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As the years pass, you may find that your appearance begins to change – a few fine lines, changes in your hair, a better style (what were we thinking 10 years ago?). But beyond the obvious changes in appearance, your bones are busy building and breaking down. Bone mass peaks at age 30, and after age 40 your the bones start to break down faster than they recover.

If this bone loss happens too quickly, you could be at higher risk for osteoporosis, a disease that thins and weakens bones, often leading to fractures. Fortunately, you have some control over how slowly or how quickly your bones break down with your lifestyle choices, including exercise and eating habits.

Here are six eating habits to avoid accelerating bone loss, according to experts. Here’s what to avoid for strong bones. So, don’t miss the best supplements to prevent bone loss.

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Many soft drinks, especially colas, have phosphoric acid added to give them a tart flavor. If cola is your favorite drink, it could speed up bone loss.

“When blood phosphorus levels are high (hyperphosphatemia), the body breaks down calcium from tissues like bones and teeth to reduce blood phosphorus levels,” explains Andrew Akhaphong, MS, RD, LD.

This bone loss can have big consequences. A 12-year study published in Menopause followed more than 70,000 postmenopausal women and found that those who drank more than 2 servings of soft drinks a day had a 26% higher risk of hip fracture than women who did not drink sodas.

“Consider trying carbonated water like Aha, Bubbly, or LA Croix to reduce phosphorus intake from soft drinks,” says Akhaphong. “Don’t like carbonated water? Challenge yourself to buy smaller cans of pop and reduce the amount you drink each day.”

salty snacks
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It’s no surprise that highly processed, high-salt foods can harm your health.

“A diet high in salt may not only increase your blood pressure, but also your risk of osteoporosis,” says Toby Smithson, RD, founder of diabetes every dayand author of Diabetes meal planning and nutrition for dummies.

Although some sodium is needed to regulate fluids and conduct electrical signals in the body, too much of a good thing can cause serious problems for your bones. Too much salt causes the extraction of calcium from the bones to maintain the acid-base balance of the body in a safe zone.

Related: 19 Best Low Sodium Fast Food Orders

oily fish
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Almost all of the calcium in your body is found in your bones. So it’s no surprise that not eating enough calcium has an effect on bone health. The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for calcium for adults is 1,000 milligrams per day. This amount increases to 1,200 milligrams per day after age 51.

To absorb all that calcium you eat, you’ll need enough vitamin D. Without it, your body will struggle to absorb and use the calcium you eat. Vitamin D also plays a more direct role in bone health, as the cells responsible for bone growth need it to do their job. Adults need 15 micrograms of vitamin D each day. Check out these popular vitamin D foods to eat every day.

avocado and egg on whole grain toast
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“Many people think of calcium and vitamin D when it comes to bone health, but getting enough protein is also key to preventing osteoporosis,” says Sharon Puello MA RD CDN CDCES of FRESH nutrition.

According to a 2014 review published in Current Opinion on Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care.

Puello suggests add at least one protein-rich food to every meal as an easy way to eat enough for bone health each day. Protein foods include animal products like meat, fish, eggs, and dairy, as well as plant-based protein choices.

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Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend at least 1 to 2 1/2 cups of fruit and 2 to 4 cups of vegetables each day. While eating this amount of produce each day can help you get the essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants you need, it can also help slow bone loss.

How do fruits and vegetables work their magic on bones? The body steals calcium from the bones to help neutralize an acidic environment by eating or drinking carbonated drinks, salty foods, caffeinated beverages, and alcohol. Many fruits and vegetables have a alkalizing effect in the body, helping to neutralize acids so that the calcium can stay where it belongs, which is in the bones.

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A 2019 review in Drug and alcohol addiction found a relationship between alcohol consumption and osteoporosis. People who drank one to two drinks a day increased the risk of osteoporosis by 34% compared to non-drinkers and drinking more than two drinks a day increased the risk by 63%.

So what’s the reason a few cocktails a day are so bad for your bones? Alcohol can accelerate bone loss because it interferes with the absorption of calcium and vitamin D, two essential nutrients for strong bones. It also increases levels of cortisol in the body, a stress hormone that accelerates bone breakdown and prevents bone rebuilding.