A study published in the Journal of Food Science has confirmed that a class of plant polyphenols called flavonoids have powerful anti-inflammatory effects. This is great news for Savers, who know that reducing inflammation protects bone quality and density.
This study shows the power of a non-pharmaceutical treatment for reducing inflammation to prevent and reverse chronic conditions and bone loss. We'll look at the study, including which flavonoids reduced inflammation most effectively, and the foods that contain them.
Antioxidant and Anti-inflammatory Effects Of Flavonoids
Researchers conducted a thorough evaluation of the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities of flavonoids. To do so, they exposed several enzymes to a variety of flavonoids, then measured the change in the enzymes’ rates of reaction.1
The researchers performed the tests on enzymes that cause inflammatory reactions in rheumatoid arthritis. They included hyaluronidase (which catalyzes the degradation of hyaluronic acid), collagenase (which breaks down the bonds of collagen), 15-lipoxygenase (LOX, which metabolizes polyunsaturated fatty acids), and cyclooxygenase-1 and 2 (COX-1 and COX-2, which form prostanoids that mediate inflammation, anaphylactic reactions, and vasoconstriction).
Below is a breakdown of the flavonoids that reduced specific inflammatory reactions:
- Hyaluronidase: Kaempferol, quercetin, myricetin, rutin
- Collagenase: Apigenin, luteolin, baicalin, baicalein
- Nitric Oxide (NO) production: Kaempferol, quercetin, myricetin, rutin apigenin, luteolin, baicalein, hesperetin, laringin
- LOX: Quercetin, luteolin
- COX-1: Quercetin
- COX-2: Kaempferol, quercetin, myricetin, rutin, apigenin, luteolin, baicalein, hesperetin, catechin, baicalin, laringin
Notably, the study authors found that all tested flavonoids inhibited COX-2 reaction, although luteolin, kaempferol, hesperetin, and naringin inhibited the reaction most potently. Quercetin showed relatively potent inhibition of COX-1 reaction.
All the flavonoids except baicalin and catechin inhibited nitrite production in a dose-dependent manner, likely due to the suppression of inducible nitric oxide (NO) synthase.1 Nitrite can combine with protein compounds in the body to form nitrosamines- confirmed carcinogens and potent acidifiers. When it becomes nitric oxide, the compound is a free radical that does oxidative damage to other molecules.
The study further proves the anti-inflammatory effects of flavonoids and establishes that they accomplish this through the inhibition of enzymes, antioxidant action, and the inhibition of NO production.
We can extrapolate this information to bone health because:
- Flavonoids are found in plant foods brimming with bone-building nutrients.
- Reducing inflammation reduces and prevents bone damage, including reducing hip fracture incidence
- Flavonoids provide a natural alternative to acidifying anti-inflammatory drugs.
The study on flavonoids found that the tested polyphenols inhibited the inflammatory enzyme reactions, reduced oxidative damage, and inhibited the production of nitric oxide.
Safe And Natural Alternatives To Anti-Inflammatory Drugs
Inflammation damages bone. Studies have shown that people with high levels of inflammatory markers have a 73% higher risk of hip fracture than those with low levels of inflammatory markers.2
It should then come as no surprise that another major study found that less inflammatory diets are associated with less bone mineral density (BMD) loss in postmenopausal women, while a more inflammatory diet was associated with increased risk of hip fracture.3
Reducing inflammation is clearly critical to protecting your bones, and flavonoids are an excellent resource, especially considering that anti-inflammatory drugs are detrimental to bone health.
NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) are a class of pain-killing drugs that include aspirin, celecoxib (Celebrex), and ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil). They all reduce pain by inhibiting COX reactions, thereby reducing the inflammation that causes the discomfort.
Most NSAIDs primarily inhibit COX-1, but selective COX-2 inhibitors like celecoxib were developed to be less damaging to the stomach’s lining. However, many COX-2 inhibitors were pulled from the market after disastrous results.
The Save Institute recommends avoiding all drugs whenever possible since they’re all acidifying and have undesirable side-effects. NSAIDs actually have a scientifically-proven negative impact on bone remodeling.
A study on fracture healing found that COX-2 inhibitors delayed healing time, especially when treatment lasted longer than 15 days. The researchers extrapolated the results to conclude that any type of NSAIDs should be avoided after a fracture.4
Flavonoids, however, engage in a complex set of interactions that allow them to reduce inflammatory reactions and support bone growth simultaneously. For example, kaempferol, one of the flavonoids that most frequently and potently inhibited inflammatory enzymes in the first study, was found to enhance the fracture healing process in another study.5
Inflammation damages bone, but anti-inflammatory drugs are acidifying and have been shown to slow fracture healing. Flavonoids like kaempferol offer a bone-healthy way to reduce inflammation while supporting the bone remodeling process.
Fantastic Flavonoids And Where To Find Them
The anti-inflammatory action of these flavonoids can help reduce pain, but they have many other positive outcomes for your bones and overall health. Here is a list of particularly potent flavonoids, how they improve your health, and the foods that contain them.
Quercetin is a nutritional antioxidant powerhouse. It’s health benefits include:
- Balancing blood pressure6
- Improved cardiovascular health7
- Reduced respiratory irritation8
- Reduction in bone-damaging cortisol9
- Reduced oxidative damage
Find quercetin in these foods:
- Ancho chili peppers (fresh)
- Apples* (with skin)
- Broccoli* (contains more quercetin when raw)
- Red grapes<*/li>
Luteolin is the most potent bone-protecting anti-inflammatory polyphenol. It has other incredible benefits such as:
- Inhibits cytokine expression to reduce inflammation10
- Protects brain tissue that promotes neurological regeneration after surgery
- Improves spatial working memory12
- Reduced oxidative damage
It’s most readily available in these foods:
- Green bell peppers*
- Olive oil*
Kaempferol is particularly notable for its ability to protect osteoblasts. Its benefits include:13
- Protection from oxidative damage
- Inhibits blood platelet formation
- Inhibits cancer cells
- Inhibits low-density lipoprotein (LDL), helping to balance cholesterol
- Protects osteoblasts from toxins produced by bacteria14
You can get kaempferol from these foods:
- Black and green tea
- Green beans*
Hesperetin is a flavonoid most famously found in citrus fruits like lemons and oranges. Here are its most important health benefits:
- Reduces oxidative damage
- Protects heart tissue15
- Helps control blood sugar16
- Reduces cognitive problems by preventing nerve cell death17
- Reduces depressive symptoms18
- Increases bone cell formation19
Below are some delicious sources of hesperetin:
- Citrus fruit hybrids
- Sun-dried tangerine peels
Naringin is the polyphenol that gives grapefruit its bitter taste. Its benefits include:20
- Anti-cancer effects
- Improves metabolic health
- Reduces oxidative stress
- Protects DNA from damage
- Beneficial for Alzheimer’s Disease
- Beneficial for Parkinson’s disease
This polyphenol is found in:
- Rosemary (fresh)
- Wine (red and white)
The rewards of a diet rich in flavonoids include protection from high blood pressure and neurodegenerative diseases. They’re found in foods ranging from leafy greens to bitter citrus and many kinds of herbs.
Reduce Inflammation To Protect Bone
It's easy to consume these polyphenols as part of your regular bone-healthy diet. If you're dealing with pain from inflammation, the anti-inflammatory effects of these flavonoids will provide natural relief.
Even when you’re pain-free, making these foods part of your regular diet will protect your bones from the damage caused by inflammation. The best part about this natural strategy for building stronger bones is that it serves your total health, helping you to enjoy every day to its fullest.
Stop Worrying About Your Bone Loss
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