“I’ve got butterflies in my stomach”, “I’m just gonna go with my gut on this one”
Medical science is finally talking about the gut-brain connection that everyday people have been talking about for centuries. And what they’re saying is really really interesting. Dr. Natasha Campbell- McBride introduced me to this concept in her book Gut and Psychology Syndrome where she asserts that an enormous number of mental illnesses and psychological problems can be traced back to our gut health. She deals particularly with autism, and schizophrenia and depression but also mentions the link in less severe issues like A.D.H.D and dyslexia. She states in her book that medical history has plenty of examples where severe psychiatric disorders were cleared up simply by “cleaning out” the gut.
Hidden in our gut lining is a second nervous system. Scientists call it the enteric nervous system or ENS. It’s comprised of more than 100 million nerve cells and it communicates regularly with your brain, generates it’s own feelings, and is responsible for some of the body functions that your central nervous system or your head brain is too busy for, like digestion.
Johns Hopkins university published an article stating that the ENS or the stomach brain can create enormous emotional shifts in people with IBS or other functional bowel disorders. “For decades, researchers and doctors thought that anxiety and depression contributed to these problems. But our studies and others show that it may also be the other way around,” says Jay Pasricha, M.D., director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Neurogastroenterology.
So how do we sooth and heal our gut when we suspect that our depression or crankiness other psychological distresses may not be “all in our head”? We focus on healing and sealing our gut lining by introducing collagen rich foods like bone broth and gelatin as well as fermented foods which introduce a host of beneficial microorganisms.
“For decades, researchers and doctors thought that anxiety and depression contributed to these problems. But our studies and others show that it may also be the other way around,” – Jay Pasricha, M.D., director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Neurogastroenterology
Recipes for bone broth on the internet are abundant and sometimes needlessly complicated. I’m going to share with you how I make it because it’s not fussy and it’s always delicious
I keep a broth scraps bag in my freezer where I throw carrot ends, the dark green part of leeks that no recipe ever includes, the weird broad root end of celery stalks, potato peels, onion skins and ends, really any veggie scrap that would have gone into the trash or compost goes into my broth bag. The exception here is cruciferous veggies like cabbage or kale stems. Those don’t taste good in broth, they’re too sulphuric.
About once a week I will roast a whole chicken, pick most of the meat off the bones to use later in the week and then throw the entire carcass along with the contents of my broth bag into my big crock pot. I cover everything with filtered water, add about a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar (an acidic substance helps pull minerals from the bones, you could use lemon juice here as well) put the lid on and let it simmer away on low for at least 24 hours. When it smells and tastes delicious go ahead and turn off the crock pot and let it cool down. When it’s cool enough to deal with, ladle the broth through a sieve into a large glass jar or several if you need to. I use a canning funnel here to keep broth from splashing all over my counter tops. Refrigerate the broth and when it’s cool skim the layer of fat off the top and discard it. Chicken fat is high in linoleic acid, an omega 6 and omega 9 fatty acid so it’s best to discard it if you’re trying to reduce your body’s inflammatory response.
Dr Natasha Cambell McBride recommends drinking or consuming bone broth every single day to support gut health. It’s delicious as a hot drink before dinner, in soups or sauces, you can even cook grains or beans in it.
If research into the ENS gains as much attention as it seems like it will, our approach to how we handle psychiatric issues will eventually have to change. Paranoias and phobias really aren’t just “all in your head”, but now someone can retort back that it might just some feeling in your stomach.