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A Nourishing Approach to Increasing Stress Resilience Using Food: The wonderful world of organ meat!

Organ meat is not typically everyone’s favorite topic. But I would LOVE to change that perspective. Let me share how I went from “eeewww, no way!” to an avid consumer of organ meats before we dig right into the science on the benefits of consuming organ meat…aka, me trying to convince you to bring it into your world and incorporate it into your meal plan!

When I was a little girl, my mother would chop up and add the turkey liver that came inside the Thanksgiving turkey to the stuffing, also known as dressing. So, every time you would get the perfectly constructed bite of soft bread, gravy, and cranberry sauce…just underneath, you would also get a piece of mushy turkey liver, bitter and very unpleasant. Bless! This was not a great introduction to organ meat! Needless to say, I was a bit swayed by this “trauma” from an early age and it took convincing from many podcasts where I learned about the power of organ meat from Dr. Sarah Ballantyne and others!

So let’s dig right into the whys behind considering adding nourishing foods like organ meat, also known as offal, into your nutrition strategy. BUT! Before I start listing off a ton of micronutrients that may not have a huge impact on your decision, let’s think about why we even care about taking in sufficient micronutrients each day as busy moms!

Stress can be real, perceived, physical, chemical, emotional, and environmental. As moms, we can experience acute stress regularly in our day-to-day interactions with motherhood; whether that is helping a child navigate their own dysregulation or feeling the pressure to maintain a household each day, it can be overwhelming. When stressors blend together, they become chronic, which is where states of dis-ease within the body can manifest. Motherhood is a time of overwhelming joy and reward but it can also be a time of exhaustion, frustration, and depletion brought on by feeling/being chronically stressed. Micronutrients can play a huge role in how our body responds to the inevitable stressors that we encounter each day!

grassfed organ meats benefits

Looking at the research, acute stress is associated with allergies; skin reactions like asthma, eczema, or urticaria; migraines or headaches; hypertension or hypotension; various pain conditions; gut symptoms like pain, indigestion, diarrhea, and constipation; and mental health disturbances like panic attacks and anxiety(1).

Motherhood can, for some of us, feel like a state of chronic stress. This is because of sleep deprivation, budget concerns, worries about the health or well-being of our children, the daily task load of cooking, cleaning, and shuttling children, as well as working in or out of the home. The day-to-day stressors can manifest into conditions that are related to this chronic stress! Disorders and diseases associated with chronic stress include mental health disturbances like anxiety or depression; neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s disease(2); cardiovascular diseases(3); metabolic disorders such as obesity, metabolic syndrome, and type 2 diabetes(4); sleep disorders such as insomnia and restless leg syndrome(5); and several types of cancer(6).

An article in the journal Advances in Nutrition shared the impact that stress has on magnesium, zinc, calcium, iron, and niacin. In this article, all minerals were found to decrease significantly with an individual’s exposure to psychological and physical stress(7). The largest evidence pointed to “stress-induced depletion” of magnesium and zinc. When considering how we respond to stressors, a population that has significant inflammation and oxidative stress will be more negatively impacted by nutrient malabsorption and excretion of minerals(8).

Given the body of evidence pointing to the confirmation of stress causing depletion of key minerals, “supplementation with…micronutrients depleted during times of stress has the potential to prevent or reduce depressive symptoms (and other diseases)”(7). This supplementation can absolutely be in the form of strategically using food to support our body!

“Over the past two decades, the influence of diet on brain health has been considered as a modifiable risk factor to prevent mood disorder. Nutritional interventions designed to improve diet quality have been reported to reduce depressive symptoms, independent of self-efficacy and physical activity levels”(11).

When it comes to a food strategy to support our bodies as busy moms, I cannot think of a food that packs a bigger nutrient punch than organ meat! In this post we will talk mainly about beef liver, beef heart, and beef kidney! These are the three ingredients you will find in US Wellness Meats organ meat sausages. Organ meat sausages are the best way to begin incorporating organ meats into your diet and palate.

According to Nutrivore, beef liver is considered to be one of the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet (9). It is considered to be the best source, which means greater than 50% of the daily value per serving of important nutrients for energy production and stress metabolism, choline, copper, CoQ10, selenium, vitamin A, vitamin B2, vitamin B3, vitamin B5, vitamin B6, vitamin B7, vitamin B9, and vitamin B12! This best source of B vitamins is notable as studies have shown that deficiencies in these micronutrients, such as B12 or Folate (B9), are associated with an increased incidence of depression(10). Despite what you may have heard about the liver being full of toxins since it is the blood system’s filter, the liver is actually the best food to support our own liver since it contains all of the raw materials we need for detoxification(10)!!

A grass-finished beef liver is very mild in flavor when properly prepared and a lovely addition to your stress resilience practice! One of the strategies I utilize with clients to help them begin to incorporate organ meats and organ meat sausages is to use US Wellness Meats beef liverwurst or braunschweiger. A great way to utilize liverwurst is to pair a slice with some whole food vitamin C like an orange or grapefruit and magnesium-rich almonds, cashews, or pumpkin seeds. This is a great on-the-go snack or a perfect lunchbox combination to add for the kids!

Spaghetti O's with Liverwurst Meatballs

Beef heart is considered to be a super nutrient-dense food as it is a concentrated source of many nutrients, including B vitamins, CoQ10, copper, selenium, protein, choline, and iron(12). The nutrient CoQ10 acts as a potent antioxidant in the body, which helps to dissipate the oxidative stress that comes along with chronic stress. This is really good news because I know that life with two sets of twins feels like it is constantly on the go, and I am continually fighting against chronic stress. Nutrivore tells us that beef heart gives us 356% of the daily value of vitamin B12 per 3.5 ounce serving(12)! That is amazing news because one of B12’s many claims to fame is its role in brain and nervous system health, as it has been shown to protect us against dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, and depression(13).

Beef heart is one of my favorite organs to prepare as it is incredibly versatile, lean, and lovely pan-fried or grilled. Beef head cheese, I find, is similar to a summer sausage and would be an awesome afternoon “pick-me-up” paired again with a rich source of vitamin C, like a kiwi and olives for magnesium.

Beef kidney is considered to be a super nutrient-dense food. Like the heart, it is a concentrated source of many nutrients, including vitamin B12 (the same one we just raved about in beef heart), vitamin B7, selenium, vitamin B2, CoQ10, vitamin B5, choline, vitamin B3, vitamin A, and copper(14). The high selenium content in beef kidneys is important for combating inflammation and oxidative stress via the body’s antioxidant defense system. At 256% of the daily value of selenium per 3.5 ounces serving, We could consider the kidney a phenomenal source of this nutrient(14). Like the liver, a common misconception is that the kidney is a source of toxins because of its role in filtration. Nutrivore tells us that “the kidneys don’t store the urine–the bladder does–the kidneys store the nutrients required to perform their job, so the best food for kidney health is actually–kidney!”

US Wellness Meats offers us the organ meat sausage, braunschweiger, as an excellent go-to for a convenient source of beef kidney if preparation is too challenging. A simple snack with a slice or two of braunschweiger is to pair with fresh cherries or any other berry and is a good source of vitamin E, which helps absorption like avocado, almonds, or sunflower seeds.

In summary, motherhood is a gift beyond measure but also a time when we can see a great degradation in our health because of chronic stress. When we struggle with chronic stress, sometimes it can feel overwhelming with where to turn with our symptoms as we are also caring for many other people. One of the best habits to get into is considering a nourishing approach to how we feed ourselves each day. US Wellness Meats takes much of the guesswork out of how to source and prepare these nourishing foods. Grass-finished organ meat is definitely the best quality you can source and that quality translates into nutrient value. I hope this blog post has helped to support you during this challenging season and offered some tools that you can utilize right away to increase your stress resilience!


Recipes To Try: Spaghetti O’s and Liverwurst , Beef Heart Shish Kabobs


Amy Slater

Amy Slater

Amy Slater is a mother of two sets of twins (two boys and two girls) and currently practices as a women’s health coach. Amy has been in the health and fitness field for 22+ years with a bachelor’s degree in Nutrition and Dietetics, a fellowship in Applied Functional Science, and several advanced certifications. She is currently working toward her NP with an emphasis in Functional Medicine. Keep up with Amy on her Instagram and Facebook, and learn more on her website!

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  1. Yang L, Zhao Y, Wang Y, Liu L, Zhang X, Li B, Cui R. The effects of psychological stress on depression. Curr Neuropharmacol. 2015;13(4):494–504.
  2. Bisht K, Sharma K, Tremblay ME. Chronic stress as a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease: roles of microglia-mediated synaptic remodeling, inflammation, and oxidative stress. Neurobiol Stress. 2018;9:9–21.
  3. Dimsdale JE. Psychological stress and cardiovascular disease. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2008;51(13):1237–46.
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  6. Chiriac VF, Baban A, Dumitrascu DL. Psychological stress and breast cancer incidence: a systematic review. Clujul Med. 2018;91(1):18–26.
  7. Lopresti AL. The Effects of Psychological and Environmental Stress on Micronutrient Concentrations in the Body: A Review of the Evidence. Adv Nutr. 2020 Jan 1;11(1):103-112.
  8. Liu YZ, Wang YX, Jiang CL. Inflammation: the common pathway of stress-related diseases. Front Hum Neurosci. 2017;11:316.
  10. Almeida O.P., Ford A.H., Flicker L. Systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized placebo-controlled trials of folate and vitamin B12 for depression. Int. Psychogeriatr. 2015;27:727–737. doi: 10.1017/S1041610215000046.
  11. Jacka F.N., O’Neil A., Opie R., Itsiopoulos C., Cotton S., Mohebbi M., Castle D., Dash S., Mihalopoulos C., Chatterton M.L., et al. A randomized controlled trial of dietary improvement for adults with major depression (the ‘SMILES’ trial) BMC Med. 2017;15:23. doi: 10.1186/s12916-017-0791-y.