A US study has found that women following an anti-inflammatory diet could boost bone health and help prevent fractures. The study was led by researchers from The Ohio State University and was published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Bone and Mineral Research. The article can be read online, but has not yet been fully edited.
The scientists looked at data from a landmark study: Women’s Health Initiative, which was set up by the US National Institutes of Health. It aims to study important health issues which cause morbidity and mortality in postmenopausal women. Participants were recruited between 1993 to 1998 and were aged 50-79 years.
The scientists were looking to compare levels of inflammatory food in the diet to bone mineral density and fractures. They looked at the dietary data from over 160,000 women and assigned scores for inflammation basing those scores on 32 food components that were reported as being consumed during the three months prior to enrolment. The researchers chose to use bone mineral data from around 10,000 of the women, but fracture data was examined for the whole group.
The scientists found that there was a link between high inflammatory diets and fractures in younger white women. Higher inflammatory scores could be associated with 50% higher risk of hip fracture in Caucasian women under 63 years when compared with women who were associated with the lowest inflammatory scores. The researchers suggested that following a high quality, anti-inflammatory diet could be an important factor in reducing the risk of hip fractures in younger women.
However in the study group as a whole, the higher inflammatory scored diets were not linked to fractures and there seemed to be a lower risk of lower arm and total fracture in those women who had the higher dietary inflammatory scores. The scientists suggested that this might be because women who had lower inflammation scores may be more physically active and therefore might have a slightly great risk of falling and suffering a fracture.
Those women who followed anti-inflammatory diets were scored as having lower bone mineral density at the start of the study. This could be because they may have had a smaller build. Bigger people need higher bone density to support a larger frame. However the first group did not lose as much bone as the second. Losing bone density is a problem that all women face following the menopause, so losing as little bone as possible is important to reduce the risk of fractures. The scientists suggested that further research would be needed to confirm their findings among more diverse populations.
The Dietary Inflammatory Index was designed to assess the quality of diet. It measures the inflammatory qualities of the nutrients consumed. The index suggests that diets rich in fish, fruit, whole grains and vegetables are anti-inflammatory diets while processed foods, and food high in fat and sugar should be avoided if trying to reduce inflammation.
Orchard, T., et al., Dietary inflammatory index, bone mineral density and risk of fracture in postmenopausal women: results from the Women’s Health Initiative, Accepted December 2016, Journal of Bone and Mineral Research, DOI: 10.1002/jbmr.3070