FERTILITY SUPERFOODS: Bone Broths and Harmony
WHY BONE BROTHS?
One of my patients recently asked me “Is there anything I can be eating to support my fertility?”
My first answer always is: Bone broths! Oh broth…how I love thee. Let me count the ways! (Also, as a bonus, I’ll share the no-fuss method behind how I make my own bone broths at home!)
The key behind bone broth’s effectiveness in supporting fertility is because it is one of the best foods for healing digestive disorders which in turn supports hormone health. By drinking bone broths on a regular basis, you will not only have bowel movements that make you praise deities you didn’t even know existed, you will be calming whole body inflammation because it contains anti-inflammatory compounds called cysteine and glycine. A body in a low-inflammatory state is the perfect environment for an embryo to make its cozy home for nine months. By healing any deficiencies in digestive health, the food and supplements that you take leading up to and during pregnancy become more bioavailable. You could be eating the best, organic fertility-friendly diet out there with the fanciest prenatal vitamins available, but if your gut health is not on point, you are literally pissing the nutrition (and your money!) away.
Bone broths are one of my favorite ways to build the foundation of health because it is chock-full of compounds that feed the body on a cellular level. One of those compounds is collagen which is the common matrix for our joints, ligaments, bones, brain and connective tissue. I don’t know about you, but I am a fan of keeping all those parts of my body healthy. Collagen is the most abundant protein in our body, making up 25-35% of our total protein. The process of simmering bone broth over hours works to denature the collagen and make it more bioavailable to us when we consume it. The bones used to cook broth houses marrow which helps us build blood in our own body. Unsurprisingly, these are compounds that your growing fetus also craves. This is why I recommend bone broths not just on the road to conception, but through the pregnancy as well. It is important to set your little one up with the proper building blocks. More important than prenatal vitamins is proper nutrition with whole foods in the diet. Whole foods are complex and contain a variety of vitamins and essential components. The interaction of these nutritional components are more successful at treating the whole body rather than conducting your body like a science experiment and supplementing just the pieces that you think are missing.
Another important compound to talk about is glycine which is the most simple of the amino acids found in our bodies. It is needed to create other amino acids and is fundamental to the synthesis of heme, the oxygen-carrying portion of a blood cell. Due to the increased volume of blood in pregnancy, the growing fetus creates a demand for glycine that is two to ten times higher than normal.
Glycosaminoglycans (also known as GAGs) is a family of carbohydrates that are found in bones and connective tissue that show an effect in reducing joint pain. The most famous of these GAGs are glucosamine and chondroitin, which many of us spend our hard-earned money on buying as supplements. The glucosamine and chondroitin that is found in bone broth is easily absorbed by the body and implemented for good bone and ligament health for both you and your growing fetus. In short, bone broth is great for women who are trying to get pregnant or are pregnant. You are building your little one and consuming bone broths gives your body the quality building materials to set you and your baby up for success.
Here is the recipe that I use to make a bone broth. I usually use free-range, organic chicken but you could also use free-range, organic beef bones as well. It is very important to start with the right ingredients.
The build-up to making a bone broth is a daily practice at my house. I have what I call a “Broth Bag” in my freezer. It is basically just a big ziplock freezer bag that lives in the freezer so that I can put chicken broth ingredients in it until I’m ready to simmer it up. Whenever I buy chicken for dinner, I’ll purchase a whole chicken or thighs with the bones still in them. It pays to be friendly with the butcher because I can ask them to cut up the whole chicken into its parts. Or I buy a whole rotisserie chicken and use it for dinner and save the bones for a bone broth. Into the “Broth Bag” the skin and bones go and I’ll just keep it in the freezer until it is ready for use. I also toss into the bag any vegetable cuttings that I accumulate as I’m cooking my daily meals. Mushroom stumps, broccoli stalks, the green parts of leeks, the ends of zucchini, carrot pulp from juicing, the list goes on…and you’d be surprised how quickly the bag fills up!
Then I pick a day when I know I will be home for the majority of the day. I love the smell of chicken broth simmering on the stovetop all day. Just the process of making chicken broth feels incredibly grounding to me.
In a large stock pot, add:
- the contents of the broth bag (usually at this point, I have 3-4 large ziploc bags that I’ve filled with goodies)
- 1 large onion quartered, with the skin left on
- 1 large garlic quartered, with the skin left on
- 4 large carrots chopped up roughly
- 4 large stalks of celery chopped up roughly
- 2 large bay leaves
- a healthy dash of Himalayan sea salt
- a dose of fresh ground pepper
- a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar (to help leach the minerals from the bones)
- add filtered water to fill the stock pot
Bring all this magical goodness to a light boil and then simmer for hours and hours. I like to simmer mine for a minimum of 10-12 hours.
Strain through a fine-mesh strainer or a coffee filter and enjoy!!
You can enjoy over the course of 2-3 days if you refrigerate your delicious bone broth or you can freeze it and enjoy it over several months. This same process can also be done in a crock-pot on a low setting. Something to note is that when you cool bone broth, it can turn gelatinous from the breakdown of collagen. Don’t be grossed out. This just means you’ve made a really good batch of broth full of collagen. Actually, you’ve just made the Holy Grail of bone broths if you can get it to look like jello when cold.
HOW DO I ENJOY?
Now that you’ve got a delicious bone broth, what are some ways to enjoy this you ask?
- add (gluten-free) matzo balls and some julienned carrots and celery for Matzo Ball Soup!
- add whatever fresh veggies you’ve got (bok choy, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, sprouts, etc), some miso paste and soba noodles for a delicious noodle treat!
- use it to cook grains like quinoa or brown rice for a rich flavored side dish!
- simply warm it up for a quick protein rich snack/drink! It’s healthier (and in my opinion, more delicious) than coffee. The perfect pick-me-up for that mid-day slump when you would normally reach for a cup of joe.
If you ever want to talk about how diet can support your peak fertility potential, give us a call at (604)678-8600.