Before superfoods there was just real food. In a far away land, long ago, all food was real and all were superfoods. It seems like a rather large generalization to say that all food is a superfood. After all, marketing has done a great job of convincing us other wise.
The truth is, the body works as a whole. Our fragmented thinking has gone to the extremes. For a simple example, what’s good for the hair must be good for the entire body. Or even more simply put, what’s good for the part is good for the whole. Though it is also true that certain foods contain higher levels of valuable nutrients, while others contain specific beauty-building nutrients, no single food or nutrient holds the key health.
In old Greek there was a wise saying, “the state of the liver is dependent on the condition of the Liver.” They understood that the body is a holistic machine. Be it beautiful hair, skin or the general ability to live, there be no separation or specialization.
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Setting aside the buzz around the word, when we define the term superfood – a food higher in nutrients than in calories – it fits the bill for all whole foods. That’s because at some level, all whole foods provide a variety of nutrients, enzymes, phytochemicals, antioxidants and bacteria. With each constituent working synergistically to serve the same function, life, it would be unintelligent to segregate.
The Loss Of Good Information
If whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, meats, eggs, nuts/seeds and herbs (a Paleo Diet) are the real super foods then why the emphasis on fad dieting and specialized nutrition? To answer that question in a word, impatience. A regrettable product of our modern food processing techniques and our throwaway standard of living has been a decline in the many medicinal properties of food.
The result of this hustle and bustle lifestyle has resulted beyond the obvious of fast foods, processed foods, and even industrial agriculture but also the loss of the original superfoods; broths, collagen, gelatin and marrow. In days gone by, when we got our meats from butchers (if you don’t know what a butcher is, think of ancient wizards of meat-goods) meat was sold fresh on the bone rather than as single filets and whole chickens rather than boneless breasts.
The True Superfoods; Bone Broth, Collagen, Gelatin, and Marrow
Back when we used to take our time living, our thrifty ancestors made use of every part of the animal by preparing stock, broth or bouillon from the bony portions. These portions contained valuable gelatin, marrow and collagen, which are all powerhouses of nutrition. Sadly, modern America is so unfamiliar with these delicacies that most even gag at the sight. Yet, if we understood the true power behind them, we might have a change of heart.
Luckily, most of the rest of the world are still reaping the benefits of these superfoods via bone and fish stocks. They are used almost across the world in traditional cuisines. Nearly everywhere besides America, the use of broth is still quite popular – perhaps this has a little something to do with the contrast in our health.
The good news: it’s not too late to take note from these other traditional cultures. We too can reap the benefits of these superfoods with some simple implementation. The use of homemade bone broths can create delicious and nourishing soups and sauces. Gelatin is now widely available in hydrolyzed-powdered forms for multiple uses. There are even delicious bone marrow dessert recipes that will knock peoples socks off.
Gelatin and Collagen
Gelatin is a group of proteins that can be dissolved in water. Traditionally, one would get gelatin by breaking apart the collagen that is found in animal bones, cartilage, and skin. The cartilage found in animal’s parts (bones, joints, feet) contain tons of collagen and gelatin.
These medicinal compounds are normally obtained through the process of making bone broth, which we will discuss in detail in a moment. In short, by slow-cooking bones and joints tissue collagen breaks down, and you’re left with a gelatin rich, healing broth.
If the idea of bone broth turns you off, luckily, thanks to modern technology it is obtainable in powdered form, as I had mentioned. The manufacturers soak collagen-rich skin and joint tissue with an extremely acidic or alkaline solution. They then heat it up to break apart the collagen and create gelatin powder.
I recommended brands like Vital Proteins and Great Lakes as they are sourced from grass-fed animals, which are ethically raised.
Aside of gelatin there is also powdered collagen, which is basically a concentrated form of gelatin. By processing it with enzymes it becomes essentially predigested. The result is an enyzymatically-activated source of collagen known as, hydrolyzed collagen.
Hydrolyzed collagen contains bioactive peptides, which are strings of amino acids. Where gelatin contains amino acids; the make up of proteins, collagen provides easier-to-digest peptides, which immediately impact our health upon consumption.
The benefits of these superfoods are seemingly endless. Though each one provides its own, you can find them in an all-in-one package in bone broth. Properly prepared bone broths are extremely nutritious, containing the minerals and amino acids of all the superfoods: bone, cartilage, marrow, collagen, gelatin with the addition of vegetables as electrolytes – all in a form that is easy to assimilate. Because of its dense-nutritive properties and bioavailability the benefits of bone broth are seemingly endless. To get an idea though, here’s a short list:
- Aids Digestion Of Cooked Foods – Dr. Pottenger pointed out a very exceptional benefit of broth, which is its supply of hydrophilic colloids. Raw food compounds are colloidal and tend to be hydrophilic, meaning they draw in liquids. When we eat a salad or some other raw food, the hydrophilic colloids attract digestive juices for rapid and effective digestion. This is why so many people experience better health by increasing raw food consumption. Where as many people struggle with cooked foods because the colloids that have been heated repel digestive juices, making then more difficult to digest. However, by adding these superfoods to our diet we can continue to enjoy cooked foods. Gelatin in particular – also found in broths – has the ability of attracting liquids, even after it has been heated. Think of the way gelatin attracts water to form desserts, like Jell-O. By sipping on broth during a meal, adding it to sauces, consuming a gelatin-rich dessert or simply taking a tablespoon of hydrolyzed gelatin with a cooked meal can greatly improve the ability to digest it.
- Reverse Digestive Disorders – As we just discussed, gelatin acts first and foremost as an aid to digestion. Its digestive support goes far beyond aiding the digestion of cooked foods though. It has been used successfully in the treatment of nearly every intestinal disorder, including, hyperacidity, colitis and Crohn’s disease. Mainly, gelatin has the ability to increase HCL (stomach acid), which is a common underlying root cause to every digestive problem. HCL is responsible for the digestion of proteins, killing off parasites and keeping bacterial balance in the gut – which is the foundation of digestive health.
- Boost Your Immunity – In folk wisdom, chicken broth was known as, Jewish penicillin and was a valued remedy for the flu. In the 12th century, it was prescribed as a treatment for colds and asthma. However, modern research has confirmed that broth isn’t mere folklore and does indeed prevent and alleviate infectious disease. It has been said that all physical disease starts in the gut. When our gut-biodome is compromised, our immune system takes a hit at the core. That is because our gut lining, which is made up of tissue and a wall of friendly microflora, serves the important role as protector of the immune system. Gelatin, collagen, MSM, glutamine, hyaluronic acid and other properties of bone broth all build tissue, such as the gut wall. In this way, consuming these superfoods daily would serve as wise for anyone interested in protecting their immune system – increasing the odds of warding off any ailment.
- Improved Sex Drive – Another traditional belief is that fish broth in particular contributes to virility. Fish stock is made from the carcasses and heads of fish. It is especially rich in minerals including all-important iodine. Iodine is a very essential nutrient that aids thyroid health, which governs our hormonal health. Because of the taboo around sex-talk many people are oblivious to the correlation of sex-drive and overall health. Low libido is usually a major red flag for low-thyroid hormone, which goes hand-in-hand with nearly every health problem. More than just putting a damper on our love life, low libido can also indicate adrenal fatigue. The adrenals and thyroid are the glands that secrete hormones and directly influence your energy, metabolism, sleep and sexual organs. Both the adrenals and thyroid need minerals – especially iodine – to function properly. When in good shape, these glands will improve our overall energy, youth and vigor.
- Thyroid Health – When broth is made from the heads of animals – such as in fish broth – the thyroid glands of the fish, supply thyroid hormone and other substances that nourish the thyroid gland. For thousands of years, Traditional Chinese Medicine doctors revitalized aging patients with broths made from the thyroid glands of animals. Ancient texts state that the broth helped patients feel younger, gave them more energy and often restored mental capability. Today, it has been recorded that up to 80% of people have undiagnosed thyroid imbalances with accompanying symptoms of fatigue, weight gain, weak immunity, mental imbalances, and a host of more serious problems like heart disease and cancer. We would be wise to imitate our European and Asian friends by including fish broth in the diet as often as possible.
- Improve Sleep – Hydrolyzed collagen, gelatin and the abundance of magnesium found in marrow and broth naturally improve sleep – reversing issues such as insomnia. Gelatin is made up largely of the amino acids arginine and glycine. Glycine in particular plays a major role in neurotransmitter function. For example, it increases serotonin levels without increasing dopamine levels, which will help normalize circadian rhythms. Serotonin and tryptophan go hand in hand in melatonin production, the hormone responsible for good sleep. At night we want high levels of melatonin, which will induce relaxation and sleepiness. The abundance of glycine found in collagen, gelatin (both found in bone broth) would be enough to immediately promote relaxation within minutes of consumption. Try a glass of bone broth before bed or a tonic of warm spring water, Bullet Proof Collagen, 1 capsule of tryptophan, and stevia to sweeten.
- Makes Skin Youthful – Hydrolyzed collagen and gelatin help the skin out in multiple ways. First, it gives your skin the raw materials that it needs to regain elasticity. When your skin loses elasticity, it begins to sag and wrinkles form. The skin is primarily composed of collagen and other proteins. The building blocks for healthy skin; hyaluronic acid, glutamine, gelatin, collagen, sulfur and more are all found in bone broth. Also, the peptides in hydrolyzed collagen also act as an antioxidant – protecting the skin against oxidative stress that cause age spots and UV damage. The skin is a reflection of digestive system. When the digestive system is weak is does a poor job of assimilating nutrients that would otherwise keep skin youthful. Because hydrolyzed collagen is easy to digest and the small peptides quickly move into the bloodstream and accumulate in the skin – requiring little to no digestion. Once collagen peptides build up in the skin you will notice a suppleness and softness to the skins appearance.
- It’s Delicious – The wonderful thing about broth is that, along with countless health benefits, it is also add immeasurably flavorful. The magic behind a truly exquisite soup or sauce is in a broth made from scratch. Anyone who has had the privilege of dinning in the fine restaurants in France has experienced the enchantment that a proper bone broth can do for dish. Try making your next soup or sauce with a bone broth base. The result is a both nutritious and delectable. Trust me when I say it is worth taking time and putting effort into making a large batch of broth on a regular basis. You and your family will gain improved health and I promise you will earn a reputation of an incredible cook. It’s truly a win-win situation.
Tips For Making The Best Broth
The secret to making the best broth lies in the ingredients of course. Ultimately what you want is a broth that is thick and gelatinous once cooled as well as delicious. Here are a few quick tips for making a superior broth:
- Start with cold, filtered spring water. Add raw apple cider vinegar and let sit for 10 minutes before cooking..
- Add super herbs like turmeric, rosemary, thyme and ginger.
- Add sea vegetables such as kelp, wakame, or kombu for an extra dose of minerals and iodine.
- Add gelatin and collagen powder to guarantee a thick, gelatinous final product.
- Save sea salt for the end. Adding unrefined sea salt post cooking really adds flavor as well as over 70 trace minerals.