The Antioxidant That Builds Your Bones And So Much More
There’s an amazing antioxidant found in many Foundation Foods that helps build your bones, reduce stress, and improve many other aspects of your health. What’s more, this nutritional component of fruits and vegetables is a clear example of the superiority of natural health solutions over synthetic ones.
Today I’ll explain this and much more, including how it works and how to include it in your diet.
Quercetin: A Nutritional Powerhouse That Helps Increase Bone Density
The antioxidant quercetin has an indirect but very powerful effect on your bones. It’s in a class of antioxidants known as polyphenols, which are plant chemicals responsible for the bright colors of certain foods. The Save Our Bones Program and its companion cookbook, Bone Appétit, include many of these colorful Foundation Foods, because antioxidants are so crucial to bone health.
It’s easy to overlook the role of antioxidants in managing osteoporosis; usually, the focus is more on vitamins and minerals for building bone density (these are important too, of course). But antioxidants are just as important, which is why there’s an entire chapter of the Save Our Bones Program devoted to these “undercover bone builders.”
Here’s A Brief Recap Of How Antioxidants Work
Oxygen is used by the body to create energy via cellular respiration. Despite the efficiency of this body function, however, some cells get damaged in the process and become free radicals, oxygen molecules that are missing an electron. These free radicals then “rob” an electron from other cells, creating a chain reaction and inducing cellular damage. Of course, that includes bone cells.
You can see the results of unfettered oxidation in rust on metal, and on the surface of certain foods that turn brown when exposed to the air.
Oxidative Damage “Rusts” Your Bones!
To stop the oxidative process, certain substances are able to donate an electron to stabilize free radical molecules without becoming free radicals themselves. This stops the cycle of cellular damage and allows cells to build and repair body tissue, including bone.
These stabilizing substances, of course, are antioxidants.
How The Antioxidant Quercetin Helps
Quercetin is one of many antioxidants, but it deserves special mention because its positive effects on the body go beyond the disruption of the oxidative cycle mentioned above. Quercetin is also a powerful anti-inflammatory, stress-reducer, and even antihistamine. First we’ll look at stress, how it affects your bones, and how quercetin helps.
The Role Of Stress In Your Bone Health
Chronic stress is debilitating for many body systems, including your bones. The stress process, releases cortisol into the bloodstream. A study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism clearly shows the harm that cortisol does to your bones , especially at high levels. That’s because cortisol acidifies the body, producing the same effect as a high-acid diet.
Quercetin: Your Protection Against Stress
Among quercetin’s many profound effects on your health is its ability to reduce cortisol levels. Cortisol is produced as part of a complex series of stimuli (stressors) and reactions to those stressors.
The body’s initial response to stress begins in the hypothalamus, which is located just above the brainstem. The hypothalamus releases two hormones, corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) and arginine-vassopressin (AVP). CRH and AVP in turn activate the HPA axis, an interactive feedback series involving the hypothalamus, pituitary gland, and the adrenal glands.
The adrenal glands produce cortisol as part of this process.
Cortisol is not all bad, of course; it is a necessary component of various body reactions. It helps regulate sodium and potassium levels, for example, and certainly is vital in the “fight or flight” response. But too much cortisol can have a detrimental effect on your health.
For example, cortisol weakens the immune system by blocking T-cells and generally stifling the immune response. In addition, elevated cortisol levels can cause memory loss.
Here’s Where Quercetin Comes In
During times of prolonged stress, quercetin has been shown to suppress the release of cortisol. 1 It does this by diminishing an enzyme that is necessary for cortisol to be released into the bloodstream. By reducing cortisol levels, quercetin promotes a more alkaline environment in the body – and that is absolutely crucial for your bones to flourish.
Health Benefits Of Quercetin Beyond Your Bones
In addition to the stress-reducing effects of quercetin, research has also shown that this antioxidant aids other body systems too. For example…
- Quercetin balances blood pressure according to a 2007 study published in the Journal of Nutrition. Participants in the study experienced balanced arterial pressure after taking quercetin supplements. 2
- Cardiovascular health is improved with quercetin – research has shown its antioxidant action prevents cholesterol oxidation on artery walls 3, and quercetin also promotes blood flow in general. 4
- Respiratory health can also benefit from quercetin. Irritation of the respiratory tract, such as swelling and redness, results from your body’s histamine release. Preliminary findings suggest that quercetin inhibits the release of histamines. 5
Clearly, quercetin performs multiple health-related tasks in the body, which makes it an ideal natural solution to overall health and specific health issues.
Compare this approach to individual medicines that target one symptom and health problem at a time, such as over-the-counter (OTC) antihistamines. Inevitably, such medications have side effects. Take, for example, the OTC antihistamine Claritin (loratadine) – side effects include:
- Head pain
- Pink eye
- Very large hives
- Abnormal dreams (one wonders what constitutes an “abnormal dream” – it’s frightening to think that a drug can affect your brain this way!)
- Vision problems
- Inability to focus
- Bladder control problems
- Rapid heartbeat
This is just one example of many. And let’s not forget the nefarious side effects (and dismal bone density increase) of bisphosphonates, the most popular osteoporosis drugs, such as Fosamax, Boniva, and Reclast along with their generic versions.
Instead of using a synthetic chemical in isolation, you should consume whole foods to obtain an array of synergistic compounds that build your overall health.
Quercetin Can Be Found In A Variety Of Delicious Foods.
Here are the richest sources of this antioxidant, and all the synergistic substances that are also in these foods work together to promote optimal health.
- Ancho chili peppers (fresh)
- Apples (with skin)
- Broccoli (raw has more quercetin than cooked)
- Buckwheat (one of the rare alkalizing grains)
- Olive oil
- Red grapes
With the exception of chocolate, all of these foods are Foundation Foods in the Save Our Bones Program. And as you can see, there’s quite a variety!
This is why the Save Our Bones Program delves into the nutritional, bone-building effects of foods as part of its all-natural, drug-free approach. Wouldn’t you rather create delicious meals from these natural foods than take a dangerous synthetic drug with frightening side effects? I know I would.
Till next time,
1Cheng LC, Li LA. Flavonoids exhibit diverse effects on CYP11B1 expression and cortisol synthesis. Toxicol Appl Pharmacol. 2012 Feb 1;258(3):343-50. doi: 10.1016/j.taap.2011.11.017. Epub 2011 Dec 8.
2Edwards RL, Lyon T, Litwin SE, Rabovsky A, Symons JD, Jalili T. Quercetin reduces blood pressure in hypertensive subjects. J Nutr. 2007 Nov;137(11):2405-11.
3Egert S, Bosy-Westphal A, Seiberl J, Kürbitz C, Settler U, Plachta-Danielzik S, Wagner AE, Frank J, Schrezenmeir J, Rimbach G, Wolffram S, Müller MJ. Quercetin reduces systolic blood pressure and plasma oxidised low-density lipoprotein concentrations in overweight subjects with a high-cardiovascular disease risk phenotype: a double-blinded, placebocontrolled cross-over study. Br J Nutr. 2009 Oct;102(7):1065-74. doi: 10.1017/S0007114509359127. Epub 2009 Apr 30.
4Perez-Vizcaino F, Duarte J. Flavonols and cardiovascular disease. Mol Aspects Med. 2010 Dec;31(6):478-94. doi: 10.1016/j.mam.2010.09.002. Epub 2010 Sep 15.
5Chirumbolo S. The role of quercetin, flavonols and flavones in modulating inflammatory cell function. Inflamm Allergy Drug Targets. 2010 Sep;9(4):263-85.