Healing Broth From Your Kitchen
Last week I spent the day in the ER with a 23-year old friend, Ray. He was suffering from abdominal pain, bloody diarrhea, loss of appetite, cramping, and bloating. Once a CT scan confirmed that he had colitis and didn’t need surgery, I watched the nurse bring him Graham crackers and commercial apple juice, and didn’t say a word. Some times you just have to shut up.
Ray’s a vegan who’s been eating refined white flour and other grains for five years. Grains were only introduced into human’s food supply about 10 to 12 thousand years ago. Prior to that we were hunter-gatherers who ate meat from kills, and other foods that could be gathered such as seafood like crabs and clams, as well as berries, nuts, and roots. When humans started cultivating foods like maize, rice, lentils, and potatoes that’s when human health went downhill. In her book, The Vegetarian Myth, Lierre Keith—a former 25-year vegan—writes, “Medical anthropologists can look at a bone and tell in a glance whether the subject lived in hunter-gatherer or an agricultural society. The hunters look great. The farmers are falling apart.” Some of the diseases that cropped up after farming was developed were malnutrition, bone infections, intestinal parasites, yaws (an infectious disease), syphilis, leprosy, tuberculosis, anemia, rickets in kids, softening of bones in adults, retarded childhood growth which led to shorter adults.
Aside from the protein deficient vegan diet, in the last 150 years a lot of people have stopped eating as many complex carbs like baked potatoes, brown rice, corn on the cob, and very small amounts of naturally, highly fermented soy foods like shoyu (the original soy sauce), and instead eat French fries, white sticky rice, high fructose corn syrup and strange foods made out of corn, as well as all kinds of highly processed soy products like soy milk and soy hot dogs.
There are many other contributing factors to a sick GI tract, including consuming toxic oils, sugar, lack of dietary fiber, ignoring food intolerances, too much coffee or alcohol consumption, and taking too many drugs are examples of assaults on your digestive tract that can result in inflammatory responses.
The GI tract is the passage from the mouth all the way to the exit, and it’s the barometer of our overall health. Whenever you have a GI problem it’s code red serious because your GI tract is where nutrition enters and is assimilated. Like Ray, if you have GI problems it’s very likely that your GI tract is trying to tell you, “I don’t like what you’re putting in me. Please STOP.”
If you have garden-variety GI problems and you choose to ignore the causes, there could be worse problems for you ahead. The longer your GI problems continue, the longer your body is going to go without optimal nutrition.
A prolonged diet of refined white carbs—especially combined with protein deprivation and eating soy—ultimately results in a condition called increased intestinal permeability, or “leaky gut.” Leaky gut is caused by microscopic damage to the intestinal lining. Bacteria and toxins, incompletely digested food, and waste can leak out through the microscopic tears into the bloodstream. I believe that my friend’s diet of refined white carbs caused a microscopic tear in his intestines that got larger and became inflamed with a little pile of infection sitting on the top of it.
Antibiotics healed his infection, but now he needs to heal his GI tract and cool that inflammation off. If he goes back to the diet of refined white grains, it’s very likely that his GI tract will develop more microscopic tears. The colitis could reoccur. If it reoccurs over and over, eventually all of this chronic heat, moisture, and swelling can trigger a virulent immune reaction that can escalate over time to an over-revving immune system. At that point his immune system could switch on, and the result would be chronic colitis.
In a perfect world doctors would automatically take an interest in healing Ray’s GI tract with nutrition (food) first. The assimilation of nutrition in the body isa highly coordinated, choreographed sequence of interdependent events that has been grossly ignored to the peril of millions of Americans. The sad reality is that if you are suffering from GI problems, your doctor is not likely talking to you about your nutrition, and you’ll get Graham crackers and apple juice.
If you’re sick with a GI problem, the first reasonable course of therapeutic action is to stop eating and drinking all factory-food products and to eat only real, living food. Follow an elimination diet, if you have food sensitivities (spelled out in my book Healthy, Sexy, Happy). Stop eating all white flour products and sugar. Quit coffee. It has no redeeming qualities and it’s going to stand in the way of your optimal health plan. You also need to eat therapeutic meats and fats to heal your gut and supply your system with building supplies. In addition to saturated fat and meat from grass fed animals, lots of butter, whole yogurt, and whole raw milk, you need supplemental fats. Healing fats are Activator X (also called X Factor), cod liver oil, primrose oil, coconut, and red palm oil. Probiotics are crucial. Probiotics are the natural, beneficial, live, friendly bacteria that will restore a proper intestinal balance of billions of colony-forming the microbiological organisms that restore normal balance of friendly flora (bacteria) in your gut and mucous membranes.
Ray’s been staying with me while he heals. He’s been taking probiotics. We’ve been introducing soft, easily digestible foods like yogurt and raspberries, applesauce, scrambled eggs, butter, and whole, raw milk to his diet. But if you are sick and want to haul out the heavy artillery, you should consume bone broth. This was really hard for a vegan to accept. I told him, “Imagine you’re a Viking in the Middle Ages. You were gored in battle and were hauled home filthy dirty, bloodied, with ulcers all over your body. They threw you onto a pile of fur. Now you are going to be fed the easily digestible, medicinal bone broth that heals connective tissues.” I got him to eat one bowl.
A lot of people have told me that they can’t afford quality supplements. I get that. But you can afford to make bone broth. You can buy “dog bones” 🙂
The nutrition in bone broth comes from a number of factors in the bones. Bone broth is known for its mineral content. Most Americans are mineral deficient. Minerals are essential to life as they are the catalysts for enzymatic reactions, which are also essential for life (see the highly choreographed explanation above). As we age our stomachs don’t make as much hydrochloric acid, which is necessary to digest and extract minerals from food. The minerals in bone broth are easily assimilated by the body.
Bones also contain collagen and gelatin that help your GI tract assimilate and utilize incoming nutrition. You’ve heard of chondroitin in supplement form that’s taken for joint pain and to treat osteoarthritis. The chondroitin in cartilage heals inflammatory conditions in the GI tract. Other healing factors in bones are bone marrow, which contains the amino acids that help immensely with digestion and also heal wounds, like Ray’s internal wound. These amino acids help your body manufacture collagen, so if you want less cellulite start consuming bone broth. They also help make ligaments, tendons, cartilage, which builds a foundation that prevents sports injuries. And who reading this does not want beautiful skin, hair, and nails?
Imagine before refrigeration people had huge cauldrons over the fire that just kept going. The pot of bone broth would sometimes morph into a meat stew and then to a fatty broth with root veggies, before becoming a non-starchy meat broth with onions and garlic. The cauldron just stayed there over the fire constantly being consumed and then replenished, the bones continually simmering imparting nutrition into the broth.
This is how I envision the most basic bone broth recipe to have been.
The Viking Who Was Gored in Battle Broth
- Use any kind of animal or fish bone, ribs, or knuckles, or carcass. Use bones from grass fed, humanely raised animals, fowl, or wild caught fish.
- Ask the butcher to cut the bones up for you if they are too large.
- Leave the fat on the bones. I’m going to scream if I hear one more time to trim fat. Fat is healing.
- Roast animal and fowl bones in the oven at 350 to 400º for about an hour and a half, turning a few times.
- Put the bones in a soup pot and cover with purified water. Please don’t use city water as it is highly contaminated.
- Add a splash of white cider vinegar. The acidity will help extract minerals from the bones.
- Add any vegetable you have on hand (carrots, parsley, celery, and any other veggie) as well as ginger and garlic, as you like.
- Turn the flame on low and begin to cook the broth very slowly.
- Simmer for at least 8 hours.
You can then start consuming your broth. I like to leave the pot on the stove for a couple of days at a very low simmer, adding boiling water as the water evaporates. You can strain the broth and you should if you’re using fish bones. I prefer meat and chicken broth cave woman style with all the fat and wilted veggies, seasoned with a little salt and pepper. If you prefer your veggies less cooked, add them at the very end.
Once my broth is thoroughly simmered, I save some out to eat immediately and pour the rest into large glass canning jars and freeze for daily use. Make sure to leave an inch or two for expansion when freezing. Like anything else, only keep broth in the freezer for one week.
Peace, Fun, Love.
Your girlfriend in health,