Save Our Bones Bulletin: Could A Pill Replace Exercise?; This Cheese Prevents Bone Loss; Processed Foods Accelerate Cognitive Decline - Save Our Bones

Diet and exercise are at the forefront of this month's Save Our Bones Bulletin.

First, we'll hear a report about researchers who have isolated a protein that regulates the benefits of exercise. Could it lead to a drug that produces the same results as physical activity? We’ll share the study results and more.

Next, we'll look at research that compared the bone-health effects of two popular types of cheese. You might be surprised by the potential benefits of one of them.

Finally, you'll learn about the results of a 10-year study on the consumption of ultra-processed foods and the rate of cognitive decline.

Exercise In A Pill?

Scientists in Michigan and California have isolated a protein that moderated the positive effects of exercise in flies and mice. The experiments focused on previously-known proteins called sestrins. Sestrins accumulate in the muscles after intense exercise.

The scientists observed the effects of exercise on flies and mice who were bred to be incapable of producing the protein. They did not experience the usual changes associated with exercise, such as improvements in respiration, aerobic capacity, and fat-burning.

Furthermore, flies that had been altered to over-produce sestrin experienced the benefits of exercise without exercising.

Relevant Excerpt:

“We propose that Sestrin can coordinate these biological activities by turning on or off different metabolic pathways,” (Dr. Jun Hee) Lee explains. “This kind of combined effect is important for producing exercise’s effects.”

Another portion of the study also found that muscle-specific Sestrin is capable of preventing atrophy in immobilized muscle groups. This often occurs whenever a limb is placed in a cast for months on end.”1

The researchers emphasized that a great deal of study is still needed. While they pointed out potential applications for people who are incapable of exercise or movement (such as due to a limb in a cast), they did not postulate about a pill that could replace exercise.

For anyone who can move their body, physical activity remains an effective, efficient, and impactful way to procure a variety of health benefits– including stronger bones.


A study found that an exercise-induced protein called sestrin moderates the positive benefits of exercise. In flies, the inability to produce sestrin prevented the benefits of exercise, and overproducing it provided the benefits– even without exercise. The research is still at a very early stage, and the scientists only point to potential applications for people who are medically incapable of physical activity.

Could A Daily Dose Of Jarlsberg Cheese Prevent Bone Loss?

Researchers in Norway have conducted a study comparing the effects of Jarlsberg cheese and Camembert cheese on bone health markers.

The study participants were 66 healthy women with an average age of 33 years. Researchers randomly placed them in two groups. The first group ate a daily portion of 57 grams of Jarlsberg cheese. The second group ate a daily portion of 50 grams of Camembert cheese. The first phase of the experiment lasted six weeks. Then, the group who was eating Camembert spent an additional six weeks eating a daily portion of Jarlsberg.

The researchers took blood samples at the end of each six-week period to test the participants' levels of specific proteins, peptides, and osteocalcin. They also checked for the Vitamin K2 MK-9-(4H) and blood fat levels.

Relevant Excerpt:

“Daily Jarlsberg cheese consumption has a positive effect on osteocalcin, other [markers of bone turnover], glycated haemoglobin and lipids,” write the researchers, concluding that the effects are specific to this cheese.

The bacteria (Proprionebacterium freudenreichii) in Jarlsberg that produces MK-9-(4H) also produces a substance called DHNA, which, experimental studies suggest, might combat bone thinning and increase bone tissue formation, and possibly explain the increase in osteocalcin, they add.

They go on to suggest that Jarlsberg cheese might therefore help to prevent osteopenia—the stage before osteoporosis—as well as metabolic diseases, such as diabetes, although further research would be needed to confirm this, they emphasise.”2

This is a great example of why the Osteoporosis Reversal Program emphasizes variety and balance, instead of depriving yourself of entire food groups. Even within a category as small as cheeses, there is an enormous difference between the potential benefits and drawbacks of different types of cheese.

While Jarlsberg clearly possesses some bone-health benefits that Camembert does not, this result doesn't mean you need to eat cheese every day! All cheeses are acidifying, so Jarlsberg can be a satisfying and beneficial part of the 20% acidifying plate portion of your 80/20 pH-balanced diet. Be sure to eat a variety of healthy foods every day!


Researchers found that eating a serving of Jarlsberg cheese each day for six weeks resulted in higher levels of certain bone-health markers than eating a serving of Camembert cheese each day for six weeks. Jarlsberg, in moderation, can be a beneficial part of the acidifying 20% of your 80/20 pH-balanced diet.

Ultra-Processed Foods Linked To Cognitive Decline

A new study conducted in Brazil has found a direct correlation between eating ultra-processed foods and faster-than-normal cognitive decline.

The study followed 10,000 Brazilians for as long as 10 years. The participants completed cognitive functioning tests at the beginning and end of the study and reported to researchers about their diet.

As is the case in most Western countries, a typical Brazillian diet includes an outsized amount of ultra-processed foods.

Relevant Excerpt:

“Ultra-processed foods are defined as “industrial formulations of food substances (oils, fats, sugars, starch, and protein isolates) that contain little or no whole foods and typically include flavorings, colorings, emulsifiers, and other cosmetic additives,” according to the study.

“People who consumed more than 20% of daily calories from processed foods had a 28% faster decline in global cognition and a 25% faster decline in executive functioning compared to people who ate less than 20%,” said study coauthor Natalia Gonçalves, a researcher in the department of pathology at the University of São Paulo Medical School.”3

In the United States, 58 percent of calories consumed by citizens come from ultra-processed foods. As a nation, the US is hastening its cognitive decline. The same is true for the UK, where 56 percent of calories come from ultra-processed foods. In Canada, it's 48 percent.3

Ultra-processed foods are also highly acidifying. But they contribute to bone loss in more ways than that. They also tend to be very high in sugar and sodium, and low in valuable nutrients.

Furthermore, a loss of cognitive functioning has itself been linked to bone loss and increased fracture risk.4 That makes ultra-processed foods doubly harmful to your bones.


Brazilian researchers found that study participants who consumed more than 20 percent of their daily calories from processed foods had a faster decline in cognitive functioning than those who didn’t. Processed foods also harm your bones.

What This Means To You

Keep up your exercise routine, because even if there was an “exercise pill”, regular physical activity would provide numerous benefits you need to build strong bones. Fuel your bone-building workouts with a variety of healthy, whole foods.

The Save Institute has developed resources to aid Savers in both of these pursuits. SaveTrainer, our online video workout platform, is the only one of its kind– dedicated to customizable bone-building exercises. Our world-class trainers make working out easy, fun, and highly effective.

When it comes to eating a bone-building diet, you need to look no further than the Save Institute's cookbook and meal-planner Bone Appétit. It also features special bonus collections of bone-building smoothie recipes (Blender Magic) and recipes with extra food-derived calcium (Calcilicious).

Enjoy your bone-building journey by finding physical activities and healthy foods that you love!






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Comments on this article are closed.

  1. Alistair Powell

    Hello Vivien. Here’s an interesting confirmation of your Jarlsberg post.
    I asked a microbiologist friend of mine to review the research paper. He said: “The paper is a good news story. The claimed benefits for eating cheese include what we have heard before and there are some new bits of evidence too. The authors also write of 1,4-dihydroxy-2-naphthoic acid (DHNA) as a possible molecule of interest – I’m not sure whether to get excited, because this is produced anyway during the normal synthesis of MK. [Other studies claim DHNA also has anti-inflammatory properties and can relieve the symptoms of colitis, so maybe it is important in its own right.]
    The message: Cheese generally good, but it makes a difference which cheese. This particular study was done using Jarlsberg because it was partly paid for by the people who make Jarlsberg. The two cheeses compared were both made by TINE (Norway’s biggest dairy company) and were deliberately chosen to be very different in their MK content.
    This trial was, therefore, deliberately designed as a comparison between eating a known high-MK cheese and a known no-MK cheese (the authors are quite open about this). One could speculate that they had a pretty good idea what the result would be before they started, but they needed to do the trial to demonstrate it.

  2. M adlen

    can i replace Greek yogurt for cheese?

    thank you for all information you send for me.

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      Absolutely! In fact, yogurt is alkalizing and cheese is acidifying.

  3. Faye

    Is arthritis part of osteoporosis and does arthritis make bones thinne?

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      Faye, arthritis is a condition that’s not related to osteoporosis or osteopenia, and it does not cause bone thinning per se. However, most people who suffer from arthritis tend to become sedentary because of the pain, and that can most certainly lead to bone loss.

  4. Anita Allen

    I am lactose intolerant. So, does that mean I could not eat Jarlsberg Cheese? And is there another type that would work as well? I do not eaten cheese.

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      Anita, the good news is that Jarlsberg cheese is lactose-free 🙂

  5. Sandi

    Hi! Thanks for this info. So do you recommend that we start eating Jarlberg cheese, and if so, how often?

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      Sandi, based on that study, it’s a good idea to incorporate it into your bone-healthy diet. Remember that all dairy cheeses are acidifying, so have it in moderation (there’s not set amount) balanced with alkalizing foods.

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