The power of food can go either way, good or bad. Even with great intentions. Take bone broth for example. Many practitioners have been recommending bone broth to improve immune function, heal gut wall health and deliver all kinds of beneficial nutrients. But there can be issues that we didn’t plan on, not due to the benefits of the food, but because of the toxic environment, the food comes from. The environment is part of our food.

Bones store lead, as well as other heavy metals. When cooked, these metals are released, even from organic bones. All bones, even organic bones, sequester heavy metals. Yeeech.

The preparation and consumption of bone broth is being increasingly recommended to patients as part of the gut and psychology syndrome (GAPS) diet for autism, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, dyslexia, dyspraxia, depression, gut diseases, schizophrenia, and also as part of the Paleo diet.

Recently, I interviewed Dr. Seneff, a senior scientist, on my Dr. Berkson’s Best Health Radio. Dr. Seneff has three degrees from MIT, which include two PhDs. She merges biology and computational science. Dr. S. is the scientist tracking our exposure to Gly phosphate (Roundup) with many diverse health issues from autism, Type-1 Diabetes, paralysis of the microbiome, gut disease, methylation issues, and cognitive decline.

Dr. Seneff was explaining that Roundup is sprayed on many crops to hasten their ripening, from wheat to garbanzo beans. It is insidious and it is ubiquitous. To avoid it as best we can, she reminds us that even though it’s expensive, we must eat organic.

Dr. Seneff even shared that vitamin capsules that are not vegetarian, come from animals that are fed food that is sprayed with glyphosphate. The gelatin making up the capsules is robust with glyphospate. What an irony. You go to the trouble to buy a supplement to protect your health and you can actually get exposed to toxins that thwart your well-intentioned efforts.

I asked Dr. Seneff what she eats. She explained she is lucky as her dear husband is a great chef. One labor of love he cooks weekly is bone broth. I then shared the data from this study explaining how leads like heavy metal get into the broth, even when made from organic roaming chickens.

She was stunned.

We are never too well intentioned or smart to not realize how our toxic environment might be showing up in our food.

Lead contamination is widespread throughout the modern environment. When a building is torn down lead can be liberated. When I was a scholar at a think tank at Tulane, after Katrina, lead and other contaminants were stirred up throughout the environment. When people walk into your home with street shoes, they can carry micro-particles of lead onto your rug. Your kids on the floor can get exposed. It can end up on utensils, or carried by cat or doggie paws up onto your pillows where you lay your head.

Now we find it in bone broth. Beef bones store lead. The ocean is filled with metals so fish bones can store lead, but possibly less, it’s not been studied from this source yet.

Researchers from the Breakspear Medical Group from the UK ran a small, blinded, and controlled study of lead concentrations in three different types of organic chicken broth. Their results showed that these broths contained statistically significant (beyond chance) several times higher lead concentrations than the water used to make the broth.

These researchers said that the dangers of lead consumption to the human body are real and no amount of lead is safe. In light of these findings, they recommend that doctors and nutritionists take the risk of lead contamination into consideration when advising patients about bone broth diets.

Medicine is all about risk vs. benefit. It might be that you feel the benefits of the bone broth outweigh the risk. But at least now you know and can make an informed decision. Knowledge is power.


Med Hypotheses. 2013 Apr;80(4):389-90. doi: 10.1016/j.mehy.2012.12.026. Epub 2013 Jan 31.
The risk of lead contamination in bone broth diets.