Bone Broth Fertility
Bone broth has recently received a lot of clout on social media with celebrities, athletes, and food accounts boasting about its health claims. Bone broth is made from animal bones and connective tissue that has been simmered into water for up to 48 hours with the addition of herbs, vegetables, and spices. There haven’t been many scientific studies on bone broth but we do know it has existed for centuries as our ancestors never wasted any part of the animals they hunted, including the carcasses. When we look at bone broth and its impact on fertility, we can see a long-lived connection between it and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).
History of Traditional Chinese Medicine and Fertility
Chinese medicine has a long history of promoting fertility with records dating back as far as 200 AD. Traditional Chinese Medicine focuses on the healing of the physical and nonphysical aspects of the body and the systems that intertwine them together. “Jing” also known as “essence” is believed to be similar to DNA. It is the predetermination of physical and energetic attributes that are inherited from our ancestors.
According to TCM, Jing is stored in the kidneys, which is the organ that regulates fluids and electrolytes, excretes wastes and toxins, and produces hormones. Jing is believed to help create semen, menstrual blood and bone marrow along with regulating the body’s growth and development. TCM states the amount of Jing you have in your body can diminish with age but can be replenished with foods like bone broth. By increasing Jing, you balance the body and in turn increase fertility.
Although replenishing your Jing with bone broth seems far fetched for some, our modern society uses a lot of TCM, such as acupuncture, tai chi, and herbal products to address health concerns. Despite the TCM promotion and the widespread fascination with bone broth, we lack the scientific studies to back up these health claims. Very few studies have been conducted on bone broth and even fewer studies were relevant to fertility. What we do know is that we can make inferences on bone broth and health claims from our knowledge of food principles.
Bone Broth Fertility: Nutrition
Bone broth contains collagen, the main protein found in bones, tendons, and ligaments. With heat, it breaks down into gelatin and amino acids. Gelatin is said to bind to the water in our digestive tract protecting and healing the mucosal lining and helping in moving the food more easily.
Glutamine found in gelatin helps maintain the intestinal wall and has been shown to prevent and heal conditions like leaky gut, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Irritable Bowel Disease, Ulcerative Colitis, and Crohn’s Disease. Our bodies use proline and glycine from gelatin to create its own connective tissues (skin, ligaments, cartilage, tendons, bones). One of the major focal points in enhancing fertility is making sure the body’s systems are all working properly. When we break down protein into amino acids, our bodies take the amino acids and sequence them into the protein our body needs the most.
When we look at how the components in bone broth directly impact fertility, we see bone broth contains some calcium, magnesium, and potassium. Calcium helps to alkalize the body which creates a better environment for the sperm to fertilize the egg. It is also vital for follicular production and reproductive organ growth in utero. As a caution, keep daily calcium intakes below 2,500 mg to avoid constipation, risk of kidney stones, and a decreased absorption of iron and zinc.
Bone Broth Fertility: Magnesium
Magnesium helps to balance the fertility hormones, progesterone, and estrogen. It also decreases inflammation which increases the chances of implantation. Low magnesium levels can indicate low progesterone which increases the risk of miscarriage.
Bone Broth Fertility: Potassium
A potassium deficiency is considered one of the major factors contributing to the formation of ovarian cysts. Ovarian cysts are related to menstruation irregularities which can lead to irregular ovulation. If ovulation is irregular, there is a lower possibility of natural conception because it is harder to predict and track when ovulation occurs.
When we make our own bone broth, it is advised to use bones from grass-fed and organic animals. Farmers who raise grass-fed cows and chickens don’t use pesticides, hormones, antibiotics, or herbicides which can build up in the bone marrow and leak into the broth. One concern with bone broth is the potential metal toxicity. A study published in 2017 showed that there were low levels of lead and cadmium in bone broth but had minimal health risks. Studies are few and inconclusive on the metal toxicity of bone broth and how it impacts our health so we can’t actually pinpoint if it poses a risk.
Increase Nutrition in Bone Broth
To increase the nutritional composition of bone broth or other broths is to add a variety of vegetables. Not only does it add flavor, it greatly increases the vitamin, mineral, and antioxidant value. Green leafy vegetables are loaded with iron and sweet potatoes have high doses of vitamin A, both promoting fertility. Vegetables of different colors give us an array of nutrients which makes the broth packed full of health benefits.
All in all, we don’t have the scientific evidence to make exact health claims but with the knowledge we have of the composition of food and the long success of Traditional Chinese Medicine, we can infer that bone broth made with grass-fed and organic animal bones and a variety of vegetables can have a positive impact on health and fertility.
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