On Your Health

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The Health Benefits of Bone Broth

Today we have a special guest post from Kellye Elliott, who is a business development manager at INTEGRIS Cancer Institute.

We’ve all heard the old adage that chicken soup is good for the soul.  But lately you’ve probably been hearing a lot of talk about the benefits of bone broth, too. What’s with all the fuss?
Bone broth is not new, but lately it seems to be all the rage with health experts online and in magazines. It is easily digestible and rich in minerals like collagen, glutamine, glycine and proline. Fans of bone broth say it may reduce internal inflammation, get rid of wrinkles, strengthen nails, reduce cellulite, improve digestion and gut health, help overcome food sensitivities, improve joint health, speed recovery, boost the immune system and may be beneficial for people with cancer.
For centuries, our ancestors used every part of an animal: bones and marrow, skin and feet, tendons and ligaments. They simmered their broth for days in hopes of releasing healing compounds and used it for medicinal reasons and general nutrition.
Since I am not an expert, I won't get too into the nitty-gritty science behind bone broth, but Juli Johnson, who is an advanced practice nurse and Integrative Medicine practitioner at INTEGRIS, tells me that bone broth has nutrients for whole body health from brain to gut, including 19 different amino acids, which are indispensable building blocks of protein and muscle tissue. She calls bone broth "nature's vitamin drink."
The gelatin in bone broth may strengthen the gut by increasing the good flora there. Also, she says the collagen/fibrin matrix in bone broth may help rebuild elastin for healthier skin, while both the potassium and glycine found in bone broth support liver detoxification at a cellular level.
With all the hype surrounding bone broth, I was intrigued enough to give it a try. Just last week I made my first batch for the Oklahoma City community as part of a demonstration led by Juli Johnson and licensed acupuncturist Seneca Dewbre.
I began by buying organic bones from a local butcher. I put the bones, a variety of vegetables and a few spices into the crock-pot. (The recipe I used is below). I added a bit of apple cider vinegar, because I’ve read this helps leach the minerals from the bones into the broth as it simmers. Also, some recommend roasting the beef bones for a bit before making the broth, although I didn’t and will have to try this next time.
After letting this concoction simmer all night long (I read that slow cooking releases the bone's amino acids and trace minerals in a form that is easy for the body to break down) I strained the broth and put it in mason jars.  I saved the bones and froze them to use for my next batch and even removed the marrow to add a little bit to my Chihuahua’s food every day. The veggies were thrown away.
The demonstration at INTEGRIS that day was at full capacity. Juli and Seneca spoke of the benefits of bone broth and participants sampled the broth that each of us made. It was interesting to me that although we all used the same recipe, each of our broths looked very different. Juli and Seneca spoke about the “gel” that forms after refrigerating your broth. They said not to remove it because the best broth is jiggly and gelatinous — once you reheat your broth, it will dissolve, anyway. The broth can store for a week in the refrigerator and four months in the freezer.
 
Both Juli and Seneca use the broth daily as a sipping tea in the morning. They recommend heating it on the stove instead of the microwave. They also use the broth as a soup starter. Seneca fills ice cube trays with the broth and freezes it to use when seasoning vegetables and in a stir-fry.
 
After the talk I was very excited to add bone broth to my daily Integrative Medicine regimen, which includes turmeric tea, a probiotic and an omega-3 supplement. My daily routine is recommended by Integrative Medicine practitioners like Juli to help my body reduce inflammation and promote my body's general health and wellness.
It’s been over a week now and each morning I heat up a four ounce serving of bone broth. I find it quite yummy and warming and it seems to give me a little extra energy throughout the day. I have been encouraging my family to join me, but so far they aren’t as enthusiastic.
As I write this blog post, I have my second batch brewing at home while I work. This time I used a leftover chicken carcass, re-used my beef bones from the last batch, and added different vegetables I had in my fridge. I also sprinkled some turmeric in my broth.
I hope this magic elixir might help with arthritis I have in my hands, neck tension, and my infrequent bouts of indigestion. And if my hair is thickened and my skin starts glowing, I won’t complain. The science is still out, but I’m hopeful!

Slow Cooker Beef Bone Broth (Makes 4 quarts)

-2 medium carrots, chopped -2 medium celery stalks, chopped -1 medium onion, chopped -7 garlic cloves, smashed -3.5 pounds of beef bones -2 bay leaves -kosher salt -2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar -water
 
Dump vegetables into a slow cooker.  Drop in the beef bones.  Tuck the bay leaves in between the bones.  Sprinkle with salt.  Drizzle vinegar on the bones.  Add water to cover everything.  Cook on low for 8-10 hours.  Pour the broth through a strainer and discard the solids.
Let cool to room temperature before refrigerating or freezing. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for one week or in the freezer for four months.
Kellye Elliott, M.S., CCC-SLP, has been with INTEGRIS since 2008. She began her career as a speech language pathologist in 1991. Prior to her position at the INTEGRIS Cancer Institute, Kellye worked at INTEGRIS as a clinic manager and in marketing and sales.

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