Mircobiome Diversity and probiotic use
Stress reduction tips
Stress can be one of the biggest offenders that contributes to poor health, in fact, every major diagnosed disease has stress as a common denominator*. One of the main mechanisms that’s currently understood when it comes to stress and poor health has to do with the effects stress has on the immune system. Our immune systems are essential to maintaining health and fighting off or modulating disease. When stress, emotional, physical or biochemical in nature, is poorly managed it will begin to down regulate or over stimulate the immune system. These are two ends of the spectrum that will result in health symptoms and conditions. Finding a way to manage stress that resinates for you is one of the best things you can do for improving your current health as well as your future well-being, easier said than done:)
Quick tips to reduce stress:
- Walking - Can help balance your circadian rhythm. This can translate into better cortisol (stress hormone) regulation.
- Eating - Eat at the right times of day, not all day and not all night**. This too helps set your circadian rhythm keeping cortisol in its happy place and keeping your waistline in check.
- Sleep - Getting “adequate” sleep is key and this might look different for everyone. Some people need 7.5 hours and others do better with 9 hours or somewhere in-between. Guess what, sleep is also connected to your circadian rhythm, are you starting to see a commonality here:)
- Meditation or reflection time - Call it what you will, you need to take a few minutes every day to breathe deeply and focus on nothing. This can help get you into a parasympathetic, rest and digest state. We need to be intentional about getting out of the fight or flight sympathetic dominant patterns that so many of us gravitate towards, this is the pattern that allows stress to precipitate.
- Removing overly processed foods - Eating is complicated and it can make or break someones health. Become more aware of how your body feels/reacts when you feed it good wholesome minimally processed foods compared to fast foods and overly processed items like breads, pastries and snack foods. If the foods aren’t agreeing with you, they are causing a stress on the digestive system and body as a whole.
These should offer a great starting place for most people, jump in and see what benefits you notice:)
SIBO stands for small intestinal bacterial overgrowth and is a condition thought to afflict more than 50% of those that suffer with IBS. It’s also a condition that is near and dear to me because I suffered from it, for way too long I might add! I’m writing about it in more detail so that I can help others realize that they should investigate this issue further to truly get a handle on their IBS related symptoms. This could be the underlying issue leading to unanswered questions as they relate to the vagueness that often is an IBS diagnosis.
There are several reasons why someone might go on to develop SIBO and its not my intention to dig into that for this post. I want to bring awareness to the symptoms and drive the desire to get tested. You need to stop ignoring symptoms or just accepting an IBS diagnosis.
Constipation, bloating, diarrhea, loose stools, alternating constipation/diarrhea and incomplete evacuation are many of the IBS symptoms, but they are also the symptoms for SIBO.
Do you suffer from any of the above symptoms on a regular basis? If so, have you chased these symptom(s) with medications/supplements or received a diagnoses of IBS from your Dr.? If you answered yes to any of the above then my next question is: Have you been tested for SIBO? This is a test that requires you to drink a liquid and then for the following 2-3 hours breathe into a tube every 15-20 minutes (this may have been performed in the doctors office or at home). This is currently the only non-invasive way to be tested for this condition. If a colonoscopy or endoscopy was performed these methods would not be able to detect SIBO.
If you haven’t had this test yet, then you need to seek out a SIBO breathe test ASAP. The results to this test can guide treatment options and diet changes that can have a drastic impact on your IBS related symptoms, irregardless of the supplements or prescription medications you may currently be on or ones you may have tried in the past. Knowing if bacterial overgrowth is present is half the battle, the other important component is knowing which kind of gas (methane or hydrogen) you are producing. This will allow for appropriate supplementation/medication recommendations.
What to look for when seeking a SIBO test. There are 2 different SIBO tests, one that uses glucose as the testing substrate and one that uses lactulose as the substrate. Doing both can offer the most conclusive information, however, you can often start with lactulose and follow-up with glucose if it’s negative. Starting with glucose is also an option and then a follow-up with lactulose would be warranted if negative.
Some Gastroenterologists will offer this testing in office or they can easily write you an order for the test. If you get resistance or would like to take matters into your own hands there are reputable labs that offer direct to consumer testing.
Moving past these GI related symptoms is possible and there are answers out there. Be your own health advocate and get the answers you deserve.
Bone Broth Recipe
Lets start with a small batch so I’m thinking an 8-10 Qt stock pot. Use 1 -2 chicken carcass' (or just chicken bones from some legs, wings, breast etc.). Put carcass’ or individual bones in the pot (skin is good too), you may have to break them to fit them nice and snug, then use bottled spring water (or tap water if you have a well), you will need a few gallons for this (not tap bc of the chlorine and fluoride in it). Put enough water in just to cover the bones by 1 inch. Then add in 2 TB apple cider vinegar cover and bring to a low low simmer (not a boil, not even a bubble) for 2 hours. Next top off the water to come to almost the top of the pot, leave 2 inches at the top and throw in 2 TB whole peppercorns, 1.5TB sea salt and a few bay leaves and put the lid on. Bring it to a medium simmer where its not bubbling out of the pot, but its definitely rolling. Leave it like this for the next 40 hours, give or take, ballpark it, don’t sit by the clock and watch it, it’s kind of like, oh I think it might be ready kind of deal. Now add 2 onions quartered (leave the outer paper skin on, this is where all the phytonutrients are) chop up 2 nice size carrots, add ¼ sleeve of celery and some garlic cloves, again you can leave skin on these too. Let it continue on a soft bubbly simmer for another 3 hours. This is the only time you want to make sure you watch time bc if you go too long with the veg it could turn broth bitter so 4 hours max once veg is added. Also, if water is evaporating continue to top it off with bottled water throughout the process. Shouldn’t be a problem if you have a lid on it and don’t let it boil to rapidly. If you find yourself adding water frequently over the 2 days then it’s getting too hot, turn it down. Take it off the stove, remove lid so it starts to cool slightly. Strain bones and veg with a colander and put broth only into mason jars or other glass containers (avoid plastic if at all possible especially since it’s warm/hot). Put lids on and allow to come to room temp on counter) this can take several hours. Then pop it in the fridge. Warm it in a pot to enjoy by the glass or for making soup:)
You can up the nutrition content if you get chicken feet from your local farmer in addition to stock bird’s that have been stripped of the meat and still contain the neck(here’s a good local source https://www.facebook.com/fullersoverlookfarm/) and add them in, 1-2 pounds per batch in the very beginning. Also, beef knucklebones are a very good collagen rich addition to the broth and beef marrowbones can also be a great addition. The knuckles are so big you should only need 1 per batch. A local source for these is Everything Natural and also bi weekly deliveries from http://www.yourfamilyfarmer.com/ to the Dickson City Kmart. Bulk purchasing can be done thru them as well so let me know if your ever interested in splitting a bulk purchase.
Health Benefits of Bone Broth
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. Of course, you’ll also need the nutrients required to support the building process, like vitamins D, K2, and C.
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.
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.
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. Gelatin and glycine have also been shown to reduce the inflammation caused by LPS. Glycine has been shown to protect against gastric ulcers as well. Glutamine also helps maintain the integrity of the gut mucosa and intestinal barrier.
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. 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. 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.
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. One study found that three grams of glycine given to subjects before bedtime produced measurable improvements in sleep quality.
Unlike methionine, glycine does not compete with tryptophan for transport across the blood–brain barrier. 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.
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. 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. The GAG heparin sulfate has been shown to influence B cell function, T cell function, and macrophage activity.
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 proteins 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.
With 28 different types, collagen makes up about 30 percent of the protein in your body 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. In addition to providing structure, collagen also plays an important role in tissue development and regulation.
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. Gelatin is what gives bone broth or stock its Jell-O-like consistency once it has cooled.
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. 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 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.
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. Proline is not typically thought of as a neurotransmitter, but it is able to weakly bind to glutamate receptors and glycine receptors.
Glutamine is yet another important amino acid found in bone broth and is the most abundant amino acid in the blood. It is one of the few amino acids that can directly cross the blood–brain barrier. Intestinal epithelial cells and activated immune cells eagerly consume glutamine for cellular energy.
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. 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.
Bone is also full of minerals, including calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, and zinc. 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.