We typically only drink bone broth in the comfort of our own homes (or in place of coffee at the office), but one nurse takes hers to school–literally. Deirdre Byers works as a school nurse at Frederica Academy in Georgia. She has been making her own bone broth for years, and decided to share the good effects of it with her students, aged four to eighteen years, to help care for kids with cold symptoms.
And the results? Really promising.
Bone broth is thought of as a food that children don’t enjoy, but as you’ll see, her findings show that children appreciate the simplicity and comforts of traditional nutrition.
Byers normally makes her own, but wanted to conduct a survey with her students, and Kettle & Fire was happy to participate. We sent 48 cartons of our bone broth in November, and over the next month, she gave out about 100 servings. Smaller children received four ounce servings, while older students received eight ounces.
Deirdre let the school community know that she had bone broth available for anyone curious to try it, and that it was especially beneficial for cold symptoms. She received numerous positive comments, and many were grateful for the welcoming presence of such a comforting food at school.
While Deirdre strongly believes that bone broth is healthy, she doesn’t make nutritional or medical claims because she’s not a research expert on these subjects. While one scientific study has been completed using broth, it used chicken broth with vegetables rather than beef. However, as bone broth becomes a more broadly experienced food, the health benefits will start to speak for themselves.
We sat down with Deirdre to learn more about the experiment–and how her students reacted to the new remedy.
Kettle & Fire: So what were the details and parameters of your study, such as duration, number of participants, and ages of participants?
Deirdre Byers: This was what I would call an anecdotal observation exercise, not a scientific study. I began offering a cup of warm bone broth on Oct. 31 to anyone who presented with upper respiratory infection symptoms, and observed:
a) did they agree to take it
b) did they like the taste/warmth/steam
c) how did they feel after drinking it?
Over the month of November, according to my notes (not exact), I served a cup of broth 57 times. I definitely gave out more than that, as on Dec. 1 we had only nine of 50 boxes left (2-3 servings per box). This was because after awhile I just used it routinely for repeat visitors who I knew liked it and requested it. I also had about four teachers who came in and asked for it because they were intrigued, not because they had a cold.
I stopped record keeping on Nov. 30, and continued to serve it through December. I will serve it till we are out.
Our school is 390 students, and about 60 faculty and staff. The majority of the “broth visits” were from grades two through five, as they are my most frequent visitors, and most frequent upper respiratory infection group. Only four high school students tried the broth, but all four drank it once or twice a day for two to three days of cold symptoms.
KF: What were the prevailing “before” symptoms that made you want to offer bone broth to your students?
DB: Upper respiratory infection symptoms: sinus congestion, runny nose, cough and sore throat. My typical care of these symptoms has always included warm moist compress to cheeks, salt water gargle, acetaminophen or ibuprofen if appropriate (if child has fever then they are sent home and I generally do not treat fever with meds), cough drops and Vicks ointment in nares.
KF: How long did students consume bone broth before you started to notice positive symptoms?
DB: Those who accepted it always felt better almost immediately, as the steam and warm liquid tend to decrease the congested feeling and soothe a sore throat.
KF: What were the students’ reactions to the taste of bone broth? Were they willing to drink it?
DB: About 60 percent of students tried for the first time, and about 75 percent of those who tried it liked the flavor. I did offer it “plain” or with a few sprinkles of salt and pepper. The younger students in general liked it plain, and adults (teachers and staff) liked it with the salt or pepper.
KF: How did you give the bone broth to the students?
DB: I would pour about 1 cup into a ceramic mug, place in microwave oven for about 45 seconds, then decant into a disposable shallow bowl shape cup, easy for small hands to hold. High school girls sometimes took one of my mugs with them to class, and some teachers took a mug with them to class.
KF: At the end of the study, what were the positive effects that you noticed in the students?
DB: The extra TLC provided by taking a few minutes to sit and chat while they hold a warm cup of broth near their faces and sip are very valuable in making a student feel better!
KF: Will you attempt this type of study again?
DB: I will continue to use the broth as above till we run out, then I will most likely get more, as people have come to expect it. I have no science to back any of this up, but I have known that broth is comforting, the ingredients are highly nutritious, and the time and ritual of a warm drink are good for overall well-being in a child or adult not feeling up to par.
KF: What did you learn most through this process?
DB: Kids appreciate simple remedies.
KF: In your experience, what seem to be the three most positive health benefits of bone broth?
DB: (1) Warmth and steam from the cup is important in clearing breathing passages during times of congestion. (2) The nutrients in the broth provide a light but very satisfying “meal.” (3) A simple remedy was promoted as a way students and teachers can provide self-care for a common illness.
The Bone Broth Revolution
We are so pumped to hear that the concept of bone broth is reaching young minds (and bellies), and we believe that an even greater return to simple, ancient nutrition principles will continue to gain momentum across our country. If we can teach children how to nourish their bodies, both when sick and well, then we will be part of a health-food revolution that will reach wider and broader than any fad diet or ad campaign ever could.
Aimee McNew is a certified nutritionist who specializes in women’s health, infertility, and autoimmunity. Her first book, The Everything Guide to Hashimoto’s, releases Oct 2016.