Hampered by frequent colds or infections? Looking for a great way to boost your immune system, especially during the winter months? There are many treatments recommended by naturopathic doctors and practices that you can employ to help reduce the frequency, severity and length of many immune problems.
One food that I recommend to patients and that I regularly include in my own personal health regimen is bone broth. Yes – like the broth found in soup! Bone broth is becoming increasingly popular and highly sought out by folks looking to improve their health, especially in the “paleo” community. Many restaurants across the country have caught on to the craze as well, serving up different types of broth, purporting its health benefits.
Bone Broth Has A Long History Of Use
There really isn’t anything all that new about broth though. It’s been used for thousands of years, by virtually every culture. For instance, the Koreans make a bone broth called Seollongtang – which is a milky beef bone soup made by boiling down beef leg bones for hours until the broth becomes rich and creamy white. And in the Jewish culture, a chicken broth, usually served with matzo balls, has been dubbed “Jewish penicillin” for its immune enhancing abilities.
There is not just one recipe – in fact, there are endless ways broths can be made! Broths can be made using different types of bones, like using leg bones or bones with or without bone marrow. It can be made with or without spices, with shorter or longer boiling times (hours to an entire day of simmering) and using different animal bones, like chicken, beef or lamb. The result of these processes gives differing nutritional and healing properties of the broth made.
Bone Broth Boosts Immune Health
The benefits that broth affords its consumers are numerous – one of the most important is its immune enhancement ability. Just like your mother used to say “eat your chicken soup” when you had a cold as a kid, bone broth, especially when made with bones with marrow, contains disease-fighting constituents that are vastly important to improve immune health. It has been shown that individuals with upper respiratory tract infections who consumed broth had a reduction in inflammation and improved symptoms. Not only can broth help to treat immune problems, but when combined with other immune boosting nutrients (vitamin D3 and vitamin C for example), it can be a great addition to any cold/flu prevention program. Just this past holiday, my entire family got a very fast-moving, nasty upper respiratory tract infection. Everyone was sneezing, coughing and blowing their noses around me. Right before I left to visit them, I actually consumed 14 ounces of beef bone broth and had loaded up on black elderberry syrup (another one of my favorite immune boosters). For “some reason” I didn’t get sick despite everyone hacking and sneezing around me! I’d like to think it was the bone broth that I had been drinking once a week for the previous three weeks that kept me healthy!
Bone Broth Is A Great Electrolyte Replacement Too
Besides its immune enhancing ability, broth also has been shown to be an effective sports recovery beverage. Many professional athletes, like Kobe Bryant, have been hyping bone broth for its ability to replace electrolytes lost through sweating and aid in post-workout recovery. Bone broth can contain sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium, all of which are crucial for normal muscular function and bone health.
How To Consume Bone Broth
Again, there are various ways that bone broth can be prepared. It can be a base for delicious, healthy soups or stews or it can just be sipped as a hot beverage. For acute illnesses, like upper respiratory infections, I typically recommend that my patients consume about 6-8 ounces of bone broth twice daily until the illness resolves. For preventative maintenance, bone broth can be consumed as frequently as you wish – I like to consume it once or twice per week. Most of us are very busy, and don’t necessarily have time to make bone broth from scratch. I like to order my bone broth from U.S. Wellness Meats (www.grasslandbeef.com). It is important to always trust your supplier and make sure the animals from which your bone broth is made are raised without hormones or antibiotics and are 100% grass-fed and grass-finished.
Here is a great easy bone broth recipe from Dr. Mercola’s website:
- 3-4 pounds beef marrow and knuckle bones
- 2 pounds meaty bones such as short ribs
- ½ cup raw apple cider vinegar
- 4 quarts filtered water
- 3 celery stalks, halved
- 3 carrots, halved
- 3 onions, quartered
- Handful of fresh parsley
- Sea salt
- Place bones in a pot or a crockpot, add apple cider vinegar and water, and let the mixture sit for 1 hour so the vinegar can leach the mineral out of the bones.
- Add more water if needed to cover the bones.
- Add the vegetables bring to a boil and skim the scum from the top and discard.
- Reduce to a low simmer, cover, and cook for 24-72 hours (if you’re not comfortable leaving the pot to simmer overnight, turn off the heat and let it sit overnight, then turn it back on and let simmer all day the next day)
- During the last 10 minutes of cooking, throw in a handful of fresh parsley for added flavor and minerals.
- Let the broth cool and strain it, making sure all marrow is knocked out of the marrow bones and into the broth.
- Add sea salt to taste and drink the broth as is or store in fridge up to 5 to 7 days or freezer up to 6 months for use in soups or stews.