Science Can’t Explain Why Everyone is Drinking Bone Broth

Markham Heid wrote . . . . .

The term “miracle” is thrown around a lot these days, especially when it comes to how and what we eat. Whether it’s adding turmeric or subtracting gluten, people are always searching for a dietary panacea that will fend off disease and rid our bodies of excess weight.

One of the latest food trends, which doesn’t seem to be going anywhere, is bone broth: a stock made primarily from the bones and connective tissue of animals or fish. (The term “bone broth” is a bit of a misnomer; traditionally, a “broth” is differentiated from a “stock” precisely because it doesn’t include animal bones.)

According to the book Nourishing Broth, which seems to have either launched or turbocharged the current broth brouhaha, “real” animal stock (that is, a stock not made from powders) can quell inflammation, speed healing, calm allergies and combat fatigue.

It can do all this, the authors write, thanks to its “unique combination of amino acids, minerals, and cartilage compounds.” The authors highlight the benefits of the broth’s collagen and cartilage content which the authors say may help bolster their analogs in the human body, where it’s necessary for healthy bones and skin. Eating it may, then, prevent or relieve osteoarthritis, osteoporosis and other bone- or skin-related diseases, the authors say.

But does it? There isn’t much research on bone broth to support—or refute—these health claims. But several experts on human digestion say the nutrients that supposedly make bone broth special are not, in fact, all that unique.

“The idea that because bone broth or stock contains collagen it somehow translates to collagen in the human body is nonsensical,” says Dr. William H. Percy, an associate professor and biomedical scientist at the University of South Dakota who has spent more than three decades studying the ways the human gut breaks down and absorbs the food we eat. “Collagen is actually a pretty poor source of amino acids,” he says.

And while there are two protein compounds that are found only in collagen, neither confers any special health benefits, says Dr. D. David Smith, an associate professor of biomedical sciences at Creighton University and an expert in the chemistry of peptides and the biological activity of amino acids.

Just as the dietary fat you swallow doesn’t directly translate to body fat, swallowing collagen doesn’t become collagen in or between your bones. Percy says bone broth may contain both essential and inessential amino acids, and that your body can use these nutrients to augment or support various parts of your skeleton.

While that’s also true of meat, eggs, chicken, and other protein sources, it doesn’t make bone broth a terrible source of these amino acids. Your body takes the nutrients from the foods you eat and sends them where they’re needed most, says Dr. Kantha Shelke, a food scientist and principle at Corvus Blue LLC, a Chicago-based food research company. So if your diet was deficient in protein-sourced amino acids, sipping bone broth could provide some of the stuff your body requires to fortify your bones and joints.

But even in this context, you’d benefit more from eating milk or eggs than you would from slurping bone broth, Percy adds.

Like many nutrition trends, Percy says the claims surrounding bone broth are “loosely based” on nutrition science. They just overstate or sensationalize the benefits, and use a lot of personal endorsements to support their claims. “Anecdotes along the lines of ‘I ate bone broth and my gut problem cleared up’ do not count as evidence-based medicine,” he says.

More research is needed, though none of this is to say that bone broth is unhealthy.

It just may not be the magical elixir for all that ails you.

Source: Time

Scientists have Unlocked the Secret of Making Tomatoes Tasty Again

Colin Tosh, Niall Conboy and Thomas McDaniel wrote . . . . . .

If you shop in a supermarket you may well have asked why the fruit and veg you buy there is so tasteless, especially if you’ve also tried homegrown alternatives. Traditional breeds of tomatoes usually grown in gardens, known as heirloom tomatoes, for example, are often small and strangely shaped and coloured but renowned for their delicious taste. Those in the supermarkets, meanwhile, are often pumped up in size but somewhat insipid to eat.

This is because plants used by most tomato farms have gone through an intensive artificial selection process to breed fruit that are big, red and round – but at the expense of taste. Now a 20-strong international research team have identified the chemical compounds responsible for the rich flavour of heirloom tomatoes and the genes that produce them. This information could provide a way for farmers to grow tomatoes that taste of something again.

The unique flavour of a tomato is determined by specific airborne molecules called volatiles, which emanate from flavour chemicals in the fruit. By asking a panel of consumers to rate over a hundred varieties of tomato, the researchers identified 13 volatiles that play an important role in producing the most appealing flavours. They also found that these molecules were significantly reduced in modern tomato varieties compared to the heirloom ones. And they found that bigger tomatoes tended to have less sugar, another reason why large supermarket fruits often fail to inspire.

Tomatoes originally hail from the Andean region of South America and belong to the Solanaceae family, making them relatively close relations of potatoes and peppers. The original, ancestral tomato was very small, more like a pea, showing just how much human intervention has swollen the fruit. We don’t know how long they have been grown for human consumption but they had reached an advanced stage of domestication by the 15th century when they were taken to Europe.

Before the 20th century, tomato varieties were commonly developed in families and small communities (which explains the name “heirloom”). With the industrialisation of farming, the serious business of tomato breeding began with intensive selection for fruit size and shelf life.

Some more recent effort has been put into improving the flavour of tomatoes through breeding. But the new research appears to indicate that this has ultimately been unsuccessful and that earlier breeding efforts have doomed modern commercial varieties to mediocrity.

The new paper, published in Science, emphasises what seems to be a constant conflict between the food industry’s desire for profit and what the public actually want. The researchers tactfully excuse the way tomatoes have been bred for size and shelf-life at the expense of taste as being down to breeders’ inability to analyse the fruit’s chemical composition and find the right volatiles.

But many people will find this hard to swallow. After all, the new research itself used the most ancient volatile analysis system there is: the human taster. It wouldn’t have taken much for farmers to incorporate taste trials into their breeding programmes.

Because modern farmed tomatoes have only lost their flavour in the last hundred years or so and varieties are still available that produce the tasty volatiles, it should be possible to reinsert the crucial taste genes back into commercial varieties. This could be done by genetic modification or conventional breeding. Just as we are seeing a resurgence in organic and artisan growing, it would be great to see a new generation of tomato breeders interested in returning flavour to the fruit using wild and heirloom varieties, while maintaining other commercially desirable traits.

There is significant public opposition to the idea of genetically modifying foods by inserting genes into a plant’s DNA in the lab. But the idea of reinserting lost genes may be more palatable to the public than introducing completely new ones. Either way, it shows how perverse the food industry’s methods are that we may need to use one of the world’s most advanced technologies to give an inherently delicious food some flavour.

Source: The Conversation

How Does Alcohol Get You Drunk?

This video explains the chemistry behind the effects of alcohol – drunkenness, frequent bathroom breaks and occasionally poor decision-making. Find out how it all comes down to ethanol (which, like all things, should be enjoyed in moderation).

Watch video at You Tube (3:26 minutes) . . . .