I have just spent the last three days listening to The Health Gut Experts Summit. There were seminars with 35 gut experts from around the world, such as Dr. Amy Day, Dr. Jason Hawrelak and Dr. Jill Carnahan. I noticed a common piece of advice which all these experts mentioned when asked about dietary inclusions to help heal the gut: bone broth!
This leads me to a question that was asked by one of my followers: "Is bone broth all it's cooked up to be?"
So let's delve into the pros and cons of this humble 'heal-all' food.
Firstly, what is bone broth?
It is often referred to as bone (beef, chicken, fish) stock, and in days gone by was commonly used to add flavour to soups and stews! While the full nutritional benefits to the gut might have only been recently revealed, the value of bone stock was common knowledge. That's why people were fed chicken soup: because it contained real bone broth. It is made by roasting bones and then slow cooking them in water for 12 hours or longer. I personally prefer 24 hours, to really get all of the value out of the bones. To make sure that your bone broth is as healthy and healing as possible, make sure to add some apple cider vinegar to help leach the nutrients and minerals out of the bones into the liquid. Don't worry - I've got a recipe for you below!
Is bone broth any good for you?
Bone broth has strong healing properties and is highly nutritive. It helps to support other body systems like hormone production and skin health. It is high in collagen, glutamine and loads of minerals such as magnesium and potassium. Glutamine is one of the most abundant amino acids in the body and repairs the cells that line the gut (so bone broth can help with leaky gut). Collagen assists in repairing leaking gut, but also aids bone, joint and ligament repair in the body. If the animal is grass fed and organic, bone broth is a strong source of Omega 3 which is needed for brain health. So bone broth can be a great source of nutrition and gut healing! If you have been looking at bone broth to help heal the lining of your gastrointestinal tract, you should also try adding foods such as Gelatine (an isolated byproduct of bone broth), Aloe Vera, Turmeric, and Slippery Elm to your diet, since they have similar benefits in gut repair.
Now lets address the cons: Is it any good for the planet?
The way we typically farm animals for meat is destroying the planet. Mass produced meat means animals are fed nutrient-lacking food and are restricted from their natural environment. They're often fed lots of antibiotics and traces of heavy metals are regularly detected in meats on our supermarket shelves. I do not support this method of farming and want to spread awareness that is not a sustainable practice, nor healthy for human consumption! If you make bone broth from these animals you will be leaching all these toxins into the broth, rather than the valuable nutrients and amino acids you should be receiving. Also, if the animal is grain-fed and not grass-fed, it contains less Omega 3 fatty acids (the good one!) and more Omega 6, which is highly inflammatory when ingested.
Whats the solution?
Unfortunately, I do not have a perfect solution to the meat consumption problem! But if you do wish to eat meat for health purposes, then bone broth is a better way to eat less and gain more healing benefits. So ask your local butchers and farmers for grass fed and free range beef. In particular, I feel that consuming animal bones that would otherwise be fed to dogs or thrown out is a way of reducing food waste and helping your gut. But please, don't just buy any old bones from the supermarket and make broth just because someone said it's good for your gut. And don't bother with pre-made mass-produced broth from the supermarket, since many of the health benefits in home-made broth are missing from these products. Remember to be aware of where your food has been living and growing before it ends up on your plate and in your gut. The same goes for vegetables, but that is a whole other blog post!
Now about that recipe! I recommend Dr. Axe's wonderful bone broth recipe. Go on, try it!