most people associate calcium with dairy. With calcium being necessary for bone health and the most common calcium-rich food choice being dairy products, many forget that dairy may not be suitable for everyone. However, here are some reasons dairy may not be the best option for meeting the calcium requirements to boost bone health:

  • Lactose intolerance
    While some people are mildly lactose intolerant, some cannot consume dairy products at all as they cause bloating, gas, and indigestion. For people with mild lactose intolerance, some forms of dairy like aged cheese and greek yogurt are easier to digest. Alternatively, an enzyme tablet can be taken after consulting a doctor to improve lactose digestion. There are also non-dairy substitutes for milk products that have added calcium for the same benefits.
  • Saturated fats
    Though there are many skimmed milk varieties and other low-fat dairy products, some fat and cholesterol content is always present in them.
  • The risk of cancer
    Modern methods of dairy farming involve the use of several hormones and medications that cause the milk produced to be contaminated with the same. One would have to either procure milk that has not been sourced from such farms or buy certified milk. The consumption of such milk may also cause hormonal issues. Women find themselves at a higher risk of ovarian cancer, but there is limited research to state that men face a higher risk of developing prostate cancer.
    Although milk is a traditional source of calcium and is also fortified with vitamin D nowadays, it is not always the best source of the nutrient for everyone.

Alternatives to dairy for meeting calcium requirements
The following are some alternatives to dairy products as part of lifestyle and dietary treatments for osteoporosis:

  • One can replace dairy with other sources of calcium like greens, especially the darker varieties.
  • Dried beans and legumes are also rich in calcium. Beans can be soaked and then cooked for consumption; they are easier for the body to digest than dairy products.
  • Vegetable sources of calcium have almost no fat, cholesterol, and other valuable nutrients like fiber and iron.
  • Several foods are fortified with added calcium, so they can also be incorporated into the diet.

One should also consult a doctor about getting enough vitamin D along with calcium. Dietary recommendations should also be supported by exercise and other lifestyle treatments for osteoporosis.