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On Broth (with recipe)

What’s Old is New Again

Broth has been making a comeback recently (although, as one friend has said ‘it’s been trendy in the poor homes of New Brunswick for as long as I can remember’. Recently “a steaming cup of bone broth” was been identified as “New York City’s latest health trend”; “a trend worth its salt.”[1] Many virtues of broth have been proposed. The presence of gelatin helps to repair joints and improve hair, skin and nails along with the digestive tract. Calcium and minerals released into broth nourish bones and support nerve and muscle function. Indeed, minerals are more easily absorbed as broth than as supplements. Broth is also a good protein source.[2]

Broth and Chemotherapy

Low blood counts are a typical side-effect of chemotherapy and can lead to increased risk of serious infection and anemia. Low blood counts can also lead to delays in chemotherapy and lowered dosage. While there are drug options in longer-interval chemotherapy (21 days), there is nothing for shorter (weekly) interval regimens. Hence a friend’s comment that “white blood cells are an A-type personality's nightmare.” Enter broth. While there are no scientific studies confirming the effect of nutritional dosing with broth on declining blood counts, broth has been touted as having benefits of specific relevance for people undergoing chemotherapy. “By cooking down bone marrow, you get everything you need to build new red and white blood cells. Gelatin in particular, helps to regenerate red blood cells… White blood cells (are) also built in the bone marrows. While cells usually breakdown during cooking, all of their components are still there and help our bodies build new white blood cells.”[3] Broth was something this A-Type personality could do! Recipe: click here

A Personal Story

Based on reading about its purported benefits and the experience of a friend who had turned to broth to get her blood counts high enough to receive her final round of chemotherapy, broth seemed like something worth trying: a little good and no great harm. When my counts dropped during three months of weekly chemotherapy, it was time to experiment.[4] My blood counts responded and by the end of chemotherapy, my white blood count was at the same baseline/normal level at which I had begun chemotherapy. My platelets were higher and my red blood cells (hemoglobin), although lower than when I had begun, were in the normal range. A sample size of one does not establish any universal principles, but it was a positive experience. As I learned about the virtues of broth, there were good reasons for its success in my case. I have posted “my” recipe adapted from Rebecca Katz, here (click).

[3] Ibid.

[4] I had received two injections of Neulasta during my initial AC 21-day regimen.

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