Lycopene and Bone Health

We all know that eating a large amount of fresh fruits and vegetables will do great things for our overall health. The vitamins, minerals and antioxidants contained within help to protect us against disease and keep everything functioning as it should. As if that wasn’t a good enough reason to heap your plate with plant-based goodies, there is now evidence to suggest that consuming lycopene regularly from a young age will help to prevent bone loss in your later years.

Lycopene is a compound that is found in many red coloured fruits and vegetables, with tomatoes generally being the most popular source. Scientists have been exploring its use in preventing bone loss as well as protecting against certain cancers. It is exciting to reveal that they have experienced positive results! It is believed that lycopene has the most prominent impact on preventing breast cancer as well as prostate cancer.

Post-menopausal women tend to be prone to bone damage and bone loss due to the decreased levels of oestrogen in their bodies at this time. Oestrogen is known to protect the bones and keep them strong. A sudden loss of normal levels of this hormone can quickly lead to osteoporosis. Data shows that one in two women over the age of 50 will develop this silent disease as well as one in four men. This fresh information regarding the protective qualities of lycopene means that people will be able to change their diets to work towards avoiding fractures and breaks. It is possible to obtain an adequate amount of lycopene through the diet naturally and there generally isn’t a need to take a supplement product.

Statistics show that 1.5 million bones are fractured every year in the United States as a result of osteoporosis, making it evident that this condition is a serious health problem. The cost to the American healthcare system currently stands at approximately $18 million every year. 10 million Americans are currently living with osteoporosis and experts suggest that a further 34 million people in the country are at risk of developing it.

Aiming to include tomatoes in your diet every day is a great way to increase your lycopene intake and it is easily done! You can add a few cherry tomatoes to your breakfast meal, some sliced tomatoes to a lunch time salad and make a delicious tomato based sauce to pour over your dinner. Aiming to include tomatoes in at least one meal during your day could soon add up to beneficial improvements for your health.

In order to get the maximum benefits from increasing your lycopene intake, it is best to combine your new dietary habits with a regular exercise regime. This does not have to be too intense or extreme. It could actually just be in the form of walking an additional hour a day or lifting some light weights. Any physical effort you can make to increase your strength and protect your body will help to contribute to greater bone health.

People who are already suffering from osteoporosis can engage in exercise to help relive their symptoms and maintain their existing bone mass. The three best types of exercise for osteoporosis are:

  • Weight bearing exercise
  • Resistance exercise
  • Flexibility exercise

Weight Bearing Exercise

This kind of exercise is defined as those where your feet and legs are supporting the rest of your body during the activity. Popular options include walking, dancing, hiking, running and stair-climbing. Walking as little as three to five miles every week can contribute towards the better health of your bones and help to protect against, or relieve the presence of, osteoporosis.

Resistance Exercise

This kind of exercise involves working against the weight of another object. Popular options include  lifting free weights or using resistance tubing. By doing a variety of resistance exercises three or more times a week you can boost the health of your bones and build up each of your muscle groups.

Flexibility Exercise

This kind of exercise involves stretching of the body in order to preserve the function of the muscles and joints. This in turn helps to prevent injury. Popular flexibility exercises include Tai Chi and yoga. Both of these exercises can be practiced alone or within a group setting, meaning that absolutely anyone can take part!

As with most things, it is preferable to prevent a problem rather than work to treat it when it occurs. For this reason it is best to make an effort to include lycopene in your diet early in life and continue into your later years. As well as being found in tomatoes, you can enjoy lycopene in watermelon, pink grapefruit, papaya and sweet red peppers!

References

1) http://www.foxnews.com/health/2015/11/25/ingredient-in-produce-may-battle-bone-loss.html

2) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3238164/

3) http://www.healthaliciousness.com/articles/high-lycopene-foods.php

4) http://www.webmd.com/osteoporosis/features/exercise-for-osteoporosis

5) http://www.naturalhealthresearch.org/lycopene-continues-to-show-benefits-for-bone-health/