Bone broth benefits for your health

For my 16th birthday lunch, as a much respected U.S. exchange student in Cali, Colombia, I was presented with a cup of light broth which proudly sported a chicken foot. I was a bit homesick anyway and this drove me over the cliff — I sat literally crying in my chicken-foot soup.

Since then, I’ve learned to enjoy bone broth as a warming drink. Now bone broth is all the rage, and while I wouldn’t depend on it for my bone-building minerals, it’s a good substitute for coffee or tea or that afternoon snack. Here are some good reasons to make and drink bone broth, along with a new recipe I just tried.

Bone broth benefits

  • Bone broth strengthens the immune system, as documented with chicken broth. Your grandmother was right.
  • Bone broth is easily digestible, helping to heal the lining of the gut.
  • The gelatin found in bones, cartilage, tendons, and skin is hydrophilic, meaning that it attacks attracts and holds liquids, including digestive juices thereby supporting proper digestion.
  • Bone broth can help to replace electrolytes after intense exercise and can be used as an excellent sports recovery drink.
  • Most importantly, making our own broth gives us a chance to return to the kitchen to prepare homemade, whole foods from scratch.

Bone broth has been considered a healing food for centuries

When making bone broth, traditional Chinese way of preparing bone broth in a highly acidic medium yields a much higher mineral content than the broth we normally prepare. Prolonged cooking for 8 hours or more also appears to increase mineral content. Using bones with marrow and adding bone-building vegetables like kale, collards, and onions to your stock pot increases its nutrient composition.

From an anthropological perspective, bone broth is likely to have been around since humans were able to boil water. Bone-based stocks of all sorts exist in every meat-eating traditional cuisine and today a pot of stock is always on the back burner in most in high-end restaurants.  What’s more, long before humans could boil water, they cracked bones for the rich marrow inside.  Today, many people around the world chew on the ends of soft bones, like those of chicken.

A bone broth recipe for you to try

I made this recipe this weekend and got seven quarts of delicious chicken broth. Give it a try and let me know. Bon appetite!


Makes about 6 quarts

3 pounds chicken feet
5 pounds chicken wings
7 pounds chicken backs and necks
3 large onions, peeled and roughly chopped
6 celery stalks, roughly chopped
2 large carrots, scrubbed and coarsely chopped
5 bay leaves
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1 bunch flat-leaf parsley
Fine sea salt

Place all the chicken parts in a 16-quart pot and add cold water to cover by 2 to 3 inches. Bring to a boil over high heat for about 1 hour, skimming off the foamy impurities every 15 to 20 minutes.

As soon as the liquid boils, reduce the heat to low and pull the pot to one side so it is partially off the burner.

Simmer for 1 hour 30 minutes, skimming once or twice.

Add the onions, celery, carrots, bay leaves, peppercorns and parsley; and push them down into the liquid.

Continue to simmer for 3 to 5 hours, checking once or twice to make sure that the bones are still fully submerged.

Use a spider skimmer to remove the solids and discard. Strain the broth through a fine-mesh strainer. Season with salt to taste and let it cool.

Transfer the cooled broth to storage containers (leaving any sediment in the bottom of the pot) and refrigerate overnight. Spoon off any solidified fat. Store the broth for up to 5 days in the refrigerator or freeze for up to 6 months.

Recipe from Brodo: A Bone Broth Cookbook by Marco Canora



Rosen, H. N., H. Salemme, A. J. Zeind, A. C. Moses, A. Shapiro, and S. L. Greenspan. 1994. Chicken soup revisited: Calcium content of soup increases with duration of cooking. Calcified Tissue International 54:486–488.

What can prunes do for your bones?

More news about prunes

I’m still receiving questions about my blog report about 6 prunes a day decreasing bone breakdown.  Many readers wondered how to eat prunes, and if they did, would they gain weight or get too much sugar.

Here are the answers to your most commonly asked questions about prunes:

What are some more easy ways to eat more prunes?

One of the simplest ways to eat more prunes is to puree them and use as a spread or sweetener in fruit-based smoothies.  To do this, make prune puree by putting one cup of pitted prunes and 6 Tablespoons of hot water in a food processor and mixing until smooth.  My favorite way to use the prune puree is as like jam on toast, and another good breakfast option is to include warm prunes with oatmeal.  Many tagines or stews also use prunes.  Maybe you even discovered some of your favorite holiday recipes included prunes.  Let me know your prune ideas in the comments section below.

Will I gain weight eating so many prunes?

No.  Studies have shown that adding 12 prunes a day to the diet did not cause weight gain even though it added 380 calories a day. In fact, neither weight or body mass index, nor waist to hip ratio, nor percent body fat was significantly affected. Several researchers have reported this phenomenon suggesting that foods with stool softening properties in higher fiber content do not seem to cause weight gain.

Does eating so many prunes cause digestive issues?

In the vast majority of women studied, even the use of an unusually high daily amount of prunes didn’t cause digestive distress. If you do experience digestive issues, cooking the prunes and serving them warm helps make them more digestible for many and spreading them out through the day is also helpful.

Do prunes need to be cooked to get the benefits?

No, you don’t need to cook prunes to get the benefits, but prunes may be more difficult to digest uncooked.

Aren’t dried prunes high in sugar?

Look for unsweetened prunes. According to prune researcher Dr. Bahram Arjmandi, “Because prunes are low on the glycemic scale, they should not be a problem for people with diabetes.”

Also, I’ve found that prunes are a natural craving corrector, so eating a few prunes may actually keep you from craving other sugary treats.

Finally, here’s news about more benefits of prunes… In addition to reducing bone breakdown as reported in my previous blog, eating prunes has been shown to increase the markers of bone formation.  Prunes also appear to down regulate the inflammatory, bone breakdown factor known as RANKL. This is the same mechanism of action of the popular osteoporosis drug, Denosumab (trade name Prolia®).



Arjmandi, B. H., D. A. Khalil, E. A. Lucas, A. Georgis, B. J. Stoecker, C. Hardin, M. E. Payton, and R. A. Wild. 2002. Dried plums improve indices of bone formation in postmenopausal women. Journal of Women’s Health & Gender-Based Medicine 11(1):61–68.

Bu, S. Y., E. A. Lucas, M. Franklin, D. Marlow, D. J. Brackett, E. A. Boldrin, L. Devareddy, B. H. Arjmandi, and B. J. Smith. 2007. Comparison of dried plum supplementation and intermittent PTH in restoring bone in osteopenic orchidectomized rats. Osteoporosis International 18(7):931–942.

Franklin, M., S. Y. Bu, M. R. Lerner, E. a. Lancaster, D. Bellmer, D. Marlow, S. A. Lightfoot, B. H. Arjmandi, D. J. Brackett, E. A. Lucas, and B. J. Smith. 2006. Dried plum prevents bone loss in a male osteoporosis model via IGF-I and the RANK pathway. Bone 39(6):1331–1342.

Hooshmand, S., S. C. Chai, R. L. Saadat, M. E. Payton, K. Brummel-Smith, and B. H. Arjmandi. 2011. Comparative effects of dried plum and dried apple on bone in postmenopausal women. British Journal of Nutrition 106(6):923–930.


The calcium controversy

It’s no wonder that women are confused about calcium, given the two messages we are hearing. First we hear that calcium is the single nutrient you need to build bones, and as a result, many women mistakenly load up on simple supplements of high-dose calcium. The second message warns that calcium is dangerous, and as a result, women stop taking it completely – another mistake!


From our early research it was clear that taking calcium alone did not prevent fractures. I’m happy to see the growing awareness that a broader nutritional base is needed to support bone health.  You can read more about calcium, its role and the other key nutrients needed for bone health here.

how much vitamin d should you be taking?

1 minute with Dr. Brown: Vitamin D

Got a minute? Every week I receive dozens of questions from women like you with concerns about their bone health. In my new series, “1 Minute with Dr. Brown,” I will try to answer your most pressing questions. If you have a question, send it in to us at

Question 1: Dr. Brown answers Gina’s question about how much vitamin D she should be taking

Low vitamin D means more flu

Did you ever wonder why you end up suffering from the flu nearly every winter? You may not be getting enough vitamin D.

The darker winter months are when our sun-dependent vitamin D levels are at their lowest.

Among its many other actions, vitamin D stimulates and supports immune function. And in temperate latitudes, researchers find that pandemic influenzas generally show clear seasonality.

In other words: More cold dark days, more flu.

Growing research connects vitamin D and influenza

  • Women given 800 IU of vitamin D daily were 3 times less likely to report cold and flu symptoms than those not given vitamin D. This study was a randomized controlled trial looking at bone loss in postmenopausal African American women.
  • A study with intake of 2,000 IU of vitamin D daily for one year efficiently protected women against typical winter colds and influenza.
  • A trial comparing vitamin D supplements with placebos in schoolchildren found that only 1,200 IU per day of vitamin D during winter and early spring reduced the incidence of seasonal influenza by a factor of two.

Protect yourself from winter flu related to low vitamin D

  • Maintain a 50 to 60 ng/ml vitamin D level all year round to get the fullest possible benefits from vitamin D.
  • Get your vitamin D tested now to prepare for the winter. To get your level to the optimal 50 to 60 ng/ml some may require the intake of 4,000 to 5,000 IU daily of vitamin D or even more. For others lesser doses are sufficient. Some people absorb vitamin D better than others, some seem to have a higher need and others have higher reserves from the summer.
  • Determine how much extra D you need. As a rule of thumb, for every 1,000 IU increase in vitamin D your vitamin D blood level will increase by 10 ng/ml. So if you measure your level in December and it is 30 ng/ml, you would add 2,000 IU more vitamin D to your daily supplement program to get to a 50 ng/ml.

Here’s to a happy, healthy winter season!



Cauley JA, Chlebowski RT, Wactawski-Wende J, et al. Calcium plus vitamin D supplementation and health outcomes 5 years after active intervention ended: the Women’s Health Initiative. J Women’s Health (Larchmt). 2013;22:915-929.

How many prunes does it take to reverse bone loss?

Only 6 prunes a day decrease bone breakdown

Dried plums — or prunes — are among the highest antioxidant foods shown to help improve bone strength.  However, in early studies, the level of prune intake originally found to bone-enhancing was fairly high at 100 grams, or 9-10 prunes a day.

While researchers were happy with this first prune-positive finding, they did hear more than a few complaints about the number of prunes the women had to consume. So they decided to investigate if half that prune intake would still provide potent benefits.

How many prunes to reverse bone loss?

At the recent International Symposium on Nutrition and Osteoporosis I had the opportunity to meet two researchers studying the prune-bone link, including Dr. Shirin Hooshmand from San Diego State University.  Even though their clinical trial has been going only for six months, preliminary results are very positive.  Watch below as Dr. Hooshmand discusses more details about the study.


How Dr. Brown gets her 6 prunes a day

I stew up 42 prunes for a week’s supply and eat 2-3 a meal. I love them as a “sweet” ending to my meal or mixed into my hot cereal. I also eat them warmed up a bit and even drink the juice.

To stew prunes:

  • Put 42 dried prunes in pan and cover with water 1” above prunes, add a cut up lemon
  • Bring water to a boil then reduce heat to a simmer
  • Simmer for 20-30 minutes or until soft
  • Cool prunes and put in refrigerator

New research shows how lack of nutrients affects bone


There’s a wide range of nutrients that affect bone.  And now I’m happy to say there’s a wide range of research as well that tells us how important these nutrients are for bone strength.

Here are some highlights from the findings from the 9th International Symposium on Nutritional Aspects of Osteoporosis which I attended:

  • Multi-nutrient inadequacy and osteoporosis: A Brazilian study looking at individuals with and without osteoporosis found that those with osteoporosis had significantly lower intake of many nutrients including protein, calcium, potassium, vitamin K, magnesium, zinc and vitamin D. (Põlluste et al. 2015)
  • Vitamin A and beta-carotene: Higher blood levels of both vitamin A and beta-carotene were associated with higher bone mineral density amongst Chinese adults. (Zhang et al. 2015)
  • Magnesium in bone density: Among Brazilian women bone mineral density was found to be greater in women who with the highest magnesium intake, as compared to those with an official deemed “adequate’ intake. (Peters et al. 2015)
  • Vitamin E and bone density: A large Chinese study found that higher vitamin E intake was positively associated with higher bone mineral density and a lowered risk of osteoporosis among older women. (Chen et al. 2015)
  • Vitamins K, D and fracture risk: A very large Norwegian study found that participants with both low circulating vitamin K1 and vitamin D had a 50 percent increased risk of hip fracture as compared to those with higher levels of these nutrients. (Finnes et al. 2015)

For three decades, we’ve championed adequate intake of all key bone building nutrients. So you can imagine our delight to see medical researchers are studying how intake of key bone nutrients beyond just calcium and vitamin D benefit skeletal health.



Chen, Y. M., W. Q. Shi, J. Liu, Y. Cao, Y. Y. Zhu, and K. Guan. 2015.  Association of dietary and serum vitamin E with bone mineral density in middle-aged and elderly Chinese: A cross-sectional study. Presentation at 9th International Symposium on Nutritional Aspects of Osteoporosis. 17-20 June 2015, Montreal, Canada.

Finnes, T. E., C. M. Lofthus, A. J. Søgaard, G. S. Tell, E. M. Apalset, C. Gjesdal, G. Grimnes, B. Schei, R. Blomhoff, S. O. Samuelsen, K. Holvik, and H. E.

Meyer.2015. Increased risk of hip fracture in older Norwegians low in both circulating vitamin K1 and 25-hydroxyvitamin D: A NOREPOS study. Presentation at 9th International Symposium on Nutritional Aspects of Osteoporosis. 17-20 June 2015, Montreal, Canada.

Peters, B. S. E., M. B. R. Camargo, M. Lazaretti-Castro, N. A. G. de França, and L. A. Martini. 2015. Relationship between magnesium intake and bone mass density in Brazilian postmenopausal women. Presentation at 9th International Symposium on Nutritional Aspects of Osteoporosis. 17-20 June 2015, Montreal, Canada.

Põlluste, K., M. Kull, R. Müller, A. Aart, R. Kallikorm, and M. Lember. 2015. Nutritional deficiencies and bone mineral density in a cohort of patients referred to osteoporosis clinic. Presentation at 9th International Symposium on Nutritional Aspects of Osteoporosis. 17-20 June 2015, Montreal, Canada.

Zhang, C. X., G. D. Chen, Y. Cao, Y. Y. Zhu, and Y. M. Chen. 2015. Association of dietary consumption and serum levels of vitamin A and β-carotene with bone mineral density in Chinese adults. Presentation at 9th International Symposium on Nutritional Aspects of Osteoporosis. 17-20 June 2015, Montreal, Canada.

The benefits of protein for bone health


When many women start following an alkaline diet, their first change is to cut out acid-forming proteins completely. Such a severe restriction of protein is definitely too much of a good thing.

That’s because research suggests that a higher protein intake can reduce aging bone loss and actually decrease fracture risk when combined with a higher intake of key bone nutrients like calcium. Let’s take a closer at look at the benefits of protein for bone health.

How much protein should you be getting?

1. Dietary protein is acid forming, but only if consumed in excess of what the body needs. And even excess protein intake can be compensated for by increasing your intake of alkalizing foods and supplemental alkalizing mineral compounds.

2. The RDA for protein is 0.8 grams of protein/day per kilo of weight (a kilo is 2.2 pounds). For a 140 lb woman this would be 51 grams of protein, the bulk of which is easily obtained from a 4 ounce serving of meat or fish, or a cup serving of beans, grains and vegetarian protein sources. The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) is the official standard for an adequate intake, although as you’ll see below, we probably should get more.

3. New research suggests a more bone-optimizing protein intake would be higher, at 1.2 to 1.3 grams per kilo. For example, a woman weighing 140 pounds would get more bone-benefit from 76 grams of protein then from the current RDA of 51 grams protein/day. Here one might consume complete vegetarian protein combinations (grains and beans or beans and seeds) along with perhaps some eggs, dairy or meat. Details on this research by Christian Wright of Purdue University are in the video below.

4. We’ve seen a higher protein intake does help build bone mass at the Center for Better Bones. The one caveat, however, is that for long-term success we need to provide our body with enough alkalizing mineral compounds from diet and alkalizing supplements to buffer any excess metabolic acids produced.

Bone is nearly one-half protein by volume and body-wide protein is constantly needed to repair and build all tissues. While higher protein can benefit bone, it’s always important to monitor your pH balance to make sure you’re buffering any excess metabolic acids produced by the increased protein intake.

How much protein do you need for your bones? Interview with Dr. Wright.

Vitamin C reduces fracture risk

High amounts of vitamin C led to a nearly 44% reduction in risk of fracture, according to new research on the effects of vitamin C on bone health.  The study suggests that women and men with higher levels of vitamin C intake experience significantly less aging bone loss than those with lower vitamin C intakes along with the significant reduction in fracture incidence.  The 25% with the highest vitamin C intake had nearly a 44% reduction in risk of fracture.

What surprises me about this research is the “high” level of vitamin C intake was only 200 to 300 mg/day (and that is from diet and supplements together). At The Center for Better Bones we find that for complete health and detoxification, many people require much higher dose of this key vitamin — up to 1,000-3,000 mg a day. This makes sense because vitamin C plays several important roles within every cell — including dozens of important functions related to cell repair and division, energy production, toxin neutralization.

I’m always uplifted when physicians take into account the nutrient factors that benefit bone. I encourage you to take a few minutes and watch my recent conversation with Dr. Sahni, from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, about her research on vitamin C and broadening the scope of research about the many roles of nutrients.  I congratulate Dr. Sahni on her study!

Learn more with my interview with Dr. Sahni



Author; S. Sahni. Vitamin C and Bone Health, Presentation at 9th International Symposium on Nutritional Aspects of Osteoporosis, Montreal Canada, June 17-20, 2015.

Could a hidden food allergy harm your bones?

Is a hidden food allergy harming your bones?

chocolate-chip-cookie-food-allergyDo you suffer from food allergies?  Knowing the answer is simple enough if you notice that you become congested or have headaches every time you eat dairy products.  The solution is simple too — avoiding the foods that cause immediate reactions to find symptom relief.

But did you know that 80% of all food reactions are delayed — making it difficult to know when you’re allergic or sensitive to what you eat? Hours — or even days — after enjoying a particular food, you might experience a reaction, which can be associated with a wide range of symptoms, including:

•    Fatigue
•    Arthritis and  joint pain
•    Asthma
•    Sinus issues
•    Irritable bowel
•    Autoimmune disease and poor nutrient absorption to fibromyalgia and systemic inflammation. These powerful, yet hidden, reactions turn our white blood cells into virtual Pac-Men looking for something to attack and spreading inflammatory chemicals throughout the body.

Inflammation and its effects on bone

Hidden allergies not only contribute to an array of health problems and increase systemic inflammation, but they also waste the immune system and end up producing serious “repair deficit.” Within bone the combo of tear-down inflammation from an over-active immune system and the ensuing long-term bone repair deficit contributes to skeletal fragility and sets the stage for needless fracture.

5 ways food allergies can damage bone

•    Cause inflammation capable of tearing down bone
•    Increase bone-damaging cortisol and metabolic acidity
•    Weaken immune-system-directed bone repair
•    Reduce digestion and assimilation of nutrients
•    Signal a nervous system that is jittery and worried

A self-help test for delayed allergies/hypersensitivities can be done by eliminating any and all foods you are suspicious of for four days, watching to see if symptoms change, and then reintroducing these foods. Often this simple elimination/challenge test yields symptom improvement. Even better, a simple at-home test for 95 possible delayed food allergies, The Food Safe™ Allergy Test, is now available. This test requires no blood draw at a lab and each food allergy report will include a rotation diet.