You don’t hear people talking about bone marrow much these days, but I’d like to share a few interesting facts about this little-known nutrient-dense powerhouse:
The bone marrow from organic animals (beef, bison, game meats, and wildfowl) provides protein and some important minerals needed to build and maintain a healthy body (iron, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, sodium, and potassium).
These macro and micronutrients provide a foundation to improve your gut microbiome and specifically, intestinal/colon disease repair.
There is also documentation which outlines the role bone marrow can play in the prevention of type 2 diabetes.
What’s In The Bone Marrow
Collagen in the bone marrow provides important amino acids, including glutamine (which helps the body to secrete more human growth hormone, which helps kids grow taller, improves sleep, improves skin (preventing wrinkles, among other things), increases immunity, increases testosterone, increases energy, builds stronger bones, improves the heart and kidneys, minimizes muscle breakdown, breaks down body fat and decreases body weight, improves fat metabolism, and improves protein metabolism).
Collagen also heals the gastrointestinal tract (stomach and intestines), thus healing heartburn, reflux (which seems to be causing my chronic cough), intestinal inflammation, gastric ulcers, colitis, gut-related diseases, and irritable bowel syndrome.
How Does Bone Marrow Help
Heals the Digestive Tract
Bone broth is one of the easiest foods to digest and is traditionally used when recovering from illness, especially digestive problems. Just think of all the soups that are used as antidotes – in many Asian cultures, they have congee, in Jewish culture, there’s matzo ball soup, and Americans often turn to the classic chicken noodle. Diets like the GAPS diet recognized this and put a strong focus on bone broths in order to heal the digestive system, particularly after the digestive lining has been damaged, like in Crohn’s Disease or Ulcerative Colitis. The high gelatin content of broth is considered particularly healing to wounds along the digestive tract.
Bone Marrow Supports Nerve Function
The minerals dissolved in broth are essential for proper nerve function as they are used to conduct electrical signals from cell to cell. The fats found in the broth are also essential to nerve health since many nerve cells (especially those in your brain and spinal cord) are coated in fat to help their signals travel faster.
Ultimate Brain Food!
What is good for the nervous system is good for the brain, because it is the center of the entire nervous system. Plus, a hormone produced in bones known as osteocalcin (more on that below) has been proven to have a direct effect on brain function, improving memory and mood.
One of the most common questions I get as an Acupuncturist and Herbalist is what to eat to improve brain function. Whether it is a stressed businessman, a burned out student or a busy mom, I always tell them that bone broth is the ultimate brain food!
Keep in mind that our brain, in particular, is made up mostly fat, so we need plenty of good fats to support it.
Even if you don’t cook much of the fatty tissue or skin into your broth, the bones themselves contain an adequate amount of fat that melts right in when warm. Some people prefer to chill their broth to let the fat collect on top, then separate it out. This is largely done as a measure of controlling your daily macro intake.
While animal fat has gotten a bad reputation in the past few decades, keep in mind that animal fat is the closest to the fat we have in our bodies!
It is much easier for us to absorb and put to good use in our tissues.
Fats from organic tallow (beef) and lard (pork) have been shown to provide high levels of vitamin D (good for the immune system and strong bones and the production of testosterone); they also promote healthy, moisturized skin, reduce cancer, and provide a source of Conjugated Linoleic Acid.
As I have continually pointed out this doesn’t mean it makes you fat, our bodies usually store fat in our tissues as a result of consuming bad fats we don’t know how to process or excess carbohydrates that get converted to fat. Animal fats on the other side are more easily used for digestive functions, creating new cells and repairing the nervous system. With new research now surfacing, it is most often fat from overly processed meats (like hot dogs, lunch meat or fast food) or lower quality plant-based fats (like soy, corn, canola or cottonseed oils) that are shown to cause problems to our health.
A preparation note: In order to pull these precious minerals from the bone, add an acid, like apple cider vinegar, to the water before cooking.