Gut Health, or more specifically, poor gut health has received much publicity in recent times and for very good reason.

Gut bacteria and poor digestion have been linked to many diseases such as irritable bowel syndrome, diabetes, obesity, HIV, auto immune disorders, arthritis, mental illnesses and autism.

Hippocrates said “All Disease Begins in the Gut” over two thousand years ago and it is truer than ever today.

Why Am I Talking About Gut Health today?

Because looking after ourselves and our planet go hand in hand. We can’t perform at our optimum and care for our Earth if we’re sick or low in energy.

Personally, my health has taken a turn for the worse in recent years and I’ve developed auto immune disorder, Hashimotos… most likely caused by genetic factors, stress and some prolonged antibiotic use for acne way back in my teenage years that impacted my gut health. I’ve been turning my health around by improving my gut health and I’m keen to learn more about this and share my journey with you.

Which is why I have one of Australia’s leading experts in gut health on Eco Chat today.

Micheline Andrews is a nutritional health coach focusing on gut health. A bone broth advocate, speaker, and author of a brand-new cookbook ‘Bone Broth Basics’ which we will talk about today.

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Would you mind sharing your story?

About 8 years ago I was involved with a workplace accident and received quite a big injury to my right hip. I was incapacitated both before and after surgery for about 2 years all up.

Living on a small farm and not being able drive meant I was quite isolated. I had a lot of time to myself and was able to do my own research to see what I could do to help myself, as the standard methods of healing weren’t working.

I came across the Weston A. Price Foundation which is an American firm and they were healing ailments with bone broth. I thought I would give it a go. Luckily for me I lived on a farm and had access to my own animals. So, I cooked my own bone broth and started taking one cup per day as recommended.

It became my healing elixir. After being out of action for so long and on heavy medications, my hair and nails were really brittle. The first thing I noticed after a few weeks was that I had amazing hair and fingernail growth.

My next major reaction was that I had movement in my injury site. Then I had pain relief.

For a long time I was on constant heavy pain medications. Plus anti-inflammatories, anti-inflammatory creams, and cortisone injections. I was also on huge amounts of laxatives. After 6-8 months of this medication regime, my body could not longer tolerate them. After taking my medication, 20 minutes later, I would vomit it all up again. I knew that I had done some damage.

It was after having my bone broth that things had started to change. I knew healing had started to occur in the gut area once I could take paracetamol for a headache and I could keep it down. This is what got me interested in trying to get it out there and help others to heal.

My biggest obstacle was how do I get it out to others. I did some research and experimented with a dehydration process which turned it into a powder.  Then I was able to pop it in glass jars and ship it around. The testimonials that I received were amazing. Many stories of gut health healing and helping with joint pain. It spurred me on and kept me going. I needed to increase production and get it out there economically so that people could afford to buy it.

My business ‘Broth of Life’ started 4 and a half years ago. I ran it for 18 months and then sold it onto a new owner. But coming from a personal journey, it doesn’t ever really leave you.

During my recovery from my injury I also started Nutritional Studies which I put on hold whilst I had the business because I was quite busy. Since selling the business I have completed my studies and also did my health coaching. Now I do health coaching consultations around gut health. I also bought out ‘Bone Broth Basics’ which is a book with wholefood recipes of how to incorporate broth into healthy everyday foods. It also has bone broth recipes and they are really easy.

What Are Some Of The Causes Of Poor Gut Health?

Obviously it’s based on individual people but generally we can start with foods and poor diets. So, we look at excess sugars, lots of processed foods, food additives and preservatives. Dehydration comes in to it because we’re not consuming enough fluid anymore. Environmental factors such as exposure to pesticides on our foods, toxicities in our household cleaners and beauty products. Stress has a huge impact on our health. Germ warfare which includes over-sanitising and not being out in the dirt and building up our resistance. Overuse of antibiotics and other medications. History of using birth control. The list goes on and also includes sleep, parasites, and lack of vitamin D! There are loads of different factors to look at.

What Are The Signs of Poor Gut Health?

In general, we look at bloating, food sensitivity, thyroid conditions, fatigue, joint pain, headaches, skin issues, digestive problems, weight fluctuations and food cravings. Again the list goes on. Nearly everyone has at least one of those symptoms.

What Are Some of The Implications of Poor Gut Health?

Over time it can be big contributor to autoimmune disease especially with long term leaky gut. Also skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis. Weight gain, digestive problems, the list goes on.

Is It Possible To Heal Our Guts?

It is possible to heal which is exciting but once again it depends on the individual and what state their gut health is in at the time. I like to think of it as a journey towards a long-term destination. It can take many years to heal. Although it’s not an instant repair, there are certainly steps along the way that will happen such as building up immunity and getting more energy. It’s all baby steps towards healing. That is where bone broth is a key factor in helping to heal leaky gut. It’s a step in the journey. Even though it will take a long time, there will be benefits and factors that will be noticed along the way.

What Are Some of the Easiest Ways To Heal Our Guts?

Diet plays a big factor along with bone broth. We really need to remove inflammatory foods and irritating foods. Reducing our consumption of caffeine and alcohol can be a big factor. Getting away from trans fats and hydrolysed vegetable oils. Removing our sugars and adding in whole foods and real foods. Then we go into eating seasonally and locally.

Getting outside in the sunshine for vitamin D. Not stressing about germs because we get rid of the good guys too! Finding ways to destress. Enhancing our bodies by moving daily. Taking note of our eliminations. Poo can be a big factor in gut health. Chewing our food more is important. Drinking more water. Adding in bone broth and pre and pro biotics can assist with repairing the correct balance of bacteria and enzymes in our gut.

Everything comes into play with gut health and it’s important to look at the bigger picture.

What Are Your Best Tips for Making Bone Broth?

Bone broth isn’t hard to make – its all about time management. That’s one of the reasons I bought out my book because people think that there is lots of restrictions and rules. Just throw your bones into a pot. If you’ve got cooked chicken bones that’s fine but preferably mix them in with some raw bones as well because that’s the opti nutrients come from. The longer your bones have been roasted, the more nutrients have been depleted.

The apple cider vinegar (or we call it a pre-soak) is really important because that’s what draws out all the nutrients. Cover your bones with water and add in a good splash of apple cider vinegar. Let it rest for an hour and then start. Another alternative is lemon juice. You can use frozen bones because the apple cider vinegar pre-soak thaws the bones really quickly.  Its really important to use the apple cider vinegar made with the mother, which is usually found in the health food section of the supermarket. It is unfiltered and looks cloudy.

I like to focus on trying to source ethical bones from animals preferably organic but grass fed is your next best option. (Check out the recent blog post What Is The Most Sustainable Meat for plenty of tips on sourcing organic grass-fed meats in Australia).

Another tip is taking a little bit of time to cut your vegetables. If we cut them to 2cms or smaller, it actually absorbs the nutrients in the vegetables as well. I take the bones out and leave the connective tissue and everything else including vegetables in the broth. Then I take a stick mixer or the like and whizz them in. Honestly it’s a game changer. You get a huge thick broth and the vegetables change the taste slightly.

If you want herbs and spices add them in the last hour of cooking so that they don’t go bitter. Roasting your vegetables first also helps with the flavour.

Once it’s finished I let it cool and rest in the pot.  Just for a couple of hours depending on the size of your pot. If you’re using bigger boned animals like beef, pork or lamb there will be a fat layer that will form on top. Scrape that off and keep it in your fridge for high heat cooking. Use for roast veg or frying etc as it’s really stable fat and has the same minerals as the bone broth.

Nothing is wasted except for the bones. However I have recently learned that you can reuse your bones. I have a Facebook group called Bone Broth Basics and there are members from around the world. Premium bones in other countries are really pricey so those overseas often use their bones 3-4 times. Obviously the nutrients are getting less each time, but they’re still getting the gelatine factor and benefits.

How Can We Easily Improve Our Children’s Gut Health?

I hid the bone broth in my children’s food so that they couldn’t taste it. It can be used easily in so many dishes by almost replacing the liquid content of it.

It’s very easy to hide and you can make it as bland as you want it as well. You don’t have to add any vegetables. Or you can make it as tasty as you want if you will have it as a drink by itself.

With children’s gut health it’s also important to focus on their diet. Keep them active and in the sunshine so that they get enough vitamin D. Encourage children to get back and play in the dirt so they’re getting the probiotics of the soil and building up resistance to germs. Encourage them to eat a rainbow of foods. Try to add in fermented foods.

It’s really the reason I bought out my book because I had to hide bone broth in everything. Even for my husband!

Is it possible To Heal Your Gut If You’re Vegan or Vegetarian?

Absolutely. You would start by generally cleaning up your diet and increase healing foods such as rich vegetables, fermented foods, probiotics, coconut products, and prebiotic foods such as resistance starches and greens. Eat cruciferous vegetables. There’s also vegan broths out there. I’ve got one in my book. Obviously there’s not the animal gelatine component, but you’re getting other nutrients from seaweeds, and herbs and spices. There are certain components mixed together that can bring out the nutrients of the vegetables.

What Recipes Do You Have In Your Book?

In my book I’ve got recipes for little side dishes and snacks. There are guest recipes in there. It mainly focuses on main meals but there are salads as well. People see bone broth as a winter food however I do a salad dressing with my broth in it and no one knows it’s in there. Ice blocks or ‘brothsicles’ and one of my guests has given me a recipe for gelatine gummies. There’s a whole array of ways to use it.

Where Can We Learn More?

I have a website – Micheline Andrews Health and Lifestyle Mentoring and a Facebook page for the Bone Broth Basics Cookbook.

Also join my amazing Facebook group Bone Broth Basics. There are people in there from all over the world and they make broths from animals like bison, elk and moose! It’s incredible listening to how they make their broth. Obviously different cultures do it differently but it’s really interesting to watch.

I travel around doing gut health awareness talks which is an hour of making people aware of what the gut does and how to help heal ourselves and incorporate foods and things like that. I always say that it’s not an instant result. It can take years but the baby steps are huge steps in the long term. It can be done and I’m a personal testament.