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Could a Mediterranean Diet Improve Bone Health?

A new study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism has shown that eating a Mediterranean Diet could help improve bone health. People who eat diets rich in olive oil were found to have higher levels of a protein that is attributed to bone health. Although research suggests that olive oil will not be a perfect substitute for dairy products, it could be a good supplement to people’s diets to help them have stronger, healthier bones.

United States researchers are spending more time and energy understanding osteoporosis and how it can be prevented. More than ten million people in the United States alone suffer from the condition. They are particularly concerned about preventing the disease among elderly women, who are the greatest risk of developing the condition.

The study was started to follow-up reports that osteoporosis rates were lower in the Mediterranean area in Europe than in other regions. Researchers wanted to investigate whether that had anything to do with the Mediterranean diet itself. Mediterranean diets have been shown to be good for overall health. Previous studies have suggested they could improve heart health and rejuvenate immune systems.

People following a Mediterranean diet eat fewer processed foods. They are particularly interested in eating nuts, vegetables, beans and fruits. They eat fewer red meats and dairy products than most other people.

The study showed that osteocalcin levels were higher in people who ate these foods. However, the authors of the study cautioned people not to draw incorrect conclusions from the study. They need to conduct more detailed studies to determine what the role the protein really plays in bone health. Osteocalcin could increase bone density or reduce the risk of fractures. Until the relationship is better understood, researchers can’t ascertain whether or not consuming more of the protein will help fight the risk of developing osteoporosis.

Beth Kitchin is a physician who specializes in educating patients on promoting bone health at a clinic in Alabama. Kitchin said the study was interesting and hopeful to patients trying to reduce the likelihood of developing osteoporosis. Lead researchers agree with her findings, stating that their study was directed solely to look at biomarkers associated with following this diet. She hopes additional studies will be conducted to better understand the benefits of eating a Mediterranean diet.

The researchers said the study was encouraging as well, but caution patients not to overestimate the magnitude of its findings. While consuming foods with high levels of osteocalcin can be beneficial, that doesn’t mean they can stop eating dairy products or other foods that are rich in vitamin D or calcium. Those foods have been proven to have a strong impact on bone health.

 

Kalen Smith is a professional Internet marketer, consumer researcher and writer. He has been a writer for Weight Loss Triumph and is the cofounder of the blog Great Paleo Diet Cookbooks, where he writes about the paleo diet and lifestyle.

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