Dr. Natasha Campbell McBride taught me that mental health depends upon the health of our immune system, and the health of the immune system depends upon the health of the gut. All of the strategies she suggests in the GAPS Healing Protocol are designed to enhance immunity, which fundamentally is achieved by promoting gut health. One of the staples of the GAPS immune supportive approach is the regular consumption of broth and stock made from the bones and meat of animals. This nourishing traditional slow food has virtually disappeared from our modern convenience oriented diet. The loss of the valuable nutrients in regularly consumed broth has contributed to the general erosion of the health of so many in our culture.
Broth contains four vital amino acids, proline, glycine, glutamine and alanine. All of them are considered non-essential amino acids, meaning that unlike essential amino acids, our body can produce them without getting them from food. But in order to enjoy vibrant health, or to support recovery from illness, it is necessary to get an additional quantity of these four amino acids from diet.
Proline is a key ingredient in the formation of collagen and cartilage. Glycine is essential for the synthesis of hemoglobin, for the digestion of fats and it reduces inflammation. It is one of the key ingredients in powdered gelatin, about which I wrote a blog post a few years ago, and which remains one of the most popular posts. I recommend the comments section following the post, as it contains numerous fascinating accounts from readers about their experiences with gelatin. Glutamine supports cell proliferation, which is helpful in the repair of the enterocytes lining the wall of the gut. It stimulates the immune system and supports detoxification. Alanine plays a role in liver function, glycolysis and gluconeogenesis and is thus often used as a supplement by athletes to enhance endurance and build muscle mass.
The longer meat and bones are cooked, the richer in amino acids the broth becomes. When meat and bones are cooked for a long period of time, histamine forms, and thus long cooked broth is not recommended for those with histamine intolerance. In addition, there are unfortunately many individuals, including many autistic children, who cannot metabolize glutamine properly. Glutamine is changed to glutamate, and those who are sensitive to MSG, also sometimes react adversely to the glutamine in bone broth. In those cases, as well as for those with histamine intolerance, lightly cooked broth is better tolerated. As gut healing progresses, longer cooked broth which contains greater quantities of amino acids can be introduced.
In my psychiatry practice, in addition to recommending nutrients to rebalance brain biochemistry according to the approach of Dr. William Walsh, I recommend the strategies I learned from Dr. Natasha Campbell McBride to support the immune system via supporting the health of the gut. I regularly suggest that my patients eat fermented foods to supply beneficial microflora and to drink broth daily to promote the integrity of the lining of the gut wall. Both of these nutrient dense foods can be purchased, but they also can be made at home. Fermented vegetables are simple to prepare, but broth can be more daunting. time consuming and messy.
Sally Fallon, president of the Weston A Price Foundation has written a new book called Nourishing Broth. It contains a wealth of information about the health benefits of broth as well as many recipes. One of my favorites is a slow cooker recipe for chicken broth on page 176, that is really easy, and provides a constant ready source of nutritious healing broth. With this method, there is always freshly made broth on hand. No more excuses.
Here is the recipe.
Continuous Slow Cooker Broth
by Jenny McGruther, Nourished Kitchen blog, Crested Butte, Colorado
1 whole chicken (or the carcass and bones of a roasted chicken)
2 chicken feet and 1 chicken head if available
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
Any vegetable scraps you have on hand
Cold filtered water
Place the whole chicken or the carcass of a roasted chicken and optional head and feet into your slow cooker, add the bay leaves, black peppercorns, vinegar, and any vegetable scraps you have on hand (if using carrots, peel them before adding). Add enough cold filtered water to cover the bones, cover, and cook on low for 1 week (this process is safe as long as there is plenty of liquid in the slow cooker), checking occasionally to ensure that the ingredients remain covered with water and adding more water as needed.
After 24 hours, you may begin using the broth. Simply dip a ladle or measuring cup into the slow cooker to remove the amount of broth you need. Pour it through a fine mesh strainer or a reusable coffee filter to remove any solids. Replace the broth that you remove from the slow cooker with an equivalent amount of filtered water. If you’re using a whole fresh chicken, you may also remove chicken meat from the slow cooker to use in stir-fries and other dishes, soups or salads.
At the end of the week, strain off any remaining broth. Wash the liner of your slow cooker and start again.
Jessica Caldwell says
So how does one with HIT know when the light cooked broth is done? At what point of cooking have you “gone too far”? I am newly diagnosed and working hard to follow the rules using diet to heal as much as possible.
I would say just until the chicken is cooked through. Then freeze the portions you are not going to eat immediately. There is no way of precisely gauging.
Jessica Caldwell says
thank you so much for such helpful info. I feel relieved to know that these symptons i experience may relate to histamine . i do love my chicken broth, have you tried it with chicken feet when you get a flare, rather than bones? i wonder if it could have less histamine. im trying to find ways to keep having my broth. i guess i need to do a stock for a while with the meat. thanks again for so much helpful info!
You are welcome! Thanks for taking the time to share.
Hello, I’ve read through the comments but am not sure I found the answer I was looking for… is GL gelatin (either canister) ok for those with histamine issues? My 17 mo old has HIT but we are still assessing which foods he reacts more to. I know traditional bone broth is out. I need to experiment with meat stock. But as for gelatin (such a great addition to smoothies), is it high in histamine too? Thanks! Love your blog. 🙂
I do not believe that it is, but I am not sure about that. My recommendation would be to give it a try, and see how he does Its often a very individual matter.
I’m so glad you mentioned that some can’t tolerate broths/stocks or the wrong type or too much. This link compares the amount of amino acids in short cooked chicken meat stock and long cooked chicken bone broth. http://www.biodynamicwellness.com/stock-vs-broth-confused/. These two links also helped me sort things out & make a change http://www.holistichelp.net/blog/how-to-increase-gaba-and-balance-glutamate/ and http://www.dramyyasko.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/The-Role-of-Excitotoxins-in-Autistic-Type-Behavior.pdf
Thank you for taking the time to write and to share all of this useful information.
Felicia Libo says
Thanks again for another great post. I am so inspired by your work, and it helps me in my work and life so much. I seem to be one of the lightly cooked broth types who keeps fine tuning my diet and life in the healing of an autoimmune and chronic pain condition, and for those of us who can’t get to or don’t have the resources to consult with a Walsh or other practitioner these posts are invaluable in the meantime. I look forward to your next one!
Thank you so much for writing. It’s so kind of you to take the time and to let me know that the posts make a difference. It makes my day!
Felicia Libo says
HUGE difference. I’m a licensed counselor and writer finally finding my way using a holistic approach with clients and in my personal life, and people like you help guide the way. Out of the box in the best possible way, thanks again!!
I thank you.
carol diehl says
Hi Judy! Slightly off-topic, but will you please explain the difference between Great Lakes Collagen (green canister) and gelatin (orange canister)? Which is preferable for what? (I have been using the collagen). For those of us who are not yet able to take broth. Meanwhile, I was meaning to write to you, but might as well do so publicly because it could help others–my histamine problem seems to have originated with a long-standing infected root canal that went undetected for years. The tooth has been out for two weeks and I’m much better, but not yet 100%. Issues like this must be common, because when I put it on Facebook I got a long thread of comments from people with similar experiences. Something to perhaps address in the future? Warmest wishes to you!
Not so far off topic. The nutritional value of the green and orange can as far as I know are equal. The orange can has powder that needs to be dissolved first in room temperature water and then warm water added. So its good for soups and hot beverages. The green can can be mixed directly into cold beverages like smoothies.
Its fascinating how the long simmering undetected infection was undermining your health. I would be curious on hearing more about the comments you received from people with similar experiences.
I strongly believe many of us with chronic illness and autoimmune have some underlying low grade chronic infection. For me, I just recently put it together that Reactive Arthritis it caused by infection. I was diagnosed with RA decades ago. The physician asked if I’d recently had an infection or virus; which I had not. recently I looked it up on the web and it stated RA is often preceded by an infection. In ongoing attempts to understand and cure my illness, I’ve determined that not only is RA often preceded by an infection…it’s likely CAUSED by one…an untreated infection. I’ve had sinus issues since childhood, and received lots of antibiotics for sinus infections. Hmm, if the antibiotics were going to help don’t you think the first couple rounds would do the trick? What they did is keep the infection in a rather undetectable state…still present and continuing to slowly spread systemically…until viola…autoimmune! I am now in the process of clearing this long-time low grade infection with the remedies ncm recommend. I am experiencing lots of die off, headaches and joint flares which makes me believe I am on the right track. I just need to figure out how long to take them. This infection has been present for decades and I simply don’t know how long it will take to resolve. I also do Fmt to replace good gut flora intermittent. Once the infection is gone, I will do Fmt on a large scale (daily for a week, then weekly for a month, etc.). I hope this helps some…my main point it this…there is a lot of chronic and untreated infection causing and keeping many of us sick.
Its really fascinating, and so great that it sounds like you are finally figuring out what is going on. The micro biome is running the show. What are the remedies that you are taking that are causing die off and headaches and joint flares? FMT sounds like a great idea. Please continue to post about your discoveries. It benefits everyone.
Just want to make sure I’m following because, as you said, Judy, this potentially can help us all:
Is ncm: natural chinese medicine?
And is FMT: fecal microbiota transplant?
That was my understanding.
Reply to Syd…ncm stands for Dr Natashs Campbell -McBride of GAPS
To expand on the remedies I’m using…I started with garlic oil, then added olive leaf, then oregano oil, and finally grapefruit seed extract.
Thanks for sharing. I know how hard it can be to tolerate all of the die off. I wish you all the best
I will never get another root canal and future dental crowns or bridges will be ceramic, not metal. Here are some sites that I found helpful while researching how dental health afffects overall health. I wish I knew then what I know now… http://amalgam.org/, http://hg-free.com, https://www.hugginsappliedhealing.com/, http://www.drclark.net/en/clean-ups/beginners/teeth, https://iaomt.org. I have a filter on my shower head and love my shower floss http://www.showerfloss.com/showerflosshome.php
I’m now in Santa Fe after being in San Francisco for many years. Not many holistic psychiatrists out here!
Santa Fe is at the top of my bucket list. I know I would love it. I imagine its wonderful.
Santa Fe is a very special place. To live here happily, I think, one has to be fulfilled with less traditional external stimuli, as there are fewer “things to do” than in a big city. I suspect that’s more about the challenge folks who find it uncomfortable to be still with themselves face here. I don’t mean that judgmentally, just factually. There is so much art and culture here to experience. And the natural environs are truly spectacular. Very grounding and nurturing – at least to me. And, when I want more city-vibe fun, I just create it. Or go to a big city!
And that is more than you ever wanted to know about Santa Fe. 🙂
No, not at all. It sounds like my kind of place. I love art and culture and natural beauty. Thank you for telling me about it.
I didn’t meant to infer leaky brain is a joke. I think it is very much a real thing. My doc and I think I have it secondary to leaky gut.
Very interesting about the glutamate to GABA connection. I am HUGELY sensitive to GABA – I get a strong narcotic effect on as little as 5mg. That is part of what makes me think I have leaky brain. (When I can’t sleep, I can take a teeny bit of GABA and am out like a light.)
(I know glutamate can be excitotoxic, as well. Even glutamine can be for some.)
I’ll experiment with cooking the broth for less time.
(I’m a holistic psychotherapist, and wish we lived in the same town so I could refer folks to you!)
Yes, leaky brain is real and seems to often go along with leaky gut.
Yes, glutamate can go either way.
Thanks for the thought of collaborating. That would have been great to collaborate with you. Where are you actually located? It’s nice for me to write a post and get an immediate response. I appreciate it.
I wish those of us who are histamine sensitive could partake. I’ve had to skip anything slow cooked precisely because of the histamine produced in the process.
Such a bummer. Start with lightly cooked broth and as your healing progresses, then hopefully you will tolerate the longer cooked version.
Thanks Judy. I’ve definitely been experimenting with shorter cooking times. Need to watch the saturated fat level too right now. Always a challenge navigating dose…
The goldilocks phenomena. It is an important principle.
Thanks much for this easier to follow recipe. I’m sure many folks will get use out of it.
I so understand the importance of a good broth. But sadly, for some folks, such as myself, the glycine in the very nutritious collagen can make one feel like a flat tire. Very depleting and brain-zonking. It’s almost like it would be taking a benzodiazapine – which I do not take! (I can’t take the collagen powder for the same reason.) No clue why, other than perhaps a leaky brain or something.
I’d so love to get all the benefits of the broth. Perhaps in very small doses!
Just thought I’d mention it in case anyone else has the same unexpected reaction.
Thanks for your great posts.
Thanks for writing! You know, I had that same experience with gelatin when I used too much of it. I wonder if you cooked the broth less time, if it would work for you. It might the glycine, or it might be the glutamine which is changed to glutamate, which can promote GABA, and I imagine that too much of that could make you feel zonked. I think leaky brain is not a joke. I think there can be leaky brain just like leaky gut.