When we think about our risk of developing osteoporosis as we age, most of us worry about whether we’re getting enough calcium in our daily diet or our family history of the disease.
And while those are definitely issues to consider, there’s another factor that never comes to mind for the majority of us — one that could leave you at risk for low bone mass and the potential fractures that comes with it…
Yep, while your drinking milk by the gallon and living on yogurt, fine particulates and toxins in the air you breathe are gnawing away at your bones and leading to osteoporosis…
Air pollution is already attacking your body
Researchers from the Barcelona Institute for Global Health set out to narrow the knowledge gap on the impact of air pollution on bone health.
You see, some of the effects of air pollution on our health are well documented — including an increased risk of lung cancer, stroke, respiratory diseases, diabetes and more. However, there hasn’t been enough scientific evidence to say for sure whether it affects our bones as well.
So, the researchers set out to see…
The study, published in Jama Network Open, analyzed the association between air pollution and bone health in over 3,700 people from 28 villages in southern India, looking at air pollution levels from fine particulate matter and black carbon.
The team then linked this information with bone health which they determined using a special type of radiography to accurately measure bone density.
And the results were clear…
Exposure to ambient air pollution, particularly to fine particles, is associated with lower levels of bone mass.
In other words, air pollution can cause osteoporosis.
And, according to the researchers, this is true across a wide range of air pollution levels, including those you would find in countries such as the U.S.
Damage that’s bad to the bone
By now though, you’re probably wondering how this happens… How could particles in the air you breathe destroy your bone health?
Well, Otavio T. Ranzani, researcher and first author of the study, explains it this way — “Inhalation of polluting particles could lead to bone mass loss through the oxidative stress and inflammation caused by air pollution.”
Put simply, the toxins in the air cause free radical damage and inflammation in our bodies, and this is what leads to osteoporosis.
While it sounds like this may still be simply his theory, it’s a theory that’s backed up by previous research which shows that osteoporotic patients are more likely to be deficient in the antioxidants that fight free radical damage.
Two ways to fight off the damage and save your bones
Now, this may seem like bad news…
After all, there’s probably not a lot you can do to limit the amount of air pollution you’re exposed to barring moving to a more pristine location, right?
Wrong. There are actually two steps you could take that could really limit the bone-harming effects of air pollution…
First, since air pollution causes osteoporosis through oxidative stress, boosting your antioxidant intake is a no-brainer.
You can do this through the foods you eat, as well as by taking a daily antioxidant packed supplement that delivers some of the most powerful free radical fighters in nature, like:
- Resveratrol — From the skin of red grapes, this polyphenol is one of the most well-known and recommended antioxidants available.
- Acai fruit — This Amazon rainforest superfruit is loaded with vitamins, minerals and powerful antioxidants that support your health.
- Goji berry — Also called the wolfberry, goji berries are the most nutritionally dense fruit on earth. Their high antioxidant content helps provide potent free radical protection.
- Mangosteen — A fruit grown mostly in Southeast Asia, mangosteen is known for its over-abundance of antioxidants — like catechins, xanthones and polyphenols.
- Pomegranate — This ancient fruit is rich in antioxidants like polyphenols and flavonoids that support good health and fight free radicals.
Other antioxidant rich foods to add to your daily diet include grapes, blueberries, raspberries, spinach, kale, collard greens and sweet potatoes.
And especially broccoli sprouts… that’s step No. 2, and here’s what the science says about that…
In a study at Johns Hopkins University, study participants who consumed broccoli sprouts excreted 23 percent more acrolein (a nasty irritating toxin) and 61 percent more benzene (a well-known carcinogen) — both air pollutants.
So, grab some antioxidant protection and add broccoli sprouts to the menu to help keep your bones dense and strong.