Guest column

Bone broth: A timeless tradition for optimal wellness

By Heather Olson
Posted 12/6/19

Winter is here in Wyoming. It takes over early and lets up late. With cold and short days, the residents of the Cowboy State are inside more than we are generally used to. Yes, we do take the time to …

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Guest column

Bone broth: A timeless tradition for optimal wellness

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Winter is here in Wyoming. It takes over early and lets up late. With cold and short days, the residents of the Cowboy State are inside more than we are generally used to. Yes, we do take the time to revel in our most loved books. Even catching up on favorite TV shows brings us some level of contentment. Those of us who love to create get to making in our kitchen, shops and studios.

Researching and extra time in the kitchen are usually where I find myself. I have gallons of tinctures to press, salves to blend from infused oils and processing my cache of dried herbs from the forest and garden. 

Bones are stashed from our hunts, which are processed into bone broth. We raise our own animals to eat as well, so we have a diversity of bone to choose from. In this way, we are self-sufficient in our meats, veggies and medicines. 

It is important in our house to use as much of our harvested animals as we can. Liver bites are favorite treats for the pups. Kidneys are ground up with trimmings to put into dog food. Heart is a delicious, tender treat for us that gets seared for snacks, or blended into stir-fries, stews and the like. Bones are chopped up into usable sized pieces and are frozen for winter storage to be used for the warmest of winter traditions … bone broth.

 

Food as sacred and ceremony

Bone broth is an ancient tradition of necessity, mindfulness and sustenance. Our ancestors were in dwellings that left them more or less outside throughout the seasons. 

This living condition was harsh on their bodies, leaving many of them struggling and sick. Young people perished and the elders often went, too.

Traditional habits that we do not even know of in our modern times were how they survived. Bone broth was one of those traditions. Food was sacred and brought families together. It was not taken for granted, nor was it expected. Though our ancestors didn’t have the science behind why and what, they knew that the broth they created nourished them. It warmed their bodies, and left their weary winter tummies satiated.

Broth sat simmering on the woodstoves of their dwellings. They added water as needed or dried herbs, along with fruits that were collected during the summer months.  Cups were filled with this broth and sipped by the warmth of the fire. This action maintained not only their health, but a sense of community and strength.

When stores of food started to run low — which they generally did — bone broth would help to lengthen time between meals, giving the people necessary energy, vitamins, minerals and fats to keep them feeling full and nourished. It warmed the body which helped to increase circulation effortlessly. 

 

Traditional remedy for the modern world

In the modern era, especially currently, bone broth has become a trend of new age health tactics. But there’s praise and slander — both sides of the story flowing through blogs and biased media. It is boasted as a super food and tarnished as another substance that is contaminated.

There are truths to both sides of the story. The picture of poor health in industrial sized feedlots produce the same in the animals being raised there. The bones in this sad side of the story are indeed unnatural.  But not every source shares this reality. True ranches have their cattle grazing in open lands. They roam free on thousand-acre pastures. Then they’re fed nourishing fodder from the farmland to encourage their delicious taste, and nutrient-dense meat.

This also comes through in the components of their bones. These animals are loved and cared for as if they were a part of the family. And this story of farmland is where the separation of contamination and vital wellness lies.

 

Steer away from contamination

Knowing what you are eating is the best way to start. Grow your own food if you have the freedom to do so. Roast a whole chicken and stock the carcass — this easily yields 3 gallons of broth. Buy bone-in, healthy meats and keep a cache of bone space in your freezer.  The most reliable source for knowing your meats is meeting your farmer. See their herd at home and in the pasture. Know they are being raised ethically, mindfully and with sustainability. When you are able to look your farmer or rancher in the eye, your meats and bone will come with integrity.

You, the consumer, can then bring your bones home in confidence — knowing the source, seeing what really happens on a modern-day ranch and the truth and honesty of a farming family.  We love knowing that our bones are from our cows, pigs and game. Waking up to smelling our bones simmering in the kitchen on cold winter mornings is cozy and nourishing all in its own. 

 

Nutrient profile

The benefits of drinking broth regularly go on and on, not only for soul nourishment, but wellness of your body. 

Getting in the habit of these old traditions in our modern world is half the battle. You can substitute your homemade broth at teatime. Use it as your stock in homemade soups. Feed it to your furry friends. Even add it to smoothies in the summertime. All of these and more are ways to implement it into your food habits.

Nourishment comes from the vast array of amino acids, minerals, vitamins, collagen and many other components. Bone broth boasts to mend afflicted joints, bones and connective tissue while offering healthy skin as well. 

This food offers a full multi-vitamin profile. This, when taken religiously, could replace the synthetic nutrients that are most often found in a supplement tablet or capsule. Thus, harmful synthetics are replaced with true food-based nourishment.

 

Essential nutrients of bone broth

The nutrients glucosamine and chondroitin are both found occurring naturally in bone broth. Many people take these supplements for helping to rebuild connective tissues in the joints, and ease pain of degenerative conditions of the knees, shoulders, elbows and the like.  These two nutrients do indeed assist in these painful, debilitating conditions, but generally create a dependency upon them. This is because the internal fire of inflammation is not being addressed. 

When you simmer a carcass or bone material from an animal, all of the tissues are broken down into pieces we can use in our bodies. This creates a perfectly bio-available collagen that perfectly addresses these issues and more. Bone broth could indeed assist in relieving pain caused by joint inflammation WHILE putting the original fire out. 

Instead of taking massive amounts of supplements, I encourage my clients to include whole foods in their day-to-day life of eating. Bone broth is one of those as it contains so many nutrients, vitamins and minerals, I truly do not feel that supplements are necessary unless working on an imbalance in the body.  The following nutrient profile delivers more bone and tissue building properties than most tablet and capsule form supplements alone. 

Bone broth alone contains the following essential and trace minerals:

These nutrients are available in most fruits, vegetables and healthy meats. However, when working on building bone structure, strengthening the integrity of connective tissues and the skin, consuming additional sources of these minerals is essential. Bone broth once again delivers another full spectrum.

 

Immune system and healing to our guts

Significant research is being conducted on these two topics as well. The anti-inflammatory actions that bone broth puts upon our bodies helps them to be able to do what they do best, heal themselves. 

Not only does the anti-inflammatory aspects of bone broth been shown to help in the healing process, it also increases neutrophils activity in the body. These are the cells of our immunity known as fighter cells. By encouraging their action in the body, our immune system is strengthened — another reason to have this broth around during the colder months when our bodies are working harder already. 

With the amazing amount of degenerative conditions in the gut that are coming into light currently, these actions being addressed are essential to nourishing the body in such a way that it is able to heal. By reducing inflammation and increasing immune cell activity, these chronic conditions of the gut can begin the healing process. 

(Heather Olson has been farming and studying medicinal herbs for 14 years. She practices with wild foods and medicines from the Rocky Mountain region. Heather and her fiance farm and ranch in Powell. Her blog is www.enchantmentcreekherbs.com.)

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