Drinking chicken soup as a cure when you are sick is more than just an old wives’ tale. Your grandmother may have actually been on to something. Which is why bone broth has become very popular as of late and follows the same principles — warm, mineral-rich broth is not only soothing but good for you. So how is it different from soup? And how do you know if you’re making it correctly to get all the important health benefits?
Bone broth is essentially a mineral-rich infusion made by boiling bones — usually either chicken, beef, or fish — most often with vegetables, herbs and spices. Bone broth is different than simple broth, in that it’s a time-intensive process, often taking over 24 hours to simmer out all the minerals, gelatin, and collagen-rich nutrients from the bones. That might not sound appetizing, but it’s what gives the broth its numerous health benefits. Some of these claims are:
- Excellent Source of Minerals: Bone broth is a dense source of minerals that are easily digested and absorbed into the body. Bone broth is also an excellent source of calcium and magnesium — a great option for those who do not tolerate dairy.
- Reduces Joint Pain: Why pop a pill to get joint relief? Bone broth is an excellent source of glucosamine and chondroitin, which are therapeutic for joint health. Bone broth is also very high in the amino acids proline and glycine which are important ingredients for healthy connective tissue, such as ligaments and joints. The gelatin in bone broth has actually been shown to relieve joint pain, making it as effective as taking an anti-inflammatory medicine.
- Heal a “Leaky Gut”: “Leaky gut,” also known as gut hyperpermeability, is a condition where the intestinal lining leaks and allows undigested food particles and bacteria into your bloodstream, causing your body to attack these foreign invaders. Poor food choices, environmental toxins, stress, antibiotics and other medications, help to contribute to this condition. The gelatin in bone broth helps to heal the mucosal lining of the digestive tract. When your gut is sealed and healthy, your body is better able to absorb and digest nutrients properly.
- Boosts the Immune System: Bone broth provides a rich source of minerals and amino acids, which is known to boost the immune system. Not only is it soothing, but it allows the body to repair itself and fight infections.
- Fights Inflammation: Bone broth also has many components that help to improve inflammatory conditions. The naturally-occurring amino acids, such as glycine, proline and arginine in bone broth also helps the body’s detoxification process and fights inflammation.
- Healthier Hair, Skin and Nails: Thanks to the gelatin in bone broth, regular consumption leads to healthier hair, skin and nails. Bone broth is also rich in collagen, the proteins found in flesh and connective tissue. As we age our collagen production decreases, which is why skin wrinkles and sags more as we get older. Bone broth is rich in collagen, and has been found to make skin smoother and suppler.
- Detox Your Liver: The toxic and chemical overload that our bodies are exposed to on a daily basis put a big burden on our livers. Gelatin-rich bone broth is an excellent source of glycine, aiding the liver in its ability to do its job properly.
- Balances Blood Sugar: Studies show that the amino acid glycine found in bone broth also helps to regulate blood sugar levels. Glycine controls gluconeogenesis, which manufactures glucose form the protein in the liver.
- Improves Sleep: Glycine has also been reported to induce sleep and plays an important role in regulating the neurotransmitters within the brain, creating a calming effect.
- Helps Repair and Grow Bones: Bone broth is an excellent source of calcium, magnesium and phosphorus, all vital building blocks for bones. This is an excellent way for those who are dairy intolerant to get these important minerals.
The taste of homemade bone broth is far superior to any found in a can or box, and making broth at home is extremely affordable as the bones, joints, and bits that would normally end up as waste can be converted into a nutrient-dense medicine.
Note: When making bone broth, look for high-quality bones from organic grass-fed beef or bison, pastured poultry, or wild-caught fish. Since you will be drinking the minerals in concentrated form, you want to be sure you are cooking up a healthy animal void of growth hormones and antibiotics. If you don’t have bones from your own meals, local butchers or farmers will often sell you the bones for next to nothing.
Give this simple homemade bone broth recipe a try. Bone broth takes a long time to cook out the minerals, but involves very little active. Just let it simmer and enjoy!
2 pounds (or more) of healthy bones
2 chicken feet for extra gelatin (optional)
1 onion, quartered (peel on)
2 stalks of celery
2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar (the acid in the vinegar makes the nutrients in the bones more available)
Filtered water – enough to fully cover the bones in your pot
Optional: 1 bunch of parsley, 1 tablespoon of sea salt, 1 tablespoon of peppercorns, two cloves of garlic, additional herbs or spices to taste.
If using raw bones, roast them in a pan in the oven for 30 minutes at 350º F.
Place bones in a large stock pot (or slow cooker). Pour water and vinegar over bones and let sit for 20-30 minutes in the cool water. Roughly chop the vegetables and add to pot (except the parsley and garlic). Add any spices, herbs, salt, or pepper. Bring the broth to a vigorous boil, then reduce to a simmer until done. (beef broth=48 hours, poultry broth=24 hours, fish broth=8 hours).
During the first few hours of simmering, remove any impurities that may float to the surface. You can also scrape off the frothy layer that forms at the top with a big spoon and discard.
During the last 30 minutes, add garlic and parsley.
Remove from heat and let cool slightly. Using a fine metal strainer, strain the bits of bones and vegetables.
Once cool, store in a gallon size glass jar and store in the fridge for up to five days, or freeze for later use. Try freezing in small portions (ice cube trays work well) to throw in recipes.
Cooking Note: Slow cookers work well for smaller batches, especially since we never recommend leaving a stove unattended.
Other ideas to try:
- Try adding bone broth in your soups and stews in place of a boxed broth
- Sauté or boil bone broth with your vegetables for a healthy infusion
- Use bone broth in place of water while cooking pasta, rice, mashed potatoes, or quinoa