The recent news of the aging NBA start Kobe Bryant on consuming bone broth is making headlines and this has only a very limited appeal to most readers. I personally found it very interesting, and it seems to be related to a few personal theories I have had since starting the research. However, I wanted to go deeper into the technical details on why one of the most recognizable professional athletes in the world would be doing this in the recommendation of his nutritionist.
Note: I also talked about Kobe’s willingness to go to Germany to get the Regenokine PRP type therapy from Dr. Peter Wehling to advance the speed of his knees healing. This was mentioned by Terrell Owens in an interview. The PRP (platelet rich protein) therapy is similar to this bone broth, which is always to reduce inflammation. The body’s natural defense mechanism using the inflammation causing cytokines is what hurting our joints when we lead an over-active lifestyle.
Apparently a Dr. Kate Shanahan, nutritionist of the LA Lakers team recommended this bone broth idea to Kobe. Kobe, being the competitor that he is is willing to ingest almost anything to stay at his level of athletic ability. So what does a high-level nutritionist understand about Bone Broth that we in the general society does not?
Let me take a swing at her reasoning.
In the American Diet, people have been focused almost exclusively on what is known as “white meat”, which is very lean. White meat is what the American diet focuses on. However, the dark meat is actually where the real nutrition is at. Chicken breast is white meat. Chicken wing is dark meat. Duck meat has a similar texture and flavor as dark meat. When you are only looking at the protein density levels, then clearly white meat comes out on top. However, if you are trying to get some very unique minerals into your system, dark meat is where it is at.
Americans (and many others in the Western countries) are too focused on muscle tissue, and building muscle tissue. There is too few people who are focused on cartilage tissue. All those weight lifters, body builders, and strong man in those bodybuilding internet forums are all focused on building muscle tissue. All those fitness magazines that you find at your local shopping store is focused over and over again on how to gain muscles, but almost never talk about joints, cartilage, and bones. When I see pictures of muscle freaks like Flex Wheeler and Ronnie Coleman, I can’t help but wonder why a large percentage of the American male wants to look like these guys. The reason is most likely because we can’t control our cartilage and bone sizes and shape, unlike our muscles, which can be exercised into the shape and size that we desire.
Something that the Asian cuisine like Vietnamese, Filipino, and Chinese have done is focus almost exclusively on dark meat, since dark meat has more flavor. When I lived in South Korea for a couple years, there was a dish known as PIg Feet (jokbal) which was slices of fat and collagen along with lean meat, which gave the overall food a unique texture. That means that these Asian cultures have a tradition of eating strange things like insects, bones, and other non-western traditional proteins sources. The flavor and texture of strange meats is usually a good indicator that it is also packed with minerals and vitamins which you just don’t find in the American diet, which focus too much on lean “white” meat.
I personally love Pho, the vietnamese noodle dish, and something recently that has been added to the local menu at the restaurant down my home is Ox Tail Pho. With the ox tail, you can’t eat the source of soup base, since it is mostly bone. The reason why the Ox Trail soup/pho is used is because of its unique stronger flavor of cow meat. Eating the traditional flank, and brisket beef does not allow a person trying the soup to get the real essence of the meat.
Not only that, when you drink the soup from cow bones, you are getting collagen type I and type III, which is supposed to be really good for human skin.
Most anti-aging creams that is sold today tries to remove wrinkles in one of two ways. You can either tighten the skin, using a combination of Hyaluronic Acid and Vitamin C, thus pullng the skin around the wrinkle flatter. Or, you can fill up the grooves that make the wrinkles using a serum of Collagen combination (Type I and III). Some anti-aging marketers have gone so far as to say that ingesting collagen pills will make the skin smoother, which has not been validated.
This is why the bone broth is supposed to be so effective. It is a combination of collagen and minerals that is supposed to help the layer of articular cartilage in kobe’s knees.
I would suspect something else that the nutritionist chose not to reveal. I am guessing based on my research that it is not just cow bones that are simmered in water. The bones are also cut sideways so that the contents of the bone marrow is also getting into the soup. Remember, in the adult human, we have the intermedullary cavity, which is where adipose derived yellow type mesenchymal stem cells are, as well as other types of hemotopoietic stem cells are located. Throughout the human life, the bone marrow is still generating new osteoblasts to coat the inside of the long bones. This is known as endogenous appositional bone growth. Since the cow (and pig) are mammals like humans then it would make sense that the marrow in a cow leg does the same thing, so maybe what Kobe is swallowing is cooked progenitor stem cell content. Of course, boiling organic live cells in water for a long time would destroy all cells but the minerals are still left intact.
Something I would also like to counter with is that there might not be enough evidence that drinking bone broth would ever help a young child from developing better bones or grow taller though. The Chinese, Filipino, Iranian and Vietnamese culture all have dishes which call for the contents of the bone marrow to go into soup. However, these ethnicities have traditionally had the shortest people compared to other nations. The bone marrow derived broth may have articular cartilage helpful effects, but those health benefits don’t seem to translate to helping younger kids grow taller. Is it possible that the primary spongiosa of the growth plate in vietnamese children are just not able to get the level of magnesium and iron to make the general vietnamese population taller compared to other nations?
It might be that the soup that goes into The Vietnamese Pho may not have the high enough nutrient level, but instead is for enhancing flavor. Is it possible that the recipe of bone broth that is made specifically for Kobe has a very strong level of flavor from high nutrient levels?
Just because a athlete superstar swears by a new diet doesn’t mean that it actually helps him. I am sure with his money, he has many other forms of rehabilitation processes that he does to help his aging knee cartilage. For example, the anti-gravity treadmill. It almost completely negates the amount of weight above the waist while still allowing the runner to work their leg muscles without putting too much load on their knee joint.
The bone broth in theory does have some possibility that they do help him.