Because several studies have connected inflammation to bone loss and fractures, researchers from Ohio State University wondered if dietary choices that contribute to inflammation are also related to declines in bone density.
The team looked at the diets of 160,191 postmenopausal women enrolled in the Women’s Health Initiative and assigned each of them a dietary inflammation score based on 32 foods the women reported consuming in the three months prior to their enrollment. All the women completed dietary questionnaires and had scans to measure bone density at the beginning of the study and three and six years later.
At the beginning of the study, there was less correlation than expected between baseline markers of inflammation and bone density. However, over the course of the study, women following the least inflammatory diets had lost less bone than those with the most inflammatory diets.
The findings, which were published online Dec. 26, 2016, by the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research, suggest that although calcium and vitamin D help to build strong bones, they aren’t the only nutrients that do. A low-inflammation diet rich in unsaturated fats, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains is also important.