How bone broth and ketosis changed my life.
Updated: Jan 13, 2020
Two years ago I was a much less impressive human being. I wasn’t working out, I wasn’t eating healthy, I was drinking beer, I had a big gut, I slept poorly, had anger problems, had skin issues that wouldn’t go away and generally felt like my life was slowly starting to spin out of control. Fortunately, this crescendo of misery and unhappiness coincided with me moving. Unfortunately, it was moving away from a beautiful country setting and back to the city. Leaving Ojai for Los Angeles was a mixed bag of emotions. I loved living there and enjoyed the quiet and serene atmosphere of the idyllic mountain town which was a far cry from my previous digs of Hollywood. I had moved to the country with a friend to get away from the madness of L.A and into an environment more conducive to creating and happy living. Ojai is definitely that kind of place. To this day it’s one of the few places in the world I’ve seen someone riding a horse to the grocery store. Ojai’s charm notwithstanding, I was not happy at all. The business I was running with a friend happened to be located in the house we were both living in together. Mixing work with friendship and a living situation is a large task even for the most level headed and easy going of people. All the dramas that filled the cracks in between our lives and the many struggles of starting a new business became this nightmarish situation of living in a paradise neither of us wanted to be in. I felt trapped, both in the person I didn’t want to be and in the direction it had taken my life. From my perspective at the time my discord was out of my control, not my fault, and worse a major source of anxiety.
Now a whole year later after the dust has settled I finally see what I wasn’t able to before. The biggest problem in the situation was not the circumstances I was in, rather it was me. It’s easy to blame your lot in life on external stimuli and other people but becoming the victim of your own tragedy isn’t endearing to others and it’s certainly not going to pull you out of the mud. Without getting into too many specifics the point I am trying to make is I couldn’t change my situation until I took back control of my life and it started with my diet.
I’ve been trying to live a health-conscious life for years. When I say trying I mean just that. Attempting but failing. I tried to eat organic when I could. I consciously cut back on refined sugars and preservatives, but I’d still cook myself a pizza once a week with a beer or two, eat burgers, drink more beers and snack on frozen things from trader joes, potato chips, fries and all that good stuff. Still I thought I was healthy. I ran 12-15 miles at a time, albeit almost dying of pain and exhaustion afterwards but at least I was pushing myself and took solace in the fact that I ‘could’ even run that far, even though it took me days to recover. I had tried other diets in the past, I even went vegan for a good 6 months. Not only did I become the most sanctimonious and arrogant person I’ve ever been as a vegan, I actually seemed to put on body fat, loose flexibility, strength and stamina. In fact going vegan was so detrimental to my diet and mindset that whenever I meet a vegan these days I do my best to try and educate them on the dangers of such a diet. It’s sad to me that it seems a whole generation of youngsters have now been indoctrinated into a dietary lifestyle that is inexorably intertwined with bad health, leftist politics and unrelenting intolerance for thousands of years of human tradition and health.
I messed around with different diets for years, getting flack from friends and family every time I discovered a new one. I think a lot of them feared that either I had become a victim to the much feared health mafia of Los Angeles or that I was in some sort of nutrition based cult (being vegan certainly wasn’t far off), but the truth is, I was suffering.
I’d had irritable bowl symptoms on and off for years. It started when I was at drama school in Sydney after a bout of stomach flu which sent half my class to bed and me to the Doctor. I was on and off antibiotics at his suggestion for the next couple months. He didn’t tell me at the time to take probiotics to keep my gut flora vital and not many twenty-year old’s even knew what probiotics were back then. Knowing what I know now it’s no wonder I had a hard time remembering lines and focusing at school, my gut flora had been annihilated! When I look back I can clearly see a whole litany of health problems that came my way after that long stint on antibiotics. I had serious brain fog (to the point where I sometimes had trouble following conversations), dyslexia, poor sleep, low testosterone, no desire to workout, a victim mentality and I think a much lower IQ than I have today. I suddenly developed this craving for yoghurt out of nowhere and being ignorant at the time as to why, I just ate it not even realizing that it was my body craving healthy probiotics. The other thing that I started to do was make chicken soup. I’d put a whole chicken in a big pot with some vegetables and lots of garlic, fill the pot to the top and simmer it for 24 hours. The healing power of this stuff, although a well-worn anecdote is seriously no joke! Even way back then I was making bone broth. It would be over a decade later that I would fully realize just how healing this stuff is.
When I moved back to the city a year ago I made a commitment to get into the best shape I have ever been in. I knew that if I was going to accomplish this as a Man in my mid 30’s it was going to require a lot of hard work and discipline. I transitioned to a Ketogenic diet, (using fat as a fuel source instead of carbohydrates).The link between the Gut and the Brain is well researched and I had heard of the purported healing powers of bone broth. That coupled with my own anecdotal experience of chicken soup all those years ago I started making bone broth from grass fed beef bones. I have been drinking homemade bone broth every day now for almost two yearsr. I usually start with 12-15 lbs. of bones, with a variety of cuts from marrow bones to large knuckle and joint bones (these offer the most collagen). My butcher is very kind to me and makes sure I get a good variety each time.
The bones go into a very large stockpot, with 1 quart or so of water for every lb of bones. I’ve stretched this a little further to 1 and a half quarts when I know I have nice collagen rich bones (lots of joints). The best broth ends up with a ‘Jello’ like consistency when cooled. The wobble of cold broth this is the satisfying proof of a high collagen content. Collagen is one of the main selling points of bone broth and being a long-distance runner I can attest that this has helped me in a big way with recovery. This year I had two very serious ankle sprains and both took less than two weeks to heal to the point where I was up and running again. In the past my recovery time would have been 6 weeks or more. Aside from collagen helping with joints and skin it’s also very useful at repairing the gut wall and can do wonders for those with ‘leaky gut’. Bone broth is packed with minerals that are easily absorbed and it’s a great source of glucosamine and amino acids.
I usually make a large batch that lasts me the month (15-18 quarts worth) where it happily occupies the bottom shelf of my refrigerator. I actually start every day with broth and add one tbs of grass fed butter and one tbs of MCT oil before blending it up into what I call a ‘Brothuccino’. Finish it off with some salt, cracked pepper and chili flakes and you’ve got a delicious healing keto start to the day!
Recipe for Bone Broth and ‘Brothuccino’
12-18 lbs of Grass fed beef bones (a good assortment of rib, marrow, joint) 12-22 quarts of water (experiment with amounts based on the type of bones you have) 1/3 cup of Apple cider vinegar
2 sticks of organic celery (roughly chopped) 2 large organic carrots (roughly chopped) 3-6 organic bay leaves 1 handful of organic parsley 2 organic sprigs of rosemary 1 bunch of organic thyme 1 large organic onion (roughly chopped) A few organic cloves of garlic
Roast your bones in roasting trays (not aluminum) for 45 minutes to an hour at 500 F or at the hottest temperature your oven will go. While they are cooking fill your pot with water (filtered not tap!) and add the apple cider vinegar. Bring the water to a simmer and carefully add the roasted bones to the pot of water. Simmer the bones for the next 24-36 hours. You will need to intermittently tend the pot for the next hour or so to skim off the foam and any impurities that come to the surface. Keep the bones simmering on low and then add the rest of the ingredients 6 hours or so before the broth is done.
Take off the heat and use whatever method works for you to strain and jar. Once jarred up I use a glass syringe to collect as much fat as I can from the tops of the jars, leaving a small amount to create an airtight seal. I use this fat to cook with only adding a bit of butter now and then for taste. This stuff is much healthier and nutritious than any cooking oil you will buy in the stores. The broth will be good for at least a month in the fridge if you’ve got a good fat seal. I’ve heard (not tried) that it’s actually shelf stable for up to a couple months, use your discretion.
To make the ‘Brothuccino’ you will need
Bone broth Grass fed butter MCT oil Salt, pepper and chili flakes a blender, immersion or regular
Measure out the amount of broth you want, I usually have about 400 ml every day into a saucepan, then add 1 tbs of grass fed butter and 1 tbs of MCT oil. Bring the broth to a simmer, add some salt and then blend it all up. (if you are using a blender for this, please remove the top vent cap from your blender before doing this or you’ll receive a very unpleasant physics lesson). Pour the broth into a mug and add pepper and chili flakes and enjoy!
If you’re new to MCT, go easy to start with as you may experience a little bit of stomach upset until your body gets used to metabolizing fat as a fuel. This small yet nutrition packed meal can keep me going for most of the day and if need be and it’s also great for an afternoon snack when you need a recharge. As for a cold and flu remedy, well I haven’t been sick once since I’ve started drinking bone broth. Last cold and flu season I was surrounded by sick people, I think I felt a tickle in my throat once, I had some broth and laughed it off.
My transition into the healthy person I am today isn’t just about bone broth. I started working out (lifting weights and long-distance running), cut out all sugars and artificial ingredients, stopped drinking alcohol, cut out most carbs and increased my protein and particularly my fat intake. I started eating Kefir yogurt which is packed with probiotics and ironically that's the only thing I eat these days that has contact with grains. It's fascinating to me that instead of eating the grains I now use them to create a probiotic that is helping repair my gut that was probably damaged or at the very least inflamed by eating grains. TV, cable news and toxic people (some might say these 3 are interchangeable) were also removed from my 'diet'. This will be another blog post but I mention it because it was an equally important part of my healing journey. If that old saying ‘You are what you eat’ is true then it stands to reason that we also become the language we hear and use, the people we spend time with and the ideas we nurture and cultivate. We eat vibrations with our ears and devour photons with our eyes. The company of others is food for the soul. Is it any wonder then that we would go mad with no discretion or care over these inputs? One thing I learned alongside my quest for a healthy body is that all stimuli in this world that we are exposed to contribute in some way to our eventual makeup. It’s not just that we are what we eat we literally do become what and who we surround ourselves with. We also can become an entirely new person (sans eyes) in less than 7 years! Realizing my personal responsibility in this way and cleaning up all aspects of my life from food to associations has enabled my success and has given me strength to keep pushing harder.
When I wake up in the morning now it’s with a feeling of optimism and hunger for achieving and building a healthy and wealthy future. The old me used to wake up with a feeling of dread and uncertainty at what my future might bring. I used to fear failure at the expense of trying. Now I crave it because I know it is the best teacher. To me the difference is night and day. The transition was one of being on a runaway train to sitting in back in the driver’s seat being able to see the track ahead. There will still be surprises sure but I’m in control, my fire is stoked with coal and I’m no longer a victim to my own ignorance and inaction. If you sound like the old me, take a good hard look at what you eat, it’s actually the one thing you can control! Make some simple changes and watch how they turn into a snowball of personal development and evolution.