A study published in The ISME Journal (March 2017) titled "Environmental Spread of Microbes Impacts the Development of Metabolic Phenotypes in Mice Transplanted with Microbial Communities from Humans" stated when gut bacteria from overweight humans was transplanted into mice, the mice would start to gain weight. When gut bacteria from normal weight humans was transplanted, the mice didn't gain weight. The study concluded that human gut bacteria is linked to obesity.
There are other studies which have shown a link between gut health and mood, anxiety, depression, concentration and some forms of autism. It seems the health of our gut plays an important role in our overall health and wellbeing.
In short, although the subject is far more complicated than this, a healthy gut is one where "good bacteria" dominate and an unhealthy one is where "bad bacteria" dominate. Bad bacteria thrive on foods that contain simple sugars which are highly processed. It's easy to see how a poor diet can lead to bad gut health and in turn affect overall happiness.
Sally Fallon, in her book "Nourishing Traditions" talks about the research behind gut health and gives practical examples on how best to cultivate healthy gut bacteria. She has a range of recipes which use fermented ingredients i.e. ingredients where good bacteria have been cultivated before consumption, and she talks about the healthy benefits of stocks.
Fallon advocates drinking stocks or bone broths to calm and settle the gastrointestinal tract in order to create the ideal environment for the good bacteria. Stocks/broths are also highly nutritious, containing bio-available minerals, gelatin which helps with repair of the gut wall, as well as glucosamine and chondroitin, which have anti-inflammatory properties. Bone broth is also hydrophilic which means it attracts water and digestive enzymes, thus aiding digestion. There are many cultures around the world which have used stocks and bone broths for medicinal purposes for centuries. It seems this simple home-remedy has been forgotten in modern times, and as simple as it is to make there's no reason why everyone can't start improving their physical and mental health with a good bone broth.
Having made bone broth for many years, here is the recipe I find produces a rich flavour with everything you need to promote good gut health.
- 1 whole chicken, including feet, head and giblets
- 1 marrow bone (ask the butcher to cut it in half so it fits in your pot)
- 1 pig's trotter (once again, ask the butcher to cut it in half lengthways)
- 1 chicken carcass (chopped into smaller pieces)
- 2 carrots
- 2 sticks of celery
- 1 large onion
- 1 fresh bay leaf (fresh herbs will give the best flavour)
- 2 twigs fresh rosemary
- 2 cloves
- 6-12 peppercorns
- 2 teaspoons salt (less if you prefer, more if you like)
- Place all the ingredients in a large pot and fill with water. I use the La Chamba Black Clay Stock Pot, (8 Qt) It's unglazed and there's no leaching of metals into your stock. It's very easy to clean and the more you use it, the more the flavour develops in your stocks over time.
- Place the pot on the stove at a medium to high heat and slowly bring to the boil.
- While the water's heating and before it comes to the boil, remove the scum that starts to form on the surface. This scum looks like a white/grey foam, which is denatured protein you don't want mixed in with your stock. To remove it, take a fine sieve and scoop the scum off the top, rinsing the sieve in water each time to ensure you don't return the scum to the stock.
- Once the stock's boiled and all the scum has been removed, turn down the heat and allow it to simmer with the lid on.
- One of the most important steps is to allow your stock to simmer for 24 hours. The longer it simmers, the more nutrients will be extracted from the meat and bones and the more flavoursome your stock will be. It should be rich, dark and clear in colour.
- After 24 hours, turn off the heat and allow it to cool.
- Some people advise to remove the layer of fat from the top, however Fallon states this is where a lot of the nutrients are, so leave it.
- Remove the meat, bones and other ingredients and then pour the stock through a sieve into BPA-free plastic containers. Stock only last a few days. When you make a large pot, you'll need to freeze it in batches and defrost as needed.
Image courtesy of TRAINFITNESS
I have a cup a day and it's usually the first thing I consume. It feeds, nourishes and calms the mucous lining of the small intestine, so it's the perfect first meal of the day.