Mark my words: bone broth is the new green juice.
Bone broth is an ancient food that has made its way back into the spotlight. It’s popping up in packaged form at Whole Foods and other natural foods stores, butchers are now selling it in hot containers like coffee, and broth bars like this one are emerging onto the scene.
And although you should look at most health fads with a skeptical eye (e.g. products labeled as “superfoods”), the re-emergence of bone broths should be greeted with a warm welcome. Similar to the way fermented and probiotic-rich foods (like kombucha and sauerkraut) have been making great headway due to their impact on promoting a healthy gut, the nutritional benefits of bone broth also deem it worthy of a place in the modern kitchen.
What Is It?
Bone broth is simply a stock made from the meat and bones of animals, most commonly chicken and beef, as well as lamb or fish. The bones, joints, and other parts with cartilage are cooked over low simmering heat, in order to extract gelatin and other nutrients.
Stock or Broth?
Technically, broths and stocks are different. Broths refer to the liquid made from meats, vegetables, and other seasonings (not bones). Stocks, on the other hand, refer to liquids made from slow simmered bones, and they’re often unseasoned. However, when making a stock out of bones, there’s often meat still on the bones, which crosses it over into the broth category. For the purpose of this post, I’m going to use the words broth and stock interchangeably, since we’re addressing the healing properties of slow cooked bones (a stock) but also want the flavor typical of broths (from meat, vegetables and other seasonings).
Bone broths are helpful for strengthening bones, cartilage, tendons, and connective tissue for both a pregnant mother and her baby.
By slow-cooking the bones and marrow, collagen and healing amino acids such as proline, glycine, and glutamine, are released. Bone broths also contain essential minerals, including calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, silicon, and sulphur. These nutrients are easily digested and have been found to significantly improve gut and bone health, joints, and the immune system.
Consuming broth during pregnancy is especially helpful in providing extra glycine. While a mother can make enough glycine for survival, sufficient amounts of glycine are needed for fetal growth. The fetus can access glycine from the mother’s blood, or manufacture it with sufficient amounts of folate, a vitamin, and serene, an amino acid. A mother can ensure she gets adequate glycine by consuming bone broth daily.
Collagen is what solidifies and creates the jello-like gelatin. Collagen is found in bones, marrow, joints, and tendons, and offers a diverse array of health benefits, including:
- Can protect and smooth the lining of the digestive tract and can aid in healing or reducing symptoms of IBS, Crohn’s Disease, ulcerative colitis, and reflux. The hydrophilic colloid found in gelatin attracts and holds liquids and digestive juices and supports proper digestion. Collagen also helps break down proteins, which can be useful for those with leaky gut syndrome.
- Contains amino acids glycine, proline, and arginine are anti-inflammatory. Glycine is also calming and can promote better sleep.
- Helps promote probiotic balance and growth.
- Builds connective tissue, which can prevent bone loss and relieve joint pain. It can also help reduce joint pain and inflammation due to the healing properties of chondroitin sulphates and glucosamine. These compounds are extracted from the boiled down cartilage.
- Supports the regeneration of connective tissue in the skin, which can reduce the appearance of wrinkles and cellulite. Additionally, the gelatin is supportive of healthy hair and nail growth.
Make Your Own Bone Broth
Bone broth can be easily made at home, which will far outweigh the nutrient content of typical boxed broths, which often contain MSG or other synthetic flavors.
Bone broth can be made with bones and cartilage of chicken, beef, fish or lamb, and sometimes includes a small amount of meat. Since the nutrients will be excreted from the bones of these animals, it’s important to purchase pasture-raised, grass fed, organic and local whenever possible.
Simple Homemade Bone Broth Recipe
- Place bones in a large stock pot or slow cooker and cover with water.
- Add 2 tbsp. of apple cider vinegar to help excrete the important nutrients from the bone.
- Bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer (if using a slow cooker, turn on high for 1-2 hours, then back down to low for the remaining time).
- Fish stock: at least 4 hours, up to 24 hours
- Chicken: at least 6, up to 24 hours
- Beef/lamb: at least 12 hours, up to 72 hours
- Add vegetables and/or seaweed in the last hour of cooking.
- Strain and store in glass jars in the fridge for up to 5 days, or freeze for later use.
- Enjoy as soup, in stews, sauces or stir-fries, or sip as-is, seasoned with herbs and spices.
Bauman E. NC 2010. Musculoskeletal Health. [Power Point Slides]. Retrieved from http://dashboard.baumancollege.org/course/view.php?id=88
Cowan, T.S. & Morell, S. F. (2005). The Nourishing Traditions Book of Baby and Childcare. Washington, DC: New Trends Publishing, Inc.
Mercola, DO (2013). Bone Broth: One of Your Most Healing Diet Staples. Retrieved from <http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/12/16/bone-broth-benefits.aspx>