An adequate and healthy diet plays a crucial role in strengthening of bones and the human skeletal system.

All of us know and are aware that growing old weakens the body. We have experienced it ourselves or have witnessed our dear ones, especially elders in the family, grow weak and soft with passage of time.

While age cannot be reversed and weakening of our body caused by years of wearing out and due to other medical, lifestyle and environmental factors cannot be prevented, it is possible to prevent and even reverse bones and the skeletal system from getting fragile. 

Osteoporosis is a bone disease which is characterised by high bone loss and less production of bones, which results in decreasing bone density and the weakening of bones to an extent that the skeletal structure becomes fragile. This should not be confused with osteoarthritis, which is a degenerative disease of the joints. Osteoporosis, which means porous bones, is a bone-thinning disease, involving weakening of bones to such an extent that even a minor impact such as sneezing can cause a serious fracture.

Nutrition is key: Fight osteoporosis with a diet rich in calcium, protein, and vitamin D

Although due to the absence of comprehensive research study the exact figures of people suffering from the disease are unavailable, it is estimated that 61 million people, of which 61% are women, are suffering from the disease. One in four women older than 50 years is believed to suffer from osteoporosis in the country.


Around the world, it is estimated that one in three women compared to one in five men older than 50 years of age suffer from an osteoporotic fracture. The International Osteoporosis Foundation reports a study among Indian women aged between 30 and 60 years from low-income groups, where very low levels of bone mineral density (BMD) were found at all the skeletal sites compared to those of women from developed countries. A high prevalence of osteopenia (52%) and osteoporosis (29%) were determined, which was primarily caused by inadequate nutrition. Why women are affected more by osteoporosis is because during the post-menopausal years, the rate of bone loss accelerates due to decline in estrogen concentration in the body. As per some studies, the rate of decline in BMD can range from 4% to 5.7%.

Low-income groups in India struggle for a balanced, nutritious diet which should have the essential nutrients — calcium coupled with a few calories, proteins and micronutrients. However, it is not necessary that people from good-to-high income groups consume a nutritious and balanced diet. In India, data suggest a highly contradictory scenario in terms of food and nutrition, with the country being home to over 190 million undernourished people, while standing second in the world only next to China in the number of obese people. This state of diet and nutrition is a perfect scenario for incidence of osteoporosis cases in the country. Being a silent disease, osteoporosis does not readily show any symptoms. It is highly possible that people might not be aware of being affected by the disease until they suffer a painful fracture.

An adequate and healthy diet plays a crucial role in strengthening of bones and the human skeletal system. Modern lifestyle has increased inactivity. Excessive alcohol and tobacco consumption is another major risk factor. Apart from this, a major contributory factor is unhealthy dietary practices, which also includes eating disorders such as anorexia, and consumption of food deficient in important nutrients such as calcium, magnesium and vitamin D.

Osteoporosis can be prevented or at least its onset can be delayed by managing the avoidable risk factors. The following dietary considerations will help prevent the disease:

Diet management: Specially, for osteoporosis, a diet rich in calcium, protein, magnesium and vitamin D is vital.
The following healthy dietary practices should be followed:

Include calcium-rich food in your diet: Calcium strengthens bones. Non-fat milk, curd, dates, tomato, broccoli, cauliflower, almonds, green leafy vegetables and certain types of fish such as mackerel, pollack, sunfish cod, trout, herring and whitebait are all good sources of calcium.

Protein-rich foods like lentils, kidney beans, grains, nuts and seeds help the body keep the muscles healthy. Healthy muscles support the bones.

Consumption of tobacco and alcohol should be reduced as much as possible. Red meat and caffeine should also be avoided.

You may include calcium supplements in your diet if they are prescribed by your doctor.

Although exercising does not increase bone density, it improves health in more ways than one and also contributes to preventing osteoporosis.

– Don’t exercise body parts which have a history of fracture. This may cause unnecessary injuries.

– Increase physical activity and include exercising in your daily routine. Weight-bearing exercises and physical activities like running, jumping and walking help the body maintain good balance and posture.

– Do practise yoga as it is known to increase flexibility and strength in the body.