Bone-Dissolving Foods Seniors Must Avoid
By Dr. Chad Walding, DPT
March 3rd, 2020
Thanks to classic “Got Milk?” advertisements, many of us are aware that calcium and vitamin D support bone health. But have you ever thought about the foods that cause the opposite effect?
The National Osteoporosis Foundation reports that around 54 million Americans have poor bone density. Often the first sign of poor bone density is a fracture, and at that point, it becomes much more difficult to improve bone health.
In fact, fractures not only make it more difficult to improve bone health - but at a certain age, bone fractures can lead to a permanent loss of independence for seniors.
Statistics from a National Hospital Discharge Survey show that the risks only increase with age.
People lose bone mass and density as they age, (especially women after menopause), which is the primary reason why fractures, falls and accidents are more prevalent among these populations.
This loss of bone mass is due to the fact that with each passing year our bones lose calcium, vital amino acids and other minerals required to provide strength and density to our skeletal system.
Not only this, but certain dietary habits can exacerbate the loss of bone mass, leading to weaker, more brittle bones putting individuals over 60 to an even higher risk rate of falls and fractures.
After consulting with Dr. Chad Walding, Doctor of Physical Therapy and leading Senior Nutrition Expert, we’ve compiled a list of the most bad-to-the-bone foods to avoid for maintaining bone health – and which key nutrients seniors should consume more of to rebuild bones while protecting against fractures and falls.
Here’s a look at a few of the most common dietary culprits that can damage our bones.
1.) Soft Drinks
Soft drinks (yes, even diet soda) are packed with phosphoric acid, which causes an increase in the blood's acidity levels.
As a result, the body pulls calcium out of our bones in order to bring the acidity levels back to normal.
“When calcium intake is low, consuming excessive amounts of phosphoric acid will promote rapid calcium loss from the body,” Dr. Walding explains.
To make matters worse, nearly all soft drinks lack calcium. Couple this with the fact that they also increase calcium excretion in our urine and it’s easy to see how these dangerous drinks act as a double whammy for bone health, putting seniors at serious risk for developing dilapidating bone conditions.
Here’s the preferred drink Dr. Walding recommends his senior patients to reach for instead.
2.) Table Salt
While sodium plays an important role in our overall health, over consuming table salt or eating excessive amounts of high-sodium foods can pose a great obstacle to a sturdy skeleton.
Research has found that postmenopausal women with a high-salt diet lose more bone minerals than other women of the same age.
Studies show that regular table salt, not simply sodium, causes calcium loss, weakening bones with time. That’s important because Americans get about 90% of our sodium through salt.
We also get about twice as much sodium as we should. The 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans advise limiting sodium to 2,300 milligrams a day – equal to a teaspoon of salt. But most Americans get at least 4,000 milligrams a day.
A study published in the Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition in December 2016 found that participants who had a habit of eating salty foods were more prone to osteoporosis, a condition that causes bone-thinning.* A study published in the journal Osteoporosis International in January 2017 found this association also for postmenopausal women.*
"Generally speaking, for every 2,300 milligrams of sodium we take in, about 40 milligrams of calcium is lost in the urine – which is a big problem for seniors," says Dr. Walding.
A good starting point is to replace regular table salt with pink Himalayan salt instead.
Both table salt and pink Himalayan salt consist mostly of sodium chloride, but pink Himalayan salt has up to 84 other minerals and trace elements - including potent doses of common minerals like potassium and calcium which help maintain the vital mineral balance needed for healthy bones*.
For maximum bone health, Dr.Walding recommends moderating salt intake. “Try to keep it below 2,300 milligrams a day and swap table salt for pink Himalayan sea salt,” he says.
3.) Excessive Caffeine
When ingested excessively, caffeine can begin leaching calcium from bones, sapping their strength.
Over-consuming caffeine (from soda or coffee or other caffeinated drinks) is a particular problem when a woman doesn’t get enough calcium each day to begin with.
"On average, we can lose up to 6 milligrams of calcium for every 100 milligrams of caffeine we consume," says Dr. Walding.
That's not as much of a loss as salt, but for coffee lovers who are unwilling to budge on their java intake – it's worrisome, nonetheless.
For reference, a 16-ounce cup of coffee can provide 320 milligrams which exceeds the daily recommended amount when it comes to supporting strong, healthy bones.
The good news is that limiting caffeine intake to 300 milligrams a day while consuming the appropriate amount of bone-rebuilding nutrients can help offset the losses caused by excessive caffeine intake.
Coffee addicts may also find it helpful to gradually reduce their caffeine intake by drinking half regular and half-decaf coffee.
4.) Hydrogenated Oils
Hydrogenated oils are man-made fats produced by contaminating vegetable oils with hydrogen gas under super-high pressure – which creates synthetic artery-blocking trans fats.
This man-made form of trans fat is not to be confused with the naturally occurring trans fats found within animal products and coconut oil – Naturally occurring trans fats are proven to support our health whereas the synthetic version can do serious damage.
This is because the synthetic processing used to create hydrogenated oil destroys any naturally-occurring vitamin K in the vegetable oils. And since vitamin K is essential for strong bones, experts recommend forgoing any foods that contain non-natural trans fats completely (think fast food, frozen food, pastries, and most store-bought coffee creamers).
To ensure your foods aren't contaminated by these foul fats, check the ingredient list (even if the label reads trans-fat-free) for any "hydrogenated oils" or "partially hydrogenated oils." Those phrases are synonyms for synthetic trans fats and are likely to be snuck into your food.
5.) Wheat Bran
Like beans, wheat bran contains high levels of phytates which can prevent the body from absorbing calcium. However, unlike beans, 100% wheat bran is the only food that appears to reduce the absorption of calcium in other foods eaten at the same time.
For example, when consuming 100% wheat bran cereal with fortified milk, the body's ability to absorb calcium from the milk is drastically reduced.
Dr.Walding recommends cereal and bread lovers to switch from wheat bran products to using sprouted grain products instead like those offered by the Ezekiel brand. The sprouting process breaks down phytates, which frees up nutrients like magnesium, B vitamins as well as nutrients from companion foods (like the calcium from fortified milk) easier to absorb.
Plus, the sprouting process also breaks down some of the starch found in whole wheat bran grains, which makes sprouted grain products a little easier to digest. Making sprouted grain products the preferred alternative not just for bones, but for overall health and wellbeing.
What Seniors Can Do To Rebuild Their Bones
“An adult human possesses 206 bones made up of calcium, collagen protein, and other minerals. Unfortunately, poor bone health has become somewhat of an epidemic – leading to horrific accidents, fractures and falls causing many of my senior patients to lose their independence earlier in life,” says Dr. Walding.
Fortunately, there’s something seniors can do to improve their bone health and reduce their risk of injury.
Since our bones are made up of many of the same organic minerals and amino acids that are found naturally in many foods, incorporating more bone-rebuilding nutrients into our diet can have a dramatic impact on supporting stronger bones.
What Seniors Can Do To Rebuild Their Bones
While avoiding bone-damaging foods will certainly help support efforts to keep bones healthy, there is one stand-out dietary habit that researchers believe yields the greatest impact on our ability to rebuild and strengthen bone tissue – and that is collagen protein.
Collagen is one of the most plentiful proteins in mammals. It is responsible for several biological functions, one of which is to provide structural support in connective tissues like muscles, joints, skin, and bones.
In fact, approximately 90% of the bone matrix is comprised of collagen protein*.
Clinical evidence suggests that adding collagen into one’s diet may help prevent the deterioration of bone density and strength.
For example, one small study had women take either calcium or calcium and collagen supplements for 1 year. The researchers found that the women taking the calcium and the collagen had lower levels of a protein responsible for breaking down bones in their blood*.
Therefore, in order to repair bones and prevent bone loss, a steady stream of collagen protein will do the body wonders.
"Adequate calcium, phosphorus and vitamin D intake help to cast a protective net around bones, but collagen protein is the primary substance that makes up our bone’s solid material, providing the bone density needed to maintain a stronger skeletal structure within the body," Dr. Walding says.
But There’s Just One Caveat...
Although most Americans get plenty of protein, many seniors fail to get enough collagen (the specific protein bones are primarily made of) on a daily basis and it's hurting their bones.
In fact, researchers have reported that low intake of protein decreases calcium absorption and may also affect rates of bone formation and breakdown.*
What’s worse is that during our late 20’s, the body’s natural ability to produce adequate levels of collagen begins to wane by about 1-2% each passing year.
Coupling this with the fact that most seniors aren’t getting enough collagen in their diet as it is, it’s obvious why bone loss, fractures and falls are so high among the aging population.
Bottom line: Seniors are losing collagen faster than they can replace it, putting them at a severe collagen deficit which increases their risk of injury as the years go by with low collagen levels left unaddressed.
“The first step to restoring bone density and preventing against injuries and fractures is to restore our collagen deficit - rebuilding collagen levels back to optimal ranges is the key to strong healthy bones at any age,” says Dr. Walding.
3 Science-Backed Ways Collagen Supports Bone, Joint & Muscle Health
Prevent Bone Loss
Our bones are made mostly of collagen, which gives them structure and helps keep them strong.
As collagen levels deteriorate with age, bone mass does too, leading to crippling mobility concerns including severely low bone density and higher risks of bone fractures.
Studies have shown that taking collagen supplements may have certain effects in the body that help inhibit the bone breakdown.
In one study that looked at bone health in 103 postmenopausal women, 66 women were given 5 grams of collagen daily for 12 months. The women who took the collagen had an increase of up to 7% in their bone mineral density (BMD), compared to women who did not consume collagen.
SUMMARY: For stronger, healthier bones, research shows that at least 12 months of daily collagen supplementation (5 grams/day) is required.
Relieve Joint Pain
Collagen helps maintain the integrity of your connective tissues such as our joints, muscles, and cartilage, which is the rubber-like tissue that protects your joints.
As the body’s collagen levels decrease with age, the risk of developing degenerative joint disorders increases.
Some studies have shown that taking a collagen supplement may help improve symptoms of joint disorders and reduce joint pain overall.
In one study, 73 participants who consumed 10 grams of collagen daily for 24 weeks experienced a significant decrease in joint pain while walking and at rest compared to a group that did not take it.*
SUMMARY: For improved joint health and relief from joint-related pain, research shows that at least 24 weeks of daily collagen supplementation (10 grams/day) is required.
Between 1–10% of muscle tissue is composed of collagen. This means that collagen protein is vital for keeping our muscles strong and functioning properly as we age.
Studies suggest that collagen supplements help boost muscle mass in people with sarcopenia, the loss of muscle mass that happens with age.*
In one study, 27 participants took 15 grams of collagen for 12 weeks. Compared to participants who did not take collagen, they gained significantly more muscle mass and strength.* This research shows great promise for helping older individuals maintain their independence as they age.
SUMMARY: Research shows that 12 weeks of daily collagen supplementation (15 grams/day) yielded improvements in muscle mass and strength.
Other Medically Proven Benefits Of Collagen
Enhance Skin Complexion & Reduce Wrinkles
Collagen plays a role in strengthening skin, plus may benefit elasticity and hydration. With age, the body produces less collagen, leading to dry skin and the formation of wrinkles.
However, several studies have shown that collagen supplements may help slow the aging of your skin by reducing wrinkles and dryness.
One study found that women who consumed a collagen supplement daily for 12 weeks experienced increased skin hydration and a significant reduction in wrinkle depth compared to a control group.*
SUMMARY: While modest skin benefits can be seen in 8 weeks, for major improvements in skin health including reduction of deep wrinkles, research shows that at least 12 weeks of consistent daily collagen supplementation (5 grams/day) is required.
Improve Hair Health & Slow Follicle Thinning
Collagen makes up 70% of your dermis, the middle layer of your skin that contains the root of each individual hair. Therefore, providing the body with collagen may help maintain a healthy dermis and prevent hair thinning.
In an eight-week study, 69 women aged 35–55 found that taking a daily collagen supplement significantly improved dermis elasticity and hydration compared to a placebo, translating to enhanced overall skin & hair health.*
SUMMARY: When it comes to improving hair health, research shows that at least 8 weeks of consistent daily collagen supplementation (5 grams/day) is required for results.
Promote Heart & Artery Health
Collagen provides structure to your arteries, the blood vessels that carry blood from your heart to the rest of your body. Without enough collagen, arteries may become weak and fragile.
In one study, 31 healthy adults took 16 grams of collagen daily for six months. By the end, they had experienced a significant reduction in measures of artery stiffness compared to before they started taking the supplement.*
SUMMARY: According to research, 6 months of daily collagen supplementation (16 grams/day) was shown to elicit positive results for promoting heart health
“What the research clearly tells us is that collagen DOES work - But we must have the patience and fortitude to follow through with consistent daily use to reap its benefits.”
Based on clinical evidence, experiencing the many benefits of collagen may require anywhere from 8 weeks to 12 months of daily use to be fully realized.
Taking a scoop here and a scoop there won’t cut it when it comes to seeing results with collagen; consistent, daily use is necessary.
While it’s very possible to experience positive results as early as the first few weeks of consistent supplementation, and many of Dr. Chad Walding’s patients do, individuals aged 60+ may require longer durations of daily collagen use to experience dramatic results.
Generally, a daily collagen dose of 5-10 grams is recommended but for older individuals, their collagen levels are already at a deficit - putting them severely below normal healthy ranges.
This means doubling up the dose may be the best approach for older individuals to reap collagen’s maximum benefits; a protocol that’s better known as collagen loading.
“With collagen loading, my most successful senior patients take between 10-20 grams of collagen a day…”
Doubling the dose works to effectively rebuild lost collagen and allows the body to easily overcome the age-related deficit.
While some individuals may only need to “load” (10-20g daily) for a matter of months, many find the most success by using the loading dose long-term. This helps ensure that collagen levels stay elevated for good.
How To Get More Collagen In Your Diet
Now that you know a bit more about how much collagen your body really needs in order to experience results, you’ll also want to know the doctor-recommended approach to getting more collagen in your diet.
Though it is possible to obtain extra collagen through diet (consuming animal products such as gelatinous meats, the cartilage on bones such as chicken drumsticks, and skin from poultry), most find it unappealing or difficult to eat enough to support their body’s requirements.
Plus, the absorption is not as efficient as that of hydrolyzed collagen powder supplements. The collagen in supplements has already been broken down, or hydrolyzed, which is why it is thought to be absorbed more efficiently than the collagen in foods.
This is why supplementing with a high-quality collagen protein powder has become the preferred method for increasing collagen levels within the body. Most collagen powder supplements include a pre-dosed measuring scoop that makes adding more collagen to one’s diet seamless.
But not all collagen supplements are created equal...
“While skepticism surrounding collagen may remain for some time, there’s no denying its miraculous benefits - so long as you’re using the right formula to suit your needs.”
As more and more collagen supplements burst onto the stage, it’s important to understand the different types of collagen, as well as the different sources and health benefits associated with the most important types.
The Best Collagen Fiber Types For Seniors
Collagen types contain different proteins which serve separate purposes within the body.
However, most thoroughly researched specifically for anti-aging & mobility benefits are types I and III collagen.
These are frequently thought to be useful for the broadest number of people who are seeking to maintain an active lifestyle well beyond their 60’s.
Type I collagen, which is the most abundant collagen naturally found in the human body, is useful for visible anti-aging benefits such as:
- Getting rid of wrinkles
- Skin hydration & elasticity
- Wound healing, the formation of scar tissue
- Reduction in cellulite, possibly even stretch marks
- Moderate weight loss
Type III collagen, which is the second most prevalent collagen naturally found in the human body, is useful for physical anti-aging benefits:
- Muscle, ligament & tendon strength
- Restoring mobility within connective tissues
- Mitigating muscle soreness, aches & pains
- Bone & joint health
- Gut lining & digestive health
- Injury & fall prevention
Of all collagen’s health benefits, research is most certain about Type I and Type III’s ability to support ageless skin, hair, nails as well as effectively boost muscle, ligament and tendon strength to support healthy joints as well as an active lifestyle.
Therefore when choosing a collagen supplement, it’s important to ensure Type I and Type III collagen is present in the formula.
What to look for when shopping for a collagen supplement
Based on recent clinical trials, there are 3 keys to getting the absolute best results with collagen supplementation.
#1.) Avoid “multicollagen” marketing scams
While multicollagen supplements tend to be less expensive, there are a few key reasons why choosing bargain brand multicollagens may not be the smartest option for meeting your daily collagen needs.
For starters, research indicates that certain collagen types should be taken together while others should be taken separately.
For example, because collagen Type II protein makes up the fluids and function in the cartilage and joints, Type II collagen supplements should be taken separately from Types I & III to ensure adequate absorption.*
For this reason, taking multicollagen supplements that combine all the various types of collagen into 1 serving isn’t recommended as this will blunt the absorption, hindering the body from reaping the full benefits.
Additionally, many collagen fiber types that don’t have ample research backing their effectiveness are cheaper to source. These low-cost collagen types are often used in multicollagen supplements as fillers to mitigate manufacturing costs - ultimately yielding a far less effective supplement.
Therefore in order to experience maximum anti-aging results with collagen supplementation, use a powder that combines Types I & III - and leave out all the rest.
#2.) Make sure your collagen supplement is certified grass-Fed
If you’ve considered supplementing with collagen then you probably already know that picking a collagen source can be a bit confusing.
Bone broth collagen, bovine-collagen, chicken-collagen, marine-collagen…
With so many options to choose from - how can you decide which is the best option for you?
Here’s what you need to know about the source:
It actually doesn’t matter as much as you think it does.
While the ratio and concentration of amino acids may vary slightly from source to source, structurally, collagen is the same whether it’s coming from a cow, chicken, fish or bone broth.
The key difference maker to pay attention to isn’t the animal; it’s how the animal was cared for.
In other words, whether the collagen comes from a grass-fed, pasture-raised, cage-free, free-range, and antibiotic-free source, (or not), will have a direct impact on the absorption, effectiveness and ultimately the safety of the supplement.
Grass-fed cows are never fed any genetically modified organisms and are not exposed to growth hormone treatment (rBGH & rBST), chemicals, antibiotics, or injected pathogens. This makes grass-fed collagen one of the healthiest (and safest) protein supplements to include in your diet. It is free of hormones, antibiotics, pesticides, and steroids.
The only way to ensure you are avoiding this risk of toxin exposure is by using a collagen supplement that is Certified Grass-Fed.
#3.) Look for “hydrolysate” on the label
To ensure your body can easily digest and put the collagen to immediate use, make sure the supplement is fully hydrolyzed collagen.
When hydrolyzed, collagen is carefully reduced to smaller, more digestible peptides during the manufacturing process.
Studies indicate properly hydrolyzed collagen peptides are available in the bloodstream within two hours of ingestion — usually within only one hour.
In other words, using a hydrolysate collagen means your body will be able to start reaping the age-defying benefits much more rapidly.
Bottom line: If you are interested in trying collagen, doctors agree that it’s important to choose wisely…
Consuming pure Grass-Fed, Type I & III collagen fibers that are fully hydrolyzed for fast absorption will give your body a huge advantage when it comes to staving off joint pain as well as reducing visible signs of aging.
At NativePath, Dr.Chad Walding (DTP & Co-Founder) has played a critical role in developing a breakthrough formula to make meeting daily collagen needs easier and more effective than ever.
The Doctor-Recommended Collagen Formula
NativePath Grass-Fed Collagen
Collagen Types I & III for Healthy Joints, Hair, Skin, Nails, Muscles, Bones & Long-Lasting Mobility
Taken together, Collagen Types I & III have been shown to help:
- Support the bone matrix (36% of bone is made up of collagen Type I and III)
- Enhance muscle, tendon & ligament strength
- Decrease muscle & joint soreness, stiffness, chronic pain
- Minimize fine lines and wrinkles
- Improve elasticity of skin & connective tissues
- Correct weak or damaged nail beds
- Thicken brittle hair, slows hair loss
- Improve circulation & promote heart health
- Support intestinal health & gut lining
- Promote glycine production to enhance sleep cycle & recovery
- Boost lean muscle & support a fat-burning metabolism
- Increase skin hydration, suppleness & decrease micro-furrows
At last, a simple, convenient, scientifically-backed way to add collagen to your diet in only seconds!
Every scoop of NativePath Grass-Fed Collagen is consistently formulated with 10 grams of the highest-quality grass-fed, Type I and Type III collagen which are critical for maintaining the youthful function and appearance of the skin, hair, nails, joints, bones, muscles and more.
Using an advanced hydrolyzed collagen peptide formula, NativePath’s premium collagen powder allows for maximum absorption and potency.
This means it can be broken down, converted, and absorbed back into the body to rebuild joint strength, fill in fine lines and promote graceful aging much more effectively than non-hydrolyzed collagen brands.
Replenish collagen back to youthful levels now with NativePath Grass-Fed Collagen today.