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The Dark Side of Bone Broth

From the beginning of time—or at least since man discovered fire and our ancestor hunters came on the scene—humans all over the world have been boiling bones to glean their last bits of goodness after eating all the meat. Bone Broth is a time honored traditional food that seems to have hit the mainstream recently. It’s touted as a “superfood” by athletes, nutritionists, and even the New York Times. From Portland to NYC, Bone Broth bars are popping up across the country, with patrons lining up for their morning “cuppa.” Cuppa broth, that is.

What is Bone Broth? It’s a broth made from bones (no kidding), cooked slow and low and long. It can be made from the bones of any animal, but you’ll be most familiar with chicken or beef Bone Broth. If you like a gelatinous broth (stay tuned for why that’s important), you’ll need to include enough bones with joints. Or in the case of chicken Bone Broth, heads and feet.

Bone Broth provides minerals in a state that’s easily absorbed by the human body, which is a good thing (even though it doesn’t provide as much calcium as previously thought). The consumption of Bone Broth also aids in digestion. And if it gels when cooled, you’ve hit the jackpot for your connective tissues, nails, and skin.

So what’s the dark side of Bone Broth? It lies in the “long” part of the “slow and low and long” cook time. Bone Broth simmers at a low temperature for many hours, long enough to allow the connective tissues to dissolve and the minerals to be drawn into the broth. Chicken Bone Broth needs to cook 6–24 hours. Beef, bison, or other large mammal Bone Broth needs at least 24 hours or up to 72 hours to ensure all the cartilage and tendons dissolve. (The bigger the bone, the longer this takes.) The result of such long cook times is a tremendous amount of glutamic acid. And that’s the dark side of Bone Broth.

As you may or may not know, glutamic acid and glutamate are highly regulated by the human brain. If you have a leaky brain, as those with a leaky gut often do, high amounts of glutamic acid can trigger seizures if you’re prone to them. Yes, seizures. It can also trigger other neurological symptoms you may already be sensitive to, including brain fog, migraine headaches, dramatic mood swings, stimming, and nervous tics, to name a few.

Many, many people—including the vast number of children in our country with nervous system disorders such as ADD, ADHD, and Autism Spectrum Disorders—should not be drinking long cooked Bone Broth. I’ve heard from numerous moms in my Simply Being Well practice who told me how their children reacted with seizures after drinking Bone Broth, even just a small amount. The same goes for the many adults who have autoimmune disorders. They too should not be drinking Bone Broth. Why? Because autoimmune means leaky gut, and leaky gut means leaky brain, and leaky brain means glutamic acid sensitivity.

On the Bright Side—Meat Stock!

What to do? If you’re interested in the health benefits of Bone Broth, but you or your loved ones have been diagnosed with or exhibit any of the above symptoms, how can you avoid high amounts of glutamic acid? Meat Stock is your answer. It’s cooked slow and low and not long. The short cook time means glutamic acid levels will be low—and therefore, not problematic.

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