Catechins: The Polyphenols That Stimulate Osteoblast Differentiation And Much More - Save Our Bones

In today’s post you’ll discover that when you rejuvenate your bones through nutrition, you also rejuvenate the rest of your body. Unlike osteoporosis drugs, which always involve a “trade-off” for their perceived “benefits,” eating foods rich in bone-renewing nutrients such as polyphenols helps strengthen your whole body.

In fact, it’s been scientifically proven that polyphenols, specifically catechins, stimulate osteoblast production and have amazing anti-aging effects.

We’re going to delve into this research, but first, let’s take a look at…

Just What Are Polyphenols?

Polyphenols are plant chemicals (phytochemicals) that occur naturally in plants as a defense against ultraviolet radiation and pathogens. When consumed, polyphenols have powerful antioxidant and anti-aging effects in the body.

Catechins: A Type Of Polyphenol

There are many classes and types of polyphenols, one of which is referred to as flavonols or flavonoids. Catechins are in this group, and are themselves divided into various compounds: catechin, epicatechin, epigallocatechin gallate, epigallocatechin, and epicatechin gallate.

Catechins are seldom mentioned when it comes to bone health, but they are no less important than calcium and other vitamins, minerals, and nutrients.

The Special Bone-Building Properties Of Catechins

All antioxidants are good for your bones, but catechins – specifically, epicatechin gallate – have been scientifically proven to have remarkable bone-building properties.

A recent study, published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, reveals that epicatechin gallate (ECG) actually stimulates osteoblasts, your body’s bone-building cells.

Scientists found that ECG stimulates osteoblast differentiation, which refers to the number of unspecialized cells that will develop into osteoblasts. ECG does this by increasing the expression of osteoblastic marker genes.1 So ECG plays a role in determining which cells become osteoblasts and which ones do not, and the number of active osteoblasts is crucial for bone rejuvenation.

Foods That Contain Epicatechin Gallate (ECG)

Certain plant foods, many of which are Foundation Foods in the Osteoporosis Reversal Program, contain ECG. The foods that contain the most ECG include:

*Foundation Food

This is one of many ways the Osteoporosis Reversal Program helps turn back the clock on your bones. When you follow the Program, you’re eating all sorts of ECG-rich foods that renew your bones and your overall vitality, as this fascinating study shows.

Research On Polyphenols Shows Their Powerful Anti-Aging Effect

What researchers discovered in a 2009 study is nothing short of remarkable:

“Polyphenols or polyphenol rich diets provide significant protection against the development and progression of many chronic pathological conditions including cancer, diabetes, cardio-vascular problems and aging.”2

The study elucidates the cardio-protective effect of catechins, pointing out that these polyphenols “inhibit the invasion and proliferation of the smooth muscle cells in the arterial wall” and may also inhibit platelet aggregation, thus preventing thrombosis.

Polyphenols – including catechins – have anti-cancer effects that also explain their role in longevity and wellness. The researchers report several “mechanisms of action” that account for catechins’ ability to stave off cancer, including estrogenic/antiestrogenic activity, inhibition of cancer cell proliferation, induction of apoptosis (cancer cell death), immune system regulation, anti-inflammatory action, and changes in cellular signaling.2

The study further explains the anti-aging effects of antioxidants like catechins, citing research that points to free radical and oxidative stress as the most widely accepted theory that explains the mechanism of aging. While some oxidative damage occurs under normal conditions, the rate of damage increases with age “as the efficiency of antioxidative and repair mechanisms decrease.”2

The study notes that a diet rich in antioxidants effectively reduces “the deleterious effects of aging.”2 In addition, the researchers pointed out the existence of other studies that show “the combination of antioxidant/anti-inflammatory polyphenolic compounds found in fruits and vegetables may show efficacy as anti-aging compounds.”2

In other words, eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables promotes longevity and protects against aging. This is great news for those following the Program, which emphasizes fresh fruits and vegetables.

The Bone-Protective Effects Of Catechins Don’t Stop There

As antioxidants, catechins prevent oxidative damage to your skeleton, which can occur over time. The importance of antioxidants is great, yet it’s rarely if ever mentioned by mainstream doctors in the discussion of osteoporosis. The Osteoporosis Reversal Program goes into great detail as to the importance of these phytochemicals, devoting an entire chapter (Chapter 12) to the topic of oxidation and ways to fight it.

The nutritional approach to reversing osteoporosis, as described in the Program, heals and rejuvenates bone from the inside out. What a difference from Mainstream Medicine’s approach, which is to treat osteoporosis as a disease and prescribe drugs that tamper with bone remodeling!

This is yet another way that the Osteoporosis Reversal Program promotes the health and well-being of the whole person. Bone-building foods are also body-building, energy-renewing, anti-aging foods as well!

Till next time,

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1 Byun, M.R., et al. “(-)-Epicatechin gallate (ECG) stimulates osteoblast differentiation via Runt-related transcription factor 2 (RUNX2) and transcriptional coactivator with PDZ-binding motif (TAZ)-mediated transcriptional activation.” Journal of Biological Chemistry. April 4, 2014. 289(14):9926-35. Doi: 10.1074/jbcM113.522870. Web.

2 Pandey, Kanti Bhooshan and Rizvi, Syed Ibrahim. “Plant polyphenols as dietary antioxidants in human health and disease.” Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity. Nov-Dec 2009. 2(5): 270-278. Doi: 10.4161/oxim2.5.9498. Web.

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Comments on this article are closed.

  1. Sonya


    I am in my mid 40s. Recently, I discovered I have some bone loss in my mouth that has warranted a bone graft. I was looking for ways to help generate bone in a traumatized mouth and came across your site. I can see this is primarily for the prevention of osteoporosis. However, I was wondering if there was specific information here that may help me in regrowing bone? Land sakes I have been looking everywhere and finding information outside of “eat more calcium” is difficult to find. Any suggestions? Thanks for the assist!

  2. Marguerita

    I enjoy most foods etc on the list but unfortunately have a kidney stone and am trying to cut down on oxalate acids – which makes eating & drinking some on the list a problem trying to balance between osteo, high cholesterol and kidney stone.

  3. Moosie

    Hi!. I just received your Save Your Bones book and find the information very informative. Here is my problem. Many of the points I already do. Results of a recent bone density is not promising / t score -2.6 lumbar spine, -3.2 L proximal femur, -3.4 in R proximal femur. I am 65 y/o and have a small frame / consider myself to be in good health / active. Normal vit d and calcium levels
    My pmd and a rheumatologist both feel I should have reclast infusion (scares me to death). My gyn feels that prolia is a good alternative option. What concerns me is the resorption / retention of old bone being the foundation for bone density with these medications.
    I am trying to compile as much information as I can for a good decision but both sides have positives and negatives. Am I too far gone to benefits from using your program alone? Also the program can be rather expensive (distilled water / organic whole foods ect. and we are on a limited income. Thanks

  4. Terry

    Hi Vivian, I have two concerns and would love your expert opinion. A urine test recently revealed that my alkaline level was 8.0. Is it possible that it had to do with my drinking lemon water (using one small lemon) every morning for the past two months prior to the test? Also had an issue with a tooth recently which showed that in addition to gum recession (initially starting from horrible braces back in the 70’s), my bone is receding as well. This is very upsetting to me. Is that a DEFINITE reflection of my bones? I’ve been pretty diligent about taking my True Osteo for years now and my D3 level is in the 60’s. Unfortunately, I am very small boned.

    • Dee

      Hi , After drinking lemon water rinse out your mouth with warm water and wait one hour before brushing teeth. Dee

  5. Teresa ochoa

    Thank u Vivian, all those fruits I like eating, but I do not like either Black or Green teas, because they give me acidity. I usually drink herbal, teas, like camomila,, hibiscus, My favorites, for my health.

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      Herbal teas are excellent for your health too, Teresa. If you click on the link in the post (just click on the words “green tea”), it will take you to a post about bone-healthy teas, including chamomile and hibiscus. 🙂

  6. June

    Thank you, Vivienne, this underlines my own feelings about the diet. I have been following it now for five years and my health has improved remarkably in every
    way. I should add that I am in my late eighties!

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      That is truly wonderful news, June. Isn’t it amazing how a pH-balanced diet is good for the whole body?

  7. Diane

    I know that we do need some acidic foods but that alkaline foods are the most important which is why they are your foundation foods. I was wondering why an acidic food would be a foundation food, like chocolate, I’m thrilled since it’s a little treat I give myself every day just doesn’t seem like a food that would make the list.

  8. Joyce

    Vivian does you recipe book work with gluten free diets??
    I am considering ordering it.

    • Customer Support

      Hi Joyce,
      You can certainly use Bone Appetit if you are gluten-free. Wheat and gluten-containing grains are not emphasized in the Program’s nutritional plan. In fact, if you have a problem with any particular food or food group (or even if you just don’t like it), it’s not necessary to eat it to be successful on the Program or create delicious, bone-healthy dishes.

      If you haven’t tried it, quinoa is a wonderful grain substitute. Of course, each grain has its own unique properties, but quinoa has the added bonus of being alkalizing. 🙂

  9. Sharon

    I was with the understanding that Black and green teas were acidifying. Can you clarify this please?

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      Dear Sharon,
      Yes, black and green teas are acidifying; so are fava beans, another food on the list. There is no need to avoid acidifying foods entirely; many of them contain healthful nutrients. The key is to include them in the 20% of the 80/20 diet. 🙂

      • Sharon

        Thanks Vivian. I try to be 100% because 20% can so easily sneak in without constant awareness of all foods. Nice to know that I can have the odd cup of green tea

  10. Betty

    Thanks again Vivian. I appreciate all the information you send and especially find value in the research information and the benefits of various foods.

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      You are very welcome, Betty. It is fascinating how foods provide what our bones need.

  11. Zarayna

    Thank you very much for the useful list of these vital foods.

    But they are all so delicious – my mouth is watering just reading their names!

    Thanks and kindest regards.

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      Yes, bone-healthy foods are very delicious! And you are welcome for the list.

  12. Dahna Berkson

    ….chronic and pathological conditions, including ….aging ….
    Aging is a chronic pathological condition LOL!

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      I know, Dahna – that struck me, too!

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