Archive for the ‘Science and stuff’ Category

by Mike Reinold (web)

Self myofascial release tools, such as foam rollers, trigger point balls, and massage sticks, have become some of the most popular tools used for corrective exercises, fitness, and sports performance.  In fact, performing self myofascial release has become almost a uniform component in the majority of fitness and sports performance programs.

You can certainly argue the exact physiological benefit of performing self myofascial release.  Ironically we are likely not really “releasing” fascia.

However, it’s hard to argue the benefits of self myofascial release.

Two recent studies in International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy and Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapy have been published that analyzed the current state of research and conclude that self myofascial release:

  • Increases mobility and joint range of motion
  • Reduces post-workout soreness and DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness)
  • Allows for greater workout performance in future workouts
  • May lead to improved vascular function and parasympathetic nervous system function

“Simply put, self myofascial release has been proven to help you feel and move better.”

In order to get started, I wanted to share my years of experience with self myofascial release tools.  There are so many foam rollers, trigger point tools, and massage sticks out there these days.
I’ve tried nearly all of them and these are what I consider the best self myofascial release tools.

Best Self Myofascial Release Tools

Over the years I have tried a ridiculous amount of different self myofascial release tools, some great, some awful, and some just a rip off.  Luckily, new products emerge all the time and continue to improve.

I’ve learned a couple of things that are important:

  • There are different types of self myofascial release tools for different needs, body parts, and intensities.  Building your own “kit” is probably going to be the most effective.  Trying to use just a foam roller on everything is going to not work well.
  • You tend to build up a tolerance to self myofascial release and want to upgrade to more advanced foam rollers, trigger point balls, and massage sticks.  Start with the basics and advance overtime.

Best Foam Rollers

Amazon Basics High-Density Round Foam Roller

The first place to is a basic high density foam roller.  This could be the cheapest and most versatile tool you get.  Amazon has started to make their own version, which is a great price.  You’ll find various sizes.  I’ve never personally gotten much use of the large 36-inch versions and tend to favor the 18-inch version.

TriggerPoint GRID Foam Rollerself myofascial release - grid foam roller

The basic high density foam roller is a great place to start to get used to foam rolling, but quickly gets pretty easy.  You’ll want to upgrade to a more firm foam roller in increase the intensity.  My preferred choice is the GRID foam roller from TriggerPoint.  I’ve been using this foam roller for years with continued success.  It has a rigid hollow core that increases the intensity very well.  This is worth the extra investment as it will likely be your main foam roller for some time.

(If you want to go for a cheaper version that can give you the same result check these GRID foam rollers out:
My personal favourite is THIS one. It is a very tough foam roller and gives you a very nice massage. )

 

Mobilitas Mobility Sphere
self myofascial release - mobility sphere foam roller

Somewhere between a foam roller and a trigger point ball, I actually really like using 5” mobility balls.  Because of the round shape, the contact area is smaller so the amount of force to the area is larger.  Plus, you can use into in multiple planes of motion because it is a ball instead of a roller.  This is something I personally use.  You can get into smaller areas, like your chest, but I use this just as much as a standard foam roller.  There are a few but the one I (Mike Reinold) use and recommend is the Mobilitas Mobility Sphere.

(For another very good mobility ball just CLICK HERE)

Acumobility Eclipse Foam Rollerself myofascial release - acumobility foam roller

I was recently turned onto the Eclipse Foam Roller from Acumobility and have been impressed.  I was intrigued by the design and wanted to try it myself.  I’m not a big fan of foam rollers with ridges, as I just feel they don’t do much and concept is more of a marketing gimmick.  But Acumobility has a made a great advanced foam roller that includes a firm middle section that can encompass a body part really well.  It’s a really unique design and a great tool for advanced foam rolling.

Best Massage Roller Stick

While foam rollers are the primary self myofascial release tool for most needs, there are body parts that simply don’t do as well and need a massage stick tool.  The next tool you should add to your self myofascial release tool kit is a massager stick roller.  There are a few popular massage sticks on the market, and as it is with most things, I actually don’t prefer the two most popular massage sticks.

TheraBand Roller Massager+self myofascial release - theraband massage stick roller

The original massage stick began with plastic pieces and did a fairly well job, but newer tools have used a more grippy surface that I feel is far more effective. A plastic roller is just placing pressure downward on the tissue, where the grip on the TheraBand Roller Massager+ seems to also create a tissue traction with the friction produced.  This is a great product for areas like the forearms and feet, but also areas where you want to apply more pressure than what you can with just body weight, like the quads, hamstrings, and calves.  Plus, this has been the massage roller featured in many of the research reports.

(I can recommend another three massage sticks to choose from.)

Best Trigger Point Release Tools

In addition to foam rollers and massage sticks.  Trigger point release tools are another must have addition to your self myofascial release tool kit.  Essentially, these just tend to be smaller self myofascial release tools that can get into tighter areas.

Lacrosse Ballself myofascial release - lacrosse ball trigger point tool

Yup, that’s it, just a lacrosse ball.  People have tried to make better versions of trigger point balls, but nothing beats the affordable lacrosse ball.  Great material, density, and durability.  This is a great place to start.  Get a couple so you can use two at once one places like your spine.

Acumobility Mobility Ballself myofascial release - acumobility ball trigger point tool

Acumobility, the maker of the Eclipse Roller above, has another great tool, their Mobility Ball.  This is made from a great dense material, but has a flat bottom that allows you to keep this in one spot on the floor or even against the wall.  This really helps to provide firm pressure while performing movements of the muscle group.  This is a great upgrade from the lacrosse ball.

Trigger Point Wandself myofascial release - trigger point wand

Sometimes an area is hard to reach, such as your neck or back.  That’s where sometimes a trigger point wand comes in handy.  I would definitely consider this a speciality tool, however a very popular choice.

Foot Rubz Massage Ballself myofascial release - foot rubz massage ball

Another speciality tool, but something that I wanted to include as I really love, is the hand and foot massage ball from Foot Rubz.  This is a smaller trigger point ball perfect for the hands and feet.  You can use a lacrosse ball or even the TheraBand Massage Roller above for these areas, but I feel this is slightly better and worth it for many.  (I’m literally using one as I type this haha…)

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After a very long silent period I am posting again. 🙂

Let’s talk about trigger points and muscle knots. A client of mine asked me about the difference. The simple difference is that a trigger point is a painful muscle knot. Knots are at least partially responsible for as much as 75% of muscle pain.

Symptoms can range from intolerable pain caused by “active” trigger points, to painless restriction of movement and distortion of posture from “latent” trigger points.

Trigger points are areas (from a pinhead size to perhaps the size of your thumb) of painfully contracted muscle tissue.  The big problem starts when this knot tightens then it creates a small muscle spasm that causes pain. This pain causes you to tighten up to protect the painful area. The result can be a new knot and more pain.

Trigger points can be the result of injury, overworking a muscle or postural stress and strain like sitting in a less than ideal position for long periods.  Anxiety, emotional stress, inflammation, environmental toxins, and allergies may also play a part.

Muscle Knots and Referred Pain

Knots often cause referred pain so they are tricky to pinpoint. Referred pain means the pain is felt not at the point of the knot, but elsewhere in the body. E.g. if you find a knot in your upper trapezius and put pressure on it you may feel pain in your head. Or pain in your leg could be the result of a trigger point in the lower back.

This tendency to cause referred pain is one of the things that make trigger points so maddening.

Massage therapists and physical therapists know the most effective way to release the contraction of a trigger point is deep, continuous pressure. But if you’re bothered with frequent shoulder pain, for example, that you suspect may be caused by a painful knot, repeated visits to a therapist are not always practical.

Self treatment

In my point of view and personal experience self treatment is always a temporary solution of prevention. If you train with weights you have bigger chance to develop knots and trigger points despite lots of SMR (self myofascial release) so you need to see a professional therapist e.g sport massage therapist maybe once in a month. Of course, it depends on your condition.

The next post will be about the SMR tools.

by Marilyn Rogers

Grounding, also referred to as earthing, means having direct contact with the earth — such as walking barefoot. Researchers have found numerous benefits when we do grounding, such as reducing pain and inflammation, and even improving sleep.

It might be too unbelievable that walking barefoot could actually improve our health. But there’re scientific reasons behind… As the earth emits negative electrons, they penetrate our bodies when we walk barefoot. These electrons have remarkable benefits that many of us have never imagined.

It will reduce free radicals and inflammation in your body

Free radicals are produced from our electronic devices, the sun’s rays, x-rays, cigarettes, and various chemicals. We’re always in a battle with free radicals and it’s impossible to avoid them. Free radicals are necessary for metabolic processes, but too many free radicals can hurt our bodies and cause chronic diseases.

Research indicates that antioxidants neutralize the free radicals that contribute to our body’s inflammatory responses. Because grounding has antioxidant effects, it can disarm these free radicals, thus reducing inflammation.

It will improve your mood

Does a day spent walking barefoot at the beach or in your backyard improve your mood? You’re not alone. According to a study by Gaétan Chevalier, participants who were grounded for one hour reported improvements in their moods, as opposed to those who were not grounded. The study concludes that additional studies are warranted. However, if the positive effects are confirmed, grounding could be an easy way to decrease depression, anxiety, and stress.

It will improve your sleep

If you’re one of the many who suffer from chronic sleep issues or occasional insomnia, grounding might help you get the sleep you need by reducing cortisol levels. In a study published by The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, subjects that grounded during sleep by using a conductive mattress pad had reduced nighttime levels of cortisol and their 24-hour circadian cortisol profiles became closer to normal. Cortisol has been called the “stress hormone” that can lower our quality of sleep.

It will accelerate tissue repair and wound healing

It has been reported that Tour De France racers have successfully used Earthing Recovery Bags for tissue repair and recovery with amazing results. The Earthing Recovery Bag, which resembles a sleeping bag, cocoons the athletes in energy to provide healing properties. With this being said, if you want to speed up tissue repair, try exercising, meditating, or practicing yoga outdoors while barefoot. It’s an inexpensive way to incorporate grounding into your daily life and reap the benefits that these elite athletes have experienced.

It will boost your heart health

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States — it results in about 610,000 deaths each year. According to a grounding study, earthing or grounding can boost heart health by reducing blood viscosity and clumping. Essentially, grounding increases the Zeta Potential on red blood cells. Red blood cells have a negative electrical charge. When the negative charge is greater, the cells repel one another, which improves blood flow. It should be noted that those who take blood thinners should consult with their physicians before adding grounding to their daily routines.

It will reduce the symptoms of PMS

Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) symptoms such as bloating, irritability, fatigue, headache, and depression can be uncomfortable and bothersome. Traditional ways of relieving PMS, such as medications and lifestyle changes, are not always effective. Grounding can help relief PMS symptoms for some women by reducing cortisol. Stress, which leads to high cortisol levels, can make PMS worse. This is why many women report improvements in PMS when practicing grounding. As an added benefit, grounding can reduce pain and inflammation, which are common PMS symptoms.

It will help you recover from your workouts

Muscle soreness after workouts, generally referred to as Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS), is a common side effect of strenuous or new exercise. There are several ways to relieve it, such as supplements, ice, massage, and foam rolling. Moreover, a pilot study from The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine shows that grounding has the potential to reduce the recovery time from DOMS and improve muscle function.

It will help you lose weight

When our energy is out of balance, we tend to make bad food choices by consuming things that are not good for us. Also, when we’re under stress, cortisol is released which signals our brains to seek out comfort foods and drinks, such as sugary sweets and alcoholic drinks. On the other hand, when we’re getting adequate sleep, not having pain, and feeling less stress, it’s easier to make healthy choices. As a result, all of these benefits of grounding work together to assist in weight loss.

How to get grounded

Every day find some time to take off your shoes as most of them are insulators which stop electrons from the earth penetrating into our bodies. Surfaces that allow grounding:

  • sand
  • grass
  • bare soil
  • unpainted/unsealed concrete and brick

Surfaces that can’t get us grounded:

  • wood
  • vinyl
  • carpet
  • sealed tiles

by KALEE BROWN

We have published many articles on the concept that we, as human beings, house a soul in our physical bodies and that our eyes are the gateway to this essence. We’ve talked a lot about the relationship between the mind, body, and soul and the importance of keeping it balanced and in harmony. However, have you ever contemplated what the physical muscle of the soul could be? Well, therapist and filmmaker Danielle Prohom Olson has; in fact, she claims that by relaxing  your psoas, or what she terms “the muscle of the soul,” you can reconnect with the powerful energy of the Earth.

What Is Your Psoas?

The correct pronunciation of the psoas is “so-az.” The psoas is literally the deepest muscle of the human body. You have one on each side of the spine, attached to your sides and spanning laterally from the 12th thoracic vertebra to each of the lumbar vertebra. It then moves through the abdominal core and the pelvis without attaching to the bone, and then connects to the iliacus muscle in a common tendon at the top of the femur (thigh) bone.

The diagram below shows the location of the psoas in the human body:

psoasdiagram

The psoas is crucial for proper body movement, as it affects our structural balance, muscular integrity, flexibility, strength, range of motion, joint mobility, and organ functioning. Without your psoas, you wouldn’t be able to maintain proper posture or move your legs to walk. While you’re walking, a healthy psoas moves with ease, continuously massaging the spine as well as the organs, blood vessels, and nerves of the trunk. This process promotes the flow of fluids throughout the body and creates the feeling of being grounded and centered.

The psoas is the only muscle to connect the spine to the legs. The psoas is also linked to the diaphragm through fascia (connective tissue), impacting our fear reflex and breathing. This is due to the connection between the psoas and the reptilian brain, the most ancient inner part of the brain stem and spinal cord.

Liz Koch, author of The Psaos Book and founder of Core Awareness, explains, “Long before the spoken word or the organizing capacity of the cortex developed, the reptilian brain, known for its survival instincts, maintained our essential core functioning.”

Why The Psoas Is Considered the Muscle of the Soul

Prior to learning about the connection the psoas has to energy, Olson started implementing more hip opening poses at the beginning and end of her yoga practice. Although her intention was simply to relax her psoas, in doing so, she experienced a significant decrease in tension and a newfound strength. Once she was exposed to Koch’s research and Taoism, she connected the dots between the psoas, stress, and spirituality and started referring to the psoas as “the muscle of the soul.”

Taoism is a philosophy, often referred to as a religion, that attempts to explain our relationship to nature and the universe. Practicing Taoists heavily focus on genuineness, health, immortality, detachment, spontaneity, transformation, and spirituality. Within the Taoist tradition, the psoas is considered the seat or the muscle of the soul and resides in the lower “Dan tien,” one of the human body’s most prominent energy centres. It is said that a flexible and strong psoas helps ground us and circulate energy throughout the body.

The Relationship Between Stress and the Psoas and How to Release It

Stress, anxiety, and fear are typically perceived as mental health issues, thus doctors often prescribe medication that target the mind. Although this approach has helped many people, we should be looking at stress through a broader lense and striving to understand what causes these emotional imbalances in the first place, including the relationship stress has to the psoas. Through their research, Koch and Olson have both discovered that by opening the psoas, one can release stress and tension through it.

Many people chase after the fast-paced, high-stress lifestyle that is the “American Dream,” characterized by spending most days at a “desk job” and most nights partying until the sun rises, then repeating the process. Koch believes that chronic triggers and tightening of the psoas are products of this unhealthy lifestyle as well as other common elements of modern day life, such as the chairs we sit in and the constrictive pants and shoes we wear. If we continuously contract the psoas as a result of increased stress or tension, the muscle becomes shorter, causing negative side effects such as lower back pain, sciatica, disc problems, scoliosis, hip degeneration, menstruation pain, infertility, and digestive issues.

If you suffer from any of these health issues or are looking to decrease or prevent stress, try the following yoga poses that help open the psoas:

By Chris Kesser (web)

Bone broth and your health

At this point, I hope you have a solid understanding of the components of bone broth. Now let’s get on to the health benefits!

Skin health
Skin is composed of two layers, the epidermis and the dermis. The epidermis, or upper layer, is composed of keratinocytes and is largely responsible for skin barrier function. Underneath is the dermis, a dense matrix of collagen, along with some GAGs, that provides structural and nutritive support (22). Keratin, collagen, and GAGs are abundant in bone broth, particularly if the skin from the animal is included in the cooking process.

In a 2014 randomized and controlled trial, collagen consumption significantly improved skin elasticity and tended to improve skin moisture content (23). Collagen scaffolds are widely used in medical applications to promote tissue regeneration and heal wounds (24). One study in mice found that supplementing the diet with gelatin was able to protect against UV-induced skin damage (25). GAGs offer additional skin benefits. The GAG hyaluronic acid has been shown to promote skin cell proliferation and increase the presence of retinoic acid, which improves the skin’s hydration (26), and dermatan sulfate has been shown to aid in cell turnover and wound repair (27).

Metabolic and cardiovascular health
Remember glycine, an amino acid that is particularly abundant in bone broth? Glycine plays a role in blood sugar regulation by controlling gluconeogenesis, the production of glucose in the liver (28), and has even been suggested to counteract some of the negative effects of dietary fructose consumption (29). Glycine has also been shown to reduce the size of heart attacks (30).

Furthermore, glycine balances out methionine intake. Muscle meats and eggs are high in methionine, an amino acid that raises homocysteine levels in the blood. High homocysteine is a significant risk factor for serious diseases like heart disease, stroke, mental illness, and fractures and increases our need for homocysteine-neutralizing nutrients like vitamins B6, B12, folate, and choline (31). Those eating lots of animal protein need adequate glycine to balance out the methionine from meat, and you’ll get that from bone broth. For more information, check out Denise Minger’s awesome presentation in which she discusses this very issue.

Muscle and performance
Glycine is also important for the synthesis of hemoglobin and myoglobin, which transport oxygen throughout the blood and muscle tissue, respectively (32). Glycine also increases creatine levels, which leads to an increase in anaerobic (high-intensity) exercise capacity, and stimulates the secretion of human growth hormone (HGH), which may enhance muscle repair (33, 34, 35). Recent evidence suggests that proline may play a role in regulating the mTOR cellular signaling pathway, which integrates signals from nutrients, growth factors, stress factors, and cellular energy status to affect cell function and growth. Proline, together with other amino acids, activates mTOR, resulting in enhanced muscle protein synthesis (36).

Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) is the chemical form of energy in the body that can be used to perform work. Phosphorus is required for the formation of this compound, and ATP cannot be biologically active unless bound to a magnesium ion. Phosphorus deficiency has been shown to reduce muscle performance (37, 38). Both phosphorus and magnesium are present in bone broth in modest amounts.

Bones and joints
It should be pretty obvious that the best way to get the nutrients necessary to build bone is from bone itself! Drinking bone broth provides all of the raw material for building healthy bones: calcium, phosphorus, amino acids, and more. A deficiency of the raw materials for building bone can result in a number of different conditions. For example, osteoporosis is associated with reduced levels of collagen and calcium in the bones (39, 40). Of course, you’ll also need the nutrients required to support the building process, like vitamins D, K2, and C. (To learn more about building healthy bones and where to get these nutrients on a Paleo diet, check out this article.)

As for joint health, lubrication by GAGs is the key to a full range of motion, whereby part of one bone can slide smoothly and painlessly over part of another. Sure, you could buy expensive supplements containing glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate to keep your joints healthy, but why, when these and a host of other beneficial nutrients can easily be obtained from bone broth? After all, GAGs are not the only component of broth that improves joint health. Collagen supplementation has been shown to reduce joint pain in athletes (41).

Gut health
A healthy colon contains a single tight layer of epithelial cells, a thick mucus layer, and a diverse collection of microbes. Microbial dysbiosis and a thinning of this mucus layer can quickly compromise the integrity of the epithelial barrier. Microbes and dietary proteins can then “leak” into the bloodstream and invoke an inflammatory response by the immune system. Lipopolysaccharide (LPS), a component of bacterial cell walls, stimulates a particularly robust immune response (42).

Bone broth is a staple of gut-healing diets, and rightfully so! Gelatin absorbs water and helps maintain the layer of mucus that keeps gut microbes away from the intestinal barrier. In a mouse model, gelatin supplementation reduced the severity of colitis by strengthening the mucus layer and altering gut microbiota composition (43). Gelatin and glycine have also been shown to reduce the inflammation caused by LPS (44, 45). Glycine has been shown to protect against gastric ulcers as well (46). Glutamine also helps maintain the integrity of the gut mucosa and intestinal barrier (47).

Digestion
Bone broth has so many benefits to gut health that I had to make digestion its own section! Drinking broth with meals is an excellent way to aid digestion. Glycine stimulates the production of stomach acid, which is essential for the proper digestion of food (48). Low stomach acid (hypochlorhydria) is surprisingly common in developed countries and can lead to a number of health issues.

Glycine is also an important component of bile acid, which is released to aid in the digestion of fats in the small intestine (49). Bile acid is important for maintaining normal blood cholesterol levels. The presence of gelatin in the gut also draws fluid into the intestine, improving gut motility and supporting healthy bowel movements. Low blood levels of collagen have been associated with inflammatory bowel disease (50).

Detoxification, liver, and kidney health
Recently, there has been some concern regarding the lead toxicity of bone broth. However, the vitamins and minerals that are abundant in bone broth, and in Paleo diets in general, can protect against the harmful effects of toxins like lead. Glycine also stimulates production of glutathione, the body’s master antioxidant (51). In animal models, glycine has been shown to speed recovery from alcohol-induced fatty liver disease (52), protect liver cells against hypoxia (53), and improve survival after liver transplantation (54). In humans, glycine reduces oxidative stress in patients with metabolic syndrome (55).

Proline plays a role in apoptosis, the process by which the body breaks down old cells, clears up waste products, and recycles raw materials for use in healthy cells (56). Proline can scavenge free radicals, effectively acting as an antioxidant (57). Glutamine, on the other hand, acts as a nontoxic nitrogen transporter, carrying amine groups safely through the bloodstream to the kidney. In the kidney, the conversion of glutamine to glutamate regulates acid–base balance by producing ammonium (58).

Eye health
Yes, bone broth may improve eye health. The cornea consists of three primary layers: an outer epithelial layer, a middle layer, and an inner endothelial layer. Hyaluronic acid stimulates proliferation of the epithelial cells that line the cornea (59) and is commonly used during eye surgery to help replace lost fluids (60). The middle, or stromal, layer is largely made of collagen, keratan sulfates, and chondroitin sulfates. Keratan sulfates have been shown to be essential to the transparency of the cornea (61), while chondroitin sulfate has been shown to influence the development of neural pathways in the retina (62). The amino acid glycine has also been shown to delay the progression of cataracts in a rat model of diabetes (63).

Brain health
Numerous components of bone broth influence the nervous system. The healthy fats in bone broth, particularly if made with marrow bones, provide a source of fuel and raw material for the brain. After all, more than 60 percent of the human brain is composed of fat (64). Glycine has been shown to protect against neuronal death after ischemic stroke (65) and likely plays a pertinent role in the development of the brain in the womb and during the first few months after birth (66). Calcium is essential for nerve conduction. When a nerve cell is stimulated, the influx of calcium triggers neurotransmitter release, allowing the signal to be passed on to the next nerve cell. Calcium deficiency affects this transmission and can result in symptoms of depression, insomnia, and hyperactivity. Lastly, chondroitin sulfate plays an important role in regeneration and plasticity in the central nervous system (67), meaning it is essential for learning and memory.

Mood and sleep
Bone broth can also improve both mood and sleep. Glycine is an inhibitory neurotransmitter, meaning it can decrease anxiety, promote mental calmness, and help with sleep (68). One study found that three grams of glycine given to subjects before bedtime produced measurable improvements in sleep quality (69).

Unlike methionine, glycine does not compete with tryptophan for transport across the blood–brain barrier (70). Tryptophan is the precursor (raw material) for serotonin, a neurotransmitter that contributes to feelings of well-being. Serotonin, in turn, is a precursor to melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep–wake cycles. This is why a diet that includes bone broth and fattier cuts of meat can help prevent the depression and insomnia that some people may experience when eating a diet high in methionine-rich lean meat and eggs.

Immune function
While ancient folk wisdom suggests that bone broth can cure the common cold, modern science has confirmed that the components of bone broth do indeed influence the immune system. For example, glycine receptors have been identified on the outer surface of several different types of immune cells (71, 72). The effect is a dampening of the immune response, resulting in reduced inflammatory signaling molecules and oxidative stress that may reduce damage to lungs and other tissues (73). The GAG heparin sulfate has been shown to influence B cell function, T cell function, and macrophage activity (74).

Where to source bone broth

To summarize, bone broth has an incredible number of potential health benefits and is rooted in a long history of human use. It makes an excellent addition to any diet and can be used in a multitude of dishes. Bone broth can be made at home or it can be bought pre-made.

Homemade bone broth is simple to make. Ask your local farmers if they have soup bones, or roast a whole pastured chicken and save the bones for making broth. Chicken feet, chicken necks, calves’ feet, and marrow bones are particularly valuable additions to broth. You can find a good basic recipe over at the Weston A. Price Foundation website.

Pre-made bone broth is also a good option. Be sure to:

  • Buy broth that is organic and made from pasture-raised animals or wild-caught fish (this minimizes the toxins and maximizes the nutrients you get from the bone broth).
  • Avoid cans and other containers that contain bisphenol A (BPA), a potent endocrine disruptor, or other BPA substitutes.
  • Check out my favorite brand of broth: Kettle and Fire uses bones of organic, pasture-raised animals along with organic vegetables, sea salt, and herbs, all slow-simmered for 24 hours.

However you choose to get your hands on this liquid gold, be sure to make bone broth a staple in your diet!

 

By Chris Kesser (web)

Bone broth: a nutrient gold mine

Bones contain an abundance of minerals as well as 17 different amino acids, many of which are found in broth as proteThe Bountiful Benefits of Bone Broth: a Comprehensive Guide Vol.1ins like collagen and gelatin. Though the exact nutritional content varies based on the bones used, cooking time, and cooking method, the following nutrients are consistently found in most bone broths.

Collagen
With 28 different types, collagen makes up about 30 percent of the protein in your body (4) and is the main component of connective tissues like cartilage, ligaments, tendons, bone, and skin. It is also present in the blood vessels, cornea, and lens of the eye. The name collagen comes from the Greek “kólla,” meaning “glue, and the suffix “-gen,” which means “producing.” In fact, early glue was made from collagen more than 8,000 years ago, likely by boiling the skin and sinews of animals (5). In addition to providing structure, collagen also plays an important role in tissue development and regulation (6, 7).

Gelatin
When collagen is simmered, it forms gelatin. This hydrolysis of collagen is irreversible and results in the breakdown of long collagen protein fibrils into smaller protein peptides. However, its chemical composition is very similar to its parent molecule, collagen (8). Gelatin is what gives bone broth or stock its Jell-O-like consistency once it has cooled.

Glycosaminoglycans
Glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) are complex carbohydrates that participate in many biological processes. They can attach to proteins in order to form proteoglycans, which are integral parts of connective tissue and synovial fluid, the lubricant that surrounds the joint (9). If the connective tissue, such as tendons, ligaments, and cartilage, is still attached, the bones in broth will provide our bodies with the whole spectrum of GAGs, including keratan sulfates, dermatan sulfates, chondroitin sulfates, and hyaluronic acid, which are the raw materials for skin, bone, and cartilage formation.

Glycine
Glycine is an amino acid that makes up more than a third of collagen. It also acts as a neurotransmitter, binding to glycine receptors present throughout the nervous system and peripheral tissues. Signaling through this receptor is particularly important in mediating inhibitory neurotransmission in the brainstem and spinal cord (10, 11).

Proline
Proline is an amino acid that makes up about 17 percent of collagen. The addition of hydroxyl groups to proline significantly increases the stability of collagen and is essential to its structure. Though small amounts of proline can be manufactured in the body, evidence shows that adequate dietary proline is necessary to maintain an optimal level of proline in the body (12, 13). Proline is not typically thought of as a neurotransmitter, but it is able to weakly bind to glutamate receptors and glycine receptors (14).

Glutamine
Glutamine is yet another important amino acid found in bone broth and is the most abundant amino acid in the blood (15). It is one of the few amino acids that can directly cross the blood–brain barrier (16). Intestinal epithelial cells and activated immune cells eagerly consume glutamine for cellular energy (17, 18).

Bone marrow
Inside the center cavity of the bone is the bone marrow, consisting of two types, red and yellow. Both types contain collagen. Red bone marrow is the site of manufacturing for new immune cells and red blood cells, while yellow marrow consists of healthy fats (19, 20). It is thought that important nutritional and immune support factors might be extracted from marrow during cooking, but the bioavailability of these factors has not been studied.

Minerals
Bone is also full of minerals, including calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, and zinc (21). An acidic medium is necessary to extract these minerals from food. When making broth, always add a splash of vinegar or other acid in order to extract the most minerals from the bone.

Vol.3 coming soon

By Chris Kesser (web)

Traditional cooking uses meat bones as a base for delicious stock because it is the secret to cooking great recipes. But it’s also incredibly nutritious and has scores of health benefits. Read on to learn more about bone broth and why you should make it a staple in your diet.

benefits of bone broth
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The Weston A. Price Foundation and advocates of the Paleo and Primal lifestyles favor bone broth for its wide array of nutrients that are difficult to find in any other food source. Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride has made bone and meat stock the foundation of the GAPS protocol because of its ability to heal and seal the gut lining and reduce overgrowth of harmful microbes. Chicken broth has also been suggested to reduce the migration of immune cells during illness. These are just some of the many reasons to love bone broth.

Bone broth is mentioned in dozens of articles on my blog, but I haven’t really provided a thorough analysis in a single, convenient place for my readers. So here it is: everything you need to know about bone broth! In this research-dense article, I will cover the role of broth in traditional cultures, the nutritive components of bone broth, the numerous health benefits, and the best ways to source it.

Bone broth in traditional cultures

A South American proverb says “good broth will resurrect the dead.” While this is certainly a stretch of the imagination, the ability of broth, and chicken broth in particular, to treat the common cold has long been touted as ancient folk wisdom. Scientists at the University of Nebraska sought to test this folklore in 2000 and found that in vitro (in a Petri dish), some components of chicken soup were able to inhibit the migration of innate immune cells called neutrophils, effectively acting as an anti-inflammatory that could, in theory, reduce symptoms of illness (1). Whether this effect occurs in vivo (in a living organism) is still unclear, but this preliminary data suggests that our ancestors may have been onto something. We’ll explore the bone broth–immune system connection more in a later section.

Evidence of the existence of soup can be found as far back as about 20,000 BC (2), and it’s well accepted that broth of some sort was, and remains, a staple in many traditional cultures. In Danish and German culture, large hens were specifically reserved for making soup, and the cooked meat was retained for other dishes or added back to the soup. In East Asian diets, dishes like miso sometimes contain meat stock. In Greece, beaten eggs mixed with lemon are commonly added to chicken broth as a traditional remedy for colds and digestive upset. Chicken soup in Hungary usually included organs like chicken liver and heart, while in Vietnam and the Philippines, beef bone marrow was used as the base for making soup. In India, chicken soup is popularly sold by roadside vendors in the winter and takes on many different forms. Chicken soup was a traditional dish of Jewish kitchens; it has even been called “Jewish penicillin” and is used to treat and prevent illness. In American tradition, chicken soup was prepared using old hens that were too tough to be roasted or cooked but still made excellent soup. Unfortunately, the only soup that most Americans eat today is canned, highly processed, and devoid of nutrients.

Traditional cultures wisely practiced nose-to-tail eating and consumed all parts of the animal, including the skin, cartilage, tendons, and other gelatinous cuts of meat. This provided a balanced intake of all the amino acids necessary to build and maintain those same structures in the human body. Some anthropologists have even suggested that in some regions of the world, early humans were scavengers rather than hunters, using tools to crack open the bones of carcasses left by lions and other large predators to expose the rich bone marrow (3). Unfortunately, many modern cultures have lost the practice of whole-animal eating, and the old-age tradition of having a pot of broth constantly simmering on the hearth has been lost in favor of modern convenience, microwaves, and highly processed canned soups. Bringing bone broth back into the modern diet offers a simple and delicious means of obtaining the nutrition from parts of the animal that traditional cultures prized.

Vol.2 coming soon