World Osteoporosis Day is a health awareness day to promote early diagnosis, treatment and prevention of the bone health condition that often leads to fractures. It is observed annually on Oct. 20.

Osteoporosis causes the bones to turn weak and brittle. Some of the early signs include back pain, stooped posture and loss of height over time. Most often these symptoms may go unrecognized until they lead to fractures.

The condition affects around 10 million people above the age of 50 in the U.S. Certain factors such as eating disorders, low calcium intake and thyroid issues can raise the risk of osteoporosis.

What you eat can directly affect the health of your bones. On this World Osteoporosis Day, know the things that you need to include and avoid in your diet for better bone health.

Foods to include

  • Dairy products such as milk, cheese and yogurt, dark green vegetables, plant milk, salmon, and tofu are good sources of calcium that can help in building bone strength.
  • Including fatty fish such as salmon, vitamin D-fortified drinks, cheese, egg yolks and beef can help in improving Vitamin D levels essential for calcium absorption.
  • Like calcium and vitamins, protein is also essential for bone strength. Protein from plant sources such as beans and nuts, as well as animal sources such as fish, skinless poultry and lean cuts of meat, can help in bone strength.
  • Food items that are high in magnesium help to convert vitamin D into the active form. Whole grains and dark green leafy vegetables are good sources of magnesium.
  • Zinc prevents bone breakdown and helps in bone building. Beef, shrimp, spinach, flaxseeds, oysters and pumpkin seeds are some of the good sources of zinc

Foods to avoid

1. Salty food - Taking food with too much salt and consuming processed food should be avoided to reduce the risk of bone loss.

2. Alcohol - Excessive use of alcohol can disrupt the absorption of calcium and vitamin D essential for bone strength. Alcohol can also affect the hormone levels in the body, which again raises the risk of osteoporosis.

3. Caffeine - Limiting caffeine helps in better calcium absorption.

4. Soft drinks - Regular consumption of soft drinks that are high in caffeine and phosphorous can lead to osteoporosis.