Hip fractures are the most common fractures resulting in hospitalization, particularly among older women. Around 1.6 million cases occur globally each year and rates are increasing, particularly in Europe and Asia. Mobility and independence decrease after hip fracture incidence whilst risk of comorbidities increases, resulting in a reduced health-related quality of life and increased mortality. Hip fractures also burden healthcare systems, costing the UK £2–3 billion and the US healthcare system $6 billion per year, respectively. There is potential for risk reduction through diet modification, but the extent to which dietary intake of specific foods and nutrients impact hip fracture risk remains unclear.
Adequate bone health and muscle function are important in preventing hip fracture. The importance of protein, calcium, and vitamin D to bone health and muscle function are becoming increasingly recognised. Consumption of foods in which nutrients important to bone health are abundant may also be associated with hip fracture risk. Higher intakes of fruits and vegetables have been inversely associated with hip fracture risk, possibly through reducing oxidative stress and consequently reducing bone loss.
Increasing intake of protein and drinking regular cups of tea or coffee is a way women could reduce their risk of suffering a hip fracture, according to new research.
Food scientists at the University of Leeds in the UK have found that for women, a 25g a day increase in protein was associated with, on average, a 14% reduction in their risk of hip fracture. In a surprise twist, they also discovered that every additional cup of tea or coffee they drank was linked with a 4% reduction in risk.
The protein could come in any form: meat, dairy or eggs; and for people on a plant-based diet, from beans, nuts or legumes. Three to four eggs would provide around 25g of protein as would a steak or piece of salmon. 100g of tofu would provide about 17g of protein.
The investigation is based on a large observational analysis of more than 26,000 women.
The researchers noted that the protective benefits were greater for women who were underweight, with a 25g/day increase in protein reducing their risk by 45%.
The recommended protein intake in the UK is 0.8g per kilogramme of bodyweight per day, a limit some nutritional experts believe is too low. As the study revealed, people who had a higher protein consumption had a reduction in the risk of hip fracture. However, intakes of protein which are very high, where intake is greater than 2 to 3g of protein/kg body weight/day, can have negative health effects. The study was not able to explore these very high protein intake levels.
This is an interesting finding given that tea and coffee are the UK’s favorite drinks. They still need to know more about how these drinks could affect bone health but it might be through promoting the amount of calcium present in our bones.
James Webster, Darren C. Greenwood, Janet E. Cade (November 8, 2022). Foods, nutrients and hip fracture risk: A prospective study of middle-aged women. Clinical Nutrition. Retrieved from: https://www.clinicalnutritionjournal.com/article/S0261-5614(22)00393-4/fulltext
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