It’s no secret that preventing oxidative damage is a vital component in rejuvenating bone. But specific antioxidants have particular roles in the bone building process, and understanding how they work and what foods contain them is important – and fascinating.
I really appreciate the thirst for knowledge in the Saver community, so I know you’ll be intrigued to learn about this incredible plant phytochemical, found in many Foundation Foods, that actually protects the very cells that build your bones, the osteoblasts.
But first, let’s take a quick look at….
Oxidation: What It Is And Why You Must Prevent It
Oxidation, or oxidative stress, results from an imbalance between pro-oxidants that generate free radicals (also known as reactive oxygen species – ROS) and/or deactivate antioxidants, and antioxidants.
When these reactive oxygen species (ROS) outnumber the antioxidants, oxidative stress occurs in tissues and organs, including bones. This happens because ROS have an unpaired electron, so in their quest to become stable molecules, they take an electron from another molecule. To make matters worse, the typical molecule that was “robbed” (the “reductant” or donor) most often becomes a ROS itself, making this a destructive chain reaction.
ROS cause significant oxidative damage to your bone cells. They increase bone resorption and greatly hamper osteoblast activity.1
Of course, this damage only occurs when the balance is off in favor of ROS. If the balance is corrected and there are plenty of antioxidants, the damage can be stopped and, if antioxidant levels are consistently high, reversed.
Antioxidants work by donating an electron to unstable ROS, and they can do so without becoming a ROS themselves (hence their name). This makes them uniquely suited to stabilize and therefore neutralize free radicals, and halt the destructive chain reaction of oxidative stress.
The best and most abundant source of such antioxidants is found in fruits and vegetables. Not surprisingly, much research has shown the link between antioxidant consumption and a reduced risk for osteoporosis.1 This is why the Save Our Bones nutritional plan is fruit- and vegetable-based, and there is a rich variety in this broad category of foods.
Various Types Of Antioxidants
Just as fruits and vegetables come in a large variety of colors, shapes, and flavors, antioxidants come in various types as well. Flavonoids, isoflavones, lignans, stilbenes, and phenolic acids are a few examples.
Today we’re going to look at a specific flavonoid called kaempferol.
What Is Kaempferol?
As I mentioned above, kaempferol is a flavonoid. Flavonoids include such well-known substances as quercetin and catechins. They give foods their rich colors, and quickly lose their effectiveness when exposed to heat.
Kaempferol is a ubiquitous flavonoid present in onions, grapes, citrus fruit, red wine, and the herb gingko bilboa. (More on foods that contain kaempferol below.) Its antioxidant power comes primarily from its ability to inhibit blood platelet formation, cancer cells, and low-density lipoprotein (better known as LDL, or “bad” cholesterol).
When it comes to osteoporosis, kaempferol directly targets osteoblasts, protecting them.
Research Shows Kaempferol Protects Osteoblasts From Bacteria-Produced Toxin
When scientists exposed MC3T3-E1 cells (osteoblast precursor cells) to a toxic substance called antimycin A (AMA), the MC3T3-E1 cells lost significant vitality. Specifically, the AMA caused increased ROS production, dissipation of mitochondrial membranes, and increased intracellular calcium. But when the cells were exposed first to kaempferol and then MC3T3-E1, the cell damage was greatly reduced in all of these areas.2
It turns out that kaempferol utilizes a metabolic process known as the phosphoinositide 3-kinase pathway. Phosphoinositide 3-kinases are a group of enzymes that play a role in cellular growth, differentiation, proliferation, survival, and other functions. These functions are involved in the development of cancer.
Kaempferol uses this pathway to boost those metabolic processes that inhibit the toxic AMA.
The study concludes that:
“All these data indicate that kaempferol may reduce or prevent osteoblasts degeneration in osteoporosis or other degenerative disorders.”2
These Foods Contain The Highest Kaempferol Levels
When ingested in foods, antioxidants are far more effective than taking them in supplement form. Here are some of the foods that are highest in this crucial antioxidant.
- Broccoli* – this familiar vegetable’s dark green color is due in part to its kaempferol content. Given kaempferol’s instability in heat, broccoli is best enjoyed raw or very lightly steamed for optimal kaempferol content.
- Kale* is another dark green, leafy vegetable that you can enjoy raw in salads, or stirred into a soup at the end of cooking.
- Tea – green and black tea are acidifying, but they do contain kaempferol. Both types of tea are high in flavonoids, but research indicates that green tea contains more kaempferol than black.3
- Strawberries* are easy to enjoy raw, especially during the summer. Their deep red color is a clear indication that they are rich in antioxidants, but they happen to contain kaempferol specifically. While it’s always preferable to choose organic produce, strawberries are among the EPA’s “dirty dozen,” so it’s particularly important to get organic strawberries.
- Grapes*, especially red grapes, are rich in kaempferol. They should be enjoyed whole with minimal processing for maximum kaempferol intake, and like strawberries, choose organic whenever possible.
- Green beans* are another deep green vegetable that’s easy to find at farmers’ markets in the summer. While most people cook green beans thoroughly, you’ll want to avoid excessive cooking when it comes to kaempferol. Try slicing raw beans into salads, or steaming them very lightly. They are also good eaten raw with dip.
- Tomatoes* – here’s another summer specialty that’s abundant in farmers’ markets. Eat raw tomatoes with the skin on for the most kaempferol.
- Quinoa* has gotten lots of attention lately as a gluten-free grain that’s high in protein. It does contain kaempferol, but it’s seldom eaten raw. But cooking does not destroy all of the kaempferol; it simply reduces it. And quinoa actually contains greater amounts of this flavonoid that some berries, so when cooked it will still have a good amount.
- Pears* – both red- and green-skinned pears contain quite a bit of kaempferol. Just make sure to eat the skin as well.
- Cabbage* contains plentiful amounts of kaempferol, with red cabbage having the highest content. Green is next, and white cabbage has the least. Enjoy raw cabbage in slaws and salads.
- Leeks are a delicious vegetable that sometimes get overlooked in favor of the more common onion. Minced leeks can be enjoyed in salads, sprinkled over Mexican dishes, and generally where you’d use green onions or raw onions.
- Asparagus* is another kaempferol-rich vegetable that can be enjoyed lightly steamed or sautéed. But it’s also good raw – shaved into ribbons, it can be tossed with a dressing and eaten as a salad, or use the ribbons to top a salad.
A note about raw vs. cooked: while raw foods are optimal for kaempferol content, the Osteoporosis Reversal Program does not advocate an all-raw diet. Foundation Foods, including those above, contain various other nutrients besides kaempferol, and some of those nutrients are more bioavailable when the food is cooked. So a good rule of thumb is not to eat foods only one way. Explore various methods of preparation and enjoy these and other Foundation Foods raw, sautéed, steamed, and so forth.
Eating kaempferol-rich foods is an important line of defense against oxidative damage. But it’s also important to avoid substances that encourage and promote the formation of ROS. Osteoporosis drugs are one of those substances.
Study Shows Popular Osteoporosis Drug Induces Oxidative Damage
Zoledronic acid is the main ingredient in Reclast, a bisphosphonate that’s prescribed as an infusion. Researchers gave rabbits zoledronic acid for four weeks, and they discovered that the rabbits’ glutathione activity was statistically significantly lower compared to the control.4 (Glutathione is also called the Master Antioxidant.)
Scientists concluded that zoledronic acid promotes oxidation by reducing antioxidant levels in the body, particularly in the kidneys.4
Savers know that all drugs are acidifying, and this is just one more example of how these substances promote toxicity in the body. It just doesn’t make any sense to take a drug that’s supposed to build bone when it’s actually causing oxidative damage to crucial organs (the kidneys play a huge role in balancing the plasma pH) and bones.
The Osteoporosis Reversal Program Is Food-Based And Drug-Free
If you’re following the Osteoporosis Reversal Program, then you’re getting plenty of antioxidant-rich, kaempferol-containing foods, especially if you consume Foundation Foods.
Stop Worrying About Your Bone Loss
Join thousands of Savers from around the world who have reversed or prevented their bone loss naturally and scientifically with the Osteoporosis Reversal Program.
This nutritional approach builds and renews bone from within, so you don’t have to worry about dangerous side effects or systemic toxicity. In fact, it’s quite the opposite!
Till next time,
1 Rao, L.G.; Kang, N., and Rao, A.V. “Polyphenol Antioxidants and Bone Health: A Review.” Phytochemicals – A Global Perspective of Their Role in Nutrition and Health. Dr. Venketeshwer Rao (Ed.): ISBN: 978-953-51-0296-0. InTech. PDF. https://cdn.intechopen.com/pdfs-wm/32957.pdf
2 “Kaempferol protects MC3T3-E1 cells through antioxidant effect and regulation of mitochondrial function.” Food Chem Toxicol. 2011. 49(8): 1800-1805. Doi: 10.1016/j.fct.2011.04.031. Web. https://europepmc.org/abstract/MED/21565246
3 Jiang, H., et al. “Determination of flavonol glycosides in green tea, oolong tea and black tea by UHPLC compared to HPLC.” Food Chem. March 2015. 183-30-5. Doi: 10.1016/j.foodchem.2015.03.024. Web. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25863606
4 Gurocak, Simay, et al. “Investigation of zoledronic acid induced stress on rabbit kidneys with oxidative stress markers.” African Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology. October 2014. Vol 8(40), pp 1033-1038. Doi: 10.5897/AJPP2013.3794. PDF. https://academicjournals.org/article/article1415264476_G%C3%BCrocak%20et%20al.pdf
Comments on this article are closed.
Vivian, Has been off Fosamax for 2 years, have your book & have been following the schedule. Last density showed hips remained the same, but spine is decreasing. Physician wants me to go back on Fosamax but I am reluctant. Any other helps for lumbar region? Am confused, you are the only expert on this that I know. Please send answer to e-mail as I don’t see the answers on a routine basis. Thank you so much.
Have you any advice for Dorothy above on 21st July who ‘has gone through hell’, it seems and is so brave? I identified with her a lot as I’m, also, almost ‘off the page’, I’m told, with my last Dexa scan and have been prescribed prolia many, many times but, just, dont want to take it though the doctors and surgeons are in despair with my refusal. I am incredibly thin which is, probably, why I got it many years ago, in the first place but, just, feel I ‘must’ try not to panic and put into action – instead of, just, looking and reading – all the amazing ways you say we can improve our bones. In other words: TAKE ACTION! I guess a part of me has some fear about puttng into action ALL you recommend unless – and dont be put off by what I say – for some extraordinary reason it doesnt work for me. I am, however, beginning to make everything you recommend, at last a priority in my life although it is taking time x
Are the drug companies after your blood???
Fermenting veggies is simple and effective. They are not cooked, yet easily digested! Culturesforhealth.com has many free recipes. (No financial interest here).
A simple blood test revealed that I have high calcium in blood and my PC prescribe a high dose of Vit D3 and stop taking any calcium supplements. My bose density reveals also moderate osteosporosis. I also have an MRI done that shows herniated disks in L3, L4, L5 and S1. Lordosis. and mild scoliosis. My question is how to take care of my bones if dont take calcium, bisphophates or exercises because of the disks? WHAT SHOULD i DO TO HAVE atleast HEALTHY AND STRONG BONES ?Thanks for your advices. Vivian, you are of a great help. thank you so much. MHL
You should get tested for parathyroid disease as well. That causes high blood calcium and osteoporosis. The cure for that would be to get the offending gland removed and the calcium reading goes to normal range. Then you can resume calcium supplements.
You could take vitamin K2 which redirect the Cacium in bones and away from where it does not belong. The dose is usually around 120 micro grams per day.
After a while looking at your blood Calcium, if it goes down you could increase your Calcium intake. Also it is god to have retinol, idealy from organ meat, not from supplement unless supervised by an knowledgeable health practitioner. One once of liver a week would be enough.
Following a partial bowel blockage, I have recently been placed on a low fiber diet. I grow a lot of my own fruits and vegetables, and have been a healthy eater. I have been told to avoid all the foods on the above list. This is so discouraging . . . Any ideas? Thank you.
A good way would be to use a slow speed juicer to get all the vegetables mentionned here.
I have a T-score of 3.7 in my spine and my hips are normal. I’m 47 and have gone through an early menopause (at 45). I’ve had no fractures yet. I go to the gym 3 times a week but my spine T-score has dropped since last year (in 2014 it was 2.8). I eat large amounts of fruit and veg, I still eat meat, and have sardines 2-3 times a week. I take calichew with vit D twice a day. Can you recommend anything else I can do to reverse my spine T-score?
I too have 3.7 in my spine. I exercise twice a week with a group and headed by someone trained in exercise therapies. Our program includes exercises in balance and weight lifting. Lifting weights may be of help to you but I would urge you to find a program in your local community, one which would teach you how to properly do each exercise. Avoid sitting too much. Keep moving. Walking is a great way to increase density. Good luck. I’ll know more in 1 year during my next Dexa.
This is my first post. I was diagnosed with severe osteoporosis 18 months ago and have had several spinal compression fractures in that time. I am now in a lot of pain and mobility is decreasing steadily. I have resisted the drug route as in the UK Prolia seems to be the favourite Rx at the moment and side effects seem scary . Have read your book and have tried to follow healthy diet/ exercise/ supplement route. It has been suggested I try a bisphosphonate for six months just to get me out of the ‘immediate danger zone, then continue and add to what already doing, but the official line is it takes 5 years to be effective. A lot of advice is for osteoporosis sufferers but not necessarily those with multiple fractures. Been researching for a year to find the best route for me but still confused. Is is too late to do anything that will reduce the fracture rate, but not add tohealth issues with a myriad of drug side effects to deal with. Any suggestions welcome as finding it more difficult to remain positive.
Hi, my name is Alina Arista. I was diagnosed with stage IV metastasize breast cancer. I have been in remission for almost 4 years. I have been taking Letrozole during this time and now the oncologist wants me to do Zomaida through an IV to prevent fractures. I asked if I could stop taking all medicines after 5 years and she said I have to take them for life. I have been on TrueOsteo for 2 years. I want to stop all medicines altogether but would like some advice as to what I can do to strength my bones during the last year of letrozole. thanks
I too was given a prescription for the latest drug to “cure” osteoporosis. The “cure” was worse than the disease.
Thankfully, the weekly pill gave me so much heartburn I had to go off it. Then I found Vivian and others with web sites that offer so much good information about alternative eating and exercise to combat osteoporosis.
The Doctor who gave me the prescription wasn’t in the correct field of practice to know about the uselessness of the pill, nor the dangers of the side effects associated with them. I’ve learned, just because your given a prescription, it doesn’t always need to be filled right away. There is time to look it up and get the complete information so you can make a good decision for yourself.
can you please tell me if I should take vitamins as well as following the receipes ? Thank you
Dr. Vivian, you are amazing, so giving, so helpful, you will be blessed for your unselfish help to all of us who have found you, may there be many more who do. Thank you, thank you! I pray the Lord blesses you and your family.
Sadly I have had 2 friends die in the last 2 years due to the drugs they were given for osteoporosis and sadly they and their family’s did not want to listen to all this information as their doctors told them that they had the medicine they needed.
my high calcium in blood test turned out to be HYPERPARATHYROIDISM.