The People's Perspective on Medicine

How to Avoid a Broken Hip with a Mediterranean Diet

Older women who want to prevent a broken hip do well by following a Mediterranean diet full of vegetables, fish and fruit and low on sweets and meats.

One of the most dreaded complications for older women is a broken hip. But there are ways women can lower their risk.

A long-running study of about 90,000 women shows that those who follow a Mediterranean-style dietary pattern are less likely to break a hip. The women were participants in the Women’s Health Initiative trial. Their average age at the beginning of the study was about 63 and the follow-up lasted for 16 years.

What Did the Women Eat?

The Women’s Health Initiative did not assign diets to the volunteers, but they answered questions periodically about what they were eating. The researchers analyzed their food intake to see how close they came to any of four pre-determined dietary patterns: the Healthy Eating Index, the Alternate Healthy Eating Index, the Alternate Mediterranean diet and the DASH diet.

The Mediterranean Diet Wins for Preventing a Broken Hip:

Statistical analysis revealed that women who followed a Mediterranean diet most closely were 20 percent less likely to suffer a broken hip. The absolute risk reduction was extremely small, even though it was significant: about one-third of one percent.

Still, there are plenty of other health benefits from following a Mediterranean diet such as fewer cardiovascular complications (New England Journal of Medicine, Apr. 4, 2013), a lower likelihood of diabetes (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, online Jan. 30, 2013) and a reduction in breast cancer (JAMA Internal Medicine, Nov., 2015)

An editorial by Dr. Walter Willett of Harvard points out that “Integration of the Mediterranean diet and related dietary patterns into medical practice, hospitals, schools, and other institutions has the potential to improve well-being.”

JAMA Internal Medicine, March. 28, 2016

If you would like guidelines on how to follow a Mediterranean diet, you may be interested in our book, The People’s Pharmacy Quick & Handy Home Remedies. We offer clear advice on this evidence-based diet.

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. .
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