Long before the discovery of the microscope, Greek surgeons suggested that most ailments are rooted in imbalances in the abdomen. This was called hypochondriasis. Today, the term has a new meaning as medical discoveries evolved over the years. But the Greek surgeons may have been onto something. The gastrointestinal region in the human body is the home of trillions of bacteria, viruses, and fungi. Besides squatting in the intestine, these microbes may affect your health to a greater degree than previously imagined. The gut lining may as well be the seat of most, if not all, of your health.
Your digestive system begins at the mouth and ends at the anus. All the hollow organs in between are responsible for the intake of food, digestion, absorption of nutrients, and excretion of waste. In the large intestine, in a pocket called the cecum live bacteria (with some other microscopic buddies). Though bacteria are usually associated with disease, the microbes within you work for your health. These bacteria affect a lot of bodily functions like immune functions, skin, digestive, heart and brain health, cognitive and mental integrity, and even motivation. These bacteria also safeguard over 4000 square feet of intestinal lining from assault from the harmful bacteria that cause infections.
The intestinal wall of the digestive tract has a very important structure and function. When healthy, the gut lining creates a constricted barrier that allows only smaller molecules of water or nutrients to enter the bloodstream. This is called intestinal permeability. The intestinal cells are close together and ensure that harmful substances stay within the digestive tract to be thrown out with the waste. A damaged gut has cracks that appear and allow bacteria, and undigested food toxins into the bloodstream which causes inflammation and changes in the composition of the gut flora. This leads to a variety of problems within the digestive system and throughout the body. Evidence suggests that this chronic inflammation and compositional changes in the digestive tract led to the development of several chronic conditions like inflammatory bowel disease, celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, type 2 diabetes, arthritis, ulcerative colitis, etc.
Keeping the Gut Healthy
We all have some degree of leaky gut syndrome. Some of us have a genetic predisposition to it while others develop leaky gut with a poor diet and bad lifestyle choices. The bottom line is that leaky gut is more prominent now than it was a few decades ago. This is because foods not being as nutritious as before, physical activity is not as prevalent and stress is on the rise.
Research proves that chronic inflammation from a leaky gut can cause lasting damage to the cardiovascular system, and contribute to cancer and type 2 diabetes, and several other chronic conditions. However, there are certain habits you can develop to keep your digestive issues in check.
- Supplement Use
Adopting the use of supplements is probably the swiftest and easiest way to gut health. Supplements ensure that your system receives the right sort of probiotics and in the right amount. Probiotics are the live strains of bacteria that are consumed to keep the gut flora healthy. Strains and CFUs – colony-forming units vary from one product to the next but they more or less help. Some supplements also contain prebiotic fiber that nourishes the beneficial bacteria and keeps the numbers healthy, here are the Top 10 Best Pre and Probiotics supplements that you can explore.
Chronic stress is a killer and damages entire body systems like the digestive tract, cardiovascular system, and renal system. Stress has been found to affect the composition and health of the gut microbiome and this, in turn, leads to inflammation. Ulcers develop in the gut when stress is extremely high. Your ability to cope with stress is inversely linked to the damage stress causes. Meditation, taking out some me-time, and spending time with friends and family can all help with bringing stress levels down.
Your body and your gut buddies need rest after a hard day’s work and sleep is when they get it. If you work in shifts or are in the habit of making sleep your last priority, you will not have a healthy gut. Sleep deprivation can lead to unhealthy cravings, binge-eating, and sugar overload. Such habits feed the harmful bacteria and may cause a change in gut bacteria composition.
Research has found exercise positively influences the health and composition of the gut and is also an excellent stress buster. Exercise releases endorphins that spread a feeling of well-being and positivity, here are a few best exercises listed for good gut health. Two birds, one stone.
Intestinal permeability is affected to a large degree by the diet you consume. Gut health is hampered by the intake of processed and inflammatory foods, the absence of fruits, vegetables, or high-fiber foods, and the exclusion of fermented foods. Consuming a nutritious meal has several health benefits. If you are in the habit of consuming foods that cause allergies or reactions, you may be damaging the gut further. Also, a healthy diet provides you and your gut with all the vital nutrients, amino acids, and minerals that are crucial for optimum functioning, so learn more about gut health recipes and adopt them in your daily routine.
If healing leaky gut is on the agenda, then there are several natural ways you could do so and one of them is drinking bone broth. Bone Broth has been in use since time immemorial as a source of nutrition and as medicine. Hence, you could use bone broth to heal leaky gut.
Bone Broth – An Ancient Remedy
Over 2500 years ago, the Chinese were using bone broth as a remedy for digestive issues and kidney health. It has stayed a staple in Asian meals and is the base for various East-Asian cuisines. The Greek genius Hippocrates suggested using bone broth for clearing up digestive distress. A South American proverb translates “A good broth can resurrect the dead.”.
The ancients knew what they were talking about. In the early 12th century, a famous physician Maimonides began to prescribe chicken bone soup to his patients in the capacity of both medicine and nutritious food. It was so effective that it began to be called Jewish penicillin. The followers of traditional medicine still use bone broth as a cure for several ails and in almost all cultures, bone broth or soup is a remedy for digestive issues.
Collagen-rich cow foot soup is still a famous and popular breakfast dish in the Caribbean. Bone broth compares to ambrosia when looked at historically and culturally. Used as food and medication, bone broth has several health benefits that can be acquired from bone broth alone. But what goes into making bone broth?
It’s a simple liquid made from simmering animal bone and connective tissue over a slow fire over an extended period. If you tried to date the recipe for bone broth, you would have to go way back as prehistoric hunter-gatherers turned inedible parts of animals that they hunted into something they could drink. Even back then it was known that there was some use in drinking the water that the bits had been boiled in.
You can make bone broth out of bones from any animal you wish – pork, beef, veal, turkey, chicken, bison, buffalo, or fish bones. You could also use connective tissues like feet, hooves, beaks, gizzards, fins, or ligaments to the broth. This makes it even more nutritious.
Knowing that one can drink bone broth for digestive health has seen a rise in readymade broths popping up on store shelves. You can find them packaged and ready to be taken home. The ones you buy at the store may lack protein or can be dull in flavor but you can find good ones out there too. There are bone broth brands that use grass-fed beef or free-range chickens. Since not everyone has the time or the patience to wait all day for a pot of liquid to simmer, the store-bought version is an easy way out. Some brands are almost as good as homemade stuff. The operative term here is “almost”.
Even though time-consuming, making bone broth at home is the best way to go for several reasons.
- You have the freedom to use whatever bones you wish or to restrict the broth to one kind of meat.
- Store-bought bone broth has often been found to be bland and lacking flavor. When making your own, you can add more flavor by using herbs or your favorite vegetables.
- Trying to keep bone broth fresh and not having it go off would be that store brands would have to use at least a few preservatives. Homemade means that you could bottle it up and it would keep in the freezer for at least a few weeks with no preservatives.
- Economy-wise, making your own makes more sense. Buying a liter of broth from the store could probably get you an entire chicken or at least some prize bones of beef. The expense of cooking it is almost negligible. You would have a lot more than a liter once you are done.
- A lot of brands take shortcuts while making the broth and may use additives or other cooking styles to cut down on costs. This may translate to a loss of flavor and nutrition. Making your bone broth seems like the smartest thing to do. So, let’s cook.
Bone broth is as easy as boiling water. You could get several recipes online but you don’t need one. All you need is a large pot, preferably one with a heavy bottom, water, vinegar, and the bone of choice.
You could simply toss all of the items in at once leaving the stove on for 12- 16 hrs. The water will reduce and become slightly thicker and that is good. Ideally, the longer it cooks the better its flavor is and also nutrition-wise. Once done, discard the solids or you could give them to your dog. It’s as simple as that. You could replace the large pot and stove with a slow cooker as well. To give you a hand here are some links for recipes.
Beef bone broth: https://youtu.be/qCWcFsG-Np0
Chicken bone broth: https://youtu.be/jVl34uSt3h4
Pork bone broth: https://youtu.be/Kr87tbkji2g
Fish bone broth: https://youtu.be/yhNZt8X6EBQ
Mixed bone broth: https://youtu.be/hoIfnDdQscQ
You can customize each recipe to your palette and there is no right or wrong way to make bone broth. The only advice is that you use aromatics like onions, garlic, ginger, fennel, or green, fresh herbs if you aren’t a fan of the umami undertone of straight-up bone broth.
Health Benefits of Bone Broth
Since the paleo diet became a fad. Bone broth has become a superstar. Many have been curious to know what the benefits are while others consume it to be hip and happening. Consumed for whatever reasons, the broth is good for you and there is scientific backing for this claim.
It’s a simple liquid made from simmering animal bone and connective tissue over a slow fire over an extended period. If you tried to date the recipe for bone broth, you would have to go way back to prehistoric hunter-gatherers who turned inedible parts of animals that they hunted into something they could drink. Even back then it was known that there was some use in drinking the water that the bits had been boiled in.
- Vital Nutrition Source
Calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, and other trace minerals can all be found in animal bone broth. The ingredients you use to make the broth will, to a large extent, influence the nutrition value of the end product.
Iodine is something you can add to the list of minerals if you add fish bones to the bone broth.
Connective tissue is a source of glucosamine and chondroitin both of which support joint health and marrow as it is a good source of vitamins A and K, minerals like zinc, iron, boron, and manganese.
Omega-3 fatty acids are vital to probiotic health and these can be found in bone broth.
Animal bones and connective tissue is also a good source of collagen which is vital for skin and hair. The longer the bones are cooked, the more nutrients are absorbed by the water making it easier for the body to metabolize them.
Bone broths are rich in amino acids. Arginine is especially helpful with chronic inflammation. Another amino acid glycine has a wide spectrum of defending characteristics against inflammation, injury, and infection. As chronic inflammation can lead to several health conditions like heart disease, arthritis, Alzheimer’s, and many types of cancer, the presence of these amino acids makes bone broth particularly helpful.
- Weight Loss
Bone broth has very few calories but is nutritious and filling. Consuming bone broth has been found to reduce appetite and generate a feeling of fullness which can help with craving and hunger pangs.
Bone broth is also rich in protein which may help maintain lean muscle mass. A study confirmed that resistance training is benefitted with the consumption of bone broth because of its high collagen content.
- Digestive Health
It is a known fact that overall health leans heavily on a healthy gut and bone broth promotes gut health. Bone broth is easier to digest as compared to meat and it aids the digestion process too. You may have noticed that bone broth turns to a gel in the fridge. That is because the gelatinous material in bone broth attracts and holds liquids. Similarly, during digestion, the gelatin binds to the water allowing for easier movement of the food in the stomach.
Broth can also repair and maintain the integrity of intestinal cells and the mucosal lining. The amino acids glutamine maintains the function of the gut lining and can prevent the leaky gut syndrome.
Ideally. You can use whatever bones you want to make bone broth. But some bones are better than others. Beef has more collagen per gram of protein. When using bone broth to heal gut disorders, it is best to include bones high in collagen as this can help the mucosal lining of the intestines. With beef, pork, bison, venison, and buffalo, it is best to use joints, knuckles, and marrow bones – for more iron, calcium, phosphorus, and feet.
For poultry, use the feet, neck, back, and knuckles. If you plan on adding fish to the mix, include the head as a whole. Regardless of which bones you use, if you use high heat and a pressure cooker, you may end up destroying the nutrients you are trying to get. The key is to slow cook the bones for an extended time. This cooking process slowly releases the nutrients and ensures that they are nutritionally intact.
But how much bone broth is too much? For best results, one cup of bone broth should maximize health benefits. Some are better than none, so you could have bone broth twice or thrice a week too. However, consuming bone broth with every meal every day may cause a runny tummy and cramps. With bone broth, less is more.
Bone broth is rich in amino acids, vitamins, minerals, and natural compounds, all of which benefit gut health and overall wellbeing. However, bone broth is not a cure or a replacement for treatment or supplements for leaky gut or any intestinal disorders. A healthy gut can be reinforced with bone broth and broth along with the help of Digestive Superfoods can hasten the healing of an unhealthy gut if taken in tandem with supplements for the gut, check out the list of Digestive Superfoods from here. Bone broth helps but only so much so.