- In the United States, approximately 10 million people over the age of 50 have osteoporosis, with another 34 million at risk of contracting the disease.
- Health experts are looking for safe and affordable treatments with fewer negative side effects than conventional medications.
- In a study of dietary interventions, Pennsylvania researchers found that consuming prunes could reduce inflammatory markers associated with bone density.
Osteoporosis is the most common bone disease. It causes bones to lose mass and become porous and brittle, especially in the elderly.
This increases the risk of fractures and
As the ovaries stop functioning during menopause in females, estrogen levels decrease. This causes increased inflammation throughout the body which can contribute to bone loss.
New research from the Integrative Physiology and Biomedical Program and the Departments of Nutritional Sciences and Kinesiology at Pennsylvania State University (Penn State) discusses how plum consumption affects inflammatory markers associated with bone loss.
This work suggests that women can reduce inflammation by eating six to 12 prunes per day.
Lead author Janhavi Damani, MS, a graduate student at Penn State’s Huck Institute of the Life Sciences, presented her team’s findings at the Experimental biology 2022 meeting of the American Physiological Society. The conference took place April 2-5 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Melissa M. Markofski, PhD is an assistant professor in the Department of Health and Human Performance at the University of Houston in Texas. She was not involved in the study.
In an interview with Medical news todayDr. Markofski said: “What we do know is that there is a strong link between [prolonged] high levels of inflammation [and] chronic diseases, in particular osteoporosis “.
He also noted: “Inflammation is linked between the immune system and bone health and we know that in a state of high inflammation people [with] elevated inflammatory markers [have] an increased likelihood of developing osteoporosis, especially women.
Plums and polyphenols
Polyphenols are active plant compounds with antioxidant properties. They help prevent or fight cell damage caused by free radicals, unstable molecules which are by-products of metabolic processes and which can cause oxidative stress.
Plums, which are rich in polyphenols, have shown their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties in other studies.
Damani and her team studied 106 women between the ages of 55 and 75 with low bone mineral density scores, an indication of osteoporosis. The researchers aimed to assess how 12 months of plum consumption could affect inflammation levels.
One group of these people ate about six plums a day for 12 months, and another group ate about 12 plums a day for 12 months. A control group ate no plums during this time.
All participants also consumed calcium and vitamin D supplements as a “standard of care”.
By checking the blood samples before and after the study, the researchers observed significant reductions in inflammatory markers in participants who ate plums compared with the control group.
Lead author Damani commented:
“Our findings suggest that consuming six to 12 prunes per day may reduce pro-inflammatory mediators that can contribute to bone loss in postmenopausal women. Therefore, prunes could be a promising nutritional intervention to prevent the increase in inflammation mediators often seen as part of the aging process. “
Before buying loose plums, it can be helpful to recognize several limitations to this search.
The study sample size was quite small, and the participants were evaluated for only 12 months.
Dr Singer noted that although prunes appear to show some effects on anti-inflammatory factors in this study, the research did not include bone density measurements. Those data would be more useful, he believed.
He also said that a larger, longer-term study is warranted.
dr. Markofski and Singer wondered if a daily dose of dozens of plums was realistic or healthy for most people. Dr Markofski expressed concern that 12 plums contain about 36 grams of sugar, the same amount “in a scoop of ice cream”.
Another significant consideration on this study is funding. The authors acknowledge that the California Prunes Board sponsored their work.
Sherry Ross, MD is a gynecology and women’s health expert at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California. She was not involved in this study.
Talking with MNT, Dr. Ross was pleased that the study supports the consumption of prunes to reduce the risk of osteoporosis. He agreed that diet can play a huge role in this endeavor:
“Osteoporosis, a silent disease, affects millions of women every year. Estrogen, calcium, and vitamin D are important building blocks for keeping bone healthy and strong. Prevention is the perfect way to avoid weak bones, which put osteoporosis at risk. ”
“Whether you are in your 20s, 30s or 40s, making sure you get enough calcium in your daily diet is an important step in building strong bones and preventing this disease from affecting older women. Lifestyle changes, including a balanced and colorful diet rich in calcium, vitamin D and regular exercise, help establish healthy bones and should be started during puberty and adolescence. “