An anti-inflammatory diet may protect women against bone density loss and decrease the risk of hip fracture, according to data taken from the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI).
Researchers at the Ohio State University looked at dietary data from 160,191 women, and assigned inflammation scores based on 32 food components that the women reported consuming in the 3 months prior to their enrollment. Participants were aged 50 to 79 at enrollment.
Inflammatory elements in the diets were compared to bone density and fractures. During the 6 year follow-up those with the least-inflammatory diets – based on a scoring system called ‘Dietary Inflammatory Index’ – lost less bone density compared to their high-inflammation peers.
This finding was in spite of those in the least-inflammatory diet starting off with lower bone density compared to those in the most-inflammatory diet category. The researchers hypothesize that this could be due to women with healthier diets being more likely to have smaller builds.
“This suggests that as women age, healthy diets are impacting their bones,” said Tonya Orchard, lead author and professor at OSH, “I think this gives us yet another reason to support the recommendations for a healthy diet in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.” Anti-inflammatory diets tend to be high in vegetables, fruits, fish and whole grains.
The authors note that because the study was observational, it isn’t possible to definitively link dietary patterns and bone health and fracture outcomes. They also highlighted how the link between high-inflammatory diets and fractures was only identified in younger white women. Higher scores were associated with an almost 50% larger risk of hip fracture in white women younger than 63.
Orchard T, Yildiz V, Steck SE, et al. Dietary inflammatory index, bone mineral density and risk of fracture in postmenopausal women: results from the Women’s Health Initiative [published online December 26, 2016]. J Bone Miner Res. doi:10.1002/jbmr.3070
This article originally appeared on MPR