I am always excited to share new and practical ways to bring Younger You principles to your dinner table and/or clinical practice. And this podcast is especially exciting where Jill Sheppard Davenport and I dive into using broths and tonics as health-promoting and healing foods. Yes, these have been part of our natural medicine toolbox for eons, but today we discuss a new spin on this ancient medicine and turn up the volume on superfood and epinutrient ingredients for their myriad health benefits, including bio age reversal properties. We also address important concerns around the potential for bone to harness lead and other toxic metals – so important, we actually researched this very question ourselves, cooking broth from various bone sources and sending it all to the lab for thorough testing. You’ll be relieved by what we discovered – we were!
Intrigued to learn more and start cooking up your own amazing combinations? Preorder your copy of our new book, Better Broths and Healing Tonics today! We have some gifts for you if you do – check show notes for more info. ~DrKF
Add Superfoods and Epinutrients to Any Diet Using Broths and Tonics
Broths and tonics have been used for health and medicinal properties since time immemorial. But is there a way to be even smarter about what we create and use them to harness those benefits, and truly integrate them into our everyday eating?
In this episode of New Frontiers in Functional Medicine®, Jill Sheppard Davenport, CNS, LDN argues compellingly why and how we need to be thinking about these types of foods in an expanded way. She explains broths are not just limited to bone broths for omnivores, but can also be designed for vegans, vegetarians, and for any kind of dietary pattern – incredible! By including ingredients such as green tea and medicinal mushrooms (among many, many others) we can harness the pleiotropic effects of these amazing foods on all bodily systems from cardiovascular to neurological to metabolic and even epigenetic.
In this episode of New Frontiers, learn about:
- Using broths and tonics at home and in clinical practice
- Connections between broth and tonic ingredients and wide-ranging health benefits including epigenetic age reversal
- Harnessing green tea, mushrooms, and various unique ingredients in broths for their specific health effects
- How to use broths and tonics as a base for all meals – even dessert
- “Optimal boosts” to supercharge broth and tonic recipes
- Can we out-supplement a poor diet?
- Is bone broth high in lead or other toxic metals? (spoiler: fortunately, no!)
- Backstory of how and why Jill Sheppard Davenport, with Dr. Fitzgerald and team, investigated mineral and toxic metal content of bone broth, both conventional and organic, homemade and store bought
- Surprising difference between conventional and organic broth that has nothing to do with toxic metals
- Inside scoop on Jill and Dr. Fitzgerald’s new recipe book – Better Broths and Healing Tonics – which has more information and practical advice for using powerful foods at home and in clinic
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald:
Hi, everybody. Welcome to New Frontiers in Functional Medicine where we are interviewing the best minds in functional medicine. And of course today is no exception. I am so excited to be with a graduate of our nutrition program. She’s going to be talking about that. And who’s just really gone on to do some brilliant things. And actually doing some brilliant things with us – we’re going to talk about here today as well. Jill Sheppard Davenport is a Certified Nutrition Specialist, a wellness expert with 20 years of experience directing and implementing health and nutrition initiatives and creating evidence based educational programs and policies. She specializes in nutrition for mental health and nutritional approaches for preventing chronic disease. She consults on food equity and nutrition policy and programming with her consultancy, JustHealth LLC. Jill holds a Master’s of Science in Nutrition from the Maryland University of Integrative Health, a Master’s in Public Policy from the Harvard Kennedy School. She is a state-licensed clinical nutritionist certified by the American Nutrition Association and is a national board certified health and wellness coach. Jill Sheppard Davenport, welcome to New Frontiers.
Jill Sheppard Davenport: Thank you. Thank you so much. I’m really happy to be here and I’m really happy to share about what we’ve created.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: We have a book we’re about to launch folks: Better Broths & Healing Tonics: 75 Bone Broth and Vegetarian Broth Based Recipes for Everyone. I am an author and you will learn that this is a Younger You steeped book, and Jill did the heavy lifting on this book. We’re just going to talk about our whole journey around creating this Younger You companion volume. So Jill, just take us back in time. You were part of the clinic. I think you had completed your training. You were a full nutritionist on our team. And just tell us the story. How we dove into becoming immersed in Better Broths & Healing Tonics.
Jill Sheppard Davenport: Yeah, yeah. Absolutely. It was quite the learning experience, I must say, to be a nutrition resident in your program. And we were constantly using and investigating and researching and then applying the healing power of food with people. And at the same time, we needed to make things doable and easy and form routines with folks so that the healing power of food didn’t become this layer of stress. And so one of the approaches that we used, and I know that you prescribe routinely, are healing broths. And bone broth has just exploded in its popularity. It makes me so happy as a nutritionist to see bone broth appearing in popup stores and like this delicious fad, because it’s this healthy, nutritious food.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: Well, and it’s got this incredibly long history really across the globe, but certainly as a naturopathic physician, it was a foundational treatment in “nature cure”, the very earliest iterations of naturopathic medicine in the earliest prescribers. But yeah, go on.
Jill Sheppard Davenport: Because absolutely bone broth is not this new phenomenon. It’s just being newly discovered or newly appreciated by folks. So it was really neat. We were at this conference together at MUIH, the Maryland University of Integrative Health. My alma mater where I studied nutrition science and got my nutrition masters. And a colleague of ours, and you may want to say more, posed this question.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: That was Deanna Minich. It was Deanna Minich. And she and I were in a Q&A. I think there were actually a few of us on the stage. So we had all presented and then we gathered on the stage for a round of QAs. Okay, keep going.
Jill Sheppard Davenport: Yeah. And Deanna Minich brought up this point around since bones have the capacity to store lead and lead can displace the calcium in bones and harbor and store lead, as we are simmering bones for 20 some odd hours to create this gelatinous, collagen rich gelatin like bone broth, are we potentially exposing our clients inadvertently to lead? So of course, you pressed and had this great idea I think to really take that question further.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: Yeah.
Jill Sheppard Davenport: And as you pointed out … Yeah.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: Well, I’m just thinking … I think that she really stopped me in my tracks. This is an intervention we were using all the time. It’s got a long use history and indeed bone is where we store lead. So if there’s a lead burden, it’s going to eventually get sequestered in the bone. So it really was I think a great cause for a pause. And we have nutrition rounds as a part of our clinic. So every week the physicians and the nutritionists gather and we discuss our patient cases and refine our prescriptions, et cetera. So we do all those standard rounds kind of work together and then we also discuss timely topics. And Jill, I think you and I dove into this. We were inspired by that conference, but also really freaked out. Go ahead.
Jill Sheppard Davenport: Yeah, absolutely. So we would think about the lab work that might come back from menopausal women and thinking about if their lead levels were elevated what’s going on with their bone preservation? And especially if there was a link for them to osteoporosis or osteopenia.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: Right. So increased bone turnover. So it’s almost like what they call a second lead half-life. When bone is breaking down, it could liberate lead and you can actually see high blood levels when there’s a lead burden in the bone and there’s a bone loss process happening. You can pick that up in blood. So it may not be a current exposure. They may not be exposed to lead paint or lead dust or lead in their food or supplements, et cetera. It could literally be a second half-life being liberated from bone.
Jill Sheppard Davenport: Yeah. And so what does this mean if we’re encouraging bone broth? And that was our question. And then I think you posed, well, why don’t we just answer it? Why don’t we come up with a way to study this, send samples into a lab, We wound up looking at not only lead, but we measured 36 other toxic and essential minerals and metals to create-
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: Before you talk about what you did I wanted to say … I’m sorry to cut you off, Jill. We have a really exciting rounds so we have a very exciting, curious, hardworking, motivated team here. And so we were concerned. How could we prescribe bone broth in good faith if we really don’t know the answer? And we were using it routinely. And so I said that we would fund it. That the clinic would fund this investigation if somebody was willing to take it up. And this is no small undertaking, right Jill? Conducting research like this is not … It’s not a few hours on the weekend. It’s a long journey. And it’s actually a journey that grew ultimately into this book and you’ll tell us about that. But I was of course, just absolutely thrilled and grateful for your excitement behind the project and your willingness, with the support of the nutrition team in general, to take this up. And so you did and tell us what you did.
Jill Sheppard Davenport: Yeah, yeah. I must say I clearly remember that after we finished that grand rounds, I opened my freezer and I saw it just filled with bones and I thought, “Huh. Do I need to just put them aside for a while?” And honestly, I did. I don’t know if I mentioned that, but after we started discussing this, I felt a little bit wary. And so I put my bones aside because I wanted to really know … I needed to know the results.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: Yeah. That makes sense. I bet that if we looked at nutrition prescriptions during that early time, there was a drop in using broths in our team.
Jill Sheppard Davenport: I bet.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: Okay. Well keep going.
Jill Sheppard Davenport: That’d be funny. So yeah, it wasn’t a small undertaking. We needed to think about … Even when the data came back, after we thought about what the appropriate samples were, it’s not like a lab report’s going to spit out normal ranges for what we should find in bone broth. So the big work was also contextualizing the data and figuring out what was okay and what was not okay.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: How to interpret it. Yeah. So first talk about what you looked at, what you researched, what you finally decided to do, and then talk about the findings.
Jill Sheppard Davenport: Okay. Sure. What we did was we sent in samples of three types of broth, all beef for consistency. And then we also sent in a sample to the lab of hydrolyzed beef collagen powder because so many folks are using it as a shortcut to eating broth or a simple addition to their smoothies and things like that. So let’s talk about the three samples. The first was store bought beef broth, organic and grass fed from the brand Kettle & Fire. Which just as an aside, I think that for our book Better Broths, it really does make a great alternative to homemade bone broth. I can’t say that about all (brands). A lot of them don’t have great flavor. But if you want to save a step and use a store bought bone broth, I really do like Kettle & Fire, which is why selfishly I wanted to include it in our sample.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: Good job.
Jill Sheppard Davenport: So then the second was a homemade. So beef broth made with bones from grass fed organically raised cows sourced from a place nearby me where I was buying bones. From a farm in Maryland. And let me just say thank goodness for these local farms or maybe I should call them ranches. Because it’s this huge labor of love. And so I really wanted to know what was being produced there.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: Do they know? Have you ever told them that we did this?
Jill Sheppard Davenport: Yes. Yes.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: We need to send them some books.
Jill Sheppard Davenport: We do. We do.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: Love on them a little bit.
Jill Sheppard Davenport: We do. And they’re actually excited about putting it out in their newsletter. They’re really happy that we chose them.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: And who are they? What is the name of this farm?
Jill Sheppard Davenport: This is Nick’s Organic Farm in Maryland. Nick Maravell is just … He’s a wonderful guy and he really takes pride in doing the best by his cows and by the people that he supports. And he’s so great because you can get organ meat. You can get so much from him.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: People are going to want to know whether he ships. Does he ship? Are they big enough?
Jill Sheppard Davenport: No. No. No.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: It’s just local.
Jill Sheppard Davenport: Actually it’s really quite small. So folks, don’t crowd him with requests. Yeah, he’s small and he does just a huge, huge labor of love. And just as another aside, what I really appreciate about folks like him is that they often sell bones in bulk so that they are much more affordable to buy. The price could be $2 a pound as opposed to at the farmer’s market, where in DC it can be $7 a pound. A huge shout out. I really appreciate the contribution of local producers and all their work.
So that was the second sample. The homemade beef bone broth made with bones from grass fed organically raised cows. And then (for the third sample) we grabbed some bones from conventionally raised cows. Just literally took them off the supermarket shelf at a nearby grocery store in DC. And then the fourth, as I mentioned, was we did a sample with hydrolyzed beef collagen powder. And for that, we used the brand Great Lakes Wellness collagen powder.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: And the grocery store was just a regular store. It wasn’t a Whole Foods selling-
Jill Sheppard Davenport: Yeah. Just a totally regular grocery store. Yeah. And that was the point. To just grab what someone might grab.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: Our patient who we’re prescribing to.
Jill Sheppard Davenport: Yeah. Yeah. And someone who might not have access or means to make their way over to get an organic source. So we really wanted to cover our bases there too.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: Important. Really important.
Jill Sheppard Davenport: Yeah.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: All right. So what did you find?
Jill Sheppard Davenport: Yeah. This was exciting. And again, there was this moment before opening the results where it was just a thud in my stomach. I didn’t know, because we’ve been prescribing, I’ve been drinking bone broth. So what-
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: Are we riddled with lead now or cadmium or … Yeah. Yeah.
Jill Sheppard Davenport: Exactly.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: It was scary.
Jill Sheppard Davenport: Exactly, exactly. So I’ll cut to the chase so no one else has to experience that thud. We were really, really happy. Really pleased with what we found. Of the 19 toxic metals we tested, including lead, all were either non-existent or just really far below our concern threshold based on scientific standards and also compared to the content of lead in the rest of the food supply. And I don’t say that lightly. It was a real investigation to look at, all right, what are the limits set by the FDA? And we looked at the EPA and we looked at USDA and we looked the American Academy of Pediatrics and we looked at food market basket data to do these comparisons and to figure out that when it came to lead and other toxic metals, bone broth is an excellent, very clean food source.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: And we did have a couple of scientists hop onto our rounds and talk through our data with us so that we knew we were looking at it from all angles.
Jill Sheppard Davenport: Yeah. And that was so very valuable because we wanted to be rigorous with this. We knew this was a pilot study. We knew that we’re only looking at a certain number of samples, but we wanted to really do the hard work to analyze and make sure that whatever message we put out there was just thoroughly, thoroughly assessed.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: And as usual … Yeah. you thoroughly assessed this. You thoroughly assessed it. And you can talk about the first document that you created. And if you want to give a shout out to any of the other team members who helped you, please do. But I want to say, as usual, the Institute for Functional Medicine embraced the work that we were doing as they really have been for years now, and you got to present there. I think that this work has not only eased our minds and the minds of our patients here in our clinic, but more broadly other providers who follow what we’re doing accessed this document. And regular people who pay attention to what we’re doing were able to access this document that you wrote up. And you did a beautiful job. And it was just a really well attended presentation at IFM.
I was so proud of you and just so thrilled that we had taken this on and that we were able to give people good news. Even the very standard industrial raised bones were clean. One could use them. So tell more about your whole journey and then creating the document. We didn’t publish on this, but you said to me really off the record, the difference in smell of the broths that you were creating so I want you to say it here and then continue with your story.
Jill Sheppard Davenport: Oh yeah. Yeah. I know that this really stood out to you. What’s nice is that we … Just as a step back, we looked at toxic metals and minerals and essentials. So we knew that this wasn’t a study looking at pesticides or other chemicals that might make their way into conventionally sourced bones. And so we didn’t have that data. That wasn’t the point. We were really looking at it from another lens. But I did mention to you and our group on grand rounds that … These bones, we were slow cooking them in my house for 20 plus hours, which is a really nice way to make a very gelatinous broth that is just infused with so many of the positive properties of broth, which we can get into if that’s helpful. And so for 20 hours, I would experience the cooking of each of these broths. And the one that was from the organic conventionally raised, it had a very nice … And folks will know this out there. It just had a very nice, even at moments almost sweet aroma. And you would really describe it as having a nice aroma.
And unfortunately, with the conventional bones, it did not have an aroma. Let’s just call it a smell. The house smelled. And I had never … Since I have been fortunate enough to have this great local source of affordable grass fed organically raised bones, this was literally the first time where I had lovingly cooked overnight bone broth made from conventional bones. And it had this odor. I hate to use this word, but it was a bit putrid. It did not smell good. So I was happy and so were my family when those particular 20 hours were over.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: Yeah. I know that really, really, really struck me as you know. So again, clean as far as the metal content, but as you point out the organotoxins weren’t assessed. The metalotoxin’s were. Plus the minerals. The metalo minerals, the essential minerals were assessed. So yeah. We don’t know what influenced that odor. Could it have been pesticides… Maybe it was just the different food used. I don’t know. Tell me really quick … I know we’re digressing here a little bit, but as you say things, it just brings up more questions. I know that people are going to want to know just briefly how you do your bone broths. How you cook, how you make them.
Jill Sheppard Davenport: Oh yeah. Well-
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: It’s obviously in the book.
Jill Sheppard Davenport: Yeah. There’s some great recipes in the book, but I do have a technique. I really like the most nutrient dense collagen filled gelatinous broth. So what I’ll do is … I’m usually using a multi cooker. I personally really, really have loved my Instant Pot. And I know I’m not the only one out there. So I will very densely pack my bones in first into the base of the multi cooker. And it really only takes a minute, but it makes such a difference in the broth. Then I’ll tuck in my different vegetables that I’m going to add and then top it off with whatever herbs and spices that I want and then fill it with water. And what’s the difference between how someone else might do it? Well, if you jigsaw puzzle in, you can fit a lot more bones. And then if you do that, if you start with the bones as opposed to just pushing them down on top of your celery or your onions or whatever, you just get a lot more bone in your broth. So that’s why I like to set the stage and then tuck in the vegetables in all the little spaces around them.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: And then what do you use on your Instant Pot? Your settings?
Jill Sheppard Davenport: Well, I personally typically use that slow cooker setting and what I like to do is … And a big premise out of Better Broths & Healing Tonics, a big, big part is how do we make eating this way, eating for our epigenome and eating for all these other health benefits that we can get through food, how do we make it doable? And so what I like to do is while I’m cooking dinner, kind of thing, I’ll just get my broth set up, fill it up with water and then press slow cook. And then sometime the next day it’ll go off and it’s ready. And so it’s a 10 minutes of hands on time ordeal. That’s pretty much it.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: Yeah. Amazing. And rest assured, all of these pearls from Jill and from our whole team made it into the book. And I also want to say that every broth can be dense with epi-nutrients. These are absolutely Younger You approved. So if you’re in love with the Younger You recipes and you want an easy way to get your targets, this is it. And to that point, Jill, we’re a real live clinic. And I want to underline something that you said earlier, and that is, it’s got to be a potently effective, nutritionally, dense food that we’re prescribing for people but it has to, has to, has to 100% be easy. And who among us can’t pack their Instant Pot with bones and hit play and go? All right. So where are we in our conversation? We’ve digressed on top of digressions.
Jill Sheppard Davenport: I think the point that you just made about how … I mean this Better Broths book really is created to purposefully incorporate those Younger You program’s epinutrients. So I think that’d be fun to talk about. How the methyl donors and the DNA methylation adaptogens are streaming through this whole book.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: Yeah. We do some pretty amazing stuff here at this clinic. Before we had actually dove into researching whether there was a toxic burden in bones, we had created and launched with our … Me along with Romilly Hodges, who was our nutrition director when we were working on this better broths project as well. Romilly Hodges. It was actually about 2013 and ’14 that she and I first started to talk about epigenetics and how we needed to think about that through a functional lens. It was very impactful for me as I was reading the research. Most of the studies are still on cancer and especially at that time, they were coming out on epigenetics. This is gene regulation. So what genes are on and what genes are off. Study after study after study showing that the tumor micro environment very efficiently hijacks gene expression from us and turns off protective genes and turns on oncogenes or cancer promoting genes. It’s pretty horrible.
And this is the case in all of the chronic diseases. And in fact, aging itself has this unfortunate pattern of dysregulation of gene expression. And the epigenome is regulated by us. Our life choices influence the pattern of gene expression that we then present with. So we sit in the driver’s seat of whether or not we’re engaging in the healthiest gene expression or a gene expression pattern that will drive disease. And so the Better Broths and Healing Tonics book was born out of … Not born out of, but it came on the shoulders of us doing this work. And so Romilly and I created what was called at that time, the Methylation Diet and Lifestyle Program. So we came up with this epi-nutrient program. And everybody can read the details in Younger You. But also lifestyle. So we knew that sleep influences epigenetic expression. If you’re not sleeping, then you’re driving disease via changes to gene expression or exercise of course is essential. Stress reduction. So there was a meditation component in this program.
So we built all of this out behind the scenes. Of course, we used it in our clinic and you were versed in it as a nutrition resident here and then later a full nutritionist here in our clinic. We were all using it. And so our brains were just swimming in the knowledge of the Methylation Diet and Lifestyle and we were using it in clinical practice. It turns out that a lot of the nutrients, and you can speak to these, these epi-nutrients, these nutrients that favorably regulate gene expression are nutrients that we’ve been using in functional medicine for time immemorial. They’re nutrients that have very long use histories and traditional medicines. Things like green tea or curcumin or luteolin or resveratrol or fruits and veggies like blueberries or cruciferous, et cetera.
So a lot of these nutrients, we know them to be valuable for a lot of reasons and here it turns out that a big role of why they’re so beneficial is that they regulate gene expression. And so our clinic was in this mode of really thinking about epigenetics at the time that you took on this study. And I should say, at the time that we were doing the Methylation Diet and Lifestyle Clinical practice, there was no evidence that biological age could be reversed or slowed in humans. Those studies weren’t out yet. The first study didn’t come out until 2019. We were already researching ours and what would happen to epigenetic expression in 2018. We knew those biological age clocks were available. These clocks look at patterns of gene expression. So they were of course included in our study or at least the flagship Horvath clock was included in our study. But there was no human evidence that these could be changed.
And so when we published our findings and saw that we were able to slow or even reverse biological age in our study participants using this program, as compared to the control groups, it was big news. It was huge and it was just in eight weeks’ time. It was very, very exciting. So that was the backstory and Romilly and I were doing that. And again, IFM supported us and I presented that. Actually Romilly and I presented together at the Institute for Functional Medicine. We presented in Ireland, at the late great Maeve Craven’s IFM annual program, in South Africa and Australia.
Functional medicine clinicians were really interested in the Methylation Diet and Lifestyle. And then we were given an unrestricted grant to hire a clinical research center. And we hired Helfgott Research Institute in Portland. That unrestricted grant came from Metagenics. I’m forever grateful to them and to Brent Eck and the scientific team there in allowing us to research that. So that was happening when you were doing this. I think all of that was percolating in the background. But certainly you were influenced by that and our dietary prescriptions to patients and clients were definitely influenced by “let’s pack our foods with these epi-nutrients.” So this book is a beautiful companion volume and extension of that body of knowledge, of how to influence DNA methylation using food.
Jill Sheppard Davenport: And how inspiring the results of your study. As you mentioned, it was three years in just eight weeks. This is a big deal. And then when we think about, if this becomes a lifestyle change, what is that going to add up to? And as you always point out, it’s not just about lifespan, but it’s about aging well. And so using all the epi-nutrients that you put out through your Younger You program to promote longevity and that healthy, as you say, that healthy epigenetic expression so that we can avoid aging into disease.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: Yeah, that’s right. And just one other thing, because it’s … Just forgive me anybody. So we were given three book deals from major publishing houses at the same time. And Romilly (Hodges) is our nutrition director emeritus at this point because she was given a book deal at the same time. She created a book called Immune Resilience and I highly, highly, highly recommend it.
Jill Sheppard Davenport: Ditto.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: And we were given a contract for Younger You and Better Broths and Healing Tonics so it was an extraordinary time in our clinic when we were recognized for the work that we were doing here in the form of three major publishing house contracts, amazingly. All right. So where are we? Where are we in our story?
Jill Sheppard Davenport: Well, and just on that point, I mean, I think that this work really does take a village. I was just thinking about how it was Doctor’s Data who were willing to work with us on the bone broth study and use their lab expertise to allow us to have the robust data that we then analyze.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: David Quig, their chief scientific officer, joined us many a time in rounds and outside of rounds to help us really grok what we were looking at.
Jill Sheppard Davenport: Yeah. I think so much support and of birthing or bringing into the world all of this really, really powerful information. And I just love how you talk about that we have our DNA and that’s not changeable, but the proteins created from instructions provided by our genes, that’s modifiable. How it all change impacts our risk for developing certain diseases. There’s so much of it that’s under our control. And so this cookbook that we created, Better Broths & Healing Tonics, has that understanding at the center. We’re purposefully incorporating as many of the Younger You program’s methyl donors and DNA methylation adaptogens as possible to really promote that longevity and that healthy epigenetic expression. And so just to give folks a look, if this is helpful, into the nuts and bolts of what you can expect, what we do is atop each recipe, we list these donors and we list these adaptogens. And it’s a quick guide for those following the Younger You program.
And we hope that it helps dazzle people into cooking the recipes because they can see all that it has. All that they have. And then we share other health benefits, the lots of ways that these foods work together to act as medicine. And then right there in the opening, we take some time. We cover the science of, I think it’s 18 different foods in the better healing ingredients section, where we talk about some of the mechanisms and some of the research that ties in. And there’s this heavy emphasis on the use of epi-nutrients, as we said, and as polyphenols. And I think it might be fun to talk a little bit about what we’re doing and how we’re using some of the, I think, really powerful, functionally useful polyphenols.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: I thought you did, all of us, but you spearheaded it and the team worked with you and I was in the mix editing and adding and so forth, but there’s plenty to geek out in here for the scientist. Indeed, there’s that beautiful intro section on the various nutrients and what they do. And it’s very well cited. It’s very well referenced. You don’t need to use that. You don’t need to go through that section to make a frankly ass kicking broth. And this could be a vegan broth if you don’t use animal products. We should emphasize that. That this is as vegan friendly as it is to those who eat animal products. And you don’t need to geek out there if you don’t want to, but for those of you who want a little bit more of the science behind the nutrients, you’ve got it. And then take us through this Better Broth and Healing Tonics structure and why it is … I think we’ve already talked about why it’s a next generation broth book, just looking at it through the epi-nutrient lens, but just how it’s structured. It’s such a smart book for really building a food as medicine broth.
Jill Sheppard Davenport: One thing that is really coming to mind as I hear you speak is that I think sometimes we might think, is there really a “there” there to this whole food as medicine business? If you’re getting a little bit of this and a little bit of that, and just going back to the phytonutrient polyphenol group, it quickly adds up. We’re eating tiny doses of these nutrients consumed regularly and in combination is important. Because the variety and the frequency are what the scientific community is discovering it takes for them to have these neuroprotective and cardiovascular and genetically positive effects. And as you mentioned, all the research on cancer.
So maybe just to walk us through an example. Let’s say you’re looking for digestion and gut health support. It’s maybe sooth gas, bloating, stomach cramps, or you’re looking to get your digestive juices flowing, maybe stimulate some appetite. It’s really simple, but powerful. You can turn to our herbal trio infusion and it’s got rosemary and basil and sweet marjoram for the benefits that the components in these herbs are providing. Another, I think, neat example … And as you mentioned, this was a project built with so much support from the nutrition residents on the team. And one of the nutrition residents was also a physical therapist. And so we were batting around this idea and some of the research on how in the literature EGCG from green tea when combined with glycine was really supporting arthritis outcomes.
And so if you’re looking to support your tendons and your joints and support arthritis and connective tissue, we developed this neat way where you’re using broth, which is of course quite heavy in glycine, and the benefit of the EGCG in green tea to create this powerful, very nice infusion. And of course it’s knowing that these foods have pleiotropic effects. So they’re working on several pathways at once to accomplish all these benefits for our health. So green tea is also … It’s anti-cancer. It’s anti-inflammatory. And as I know you love that long steep for its powerful role as a DNA methylation adaptogen. So there’s a lot going on in that simple cup that just takes a couple moments to make really.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: Yeah. All right. So just keep going through the structure of the book. Let’s just spend a couple minutes on how one could use it, how one could think about it.
Jill Sheppard Davenport: Yeah. On how it’s set up. Yeah. Yeah. While we were just on green tea for a minute there, there was a study that really spoke to me as we were considering this. So I’d like to just say another word or two about green tea, if we can, and then dive in to the structure. So a big passion of mine, as you mentioned, is nutrition for mental health. And one study that I found so interesting was among elderly adults in Japan. And they drank four cups of green tea per day. And while it is a lot of tea, for sure, the finding was that those who did experienced half of the depression symptoms compared to those who drank less than a cup a day. And I mean, depression cut in half, that’s huge.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: It’s extraordinary. Yeah.
Jill Sheppard Davenport: Yeah. And of course it’s not the be all and end all for depression for everyone, of course. But this was after controlling for other health and diet and lifestyle factors. And the mechanism there is that it’s neuroprotective. It’s protecting lipids in the brain from seriously damaging neuro inflammation. So I like to bring these points in and we do weave them through the book to really help people understand them. When it comes to food as medicine, there’s a really strong research base and we know a lot about the mechanisms and about how they work.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: And to your point, to your earlier point, just to underline it, a frequent exposure of multiple synergistic, low dose nutrients is how we evolved. These nutrients will influence many, many as pleiotropic, many, many nodes in physiology in a much different way than a single isolated drug can. Just really arguably more powerful with a lasting impact and an impact we’re just beginning to unfold. We need really sophisticated technology to be able to study the profound, far reaching pleiotropic effect of multiple nutrients that comprise a well-designed broth or a well-designed salad or a well-designed soup. So truly food is medicine is very, very powerful and far reaching medicine. So I just wanted to underscore that.
Jill Sheppard Davenport: No, thank you. That’s such an important point. We do get this question. Can I just take supplements? And we are using supplements in careful, very specific ways to achieve a certain purpose of course, in practice. But I think the message, and I appreciate the underscore here, is that we can’t supplement our way around a deficient or unvaried or inflammatory diet. There’s just too much in food to make that possible.
And honestly, there’s too much that we don’t know, like you said, about what’s in food to be able to isolate all the benefits in the supplements. And there are other factors beyond that, I think. We have taste receptors that play a role in, say, stimulating digestion. So we need to taste this food. We need to chew it. And there’s this combination and balance that nutrients go through when they interact with our gut microbiome.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: That’s right.
Jill Sheppard Davenport: Or phase one and phase two of bio transformation in our liver and cell signaling and interactions between and among cells that are going to change activity at receptor levels and signal just this communication between cells. I was just at the playground just the other day, talking with parents about the choices for their kids food at school and I only had a moment and this was probably the wrong soundbite, but I was trying to explain that food is communication. That food communicates to our cells to produce certain results. And that sent people off to go play on the slide.
But it’s really amazing. It’s really amazing. And so I guess what I’m saying is that we do certainly recommend well-chosen supplements for specific health reasons, just like food is more than the sum of macro and micronutrients of course, it’s also more than even a short list or a long list of its various constituents.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: So two things that I want you to talk about as we really head down the home stretch here. The book is way more than Better Broths & Healing Tonics. So there are broths. It’s the anchor. And then we’ve got these beautiful infusions of tonics. We’ve got blends. There are soups. And then there are mains. We’ve got a whole bunch of main recipes that people can use. There are sides. There’s sweets and treats. We have sweet broths and savory broths. Vegan as well as meat based broths. So this book is taking the broth concept and then expanding it so that we’re exposed to those important nutrients in all of our meals. So I want you to talk about that. And then one thing that we did with Younger You … And this is because we’re in a clinic practice. So everything that we’re doing always is born out of clinic practice. The Younger You program, you can take the epi-nutrient concepts and layer that into any dietary pattern.
We have plenty of patients here who have food allergies and food intolerances or they’re histamine intolerant, or they’re doing a keto or they’re grain free, or they’re on a specific carbohydrate diet because they have inflammatory bowel disease, et cetera, et cetera. So there’s many different dietary patterns that we might be prescribing in our clinic and we always layer the Younger You principles. Now, likewise, this book is designed to use these concepts in whatever dietary pattern somebody’s consuming. So speak to that. So speak to the structure of the book, some of the cool recipes and how we’re taking broths out of soup and out of the mug and bringing it elsewhere and then how this book is designed to be able to be used with any dietary pattern.
Jill Sheppard Davenport: Yeah. Sure, sure. Okay. What we have in the book is a better broths system. All recipes or almost all of our recipes start with broth and you can use bone broth made of beef or chicken or vegetables, and we even have a really great mushroom broth. And so what happens is you use this as a base and then it goes into places where broth may have not gone before. And we created, as you mentioned, sweet variations too so that we can have broth in a delicious warm smoothie, which by the way, is so much easier on digestion sometimes.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: Or a chocolate mousse.
Jill Sheppard Davenport: Or a chocolate mousse or in our desserts. You mentioned our sweet broth and it’s not sugary sweet. I just want to set expectations. It’s this delicious broth that can be used in sweet foods and sweets and treats. So it’s got cinnamon and cloves and nutmeg. And what else? It’s got orange peel and carrots and apple. It works great in these sweets. And then thinking about what’s in it, with every bite you’re getting, depending upon how you make it, choline and B12 and folate as methyl donors, and you’re getting the catechins and cysteine and quercetin with the apple in there and kaempferol from cinnamon and cloves and then more catechins in the nutmeg.
Honestly, that’s the short list. And then plus with those spices that will make it into your sweet treat or your warm smoothie blend, you have antimicrobial and antifungal properties with the cinnamon supporting blood sugar balance. So everything was crafted very purposefully so that when we use these broths in a sweet dish, it provides the nutrients and also a base of protection for our health. And maybe the best part is that when you cook that particular broth, any of our sweet broths, your whole house will smell like apple pie. It’s just so good.
And then I mentioned the mushroom broth, and I don’t want to give it short shrift. I think it’s a really great and useful broth. One of our recipe testers mentioned that she doesn’t really love the texture of mushrooms. And we know because mushrooms have so many wonderful aspects to them for our health that we needed to just have a mushroom broth for those people who want to infuse it on a regular basis, but also for those people for whom or those kiddos for whom there might not be a love with the texture. So I really appreciated that feedback. And what’s great is that many of the vitamins in mushrooms, they’re water soluble so they’re going into the broth. So we can think about zinc and selenium, B vitamins.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: Folate, choline. Yeah.
Jill Sheppard Davenport: Yeah, yeah.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: Mushrooms are the vegan’s answer to liver, which we have amazing pates in this book too, by the way, for those liver eaters, which is a super food. It’s in our dynamic dozen for the Younger You. So are shiitake mushrooms. And enoki, maitake, many other mushrooms could have made our dynamic dozen, but we limited it to shiitake so that it wasn’t the dynamic mushroom dozen.
Jill Sheppard Davenport: I love that you just want to make sure you give even credit. And I do too. And there’s so many benefits, so it might look simple, but there’s benefits coming from secondary metabolites and there’s benefits coming from the fiber, the beta glucan. And you can make this broth with shiitake. And if you do, you’ll get that nice regular dose of ergothioneine which is protective against heart disease and cognitive decline. And it works on lowering levels of homocysteine so it’s supporting that global methylation as well as DNA methylation, which you could say loads about. And it has anti-tumor activity. While we’re here, another study that I thought was particularly compelling found that men who ate mushrooms three or more times a week lowered their prostate cancer risk by nearly 20%. And this was regardless of what else they ate. And that’s not all. And I feel like a game show host explaining your prizes, but that’s not all. If you use shiitake, it can help decrease unhealthy cholesterol. There’s a substance called eritadenine. And I always wonder if I’m saying that right. And it works by shuttling extra cholesterol from our bloodstream by stimulating tissue uptake.
And there are other unique benefits for insulin resistance and PCOS if you use some maitake just to give some equal credit. And benefits for memory and cognition, if you use lion’s mane and lots of benefits, even just from that simple white cremini button mushroom. Okay. So you can tell we’re enthusiastic about broths and I hope that folks will try them out.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: Just talk a little bit about how we can layer these into other dietary patterns. Each recipe is … Not only are the health benefits and the Younger You epi-nutrients spotlighted, but how they can use it or what dietary … Actually, how to structure it so that it can fit into your dietary pattern and what dietary patterns we have at baseline. So just speak about that.
Jill Sheppard Davenport: Sure, sure. And then with that, getting back to what this better broth system is. So what we do is we share with people how to make one or two of these broths for use in dishes all week. So you get these micro exposures, this enormous range of nutrients and benefits in Younger You foods all week. So let’s say if you’re a man living with a family history of prostate cancer, you might be interested in using our mushroom broth a lot as you cook your foods or using it with our mixed mushroom side dish, which just takes a few minutes to make. It starts with a broth and then we use the broth as a base ingredient for almost all of our recipes. And then the recipes themselves are purposefully designed and layering in nutrients that work together to produce a certain health effect or a certain result.
So everything was created very, very purposefully. And I’ll say that we’re doing bone, but vegetable broth for two reasons. Getting to that point you’re making about this is really for everybody. We wanted the recipes to be accessible to all kinds of eaters. So vegetarian and vegan. So most of our recipes are suitable, if you’re using our vegetable broths. And thinking about, we want people to use a variety of broths so that they’re not just consuming (even though we love it) bone broth over and over to help balance the acidity of meat with these more alkaline properties of vegetables and also herbs and spices so the body doesn’t have to use its mineral reserves in bones, for instance.
So you start with broth and then you can add in an optional boost of flavor and nutrition. And so these are combinations. We wanted to make the broths simple and doable and with a very broad flavor profile so you can use them in just tons and tons of recipes. And if you so choose, you can add in an “optional boost” and that’s going to provide additional flavor profile and nutrition. And we went back and forth on this concept. On do we make the front part of the book a collection of 10 different broths? It just seemed overwhelming so we landed on this way of designing “boosts” of spices and herbs and other nutrients and mushrooms so that people can tailor and customize. So that’s really the point of the boosts and this whole mix and match system that we have.
One boost that I love is our mushroom, rosemary and garlic boost. It’s really a Younger You longevity boost. It’s got mushrooms and garlic and ginger and turmeric. What else? It’s got pepper and some optional kombu seaweed and the all-important rosemary. And if you use bone broth, there’ll be some fat in there which can help with the absorption and the utilization of some of these polyphenols in there. So what you get if you stream that through your soups and your stir fries and your risotto and your mains and even your herbal infusions or your poached salmon, you get the benefit of all of these Younger You epi-nutrients and all of their health benefits in basically every meal you eat. So I just also appreciate you layering all that out in Younger You. In your book.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: Yeah. I would argue that really all of these are longevity promoting. It would be fun to look at biological age at baseline and then after somebody who’s really used this system for a while and test a follow up bioage.
Jill Sheppard Davenport: Uh-oh, I hear a study coming on. And while we’re on this point of that you can stream the broths through and you can combine all of these different foods with the different broths and with the boosts and we really do make it simple and we lay out how it gets done. But we have this really fun table that lets you know which broths and boosts tastes best and with which recipes which was no small feat because this meant testing over 900 broth and recipe combinations.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: Huge. Huge.
Jill Sheppard Davenport: I want to give a shout out here to Gretchen DePalma who was just a key partner with us on Better Broths from beginning to end, who really helped with the management of a good amount of this testing and just so appreciate her support and her contribution. And I also need to thank my husband, Lee, who ate endless versions of these recipes with me for a year. And it was also just so fun to help with actually creating and cooking this stuff.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: Everybody remembers this fondly. I know you’re not with us in the clinic anymore, but we were just talking about the whole journey of doing all of the tasting of those 900 combinations and people really remember it fondly. I want to say also, just going back to the different dietary patterns, all the broths are tagged according to whether they’re gluten free, whether they’re vegan, whether they’re vegetarian, if they work in the autoimmune paleo plan or if they’re paleo, if they’re keto, et cetera, et cetera. And Younger You. That’s actually a feature tag in many of the recipes. Are they dairy free, et cetera? Oh, and FODMAP. So we’ve got low FODMAP tagged as well. So again, if you’re on a therapeutic dietary plan, you can 100% use this book. You can bring this book to your nutritionist or your physician. This can absolutely be a part of your eating program as you’re healing, as you’re on your healing journey. In fact, that’s how we use it in our clinic practice.
Jill Sheppard Davenport: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. We’ve tagged everything really carefully. And then we’ve also put in variations for folks. So if they are avoiding FODMAPs and the recipe has onion as we can convert or make a recipe modifiable, we’ve done that thinking for you and laid it out because we really, really wanted these recipes to be accessible for everyone. And I remember when I was on my own healing journey and I had stacks and stacks of cookbooks based on whatever therapeutic diet I was on at the time. And it was just really challenging. Each time I needed to incorporate something else in terms of a therapeutic diet or a specific dietary strategy, I needed to figure out what I was going to cook. And so this was my answer to that. We wanted to put out something that would be able to walk the journey with people. So everything is dairy and gluten free. So you can expect that of every recipe. And then the vast majority just are going to be appropriate for an AIP protocol or ketogenic or paleo or low FODMAP or whatever folks are doing.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: And again, Younger You. These are all Younger You approved. Well, Jill, listen, it was awesome to get to have this conversation with you. Congratulations. I’m so excited about this absolutely exquisite book. And I just look forward to its launch. People who are listening, if you pre-order the book, and we’ll give a shout out on the show notes page as well, there are gifts that will be coming your way for supporting us in this. So you can head over to wherever books are sold. You can go pre-order online at wherever you buy your books. Of course, Amazon has it, Barnes and Noble, et cetera, Target. Wherever you might go. And pre-order it. Just hang onto your receipt. And you can submit your receipt to us and we’ll send some recipes. We’ll give you some cool information exclusive because you are supporting us in the pre-order journey. Jill, any just final thoughts from you on this? And are you ready to dive into the book release journey?
Jill Sheppard Davenport: I don’t know. I don’t know. I’ll tell you one thing that I’m really excited about. And I hope that folks out there who buy the book share it with someone who’s not maybe in the functional medicine or functional nutrition space. I really hope that that can be part of the spread of this information and how we influence really I think what is becoming this national conversation around food as medicine. There’s this whole movement that I love. It’s really focused on health equity and access. And a big part of this came out of what the COVID-19 pandemic revealed as these major cracks in our food system and in people’s financial security. Their ability to buy healthy food. So that really helped spur this whole movement on. And so this national Food is Medicine movement, it’s focused on things like … And folks maybe familiar with this. It’s focused on things like medically tailored meals and on produce prescriptions. And they’re used in healthcare settings or food pantries or community health centers. And in some cases, and isn’t this great, covered by Medicaid or Medicare or insurance.
So it’s definitely an awesome movement headed in the right direction. And I would just love for us to be able to be that bridge builder between this public health effort that’s hugely needed and the nutritional biochemistry aspects that we’ve just been chatting about around food as medicine. Because for instance, the medically tailored meals, they are designed around calories and protein and fat and cholesterol and fiber and a few vitamins and minerals. And they’re being studied in terms of effectiveness and cost savings. And I would just love for us to be able to influence what’s going on there in terms of programming and investment and policy so that we can begin to have medically tailored meals for hypertension that’ll include the betaine in beets, which serves as that great methyl donor. And celery, which supports blood pressure as it relaxes the artery walls. And so really blending these two concepts so that we’re all really utilizing the very, very best of food as medicine.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: That’s great. That’s a whole other conversation that maybe we can circle back to or a blog topic, because it is true that we may get insurance or we may get Medicare coverage for food as medicine for some of these dietary prescriptions. Yeah. It’s just an important happening that’s in the public space right now.
All right, Jill. I want to just say thanks again. Thanks for joining me on New Frontiers. I’m really, really excited about this book. Folks, thanks for joining us also, and just stay in touch with us, ping us and let us know when you buy your pre-order. Send us your receipt and we’ll give you a whole bunch of goodies.
Jill Sheppard Davenport: Such a delight. Thank you so much for having me with you.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: You’re welcome.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: As always, thank you for listening to New Frontiers in Functional Medicine, where our sponsors help bring the very best minds in functional medicine, and today is no exception. Not everyone can be a sponsor on my platform, and I so appreciate the good work, relentless research, and generous support from my friends at Biotics, TA Sciences, and Integrative Therapeutics. These are brands I know and trust in my own clinic and can confidently recommend to you. Visit them at BioticsResearch.com, TASciences.com, and IntregrativePro.com, and please, tell them you learned about them on New Frontiers.
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Jill Sheppard Davenport is Certified Nutrition Specialist, and wellness expert, with twenty years of experience directing and implementing health and nutrition initiatives, crafting related public policies, and creating evidenced-based educational programs. She specializes in nutrition for mental health, and nutritional approaches for preventing chronic disease at her clinical practice in the Washington, DC area, she consults on food equity and nutrition policy and programming with her consultancy, Just Health LLC. Jill holds a Master of Science in Nutrition from the Maryland University of Integrative Health, a Master of Public Policy from the Harvard Kennedy School, is a state-licensed clinical nutritionist certified by the American Nutrition Association and is a National Board-Certified Health and Wellness Coach. She’s served on the Washington, DC Board of Dietetics and Nutrition Regulations Subcommittee, and the American Nutrition Association Scope of Practice Task Force, and has developed professional training programs for practitioners on the connections between nutrition and mental health. She completed her nutrition residency with the Sandy Hook Clinic and worked with us for several years as a functional nutritionist, and along with me, is co-author of Better Broths and Healing Tonics.