Last updated: March 2nd 2017
When we talk about optimum fuel for the body, bone broth is in a league of its own.
Ever wondered why we have chicken soup when we’re sick? It’s because bone broths are easy to digest, taste great and most importantly, are rich in nutrients, with high levels of protein, minerals and vitamins.
What is Bone Broth?
Sounds simple doesn’t it, “Bone Broth”… maybe something your grandmother made in her day. In fact, it dates as far back as the Stone Age when bones were cooked in skins and turtle shells over an open fire. Now that doesn’t mean that you have to become a caveman to glean the wonderful benefits.
Bone broth is unlike stock or broth. Let’s look at the differences:
Stock, which is a good source of gelatin, is made using bones with a small amount of meat, which is often roasted before it is simmered for 3-4 hours. Stock is added to soups and stews to add more flavors.
Broth is made using meat with a small amount of bones. Simmered for 45 minutes to two hours, it has a thin texture, and a light flavor. Broth is rich in protein.
Bone broth is made using bones and it may contain a small amount of the meat that adheres to the bones. The bones are roasted beforehand to bring out the flavor before being simmered for 8 to 48 hours. The lengthy cooking time not only produces gelatin, but it also releases minerals from the bones. Once it is cooked, the bones will crumble when pressed gently with your fingers.
Bone broth is a thick, gelatinous liquid with a deep savory flavor. It can be made from the bones of beef, bison, lamb, poultry, or fish. Some people add vegetables and herbs to it to add more flavors and to pack a stronger nutritional punch. You can enjoy it on its own, or you can use it in your daily cooking – it’s up to you.
Keep on reading for some great ways in which you can add more nutrition and flavor to your favorite foods.
Bone Broth Nutrition Benefits
Made from the parts of an animal we don’t usually consume, bone broth allows us to benefit from nutrients that are dense in parts such as ligaments, tendons, feet, skin, marrow and bones. When the bones are simmered for a lengthy period of time, compounds such as proline, glycine, collagen and glutamine are released. Consuming these vital compounds can result in powerful health transformations.
Instead of buying expensive supplements, consume minerals such as silicon, sulphur, phosphorus, magnesium and calcium in an easily absorbed form via bone broth. You will also receive important compounds such as glucosamine and chondroitin sulphates.
Let’s take a look at the health benefits of the contents of bone broth:
Collagen – The oily layer on top of the broth in the cooling pot is the best part, so don’t throw it away. That’s the collagen, which contains potent immune-boosting properties and offers amazing benefits:
- It helps to protect and soothe the digestive tract lining, aiding in healing conditions such as acid reflux, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
- It makes your skin supple by increasing connective tissues while decreasing cellulite.
Gelatin – The product of broken down collagen is gelatin, which has its own range of benefits:
- It improves tolerance towards certain foods, such as gluten and cow’s milk.
- It promotes probiotic growth and balance.
- It breaks down proteins to sooth the gut, which may benefit individuals with leaky gut syndrome and related autoimmune disorders.
- It provides easily-absorbed, bone-building minerals that help reduce joint pain and bone loss.
Bone Broth Is Rich in Amino Acids
The gelatin in bone broth is rich in amino acids such as glycine, arginine, proline and glutamine, all of which contribute to the healing properties of the broth. Known as conditional amino acids, these elements are nonessential, that can be essential if you are stressed or ill and unable to produce them.
Glycine offers the following benefits:
- Prevents protein tissues (muscle) from breaking down.
- Used in production of glutathione and bile salts.
- Acts as an antioxidant to detoxify the body.
- As a neurotransmitter, it improves performance, memory and promotes sleep.
- Required for wound healing and immune system function.
- Needed for growth hormone production and release.
- Required for sperm production.
- Needed to help regenerate damaged liver cells.
- Heals joints and regenerates cartilage.
- Improves skin suppleness and reduces cellulite.
- Helps to repair leaky gut.
- Improves muscle building and metabolism.
- Provides metabolic fuel needed by cells in the small intestine.
- Protects the gut lining.
Bone Broth Health Benefits
As you can probably guess, any food that is jam packed with critical nutrients has got to have a whole gambit of health benefits. Let’s look at a few….
The Healthy Gut
Gut diseases (including IBS, indigestion and leaky gut) are one of the most common health issues for people today. However, most people don’t even realize they have them. Preservatives in foods, toxin overload and an imbalance of bacteria are all to blame. Leaky gut (or hyperpermeability) is where missing cells in the intestinal wall allow bad bacteria, toxins and metals to “leak” into the bloodstream.
Individuals suffering from this may experience skin issues, depression, digestive problems, and auto immune conditions. These are just a few of the symptoms. Bone broth is strongly believed to be instrumental in the treatment of a leaky gut. It helps heal the mucosal lining of the digestive track, allowing the digestive system to absorb the nutrients properly and discard the toxins.
In recent years there have been a lot of indications that there is a distinct connection between the gut and the brain. The gut is often referred to as the second brain. Research is indicating that microbes found in the gut are able to communicate with the brain, and through this helps the brain to function or unfortunately cause dysfunction. Further research shows the gut may also be involved in conditions such as autism or depression.
Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride is a strong advocate of bone broth and has instituted it as the foundation of the GAPS diet (Gut and Psychology Syndrome). It is becoming a favored treatment for autism in kids and for gut dysfunction problems.
When we don’t give our bodies the sleep it needs, there are dramatic health consequences. Sleep allows the body to repair and reorganize. Those who have difficulty sleeping will seek out anything to gain even a few hours of blissful rest.
Many testify that a cup of bone broth has greatly increased their sleeping capabilities. This is due to the glycine found in the marrow. Glycine acts on the brains receptors linked to rapid eye movement and those that lower body temperature during sleep. This creates better sleep conditions. So tonight have a cup of broth. It’s warm and soothing and tells your body it’s time to relax.
Since bone broth contains collagen, it’s very beneficial for those who have joint pain. Many have found that chicken collagen has been particularly helpful. It contains chondroitin and glucosamine, substances found in the body that are vital in building cartilage.
Hair, Skin & Nails
If you want results on the outside, first look at what you’re putting on the inside. Nutrients & vitamins will first meet the needs of vital organs before attending to aesthetic processes. The skin is comprised of an abundance of collagen, and the hair and nails are made up of protein.
When these are lacking there are noticeable signs that something is wrong. Hair can look dull, become thin or weak. Nails may grow slowly, be brittle, or have white spots. Your skin can become saggy and wrinkles more prominent. The collagen and protein that is found in bone broth is very helpful in correcting these issues. After 6 weeks of drinking bone broth (about 5 times/week), the white spots on my fingernails went away and my hair was noticeably thicker and stronger.
Apart from its nutritional benefits, it is really economical, which means that you have no excuse not to add it to your diet. Whether you enjoy it as a food, energy drink or a dietary supplement, it can help you:
- achieve maximum performance
- quicker recovery from injury
- stronger resistance to disease
- reduce inflammation
- assist in cleansing and healing the digestive system and skin
- strengthen hair, nails, bones and joints
- overcome food intolerances
- reduce cellulite
- and much more
Expert Tip: Feeling stressed, run-down or tired? Make some bone broth. It will help nourish your body and soul and promote healing.
Where to Buy Bone Broth
With the increasing popularity of bone broth, more commercial manufacturers are scrambling to get their broth on the supermarket shelves. It comes in a range of formats and packaging choices, and varying nutritional contents.
Bone broths are widely available, but it is important to ask:
- How were the animals raised? – pasture-raised, no hormones/antibiotics, grass-fed
- What ingredients are included in the broth? – avoid additives, “natural” flavors, and thickeners (guar gum, carrageenan, etc.)
- How long was it simmered? – the longer it simmers, the more nutritious the broth
Remember, what we use to fuel are bodies directly effects how we feel and function, our moods, how we think, and so on. And before I fuel my body, I always ask where my fuel came from and how it was raised.
If you’re going to buy bone broth, experts recommend that you look for a fresh, organic broth rather than a long shelf-life, or canned version. Store-bought versions often contain MSG or other various chemicals. They also lack gelatin and several vital health properties found in homemade broth. You can try checking at your local farmer’s market or nearby farm.
Expert Tip: Worried about lead in your bone broth? A recent study has shown that the lead contained in organic chicken broth is well below the environmental protection agency’s safety threshold. Also, bone broth is rich in calcium, which protects against lead toxicity. Lead poses a bigger risk for children, so consider the source of chicken bones if you want to feed it to children.
A test performed by Nourished Kitchen on a range of commercial bone broths found that those products that contained the least ingredients, ranked best and they concluded that homemade is best.
How to Make Bone Broth in Your Own Kitchen
Thankfully, it is inexpensive and easy to make your own homemade bone broth.
5 Factors to Make the Best Bone Broth:
- How the Animal was Raised: What the animal eats is what we eat. If the animal was sick, its bone marrow is also sick. It is important to get the best-quality bones possible; they should be from organically raised animals.
- The Age of the Animal: Animals are like us, as they age their bones and joints wear down with time. Less connective tissue means a reduction of gelatin, so younger animals will give you a more gelatinous broth.
- Bone Type is Key: The most common bones available are usually femurs. Femurs are great because they have a lot of bone marrow, but very little collagen. Joints and feet have the majority of the collagen and cause the broth to be jiggly after refrigeration. I recommend using an equal ratio of bones, joints and feet… this will help you achieve that prize-winning gel.
- Bone to Water Ratio: Add water just to cover the bones, and no more.
- Give it Time: The great thing about broth, is once it’s started it’s low maintenance. For beef broth let it simmer up to 48 hours, and chicken up to 24 hours.
Making Your Own Bone Broth at Home
Using your crockpot, you should cook your bone broth for 8-24 hours. In a slow cooker, it will take a minimum of 12 hours.
- 2 lbs bones (good quality bones from any animal, or a combination, if you wish)
- 4 quarts / liters water
- 1 tbs lemon juice or apple cider vinegar
- If using raw bones, Roast bones for 30 min. at 350oF (this improves flavor)
- Add all the ingredients into a pot and bring to a boil.
- Turn down to a low heat and allow it to simmer for anywhere from 8-24 hours (up to 48 hours for beef).
- Remove pot from heat and strain the liquid through a metal strainer lined with cheesecloth into a glass container. Discard the bones.
Nutrition Tip: You could use a whole chicken or a whole fish to make your broth. Alternating between different animals will result in a varied diet and a variety of different nutritional benefits.
Expert Tip: The broth can be chilled in the fridge, or frozen for later use.
Embracing the Bone Broth Diet
More experts are agreeing that we should go back to the basic diets of our ancestors. They ate plenty of natural, whole, unprocessed foods; that if added to our diet, will help our bodies thrive today.
By reducing simple carbs that cause blood sugar spikes and avoiding processed foods, you will already see great results. The key to good health is to maintain good digestive health. After all, 70-80% of the immune system is in the gut. Whole foods are nutritionally dense and therefore promote immunity and health.
Instead of trying to follow a specific diet, experts recommend that you customize your diet to your body’s individual needs and lifestyle, while incorporating foods from all the food groups.
And of course, include bone broth!
Not only is bone broth a wonderful nutritional supplement, but it can be used to add more flavor and nutrition to your soups, stews and gravies. You will note that dehydrated or canned stocks simply can’t compare to homemade bone broth, both in flavor and nourishment.
In terms of nutritional value, bone broth is a superfood in its own right and therefore a valuable addition to your routine. It is whole, unprocessed and natural. By incorporating bone broth into your daily eating plan, you will be well on your way to a more nutrient rich diet.
8 Creative Ways to Incorporate Bone Broth into Your Daily Life
- Cook your pasta, rice, beans and other legumes or grains in broth. It tastes amazing and packs a powerful nutritional punch.
- Use it as a base for your stews or chilies.
- Use it in soups and sauces.
- Enjoy bone broth as a snack during the day.
- Use bone broth to dilute pureed veggies for baby feeding.
- Dehydrate bone broth to make bullion.
- Make frozen bone broth cubes (using ice trays) and add it to your smoothies.
- Cook your pulled chicken in bone broth.
Expert Tip: Do you have picky eaters in your home? Cook veggies, such as mashed potato in bone broth. They won’t be able to resist!
Bone Broth Recipes
We’ve mentioned a few ways in which you could include bone broth in your routine and now we’re going to share some delightful recipes in which you can use bone broth, so cook up a big batch and let’s get started.
Bone Broth Tomato Sauce
Next time you make lasagna, pasta, or spaghetti squash… try this classic tomato sauce.
- 2 cups homemade bone broth
- 2 x 6-7 oz cans organic tomato paste
- 2 T. extra virgin olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
- 1/2 tsp. dried basil
- Freshly ground black pepper and sea salt to taste
- Place everything in a medium-sized saucepan and whisk it together thoroughly.
- Heat over medium heat for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Reduce the heat to low, simmer covered for a further 5 minutes to draw out the flavors of the herbs.
- Serve over cooked pasta noodles, spaghetti squash noodles, or include in your lasagna.
Kombu Drinking Bone Broth
Sipping on this mineral-rich broth will provide a nutritional punch. It is the ideal savory between-meals treat and is ready in less than 10 minutes.
- 1 cup bone broth
- 1-inch piece of kombu seaweed
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
- salt & pepper to taste
- Heat the broth in a saucepan until it is simmering.
- Add the rest of the ingredients and allow to simmer for 5 more minutes.
- Pour into a mug and enjoy.
Amy Myers M.D’s Gut Healing Chicken Bone Broth Recipe
Amy Myers is a gut-healing guru who believes in getting to the root of the problem as she empowers people to take back their health. Here’s her gut-healing chicken broth recipe.
- 1 whole organic, free range chicken
- 8 cups of water
- 4 -6 celery stalks, finely chopped
- ½ yellow or white onion, finely chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 Tablespoon fresh parsley (chopped)
- 1 inch ginger root, finely chopped
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- ½ teaspoon apple cider vinegar
Place all the above ingredients in a crockpot and cook on low heat for 8 -10 hours or until the meat is falling away from the bones.
Expert Tip: Start your chicken broth before you go to bed. That way, it will be ready by breakfast.
Are you a bone broth addict, or would you like to get started on this great health kick? We’d love to hear how you enjoy your bone broth, so speak to us, in the comments below.