The Questionable Contents of IV Fluids

IV bagPart of Wooden Spoon Wellness’s “What’s In Your Food?” series

Intravenous fluids (fluids that are transferred directly into your veins, also called IV fluids) are used in a variety of medical situations. IV solutions are used in cases of dehydration, malnourishment or specific nutritional deficiencies. The contents of IV bags vary according to the condition being treated but most include as their base a saline solution, which is a mixture of salt water and other things that enables quick transport of liquids, nutrients, or medication directly into the bloodstream.

 

Just about every hospital and clinic in the world as well as some doctor offices use them. According to a 2015 article in Fortune magazine, “There are few drugs as useful and as widely used in healthcare as normal saline [salt water]… According to Baxter, one of the country’s leading producers of the solution, 740 units of normal saline and other sterile solutions are used each minute across the U.S. Baxter ships more than a million units per day.” It is so widely used in fact that there is currently a national shortage because the demand outweighs the supply. [1]

 

There is no question that many lives would be lost if it were not for IV fluids but their contents can sometimes have harmful effects. Closer inspection of some of the most frequently used IV fluids reveals that many of these commonly-used solutions contain dextrose. [2]

 

As I mentioned in, “Salt Packets,” my opening blog post in the “What’s In Your Food?” series, dextrose is a processed sugar derived from corn. It is very quickly absorbed into the bloodstream thus making it a helpful carrier for medication and nutrients. However, 89% of corn in the United States is genetically-engineered (GE) according to the United States Department of Agriculture. [3] It is therefore highly likely that the dextrose in IV fluids comes from genetically-engineered corn.
I could not find studies that assess the presence of GE cells in dextrose (please give a shout if you can!!) however studies abound that show the negative affects, such as cancer and birth defects, when GE food is consumed by humans. [4] It is important to note that many studies contradict the anti-GE movement and show that GE products do not have an effect on humans. These research labs are funded by big agricultural GE food producers however. It is in these labs’ interest to show that GE products are safe: the data they produce is financially motivated and highly suspect. I do not believe it is helpful to live from a place of sensationalism or fear but Simon Hogan, an independent researcher on GEs and an expert on the literature, finds enough evidence to give him pause. He states, “because you don’t know definitely what these [GE] proteins could do…that’s sufficient for me to say ‘halt’ until we know more.” [5]
It is difficult to conclude definitively that the inclusion of GE corn dextrose in IV bags has a significant negative affect on someone who needs these fluids, particularly if they receive an IV bag once (unless you have a corn allergy which is discussed below) but this becomes a bigger consideration for those who rely on IV fluids for longer periods of time– people who cannot consume food through their mouths, for example, or require monthly or weekly infusions of something-or-other where dextrose is used as a carrier for it. What impact does this have on them?
As mentioned above, it is important to consider as well that some people are allergic to corn and the body treats ingestion of corn as an invader, signaling stress responses. Allergic responses vary according to the person. Most people with corn allergies experience joint inflammation, digestion problems and/or skin eruptions. In her article, “Corn in My Veins: Dextrose in IV Solutions,” Dr. Pamela Reilly, for example, describes the severe joint pain, nausea, and congestion she experienced when dextrose-filled IV fluid was administered to her during an emergency situation. Reilly knew that she had a corn allergy and, once she realized that she had been exposed to corn through her IV bag, she was able to communicate the issue to her healthcare practitioner. More extreme and rare reactions include an inability to breathe, loss of consciousness, or a decreased heart rate. [6]
Corn allergies can be difficult to diagnose according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology and many people do not know that they have corn allergy. Writer Caitlin Shetterly, for example, visited multiple health practitioners for her intense nausea, bodily pain, and chronic exhaustion: “After I maxed out the available rheumatologists, endocrinologists, nutritionists, gastroenterologists, Lyme disease specialists, acupuncturists, and alternative-medicine practitioners in the Portland metropolitan area, I was sent to neurologists in Boston. All of my tests came back normal.” Shetterly finally saw an allergist specialist who suggested a possible allergy to corn. Corn allergy is currently not on the radar of most mainstream doctors, nurses, or EMTs. [7]

Some might read this blog and think: The jury is out on GE products. The allergic reactions to IV bags are rare and in most cases minor when, to put it simply, a corn derivative saved Dr. Reilly’s life. So how big of a deal is this really? Well, in my humble opinion, if we can avoid suffering of any kind, we should. In addition, I don’t believe that we have enough information to use products SO widely when there is a strong possibility that is harmful. GE corn is in our table salt, it is in our IV bags, it is many restaurant and prepared foods through corn oil, cornstarch, and corn syrup. 89% of corn in American is genetically-engineered. We are being exposed to it at astounding levels. I can do my best to avoid or limit GE foods until change happens but the issue becomes even more ethically challenging when it comes to medicine. I want to know if anything other than 100% nature-produced materials is being injected directly into my bloodstream. We have a right to know.
So what can be done? Here are a few possibilities:

  1. Research studies are needed to test GE levels in corn derivatives such as dextrose.
    Biomedical supply producers need to create alternatives to dextrose IV solutions. They could use non-GE corn and/or alternatives to corn.
  2. At the very least, healthcare practitioners should ask mentally alert patients if they have a corn allergy and if so, they should have alternative solutions on hand. (Dr. Reilly proposes one such solution.)
  3. Food regulators need to create and enforce more regulations on GE products. People need to know the contents of the products they buy and consume. While I am not aware of campaigns that highlight IV fluids in particular, we must start a culture of accountability around the things we consume. The Center for Food Safety is a leader in this effort. You can check out and join their political and educational efforts here and here. Please sign and spread widely.

—————–

[1]  Erika Fry. “There’s a national shortage of saline solution…” Fortune. February 5, 2015; “Dextrose 5% Injection Large Volume Bags.” American Society of Health-System Pharmacists. October 30, 2015.

[2]  ATI Nursing Education. “Intravenous Solutions.”

[3]  United States Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service. “Recent Trends in GE Adoption.”

[4]  Arjun Walia. “Ten Scientific Studies Prove that Genetically Modified Food Can Be Harmful to Human Health.” Global Research. April 8, 2014.

[5]  Caitlin Shetterly. “The Bad Seed: The Health Risks of Genetically Modified Corn.” Elle magazine. July 24, 2013.

[6]  “Corn Allergy.” American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology; Dr. Pamela Reilly. “Corn in My Veins: Dextrose in IV Solutions.” September 28, 2011.

[7]  “Corn Allergy.”; Shetterly.

Ras el hanout: A Warming Spice Blend for Your Holidays

ras el hanout

As some of you may know, I have a slight addiction to cooking shows and, during several Chopped and Top Chef marathons, I heard mention of a North African spice mixture called ras el hanout. My curiosity was piqued so I followed the trail.

Ras el hanout translates from Arabic to ‘head of the shop’ because the mixture is made from the top quality spices one might find in a spice shop. Ingredients vary slightly by region and even by shop but, at their base, they generally include clove, cinnamon, ginger, turmeric, fenugreek, and cumin. Some ras el hanout blends also include rose petals, fennel, or coriander. You really can’t go wrong with any of these and oh, my warm spice-y goddesses! This stuff if GOOD!

In addition, each of these spices has powerful healing properties—turmeric for general immune system strength and inflammation, ginger for gut healing, clove for respiratory and bacterial infections, cinnamon to regulate blood sugar… Ras el hanout thus helps serve as an excellent preventative for bad germy invasions and other illnesses.

This spice blend can be found in some grocery stores or you can make your own. Below is a recipe to bring North African flavors to your holiday table. These spice-y shallots can replace canned onions on your great aunt’s green bean casserole recipe. They’re also delicious on a ginger-y butternut squash puree or mashed potatoes. Enjoy!

Crispy Ras el Hanout Shallots
Serves 4
Write a review
Print
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
20 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
20 min
Ingredients
  1. 4 medium shallots, peeled and cut into ¼” thick slices
  2. 1 tsp. organic sunflower oil (or another high smoke point oil)
  3. 1 tsp. ras el hanout
  4. a pinch or two of salt (optional)
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. This takes so little time to prepare that you might even preheat the oven 5 minutes before you begin cutting the shallots.
  2. Slice shallots into 1/4-inch slices.
  3. Separate the layers of the shallots into rings as best you can.
  4. Toss with oil and ras el hanout.
  5. Spread out the spiced shallots evenly on a cookie sheet.
  6. Roast until they just start to turn crispy, about 20 minutes. Toss halfway through using a spatula to ensure even browning.
  7. Toss with optional salt and serve warm.
Notes
  1. I highly recommend doubling this recipe because they are so addictive that half of my shallots never make it to the plate.
  2. Photo: © fkruger
woodenspoonwellness.com http://woodenspoonwellness.com/

3 Tips for Healthy Restaurant Ordering

women reading menu

Restaurant ordering can sometimes be tough when you’re trying to ‘eat better’ or just eat well. It can feel overwhelming or frustrating and nine times out of ten, you end up asking for a salad, which can become repetitive or boring or doesn’t always fill you up.

 

Here are a few foolproof questions you can ask yourself or your server to ensure you’re ordering as healthy as possible when you go to a restaurant:

  1. What has the most vegetables? Perhaps there’s a vegetarian entrée, hearty soup or some nice side dishes that, when ordered together, would make a filling meal. If you don’t see many vegetable options, look at the vegetables that accompany other dishes and ask the server if it’s possible to order them a la carte.
  2. What has the fewest ingredients and is therefore easiest to digest? The more complicated the food, the more your body will have to work to process it. Especially if you are trying to heal your gut, keep it simple. Choose a dish with a max of 5 ingredients.
  3. What is freshest? Fresh ingredients have more nutrients than older ingredients, according to the National Institute of Health. [1] Know what’s in season in your area. (You can find the New York produce growing season here, for example.) Then, put on your best Carrie Brownstein face, and ask your server to ask the kitchen what’s local and come in most recently. (Carrie Brownstein is one of the stars of the television show, Portlandia, which pokes fun at people who do this. Whatevs. It’s for your health and a learning opportunity for your server.)

—————

[1]  “Foods-fresh vs. frozen or canned.” National Institute of Health, U.S. National Library of Medicine. MedlinePlus. 8/29/2013.

 

What’s in Your Food? Salt Packets

I have had several moments in the last few months where I have been surprised to learn about some of items in the foods we consume so I am creating a new blog series called, What’s in Your Food? I will highlight a variety of foods whose contents may just blow your mind (and not in a good way.)

This month, we are diving into the ingredients in commonly-used salt packets. Yes, you read that correctly: salt packets often contain ingredients, plural.

My first realization about this happened in a place that also surprised me: Whole Foods Market. Whole Foods does some great things for small farmers as well as the health of Americans (albeit expensively) and makes the following claim on their website:

“We don’t sell just anything. The products we sell must meet our rigorous standards. From basic ingredients to farm animal welfare, seafood sustainability, body care, cleaning products and more, trust us to do the research so you can shop with peace of mind.” [1]

I appreciate these standards and hold similar values so, when given the choice, I would rather support them than a restaurant that will also charge me $10 for a similar salad but provide lower quality food that has been sitting out for who knows how long. So, when in the city last month and grabbing my fresh-salad-that-I-can-feel-better-about, I also picked up a few salt packets to supplement my plain olive oil dressing. I have been trying to not be on my cell phone checking my email whenever I am by myself or have downtime (see meditation blog) so I turned over the salt packet and noticed this list of ingredients: salt, sodium silicoaluminate, dextrose and potassium iodide. My mouth dropped. Firstly, I expect better from Whole Foods. Secondly, why does salt have multiple, yet alone four, ingredients? Thirdly, what are those things mixed in my salt? I’ve never heard of them so I did some research.

salt packet

Here is what I learned about each of the substances:

Sodium silicoaluminate– Frequently found in powdered foods as an anti-caking agent, sodium silicoaluminate is a synthetic combination of silicon, sodium, aluminum and oxygen. According to an article in Livestrong, sodium silicoaluminate “[I]s generally recognized as safe in foods, but limited in certain standardized foods.” [2] With regard to this product, BeFoodSmart.com advises: “The association of aluminum and Alzheimer’s disease remains inconclusive.” [3]

The Chinese government in 2014 accordingly banned the use of sodium silicoaluminate in all food products produced in the People’s Republic of China. [4]

Dextrose– Dextrose is a processed form of sugar derived from plant-based starches such as corn. Dextrose has a high glycemic index which means that it quickly enters the bloodstream however, according to Morton Salt, one of the largest and oldest salt companies in the United States, the dextrose in one salt packet is ‘dietetically insignificant’. [5]

In fact, Morton Salt was the first to add dextrose to its salt:

“In 1924 Morton became the first company to produce iodized salt for the table in order to reduce the incidence of simple goiter. Dextrose is added to stabilize the iodide. Iodine is vital to the proper functioning of the thyroid gland and the prevention of goiter.”

Thus, dextrose is a preservative and is used to ensure that the iodide does not oxidize (i.e. start to evaporate and create a sulfurous smell). Non-iodized salt is unlikely to contain dextrose.

The corn that dextrose is derived from is very likely to be genetically modified (GMO) given the prevalence of the use of GMO’s in mass-produced processed foods in the United States. While one may consume a very small amount in one salt packet (0.04%), the amount of GMOs you consume adds up if you are eating many other GMO foods: adding iodized salt to every meal, snacking on iodized-salted corn chips, eating takeout every night from a Thai restaurant that cooks their food in GMO soybean oil… [6]

Potassium iodide- As mentioned above, iodide began to be added to salt in the 1920s to ensure people had enough iodine in their diets. Iodine deficiency continues to be a global issue, according to a 2007 statement from UNICEF. [7] Iodine is necessary for thyroid function and, in addition to goiter, it can cause a variety of problems during pregnancy including miscarriage, stillbirth, or mental retardation in infants. [8] The World’s Healthiest Foods, one of my favorite websites, states that most of us do not achieve the daily requirement of 150 micrograms of iodine and few food sources can provide the amount we need. [9] A 2008 study however, showed that most of the iodized salt in the US does not meet USFDA standards of iodide content. [10]

So what can we do?

  1. Read your salt label!
  2. Buy a little container, fill it with pure sea salt, and carry it around in your bag.
  3. Substitute salt for other condiments such as gomasio (seaweed mixed with sesame seeds), chutney, etc. or replace with salty foods, like olives or pickled vegetables.
  4. To get enough iodine, regularly eat seaweed, salmon, good quality yogurt, organic raw cow’s cheese, or eggs. Those of you who are vegetarians or vegans can get enough iodine from seaweeds and some fruits and vegetables but you will need to eat quite a bit each day or take a multivitamin with iodine in it. [11]

 

—–

[1] Whole Foods Market Quality Standards Statement.

[2] Norma DeVault, “What Is the Use of Sodium Aluminum Silicate in Food?,” Livestrong.com, January 28, 2015.

[3] BeFoodSmart.com. “Sodium silicoaluminate.

[4] National Health and Family Planning Commission of the People’s Republic of China. “Notice on aluminum-containing food additives use adjustment by the NHFPC and four other departments. July 25, 2014.

[5] Morton Salt FAQs.

[6] For the risks associated with the consumption of GMOs, see Jeffrey M. Smith, “Doctors Warn: Avoid Eating Genetically Modified Food,Mercola.com, March 25, 2010.

[7] The Salt Institute. Iodized Salt, July 13, 2013.

[8] American Thyroid Association. Iodine Deficiency. June 4, 2012.

[9] The World’s Healthiest Foods. Iodine.

[10] Pernendu K. Dasgupta, et al. “Iodine Nutrition: Iodine Content of Iodized Salt in the United States. Environmental Science Technology. 2008. 42 (4): pp. 1315-1323.

[11] For more ways to get your iodine-intake, see The World’s Healthiest Foods article on iodine.

From the Garden: Royal Burgundy Snap Beans

Beans can be found in a variety of hues at this time of year. In addition to the more well-known green beans, this family of legumes known as snap beans, appear in yellow and white and the alliterative Dragon’s Tongue bean looks like it’s been licked with purple flames. One of my favorite snap beans is the Royal Burgundy, a deep violet that almost looks black.

Bunch of purple wax snap beans in rustic bowl in horizontal format

Royal Burgundy’s can be a bit tough, especially if picked when mature. This makes them great for pickling or canning but you can eat them raw (if you have strong guts and generally do well with raw foods) or you can do a quick blanch to tenderize them. It is through cooking the Royal Burgundy that I first fell in love with them. I put them into boiling water and turned my back for a few seconds. When I turned back to the pot, Holy Technicolor Beans, Batman! These heirloom legumes were no longer a deep purple. They were green!

Like purple cauliflower and purple cabbage, the hue of the Royal Burgundy bean fades when exposed to environments that are less acidic than the soil where it was born, like boiling water or heated oil. [1]  It’s a fun trick to use with kids and may even get them to eat these high-protein, high fiber, Vitamin C-rich veggies. [2]

Royal Burgundy’s are not available everywhere but I recommend any kind of snap bean to clients who are trying to be healthier because beans are nutritious and filling. They are great if you are trying to increase your vegetable intake but struggling to feel full. Snap beans work with many restricted diets but their uses are versatile: Add a delicious crunch to salads, dip in hummus at a picnic, sauté with garlic or, after blanching make them, make them French-style tossed with a light mustard vinaigrette and fresh dill. Because they are so hearty, they stand up well to bold-flavored Asian applications such as a rich coconut curry or a wok stir-fry with sesame oil and sesame seeds. Anyway you toss them… Enjoy!

—-

[1]  “Why Do Purple Beans Turn Green after Cooking.” from Garden Betty: Diary of a Dirty Girl blog.

[2] Rahi Seed Bank’s description of Royal Burgundy beans.

Office Tips to Bring the Sun to You

Young businesswoman at the beach

Craving the sun but stuck inside? Wish you could be outside but feel like you can’t leave your office? Here are a few office tips to bring the sun to you and get you through the work day while everyone else plays hookie and enjoys their vacation:

  1. Sip a Pineapple Juice Spritzer at your desk by mixing 6 oz. pineapple juice with a few splashes of seltzer. To give your day a little extra kick, grate a big piece of ginger into it.
    2. Close your office door and stream your favorite beach mix on Spotify or Soundcloud while you enter data into that spreadsheet.
    3. Be creative in what you wear under your work clothes to jazz up your day. Wear your bikini top or a sexy halter underneath your work clothes.
    4. Ping your ladies to gather at 5pm for some shenanigans. If there’s warm sunshine outside, make the most of the remaining time with the sun and reward yourself for making it through the day. If it’s cold outside, find a spot that will transport you to the climate you need– visit the tropical room at the Botanical Garden, watch a movie set in a beach-y climate, or go to a Tiki Bar-themed restaurant.

 

Preparing for an Internal Cleanse

Closeup of Fresh Red Beet Juice

There are many cleanses out there— juice cleanses, raw food cleanses, a Candida diet…. The radical shift your body experiences can be intense and challenging though.

Set yourself up for success by answering these questions before you start your cleanse program:

  1. What are your intentions for this time period? How will this cleanse enhance your life? How do you want to feel the day after you finish?
  2. How frequently should you plan to go to the market for ingredients?
  3. If you are working, what will you need each day at the office?
  4. What do you have going on during those several days? Where can you create flexibility to accommodate potential needs, such as tiredness?
  5. What will you need in place if you start to waver from your plan—i.e. someone to hold you accountable, written intentions to remind you of your course?

And if you’d like to do a seasonal cleanse but are not sure which is right for you or you need some help addressing these questions, let me know.

5 Tips for Healthy Snacks on the Go

Woman looking through her purseWith health coaching clients and workshop participants, I discuss an eating spectrum. Food and beverages that are not particularly nourishing are at one end. Next to it is a point on the spectrum where we find foods that might provide some nutrition but, for example, also contain ingredients that might not serve us well. On the other side of the scale are foods that can provide nourishment.

Snacks can be tricky. What do you do when you had a light lunch and are having a late dinner with a friend? Or you have to run to an appointment and can’t sit down for a full meal but need some sustenance? It is easiest to find options that fall on the not-particularly-nourishing side of the spectrum.

Here are five tips for eating that fall on the other side of the spectrum: foods that provide you with nutrients and sustain you. You may only find foods that fall within some of these guidelines. If you can find foods that adhere to all five tips, rock on. Your body and energy levels will thank you for it. (And they do exist!) If you can find a snack that falls within only some of these guidelines— well, some effort can still make a difference.

  1. Whole foods—foods or beverages that came from the ground, off a tree or a bush, or otherwise contained oxygen at some point
  2. Five ingredients or less—simple foods require less work to digest and your body can access the fuel and nutrients you need from the food more quickly
  3. No or low sugar—foods with sugar, even sugar found in fruit, can lead to energy roller coasters. (These days, I sometimes get the sugar shakes from eating an entire apple. Instead, I only eat half an apple at a time or I go for fruit with less sugar such as strawberries or oranges.)
  4. Only whole fats (no hydrogenated fats)—this is perhaps the hardest to find if you are also going the no sugar route. Almost all chips and even some roasted nuts have some sort of processed oil added.

Three (Undercover) Broth Substitutes

© bst2012 - Fotolia.com

You are craving something warm and comforting but you’ve used up your last box of broth or have no defrosted, homemade stock supply. The idea of going outside into the cold makes you very, very sad so what do you do?

Here is your cheat sheet of broth substitutes that can stay in the pantry or refrigerator for up to a year, are 100% natural, and are even nutritious:

  1. Pickle juice: Do not throw away the remains of your pickle jar once you’ve finished your fermented vegetables! This rich liquid typically contains spices, salt, and luscious juices from the vegetables, i.e. things that you would find in a vegetable broth! The differences of course are that it also contains a lot of acid that is either produced from the natural fermentation process or added in the form of vinegar. (For what it’s worth, my favorite to use is kimchi, or, spicy Korean fermented vegetables.) Pickle juice tends to be quite salty so for every cup of broth that you would typically use, use 1/3 to ½ cup of pickle juice and fill the rest with water. The amount you use depends on how potent the pickle juice is so try a taste first to see how potent the flavors, acids, and salt are. If you pucker your lips or feel the need to exclaim, “Whoa!” use less. You can always add more. If you decide to add more juice later in the cooking process, make sure to bring the soup to a boil and let it roll for a few minutes before serving. This will mellow out the strong acidic taste. Note as well that vinegar and other very strong acids can toughen some ingredients such as beans or meat unless they are cooked together for a very long time. Best use: soups with vegetable, noodles or grains.
  2. Miso: Miso is a fermented paste used in various Asian cuisines. In the US, miso can be found in refrigerated jars or in powder form. Miso is most often made from soybeans but some are made with chickpeas, barley and/or brown rice, among other things. Miso that has been fermented for at least 6 months can be rich in antioxidants and as a fermented product it contains good bacteria as well as a form of Vitamin K that has been shown to strengthen bones. I highly recommend using the refrigerated kind over the powder if you want to benefit from its nutrients. Although not a hard and fast rule, generally the darker the miso, the longer it has been fermented and the more nutrients it contains. The lighter the miso, the sweeter it tends to be. Miso is naturally salty so you can reduce or omit altogether additional salt. Miso can last in the refrigerator for up to one year without issue but be sure to check the sell-by date. [1] Note that it maintains its nutrients only if it is not heated so if this is important to you, remove from the heat and stir in a tablespoon of miso for every cup of water. [2] Best use: soups with beans, tofu, meat, fish, chicken, pork, vegetables, noodles or grains
  3. Dashi: Dashi is a Japanese product made from dehydrated seaweed (kombu) and dehydrated fish flakes (bonito). Dashi may sound more like fish food than human food but this product is the cornerstone of a lot of Asian cooking, such as most Japanese soups, sauces and Vietnamese pho. The flavor is complex but light and smoky while also ocean-y without being fishy (if you make it correctly). Dashi makes an amazing base for your favorite noodle or vegetable soup. It requires a few more steps than the other options in this list but the ingredients can keep in a dry pantry or refrigerator in tightly sealed containers for up to a year. Here is a pretty decent overview and recipe. [3] Best use: soups with tofu, fish, meat, vegetables, noodles or grains

Disclaimer: The photo above meant to be humorous and is not intended to role model or advocate that you put a bowl on anyone’s head, especially a bowl containing hot soup. That can be dangerous.

———

[1]  http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=114

[2]  http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/RCP00228/Miso-Soup.html

[3]  http://www.cooktellsastory.com/apps/blog/show/1334738-dashi-basic-stock-

 

Bone Broth for Building Energy and More

Bouillon, broth, clear soup

One of the latest nutrition trends hitting American cities and diets is bone broth. The New York Times recently published an article about it and New Yorkers can now snag a shot of mineral-rich goodness on their way out for the night. [1] While bone broth may be a recent discovery for hip restaurateurs and 21st century popular diet-makers, bone broth has long been used in various cultures around the world as a staple health elixir, particularly to support women’s health.

So what it is? Bone broth is made from animal bones boiled in water on their own or with select vegetables or herbs. Vinegar and salt are often added to help break down the bones and heat is applied for long periods of time, generally 6-48 hours, so the nutrients can leech into the liquid. Unlike a boxed or canned stock that you might find in a grocery store, bone broth is generally made with more bones than vegetables or meat. [2]

In some parts of China bone broth is called “longevity soup” and is taken for ailments of the digestive tract, to address weakness, and to reduce joint inflammation. Bone broth is part of postpartum recovery regimens in Hong Kong and “Good broth will resurrect the dead,” is a South American proverb according to Dr. Joseph Mercola. [3]

The widespread use of bone broth speaks to its many healing properties. Rich in calcium, magnesium, iron, B vitamins, and many other trace minerals, bone broth nourishes the blood and is ideal for building energy and vitality in people who have just had surgery, are menstruating or about to menstruate, or who have just had a baby. Many natural and holistic healers also use bone broth to help boost fertility. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine for example, the marrow from the bones is said to build the kidney energy which must be strong if conception is to take place. [4]

The luscious gelatin that the bone broth contains has also been shown to help re/build joints and sooth connective tissues, including the lining of the stomach and intestines so whether you have a torn ligament or Irritable Bowel Syndrome, bone broth may just help. How does it work? The jiggly gelatin that bone broth becomes when it cools essentially is made of all of the proteins, collagen, and goodness contained within the animals’ marrow and ligaments so the animals’ parts are essentially helping to rebuild your similar parts. Many people turn to supplements for these nutrients but bone broth provides a more bioavailable and digestable form. [5]

Before I share a recipe to make your own bone broth, I need to underscore how incredibly easy it is to make this. I demonstrate how to make bone broth in some of my cooking class workshops and people are overwhelmingly surprised at how simple this is and how little time it takes to make. In addition, it freezes well and is delicious on its own, as a warming drink on its own, or as the basis for soups or stews. Bone broth and stock can generally be used in recipes interchangeably but the amount of bone broth you use depends on how concentrated it is. If you’ve made a particularly rich and gelatinous broth, use a smaller amount, approximately 3/4 to 7/8’s the amount of liquid called for in the recipe, and dilute it with water.

Bone Broth Recipe

I actually base my chicken bone broth recipe on Weston A. Price Foundation’s recipe. I make a few tweaks but to learn those, you will need to attend one of my workshops. 🙂

—–

[1]Julia Moskin. “Bones, Broth, Bliss: Bone Broth Evolves from Prehistoric Food to Paleo Drink.” The New York Times, January 6, 2015.

[2]  Sally Fallon Morell. “Broth is Beautiful.” January 1, 2000.

[3]  Paul Pitchford. Healing with Whole Foods: Asian Traditions and Modern Nutrition, 3rd edition. Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Books, 2002, p. 296; Aviva Jill Romm. Natural Health after Birth: The Complete Guide to Postpartum Wellness. Rochester, VT: Healing Arts Press, 2002, p. 179; Dr. Joseph Mercola. “Bone Broth—One of Your Most Healing Diet Staples.” December 16, 2013.

[4]  See for example: Aimee Raupp, “Using Homemade Bone Broth for the Treatment of Infertility.” Acupuncture Today. October, 2012, Vol. 13, Issue 10; Margarita Alcantara, “Traditional Chicken Bone Broth: A Recipe to Build Qi and Blood for Immune Building, Fertility, and Postpartum.” May 6, 2013.

[5]  RW Moskowitz. “Role of collagen hydrolysate in bone and joint disease.” Seminars in Arthritis and Rheumatism. October 30, 2000(2): 87-99; Mercola “Bone Broth.“; Dr. Josh Axe. “Bone Broth Benefits for Digestion, Arthritis, and Cellulite.”