If you like tequila, you’ll love it after this. And if you’re not yet a fan of the Mexican alcohol, may be soon. According to recent research findings, you can boost your bone health with tequila.
Well, the tequila plant, to be precise. Binge drinking shot after shot in wake of an impending osteoporosis diagnosis won’t do you any good. Not to mention that it is quite damaging to your overall health.
Considered a hard liquor due to its high alcoholic content, tequila is a distilled beverage made from the blue agave plant found in Mexico. If you’ve ever been to this country, you’ve probably seen the tall cactus-like plants with spiky leaves and a dust-blue color growing in the fields or even by the roadside. That’s the humble blue agave. The beverage, dating as far back as pre-Columbian times, is obtained through fermentation and rounds of distillation. It can be bottled right away or left in barrels to age.
Blue agave is also highly valued for its nectar, known as agave syrup. Derived from agave sap, it’s often used instead of sugar as a sweetener in cooking, baking, or as a binding agent for cereals. But as of recently, blue agave has been linked to a medical breakthrough. Blue agave compound may help with the absorption of minerals that are essential for bone health.
Mexican researchers have recently uncovered that a substance in the blue agave plant helps boost our body’s ability to absorb calcium. The substance in question is a fructan molecule, a naturally occurring fructose polymer. Working together with intestinal microbiota, fructans promote new bone development despite the destructive effects of osteoporosis. Once in the gut, fructans ferment and turn into fatty acids, which enables them to latch on to minerals and deliver them to cells.
Over the course of an eight-week study period, the researchers gave agave-derived fructans to mice with osteoporosis. Then, they took a bone sample to test for a protein that indicates new bone formation. Mice consuming fructans demonstrated an almost 50 percent increase in this protein. The diameter of their bones was also higher compared to the control group that did not receive any fructans.
This is a significant finding and a crucial step in bone health research, as it enables the body to use previously inaccessible nutrients. As we age, our body’s ability to absorb minerals decreases, along with its ability to form new bone tissue. Nevertheless, the global stats for osteoporosis are alarming, as weak bones mean greater risk for fractures and a possibility of ensuing disability.
There’s a catch, however. In order for fructans to be able to ferment into mineral-transporting fatty acids, a healthy gut microbiome is required. Yet another reason to take care of your intestinal health.
Related: Six tips to improve your bone health