Updated: Nov 21, 2020
Alright. I've got a story for you, and I swear every bit of it is true. For those of you who know me, don't worry -- it's not my ghost story. It's a story about bone broth.
After my second ACL surgery, I decided to up my nutritional game. I researched joint health and the kind of diet that could help with joint recovery. Collagen seemed to be the ticket, and it made sense: collagen is the building block for virtually all of our connective tissues. Skin, hair, nails, tendons, ligaments, cartilage, blood vessels, bones, teeth, and organs all have various types of collagen as their building blocks. Studies have shown that the benefits of increasing our collagen consumption have included stronger cartilage development in our joints, increased bone mass density, dental health, stronger hair and nails, increased muscle mass, and increased overall health of our blood vessels and the process of constructing health cells from our DNA and RNA.
Furthermore, studies have shown that collagen naturally depletes with age: our hair and nails weaken, our skin sags, motor and muscle function declines, and our joint health suffers. By the time we reach 40 (I was 39 at the time of my second ACL surgery), we will likely have lost 10-20% of our total collagen. At 50, we will have significantly less collagen than we did in our 20's. As I read and researched further, it seemed that I had nothing to lose and potentially everything to gain by adding a little more collagen into my diet.
I'm wary of supplements, so I looked for ways to incorporate collagen as a food source into my diet. I stumbled upon an unlikely source: chicken feet.
Structurally speaking, chicken feet are packed with the building blocks of collagen. They have long been consumed in China for ages because of their health benefits and miraculous age-reversing effects.
But I didn't think I could stomach chicken feet. The thought of consuming the tiny limbs was just...too much. But chicken feet bone broth -- ah, now that was something I could manage.
Two weeks post-op, my dad and I went to the Farmer's Market in search of chicken feet, and whaddya know -- we found some! Lone Star Sustainable Farms.
My dad and I talked with Tommy, the owner of Lone Star, for a while. Their son tore his ACL, too, playing football in high school. I told him about my research into collagen, bone broth, chicken feet. "Chicken feet are packed with collagen," he explained. "You throw a bunch of chicken feet into a crock pot with spices and vegetables. Cook on low for 16-18 hours. And when you refrigerate it, there is so much collagen and gelatin that the whole thing turns to jello." I thanked him and bought a huge bag of chicken feet.
Eager and excited for my new adventure, I dumped the frozen feet into the kitchen sink. "Laura Leigh, you'd better disinfect that whole kitchen ceiling to floor when you finish! I don't want to get some strange chicken feet disease!" my mom yelled to me from the next room. She's usually right, so I took note and washed my hands. I looked at my adventure. There they were, one big frozen block of tiny hands and fingers. I felt sick to my stomach. Was I nuts?
It took a few rounds to get the recipe to a place where I wasn't squinting my eyes and swallowing the concoction like a shot of Jagermeister. With a little help from my neighbor and advice from Tommy, my chicken feet bone broth blossomed itself into a savory broth that even my mother enjoyed! I shared with friends and soon, it was the talk of the town.
At this point, you're probably thinking, "Where does the miracle come into play? Did you make a full ACL recovery in record time?" The answer is, well, no -- my knee did not make a full recovery in record time. It made a great recovery, almost back to normal, in about 13 months. The miracle had nothing to do with my knee. The miracle was what happened to my elbow.
(Continue to Part II).