Prunes and Other Strategies to Reverse Bone Loss

(Last Updated On: September 30, 2019)
plums and menopause

Photo by Robert Lerich

By Case Adams, Naturopath

Plums are delicious fruits when eaten fresh and they are also good dried. Then of course they are called prunes.

The difference between prunes and dried plums is therefore nil – but most people just like calling them dried plums because the word “prune” has other associations. Nonetheless, we’re going to go for the prune here…

Prunes have many benefits, including providing a laxative effect – something they are quite famous for.

Bone mineral density improved with plums

This study confirms several others, including a clinical study done at Florida State University using 236 women who were one to ten years into menopause. This study was highlighted in a previous Realnatural article).

In this study, the women were randomly divided into two groups. One group was given 100 grams of dried plums per day while the other group was given 100 grams of dried apples per day for a year. After doing bone scans at three months, six months and twelve months, the researchers found that the dried plum group showed significantly greater bone mineral density than those women consuming the dried apples over that same period.

However, this study did show some bone loss prevention among the other fruit groups.

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As mentioned, other studies have confirmed these findings that dried plums prevent and even reverse bone loss among post-menopausal women. This research has included scientists from the Medical College of the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF).

Other research shows bone loss reversed with prunes

Multiple studies have found that prunes in fact can prevent and even reverse bone loss that often follows menopause.

One of these studies comes from researchers at Oklahoma State University who studied mice who were post-menopausal. For eight weeks, the mice were given either a control diet or a diet that was supplemented with plumes or other dried fruits.

In other words, those mice given dried fruit were given prunes, dried mango, dried apple or dried grape for the eight-week period to determine whether dried fruit in general produced the effect or specifically the prunes.

Only the prune diet prevented bone loss among the mice.

The researchers also found that the prune diet also reversed bone loss among the aging female mice. The researchers found that “its ability to down-regulate osteoclast differentiation coincident with up-regulating osteoblast and glutathione (GPx) activity. These alterations in bone metabolism and antioxidant status compared to other dried fruits provide insight into dried plum’s unique effects on bone.”

Another study found that fructooligosaccharides (FOS) – a prebiotic nutrient found in bananas, chicory root, garlic, wheat, barley, leeks, onions and other foods – along with the dried plums and a soy-based diet was successful in reversing bone loss in animal research.

Other strategies for reducing bone loss

In addition to dried plums, researchers are increasingly finding that diets rich in plant nutrients (phytonutrients) have the effect of reducing and even reversing bone loss. A review of research from Switzerland found that consuming polyphenols helps prevent bone loss, including those from tea, grape seed, citrus fruits and olives in addition to dried plum. They also found that the Mediterranean diet – a diet that maintains a significant amount of plant foods along with olive oil and tomatoes – apparently helps prevent bone loss as well.

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Researchers from Texas Tech University also found in their research that phytonutrients provide the best strategy to prevent bone loss among post-menopausal women. The researchers found that phytonutrients such as pectin, lycopene, flavonoids, resveratrol, phenolics and phloridzin – nutrients that are contained in many fruits as well as tomatoes, contribute to preventing bone loss among aging women.

While vitamin D and calcium certainly should not be left out of the equation, recent research brings into question the safety of consuming too much supplemental calcium – linking calcium supplementation to increased risk of cardiovascular conditions. The broad swath of research on bone loss combines vitamin D with natural calcium sources – from foods – along with a healthy plant-based diet.

The best form of vitamin D is through healthy sun exposure. Learn about Healthy Sun.

REFERENCES:

Rendina E, Hembree KD, Davis MR, Marlow D, Clarke SL, Halloran BP, Lucas EA, Smith BJ. Dried Plum’s Unique Capacity to Reverse Bone Loss and Alter Bone Metabolism in Postmenopausal Osteoporosis Model. PLoS One. 2013;8(3):e60569.

Hooshmand S, Chai SC, Saadat RL, Payton ME, Brummel-Smith K, Arjmandi BH. Comparative effects of dried plum and dried apple on bone in postmenopausal women. Br J Nutr. 2011 Sep;106(6):923-30.

Sacco SM, Horcajada MN, Offord E. Phytonutrients for bone health during ageing. Br J Clin Pharmacol. 2013 Mar;75(3):697-707.

Shen CL, von Bergen V, Chyu MC, Jenkins MR, Mo H, Chen CH, Kwun IS. Fruits and dietary phytochemicals in bone protection. Nutr Res. 2012 Dec;32(12):897-910.

Rendina E, Lim YF, Marlow D, Wang Y, Clarke SL, Kuvibidila S, Lucas EA, Smith BJ. Dietary supplementation with dried plum prevents ovariectomy-induced bone loss while modulating the immune response in C57BL/6J mice. J Nutr Biochem. 2012 Jan;23(1):60-8.

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Halloran BP, Wronski TJ, VonHerzen DC, Chu V, Xia X, Pingel JE, Williams AA, Smith BJ. Dietary dried plum increases bone mass in adult and aged male mice. J Nutr. 2010 Oct;140(10):1781-7.

Arjmandi BH, Johnson CD, Campbell SC, Hooshmand S, Chai SC, Akhter MP. Combining fructooligosaccharide and dried plum has the greatest effect on restoring bone mineral density among select functional foods and bioactive compounds. J Med Food. 2010 Apr;13(2):312-9.

Hooshmand S, Arjmandi BH. Viewpoint: dried plum, an emerging functional food that may effectively improve bone health. Ageing Res Rev. 2009 Apr;8(2):122-7.

Johnson CD, Lucas EA, Hooshmand S, Campbell S, Akhter MP, Arjmandi BH. Addition of fructooligosaccharides and dried plum to soy-based diets reverses bone loss in the ovariectomized rat. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2011;2011:836267.

Case Adams, PhD

Case Adams has a Ph.D. in Natural Health Sciences, is a California Naturopath and is Board Certified as an Alternative Medicine Practitioner, with clinical experience and diplomas in Aromatherapy, Bach Flower Remedies, Blood Chemistry, Clinical Nutritional Counseling, Homeopathy and Colon Hydrotherapy. He has authored 27 books and numerous articles on print and online magazines. Contact: case@caseadams.com