I think I read in one of the Paleo books that eating connective tissue, or perhaps consuming a broth made from it, is a good way to build tolerance to it and reduce likelihood of arthritis later on, particularly Rheumatoid. Is this true? If so, then how come we avoid milk and blood?
It can be very healthy, but if you have a leaky gut it can be problematic. There are a lot of allergies to a lot of foods, and these foods aren't inherently bad for people, but if bits of them get through the gut and the immune system makes antibodies to them then they can cause an allergic reaction or auto-immune disease. In the case of cartilage, it can mimic your cartilage.
In Argentina arthritis is low, only about 1% of the population http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20859227 despite their traditions of eating connective tissue. Why? Because simply eating connective tissue doesn't entail antibodies being formed to it. It has to get into the blood stream. If simply eating something was sufficient to produce antibodies to it, we would have allergies to everything we ate.
As familygrokumentarian said, I love me some gristle and it's interesting that while I have great muscles and bones, my weakness has always been in my connective tissues.
Having tried it both ways, I have to say bone broths with lots of gooey cartilage in them are terrific for my joints and really make a difference.
I'm told it's very low-quality protein, but it tastes good, and you never know where vitamins are hiding, so I eat it with gusto. Also, it keeps maggots from sprouting in you waste bin if you don't throw anything away until you're down to the solid bone.
I actually suspect cartilidgeanous tissue helps as a laxative, too. Maybe. Just a hunch.
Beef tendon is one of my favorite pho soup choices. Mmmm...chewy goodness. I've also had okonomiyaki with thin sliced bits of cartilage cooked into it.
It would seem that either these recipes were developed because of shortages/prohibitive cost or other parts of the animals, a superstitious belief that eating it would heal the same parts on a person, understanding the wisdom of near bio-identical supplementation through diet, or a mixture of all of the above.
I'm not too creaky yet, but I'm hoping that because I try to get some connective tissue into my diet I won't be for a very long time.
On a side note, I find myself yelling at the TV when I watch shows like the British one with the petite screechy macrobiotic lady and she brings out a wheelbarrow or truckload of offal and connective tissue to try and scare people away from things like sausage. Those are the healthy bits (at least if they are from healthy animals, and not processed with ammonia or bleach)...if she brought out buckets of preservatives and chemicals, that might get my attention, but it probably doesn't make for good TV..
I have a severely torn meniscus of the worst kind, totally irreparable, the only solution is cutting it out (Meniscectomy)...which I am terrified of bcs of such a high rate of a repeated surgery...where the patients got WORSE after the initial surgery and had to go back...scary! And most ppl I have interviewed who say they had "successful" surgery, will never again be able squat to to the ground again in their life! Not to mention that many of them still complain on pain, just not as often... So until I gather strength and courage to do it, I was looking for supplements to help the pain and inflammation in the knee. Bone broth, collagen and various glucosamine/chondroitin/boswellia/MSM combination supplements did not make a difference. The ONLY thing that helps - to the point of no pain at all on most days! - is Shark Cartilage... I am so happy I found it. I take 6 a day and it has truly been a miracle for me.