Bone Broth Beginnings

Just awoke from a 2 hour nap. Staying up until 3 a.m. the night before a fasting day in not a good plan…. but I couldn't just stop in the middle of writing last night!

Anyways. I'm still a touch drowsy, but after a bite of Bubbie's Horseradish I'm not in danger of climbing back into bed. Seriously. Horseradish--more effective than coffee. But horseradish aside, what I really want to focus on is the first thing I had when I got up this morning: 

IMG_0054.jpg

Bone Broth

I make a SUPER concentrated batch of it about once a month, and then freeze it in small containers or ice cube trays. The filled cup is pretty self-explanatory (that's my cup of hot broth!) ...and the stuff next to it is supposed to be an example of my bag of frozen broth cubes. Not awkward looking at all.

So… what is it? Basically, I jam-pack my crockpot full of bones, cover it all with water, add a bunch of salt, vinegar, smashed garlic cloves, and quartered onions and let it simmer.

For at least 2 days. 

It has a pretty cool history. Bone broth--or some variation of it--has been an element of almost every traditional society, and with good reason. Dr. Auer writes:

Almost every culture throughout history has used bone broth for its nutritional significance, versatility and overall deliciousness. Chinese medicine practitioners use bone broth to strengthen the kidney, support digestive systems and build blood. The term “Jewish penicillin” is used for chicken soup, known to inhibit cell inflammation and mitigate cold symptoms. And the English sip beef tea, or beef broth, used since the Victorian era.

There's a South American proverb that states: 

Good broth will resurrect the dead.

Bone broth is awesome, and how it works is super interesting. I’m not sure if anyone has done this, but apparently if you soak a chicken bone in vinegar for a day or so, it becomes rubbery and bendable. If Youtube is to be trusted, this is true:

So… what does a bendy chicken bone have to do with your health?

More than you would think. The acidity of the vinegar breaks down elements in the bone that keep it strong: calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, etc. But these nutrients can’t just disappear—they’ve gone from the bone into the vinegar. This is the basic principal that bone broth functions on—a transfer of nutrients from the solid bones to the liquid they’re simmering in. Vinegar (I use Bragg’s apple cider vinegar) is an essential ingredient to make this transfer as effective as possible.

So that’s how all that nutrition gets into the broth. What’s REALLY cool though, is that it’s a nearly perfect package of complementary nutrients that allow the wonderful health building elements to actually be absorbed and used by your body. This is important because in spite of America’s incessant need to supplement (according to consumerreports.com Americans spent $26.7 billion on dietary supplements in 2009, with over half of the adult population taking some form of supplementation) people are not well. The 2012 National Healthcare Expenditure (NHE) was nearly $3 trillion.

Our society may be health conscious… but our health doesn't show it.

Take calcium, for example:

A number of studies have come out showing that weak bones aren’t necessarily from a lack of dietary intake of calcium. The following study concludes that bone mass density (BMD) is not affected by dietary intake of calcium, and that calcium supplementation do not decrease hip fracture rates in older women. http://press.endocrine.org/doi/abs/10.1210/jc.2012-1407 So why are so many people encouraged to supplement?

We know bones are solid because of calcium and other minerals in them. In theory, eating more calcium should promote higher bone mass density. What is often missed, is that it’s not about how much you consume, but how much your body can actually use.

It's absorption, not consumption that counts.

That’s why bone broth is effective. Your body knows how to use it. That being said, let’s look at some of the nutrients in bone broth—it goes way beyond calcium. Phosporus, magnesium, and Vitamin D are just a few of the minerals found in bone broth.

Glycine and Proline

Bone broth also contains the amino acids Glycine and Proline, which The Paleo Mom (scientist turned stay-at-home mom) gives an amazing overview of:

"Glycine and proline are two key components of connective tissue, the biological “glue” that holds our bodies together. There are many types of connective tissue and these two amino acids feature prominently in most of them, from the cartilage that forms our joints to the extracellular matrix that acts as a scaffold for the cells in our individual organs, muscles, arteries etc. Without these two amino acids, we would literally fall apart. So, it is no surprise that we need these two amino acids to heal, not only gaping wounds, but also the microscopic damage done to blood vessels and other tissues in our body caused by inflammation and infection. In fact, glycine is known to inhibit the immune system and reduce activation of inflammatory cells in your body. Whether you are trying to heal from an infection, address an auto-immune disease, or reduce inflammation caused by neolithic foods or Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth, high levels of dietary glycine are critical. In addition, glycine is required for synthesis of DNA, RNA and many proteins in the body. As such, it plays extensive roles in digestive health, proper functioning of the nervous system and in wound healing. Glycine aids digestion by helping to regulate the synthesis and of bile salts and secretion of gastric acid. It is involved in detoxification and is required for production of glutathione, an important antioxidant. Glycine helps regulate blood sugar levels by controlling gluconeogenesis (the manufacture of glucose from proteins in the liver). Glycine also enhances muscle repair/growth by increasing levels of creatine and regulating Human Growth Hormone secretion from the pituitary gland. This wonderful amino acid is also critical for healthy functioning of the central nervous system. In the brain, it inhibits excitatory neurotransmitters, thus producing a calming effect. Glycine is also converted into the neurotransmitter serine, which promotes mental alertness, improves memory, boosts mood, and reduces stress."

And if you're not thoroughly convinced yet, here's another incredible nutrient in bone broth: 

Collagen (or Gelatin)

Collagens are a large family of biomolecules responsible for keeping your joints healthy… and a ton of other things. When it’s extracted for food it’s called gelatin. This is what makes jello gel, and what makes everything congeal at the bottom of the container when you put left-over chicken it in the fridge. It's also a heavy hitter in the beauty market as an ingredient in facial and lip products. People will do crazy things for beauty, as this article proves: Beauty Products from the Skin of Executed Chinese Prisoners

Collagen is an essential part of us. It comes from the Greek, “Kola” (meaning glue) and is the most common protein in the body (%25.) It's in charge of keeping things together and in place. I mentioned joints above, but ligaments, tendons, skin, nails, hair, cartilage, the gut lining, mucous membranes, blood vessels, intervertebral discs, and even the cornea of the eye owe much of their existence to collagen, and depend on it for proper function and health.

500.JPG

Food for Thought: Glucosamine as a Supplement

When I was having knee problems from running, I started taking a supplement form of glucosamine. A lot of people know it as a joint health supplement, but glucosamine is just one of the biomolecules that makes up the family of collagens present in bone broth. So is glucosamine in bone broth? Absolutely, but with such a broad spectrum of collagens in bone broth, focusing on the glucosamine is like having someone drop a pile of change in your lap and only wanting the nickels. There’s so much more!

Who should drink it?

  • People who are aging: Body tissues will break down if they’re not replenished by proper nutrition and bone broth will give them exactly what they need where they need them. 
  • Athletes: It’s a fantastic way to prevent joint pain and bone damage (like shin splints or stress fractures) and speed recovery for existing conditions.
  • Individuals who suffer from arthritis: joints and bones become smooth as butter.
  • People with gut/digestive Issues: The gelatin content in bone broth is incredibly beneficial in rebuilding a leaky gut, which is when your gut lining (responsible for letting nutrients pass from your digestive system into your body) has become too permeable and is letting things into your blood stream that aren’t supposed to be there.
  • Cellulite? Drink bone broth! Collagen improves skin elasticity and rebuilds skin's structural integrity. 
  • Anyone who is a live human being.

Note: the list began with people who are aging, and ended with live human beings. Most of us fall into at least one of those categories. And seriously… I've barely scratched the surface of all there is to love about this stuff. If your curiosity is piqued, here are a few trusted sources with great articles for further study: 

I'll be making a delicious batch of bone broth in the next week or two… and a how-to video will definitely be part of that process :)

Love! <3

Update!! Here's the promised video:

Works cited (other than those above): 

I am a Science Experiment

Ideas.

They stay in my head for a long time, rolling over and over. I don't mind--in fact, I rather enjoy them. They entertain me and remind me of all the places my wide-open future might go. And I have to think them before they can be realities, right?

This incessant thinking may be the result of my tendency to consume things--often faster than I can digest and use them. Books, food, podcasts (the app on my iPod is aptly named "Podcruncher") conversations, ideas, art, etc...

Everyone knows that if you consume a lot of food without moving your body in a way that uses the energy, a person will gain weight. An Ironman triathlete can eat 6,000 calories a day and all that energy is used and actually strengthens the athlete. However, even 2,000 calories may be too much for someone on bed rest.

It would make sense that our minds work in a similar way. If we consume too much and produce too little, we get sort of… mentally fat, for lack of a better term. We become happy to consume what other people make without producing our own things to feed other people's minds. Something about that seems unhealthy--a leech-like existence. As a curious person who enjoys mentally consuming, I may have a responsibility to create. If I'm going to "eat" this much, I need to "work out" more!

What happens if I don't, though? What happens if I learn and learn and learn, and do nothing with my learning?

Well… the first person who misses out, is me. Knowing running is good for me doesn't give me the benefits of running. Running gives me the benefits of running.

I have plenty of good thoughts and ideas, but good ideas are common. What's hard to find is people who do good ideas. Posting on Facebook about your great novel idea requires a lot less effort than actually writing the thing.

Thinking about doing things is easy, but writing a story is hard. Working out is hard. Painting a picture is hard. Starting a business is hard.

Doesn't matter if it's mental or physical. Doing things is hard. 

So… if one is to consume, one must be a do-er. But there's more.  All this learning means a person probably has a good idea of what they should be doing, and there is very serious danger in knowing what to do and not doing it. In fact, if that mind/body chasm becomes habit, it's worse than if we simply didn't know what to do.

That's kind of a weird statement, but hang for just a minute. If we allow this chasm to go unchallenged and unchanged, our bodies and emotions learn to ignore our minds as a habit. We loose the ability to choose our own behavior. We teach our physical bodies--the only thing that can actually carry out our ideas and make us an effective force in the world--to ignore reason and pretend actions don't have consequences. We're denying the cause-and-effect set up of the world we live in.

Everything in my body screams, "NO!" when my mind attempts to reason for a positive change. The screaming child (that is so often my body) wins and my exhausted brain-parent gives up and gives in. And the more I learn about what I should be doing without doing it… the more times my mind looses the fight.

Children learn. When they learn that enough screaming gets them what they think they want, they will scream. Emotional children are beyond reason, and the body that has learned to ignore the brain is a child who has learned to scream with a parent who only knows how to succumb.

And so we teach ourselves to be rebellious.

I know what the consequences of eating right before yoga are, and sometimes I do it anyways. My body has learned indifference--the teenager that simply says "I don't care." I know that pulling out my credit card to spend $40 dollars on food for one day is not something I can afford and I will have to pay it. But I'm acting like I won't. (And those are really lame, mild examples because I'm not quite ready to make my predominant struggles public. Yet.) What I know and how I act are in direct opposition. I'm actively sabotaging myself. I'm practicing lying to myself with my actions. And just like lying to other people, it gets easier and easier. It becomes the default. The habit. 

This whole dilemma is hard for me to make peace with, and leads me to believe that curiosity and mind-growth may come with a price: create and act, or numb yourself into rebellion and fragmentation.

That being said, I am going to create something I think is valuable and worthwhile, that gently coaxes my body into unity with my mind:

I am going to be my own lab rat and commit to putting all my best ideas about healthy eating into practice for 30 days, and also create a record of the journey. I want to do and not just think.


So… here it goes. January 17th until February 16th.

  • Intermittent Fasting--currently every other day, but may shift if that becomes unsustainable or as I learn more about effectively doing it.

  • Following the Reset Diet given in Chris Kresser's book "Your Perfect Paleo Code." This guy is amazing--I've been following his work for about two and a half years and he's seriously got the most balanced approach to food and lifestyle. He practices what he calls "Functional Medicine" taking the best of BOTH conventional medicine and alternative approaches. Exceptions: butter and my glutathione supplement.

  • Testing my Gut microbiome! My friend Lynn (my comrade in health curiousity) and I are going to be taking part in the "American Gut Project".

  • Getting a mix of Bikram (Hot) Yoga, Bodyrocking, and Running

  • Making sleep a priority--between 7 and 9 hours a night. (And as I get into a rythm I'm hoping I'll depend less on my alarm clock!)

  • Shifting my bodycare to natural food-based remedies

Specific thing I'm expecting to happen include:

  • Losing about 8 to 10 pounds (no… I don't think I'm fat. I just feel better at 128 than at 138.)

  • Cleared up skin. It makes me self-conscious and I don't like being self-conscious. I also have to imagine bad skin is distracting. I want people to be able focus on what I'm saying instead of the zit I destroyed. I also have some killer before pictures and I would like to take after pictures at some point :P

  • Feeling like a superhero... and charging up to train with my sister-friend Jessica and her Dad for the Whistlestop half marathon next fall.

  • (Caution: the following statement contains male-sensitive material.) A regular period. I've had a very irregular (and often nearly non-existant) period ever since losing 25 pounds in a fairly short window of time 2 years ago. I haven't had it at all for almost the past 9 months and I'm pretty sure I haven't been growing a baby. This is actually already being fixed, because I've been doing the Intermittent fasting for two weeks now... and after my first day of fasting it showed up for 5 whole days! I have no idea how to explain that, but I'm fricking excited.

  • Learning and condensing. There are some books I've been wanting to read and this is the perfect opportunity to read them and share what I'm learning! I'll keep an ongoing book list, and post on whatever I'm discovering as I go.

I am a the Scientist and the Experiment. Frankenstein... and his monster :)