This article originally appeared on Live in the Now.
An exciting study has found that turmeric helps build and repair bone mass in the elderly. Researchers believe curcumin, a compound in turmeric, balances cells that prematurely remove aging bone tissue before it can be replaced.
Scientists from Genoa University examined a group of adults with an average age of 70, all of whom had declining bone density. At the study’s onset, ultrasound scanning was used to assess bones in the fingers, jaws and heels.
After six months, the scans showed the participants who took a daily supplement of turmeric with soy lecithin had a seven percent increase in bone density over those who took a placebo.
Osteoporosis is a major health concern, as approximately 75 percent of the elderly lose the minerals in their bones that keep them strong. The condition is called osteopenia, and it mainly stems from a lack of exercise. In time, osteopenia can lead to osteoporosis and an increased risk of bone fractures.
How Bone Density Is Regulated
Bone density is determined by the balance between osteoblasts (cells that build bone tissue) and osteoclasts (cells that remove aging bone tissue). In the elderly, the rate of bone removal exceeds the rate of bone buildup or replacement, thus resulting in a loss of bone strength. Turmeric appears to help put the process of bone removal and replacement in better balance.
According to researcher Luca Giacomelli, the results were promising. However, he said the effect can’t be replicated by merely adding turmeric to the diet because the spice is poorly absorbed. Nonetheless, the findings give the millions of people afflicted with osteoporosis one more tool for fighting bone loss. This is especially true when considering the results of several other studies that show the value of curcumin for bone health. The new research was published in the European Review for Medical and Pharmacological Sciences.
How to Improve Bone Density
Natural strategies for bone strengthening include exercising regularly and getting at least 15 minutes of sunlight exposure per day. Based on the study, in addition to earlier research, taking a good quality turmeric or curcumin supplement is also highly beneficial.
Another important measure is to follow a diet that provides the necessary nutrients. This involves eating omega-3 fatty acid foods like salmon, along with high-calcium foods, such as yogurt, cheese, kale and other leafy green vegetables. And research shows prunes fight bone loss, so this food should be added to the diet as well. Experts advocate the avoidance of sodas and processed foods because they can deplete bones of calcium.
An easy way to remember what to eat and what not to eat is to adhere to the Mediterranean diet — it incorporates all of the above admonitions and is linked to a reduced risk of osteoporosis.