Meet Mark

Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

Tell Me More
Stay Connected
May 06, 2013

Dear Mark: Sleepy After Chicken, Microwaving Bone Broth, and Safest CAFO Meat

By Mark Sisson
46 Comments

BrothIt’s time for yet another edition of Dear Mark, and this time I’m covering some interesting topics. First up is the phenomenon of sleepiness following a meal of chicken with the skin on. Far from being an unwelcome, foggy sort of fatigue, this particular brand of sleepiness is pleasing. Could it be something in the chicken? Next, I discuss whether or not the proteins in bone broth are irreparably alerted – in a bad way – upon microwave exposure. I don’t come to an ironclad conclusion, but I do try to give some perspective on the issue. Finally, I try to decide on the “safest” CAFO meat to order when you’re unable to procure grass-fed or pastured. Let’s go:

Hey Mark, I love eating chicken, especially baked. I have noticed that after eating chicken meat with the skin I often feel pleasantly sleepy afterward. This is not a brain fog, food coma kind of tired. Just a nice tiredness. Do you know of anything about chicken that would cause this? Or is it just an association? Thanks! Sarah

As much as we criticize chicken for containing too many PUFAs – which is a valid point, especially if you rely on chicken for the bulk of your animal calories – chicken fat is actually quite high in oleic acid, the primary monounsaturated fat and the same one found and championed in olive oil, ranging from 37% to 56% of total fat. In fact, it’s the primary fatty acid in chicken fat. In the body, oleic acid can be converted into oleamide, a fatty acid amide. Fatty acid amides are formed when a fatty acid combines with an amine, and they are used in chemical signaling within the body. Oleamide in particular has been fingered as a potent sleep-inducer:

Beyond helping to regulate sleep, oleamide likely has other physiological roles. For one, it appears to inhibit the inflammatory effects of lipopolysaccharide, the toxin released by certain gut flora. For a real nice sleep, try chicken soup. The glycine in gelatinous broth links up (in your body) with the oleic acid in chicken to form n-oleoylglycine, a bioactive precursor to oleamide with “chill-out” properties of its own. It’s not quite so simple as “eat chicken fat, make more oleamide,” but having more oleic acid in your diet should provide more substrate for oleamide synthesis, and thus inducement of sleep. Either way, it appears to be having an immediate effect on you. Even if my educated guess isn’t correct, enjoy the sleep! You know, I’ve noticed this myself. Not just with chicken, but with pretty much any animal fat, which makes sense when you realize that animal fat almost invariably comes along with plenty of oleic acid. Beef fat? About 50% oleic. Pork fat? About 50% oleic. Lamb fat? Around 45% oleic. I wonder if olive oil (mostly oleic) will work, too, or if it’s something else in the animal fat that works in concert with the oleic acid. Interesting stuff. To find out the truth, just eat some animal fat before bed! Seth Roberts has had similar experiences with animal fat (specifically pork fat) and sleep, for what it’s worth. Speaking of broth…

Mark, I just read your 4/24 post on how much protein should you eat. I followed a link from that to an article on the Weston A. Price site (Why Broth is Beautiful: Essential Roles for Proline, Glycine and Gelatin). One part of the article said that microwaving bone broth changes the proline in it from the trans to the cis form. This in turn causes ‘structural, functional and immunological changes’ in the body and can be nephrotoxic, and heptatotoxic. So, is this true?? Do you use a microwave to reheat broth? I have been, should I stop? Kitty

That’s a great article, overall, which is why I linked to it, but I’m not very convinced on the dangers of microwaved bone broth. Let’s assume microwaving turns the L-proline into D-proline. Should we be worried about D-proline? Is it truly toxic to the kidneys and liver? There have been a number of animal studies examining the effects of the various proline isomers, and there are conflicting results. In chickens, L-proline induced amnesia, while D-proline did not. L-proline destroyed more hippocampal neurons than D-proline. Among chicks, L-proline caused more pecking than D-proline. Pecking is often used as a marker of depression in chickens kept in close quarters with other chickens. Now that I think of it, though, I’m not so sure “increased tolerance of inhumane crowding” is such a good or normal thing. Depression appears to be warranted in the chicken’s situation! When injected into a chicken’s heart, D-proline produced convulsions and death, while L-proline did not. D-proline produced liver and kidney damage in rats, while L-proline did not. There are also a few human studies, not on the effect of dietary D-proline, but rather highlighting the constant presence of D-proline in our guts and in our saliva: Both D-proline and L-proline are found in human gastric juice. Furthermore, patients with gastric cancer and H. pylori infections tended to have higher levels of L-proline, but not D-proline, in their guts. It’s also present in our saliva independent of our dietary intake. Does this mean broth should be microwaved in order to convert it into gut-protective D-proline? Does it mean that it should never be microwaved in order to protect us from liver lesioning D-proline? Of course not! I just wanted to highlight how depending on what research you use you could claim that D-proline is dangerous, deadly stuff that should be avoided at all costs, or you could call it neuro-protective and anti-depressant (at least for baby chicks). Look, D-proline may be problematic. I really don’t know. And microwaving your broth may alter the proteins to make them dangerous. I don’t know. I don’t think it’s likely to cause severe issues in the way we consume broth. I mean, how often are you drinking broth, let alone broth that’s been heated in a microwave? Daily? Couple times a week? A tablespoon of gelatin, which contains just under a gram of proline, will gelatinize two cups of water, so you’ll be getting about that much (of potentially converted D-proline) every time you consume a couple cups of properly set broth. I find that I don’t use the microwave all that often for broth, but that’s mainly because I like to add stuff to it and stir it in as it heats on the stove. I’ll usually throw in some sea salt, black pepper, and turmeric (and maybe some egg yolks) as it heats. And if I cook with broth, say to make a reduction. My latest kick is sautéing some garlic, shallots, and ginger in butter, adding a splash of white wine, reducing that, adding a cup of real broth to the pan, reducing that, and then add chopped pastured chicken livers to the mix until it forms a nice, livery (yet mild) gravy. Excellent, nutritious, and no chance of creating harmful amino acids. I wouldn’t worry too much about microwaved broth, especially if that’s your only reliable way to get it. Whatever you do, don’t inject microwaved broth into your ventricles (either of them).

Dear Mark, If I have to choose among CAFO beef, chicken, or pork, which is the least of the “evils”? I try to get grass-fed/pastured whenever possible, but that’s not always possible. Thanks! Goldie

“Cleanliness,” or the presence of various agricultural and/or industrial toxins in the meat.

CAFO animals eat industrially-produced feed, which means exposure to a fair amount of pesticides and other toxins. Do these show up in the actual meat, though? Let’s take a look at some average findings, according to the What’s on my Food? website. Beef fat samples contained 10 pesticide residues, including significant amounts of DDE and dieldrin. DDE is a metabolite of DDT, and it’s been linked to impaired neurodevelopment in children, lower birth size, and chronic kidney disease, among other conditions. Dieldrin is an organochlorine insecticide banned in the US since 1987 that still manages to display remarkable persistence in the food supply, even biomagnifying – become more concentrated – as it moves up the food chain. 33% of samples contained DDE and 15% of samples contained dieldrin. Beef muscle meat and liver, however, were absent of pesticide residue. Poultry fat contained no residues, whereas poultry thigh and breast both have been shown to contain detectable levels of eight and seven pesticides, respectively, though at a far lower rate than beef fat. Residues from three pesticides have been found in pork meat, while pork fat has been shown to contain up to eight pesticides. Winner:  Lean beef or beef liver.

Fatty acid composition.

Since the ruminant is pretty resistant to dietary influence of its fatty acids, CAFO beef fat contains just 4% PUFA, with the rest being saturated and monounsaturated fat. That’s pretty solid. Too bad you’re missing out on the CLA content found in grass-fed beef, though. Pork fat is decent in theory, but in practice – which includes the feeding of soy, corn, and related oils to pigs – the PUFA content of pork fat can get as high as 32%. Chicken fat is PUFA-rich, and it’s getting even richer. Since 1980, the average linoleic acid content in chicken has increased by 2.6 times, while the omega-3 content has dropped even further. Nowadays, CAFO chicken fat is a bit like tasty vegetable oil. Winner: Beef.

Antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

A new report found antibiotic resistant bacteria in 81% of ground turkey, 69% of raw pork chops, 55% of raw ground beef, and 39% of raw chicken parts. I know how much you all love your rare turkey burgers and medium rare chicken thighs, but it’s just not worth it. Beef seems to be the most risky here, for two reasons: grinding beef increases the surface area and spreads the bacteria evenly throughout; beef is often eaten rare, which keeps the bacteria alive. Sure, you’ve got the occasional crazy who demands his chicken thigh pink, but that’s pretty rare. Winner: Chicken, which has the least resistant bacteria and tends to be well-cooked.

Quality of life.

While no CAFO animal lives a “good life,” some have it worse than others. Chickens live in crowded warehouses with tens of thousands of other chickens with no access to fresh air. Pigs live on concrete slabs, oftentimes in pens too small to turn around. Cows, on the other hand, typically start out on pasture before being transferred to feedlots. All animals suffer stress, but it seems obvious that cows suffer “less” than the others. Winner: Beef, although I’m hesitant to call it a winner. Overall? I’d say go for the lean CAFO steak. But if you don’t make this sort of thing a habit, go for whatever you want and enjoy it. Thanks for reading, folks. Take care.

Subscribe to the Newsletter

If you'd like to add an avatar to all of your comments click here!

Leave a Reply

46 Comments on "Dear Mark: Sleepy After Chicken, Microwaving Bone Broth, and Safest CAFO Meat"

avatar

Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Jax Labyrinth
3 years 4 months ago

Oooh adding egg yolks into your bone broth! Genius! Why didn’t I think of that! Will try it next time… Good to know that I’ve not been a bit pedantic about re-heating it on the stove top all these months then.

Tom B-D
Tom B-D
3 years 4 months ago

A favorite quick soup in our house is egg drop: just heat up the chicken broth, stir in an a raw egg or two, and add some chopped scallions and a bit of toasted sesame oil. Maybe not how it’s done in China, but easy and tasty!

Deborah
Deborah
3 years 4 months ago

I do straciatella…quickly stir some raw eggs into boiling broth, they cook in little strings (or rags, hence the name) and add chopped spinach. Super easy and a full meal in a pot!

Groktimus Primal
3 years 4 months ago

Always delving ever deeper into meaty subjects and attempting to raise the bar 🙂

Wenchypoo
Wenchypoo
3 years 4 months ago
Three things: 1. Could tryptophan account for the sleepiness? It’s found to some degree in all meats. 2. If those chickens are receiving any amount of grains (and they naturally will, being birds), could the grains ingested break down into carbs that are stored in the meat, causing the meat-eater (who is by now sensitized to carbs) to get slepy? My own experience with carrots is such–I can’t even eat ONE without falling asleep about 10 minutes later. 3. CAFO-raised liver is NOT recommended due to the use of Ractopamine, which is reported to leave the system entirely in 8… Read more »
Reiko
Reiko
3 years 3 months ago

Thank you for pointing this out (#3). It didn’t make any sense that CAFO livers would be safer.

I would also like to point out that ractopamine IS banned in parts of Asia (yes, including China). Taiwan also has a ban on ractopamine, but as of last year they were pushed to adopt the 10 ppb international limit for US beef. They only did it to establish that Taiwan is a reliable trading partner… It’s really saddening. Thankfully, pork and internal organs in Taiwan are still under the ban. Still, it makes you wonder how they’re handling the double standard.

Patty
Patty
3 years 4 months ago
Seven years ago I remodeled my kitchen and bought a Wolf stove. I have always wanted one and I had the money so… BTW, I LOVE to cook and the stove is great. The kitchen had a microwave/stove hood combo and I had to buy an industrial hood. I didn’t replace the microwave, thinking that I would see how long I could go without one. To this date, I still don’t have a microwave! I warm my food on the stove, I cook on my stove or in my oven and I don’t miss it at all. Doesn’t take that… Read more »
Amber
3 years 4 months ago

I never really thought about ditching my microwave but everything really is so much better reheated on the stove!

Vanessa
Vanessa
3 years 4 months ago

I always think the stove is better too, I wonder why?

YvonneJean
YvonneJean
3 years 4 months ago

My problem is at work, when I have left overs from dinner the night before as lunch, there is no way to heat them other than the microwave.

Cave Dave
Cave Dave
3 years 4 months ago

Amber, I had the same problem. Bought a cheap toaster oven. I just pop the stuff in (using a pyrex container, plastic lid off) and heat it at 250 for 20 minutes. Works great. Takes longer, but I just drop it off and work for the extra 20 min.

James
James
3 years 4 months ago

I fixed this problem: I skip lunch 🙂 (and actually, breakfast too)

Beth
Beth
3 years 4 months ago

Another solution is the lunch crock warmer:
http://www.amazon.com/Crock-Pot-SCCPLC200-PK-20-Ounce-Lunch-Warmer/dp/B006H5V7ZY

I started using one this past winter and it is amazing. I plugged mine in around 11am, and was eating a nice warm (sometimes HOT) lunch at noon.

upyourgame
upyourgame
3 years 4 months ago

I solved that problem by not reheating my lunch; cold bacon and eggs, right from the fridge!

Sally
3 years 4 months ago
So that’s a big plus for soups and stews then…. I am forever boiling bones and bits for soups. I used to remove all the fatty bits and skin before boiling, but now it all just goes in – then add onions, salt, pepper and veg to the stock and “Delicious! ” So it seems I’m doing something right… And I do sleep well at night – I wonder is my soupy diet part of the reason for this? Got me thinking anyways. 🙂 PS I have ME (CFS) and this is ME Awareness month. I follow a Paleo diet… Read more »
Sally
3 years 4 months ago

Thank you Mark for leaving the link to my ME (CFS) awareness post available in your comments section. I have noticed a number of your good readers have taken an interest and followed through to find out more.

PS I’ve some lovely chicken bones boiling as I type… guess I’ll sleep well tonight. Thank you for all the excellent advice you offer here. I love all the inspiration I get from you and other peeps who post. 🙂

Anne
3 years 4 months ago

Thanks for covering the bone broth. I’d seen those studies about the potentially harmful effects of the microwave as well, and they made me really nervous because I microwave mine all the time! Now I’ll go back to doing it with confidence.

Coop
Coop
3 years 3 months ago

I would truly avoid using the microwave for anything, especially bone broth. Studies have shown that using microwave boiled water, cooled, and then used for water growing plants, basically kills them.

Microwaving alters the chemical structures of foods making them useless and potential harmful.

John
John
3 years 4 months ago

Princess Bride reference. Nice one Mark!

Ken
Ken
3 years 4 months ago

Fatigue could be caused by MSG or the hidden forms of the neurotoxin (yeast extract, hyrdolyzed proteins, etc.) in broths. More info can be found at http://www.truthinlabeling.org. Even the Pacific brand broths found at Whole Foods contain autolyzed yeast. For me, these toxins cause fatigue, nausea, headaches, and extreme irritability.

Patrice
3 years 4 months ago

So glad to see I’m not the only one struggling with chicken… I’d been told I might be intolerant to it, or wondered if it was the sheer amount I ate of it… but it certainly makes me feel sleepy!

I’m moving onto salad with fish at lunch, chicken and other meet for dinner/ sleep!

George
George
3 years 4 months ago

You might try rattlesnake, I understand it tastes just like chicken. 🙂

Ben
Ben
3 years 4 months ago

I wish the fear mongering about microwaving would stop. Broth is almost all water. Water absorbs the energy from the microwaves and the EM waves are converted to heat. The heat is continuously spread out among the molecules. Unless you heat up the broth hotter in a microwave than on the stove, there is no difference.

I wish anyone who made these claims would back them up with science.

And I wish the paleo community would demand scientific cites like they do with all other claims.

Mantonat
Mantonat
3 years 4 months ago

+1. I don’t have a microwave oven, not out of fear, but simply because my old one broke and I had better things to do with my money. I don’t really miss it, except for the few extra dishes I have to do from reheating leftovers in pots or pans.

Kimberly Browning
Kimberly Browning
3 years 4 months ago

If you consider the gastrointestinal distress suffered by cattle that are fed grain on the feedlot, I don’t know that they are really the most humane choice. If there is anything else in the budget to cut, and there always is, I would try to find the money for grass fed.

George
George
3 years 4 months ago
What is FAR more of a concern is to not cook meat too quickly, when it gets charred that’s when carcinogens get released as I understand (there are many articles out there that go into the science / chemistry, Mark has probably published something regarding this subject). I personally don’t eat meat, rest of my family does and all of my friends. I tell them they are probably doing the right thing as man is an omnivore and the reason I’m lean and trim is due to eliminating grains, consistent exercise, and getting protein via whey, hemp and lots of… Read more »
Cliff
Cliff
3 years 4 months ago
My wife and I eat chicken from time to time, usually whole roasted, with the picked bones to be roasted a second time for broth. Our favorite part of the chicken is the skin. We buy skins only from a local butcher and roast them on a sheet pan until they become crispy, caramelized pieces of awesome ness. We then use them in place of chips with guac or salsa (have to be aware of how easy it is to eat way too much this way), or we crumble them up and top our deviled eggs with them.
Erin
Erin
3 years 4 months ago

that’s amazing! you could probably do the same with pork rinds. thanks for the idea!

Mark B
Mark B
3 years 4 months ago

First I had to stop eating sugar, then wheat. Then cut down on the dairy and alcohol. Now I have to stop injecting bone broth into my ventricles? Sigh.

Trish
Trish
3 years 4 months ago

LOL

Andrew
Andrew
3 years 4 months ago

Has anyone seen the seinfeld episode where they feed a woman turkey so she will fall asleep and they can play with her toys.

Joshua
Joshua
3 years 4 months ago

They were all in the original boxes! What’s a person to do? “More red wine?”

GiGi
3 years 4 months ago

Hmmm chicken sounds like the perfect sleeping “pill”! 😉

Lynn
Lynn
3 years 4 months ago

My one-year old grandson had a big helping of Crispy Carnitas (Mark’s recipe) in January and literally fell asleep in his high chair with his hand on another bite on the tray. We wondered if it was the tryptophan!

Erin
Erin
3 years 4 months ago

so the livery gravy sounds delicious! what do you serve it with? chicken? by itself?

Carrie
Carrie
3 years 4 months ago

The Princess Bride! I got the points for getting the reference.

Howard
3 years 4 months ago

“In chickens, L-proline induced amnesia, while D-proline did not.”

I’d like to know just how you can tell whether an animal as stupid as a chicken has amnesia.

Charron
Charron
3 years 4 months ago

Hahaha – don’t inject bone broth into your ventricles! Love it! I will try to remember not to do that!
Still giggling here …

Claus Wilke
Claus Wilke
3 years 4 months ago
The statement in the Weston A Price article that broth should not be heated relies on a bad study that could not be replicated under reasonable conditions. The article should be revised. See for example: “The report by Lubec (1989) that microwave heating of milk infant formulas induces formation of d-proline and cis-l-hydroxyproline compared to conventional heating could not be confirmed (Fay et al., 1991; Fritz et al., 1992; Marchelli et al., 1992; Petrucelli and Fischer, 1994). It is also noteworthy that microwave heating of gelatin did not generate cis-4-hydroxy-l-proline, an inhibitor of collagen biosynthesis (Erbe and Brückner, 1999).” (… Read more »
Becky H
Becky H
3 years 4 months ago

I just KNEW you were a Princess Bride person! 😀 (Excellent post, too.)

trackback

[…] – Ha! Fair question. […]

trackback

[…] ratio is not ideal. By feeding the chickens grains, this ratio gets even worse. As Mark says in this Q&A article (last question), CAFO raised chicken is like tasty vegetable […]

trackback

[…] Mark’s Daily Apple […]

trackback

[…] afford pasture raised animal products? Here is a great article saying what type is best to buy organic and what is least harmful if raised inhumanely in […]

trackback
trackback

[…] regularly standing in several inches of excrement from thousands of their bovine compatriots in a CAFO lot, or would you feel better if they were allowed to graze freely over a large expanse? What does […]

wpDiscuz