For thousands of years we have been comforted with “chicken soup” when we are feeling under the weather. It turns out there is more behind chicken soup than simply warming our souls. Traditionally made chicken, beef, lamb, fish, or vegetable broth (to name a few) is made from boiling bones, tendons, ligaments and other parts of the animal that we wouldn’t eat. The finished product, now referred to as “bone broth” is packed with essential nutrients that can greatly impact our health in a positive way.
The method of boiling down bones and other animal parts extracts nutrients into the water. Bone broths are rich in collagen, the most abundant protein in our bodies. They also contain gut-healing amino acids like glutamine which can repair intestinal permeability, also known as “leaky gut”. Proline, glycine and arginine are other amino acids found in high concentration in bone broth. They help boost our immune system, prevent the breakdown of muscle tissue, stimulate the production and release of growth hormone, and can help regenerate and repair cartilage and heal joints. Bone broth also contains glucosamine, another powerful joint supporting nutrients, as well as abundant amounts of minerals and electrolytes like calcium, magnesium, potassium and phosphorus.
Bone broth is extremely easy to make, the hardest part in our culture is finding a place that carries bones and other parts of pastured animals. Finding these parts usually requires asking the butcher what he has hiding in the back room, as they are less readily found in the front shelves or freezer. Once our bones are sourced, there are a variety of ways to make a tasty, versatile broth. The base of most broths consists of bones, fat, meat, vegetables and water. Apple cider vinegar is also added to help extract more nutrients from the bones. Bones with meat should be cooked, while other bones and ingredients can be added raw. Add all ingredients to a large crockpot, cover with water, bring to a boil and let simmer for 4-6 hours. Then proceed to cook on low heat for 24-48 hours total. As the broth cooks longer it will become more concentrated and gelatinous. Strain the broth through cheesecloth to remove herbs, bones, vegetables and other particles and let the broth come to room temperature before covering and storing in the refrigerator or freezer. Fat from the broth with separate and solidify on top. This fat can be kept in the broth or removed and used for cooking.
Homemade broth is best consumed within 3-5 days or can be kept frozen for up to 6 months. There are also some high quality brands that can be found premade. When choosing a store bought broth, keep in mind the quality of the product and be sure each ingredient can be identified. Bone broth can be used to sip on, as a nutrient-dense caffeine free alternative in the morning or evening. It can also be used in recipes and as a base for homemade soup or stew. Due to its powerful nutrient profile, bone broth is considered a “superfood”. If we want to keep our immune system strong, preserve muscle mass, boost our digestion and metabolism, and ward off the doctor’s office this fall and winter, let’s try out some hearty bone broth to keep our bodies primed for whatever life throws our way.
- Axe, Josh. “#BoneBroth Benefits for Digestion, Arthritis, and Cellulite.” Dr. Axe, 23 Jan. 2019, https://draxe.com/nutrition/article/the-healing-power-of-bone-broth-for-digestion-arthritis-and-cellulite/.
- “Bone Broth Benefits: Everything You Need to Know.” Chris Kresser, 27 Aug. 2019, https://chriskresser.com/the-bountiful-benefits-of-bone-broth-a-comprehensive-guide/.