What is Bone Broth?
Bone broth may just be the first “superfood” in the Paleo community, and you may be wondering “what’s so special about broth?” But the difference is in how the broth is prepared. This makes all the difference in whether it can truly be called a “superfood”.
Now bone broth isn’t just your regular stock made after a few hours of simmering a chicken carcass on the stove. Bone broth’s real benefits come from simmering the bones for up to 72 hours, which allows the marrow to be cooked down and the minerals to be released.
Benefits of Bone Broth
Broth made from bones and joints contains several nutrients that help strengthen your own skeletal system. Believe it or not, bones are actually pretty rich in protein — close to 50% protein by volume. The collagen from the bones, tendons, and ligaments are broken down during the cooking process and turned into gelatin, which is actually a protein (Hint: properly prepared broth congeals in the fridge due to gelatin). Gelatin contains several important amino acids, such as proline and glycine.
These amino acids allow your body to rebuild your own connective tissue, especially tendons and ligaments, which, as I’m sure you know, are important for your health and strength. If your muscles are strong, but your connective tissues are weak, this can elevate the risk of injury. Also, as we age it’s important to maintain connective tissue health to reduce the risk of aching joints. (1)
Bone broth is also rich in glycosaminoglycans (GAGs), a family of carbohydrates found in bones and connective tissue that shows interesting effects on reducing joint pain. The best-known GAG is glucosamine, which thousands of people take every day as a joint health supplement. Two other GAGs found in bones, hyaluronic acid and chondroitin sulfate, have also been known to be effective treatments for osteoarthritis. (2)
These proteins in bone broth seen to be especially beneficial for those with rheumatoid arthritis. One study found that chicken collagen can dramatically improve symptoms in patients with rheumatoid arthritis and may even prevent symptoms entirely. (3)
Another major benefit of bone broth is its ability to improve digestion due to high levels of the amino acid glycine. Glycine helps improve digestion through increased production of stomach acid. Contrary to what you may think, acid reflux is actually caused by a lack of stomach acid which makes digesting food difficult, so increasing the glycine in your diet may actually help if you suffer from acid reflux. Glycine is also an important component of bile acid, which is necessary for fat digestion in the small intestine and also helps maintain healthy blood cholesterol levels.
Glutamine, another amino acid found in bone broth, has been known as a natural remedy for “leaky gut syndrome”, which basically means the lining of your intestines are not working properly and toxins that should remain in your intestine can leak into your bloodstream, which can set off a number of autoimmune issues. Glutamine helps keep the intestinal wall strong and healthy, preventing this damage from occurring. This can help cure chronic diarrhea, constipation, and even some food intolerances. (4, 5)
Rich in Minerals
Bone broth is extremely high in minerals. Cooking the bones for so long demineralizes the bones and releases the minerals into the broth. When using land animals, your broth will be rich in calcium, magnesium, potassium, and phosphorus. When cooking fish bones, your broth will be rich in iodine.
You can even maximize the mineral content by adding a few tablespoons of apple cider vinegar to the broth before you turn on the heat. It will help decalcify the bones and extract the minerals even more.
Improved Immune System
All bone broth is nutritious, but broth made with marrow has even more benefits. Marrow is technically an organ meat, and organ meats tend to be extremely rich in nutrition. Marrow plays an important role in living creatures as a part of the immune system as its cells are necessary for immune function and bone growth. A Harvard study even showed that some people with autoimmune disorders experienced relief from symptoms when drinking bone broth, with some achieving complete remission. (6)
Common Cold & Flu
Bone broth is also a great remedy for acute illnesses such as colds and flu. If you’re fighting a cold, make a warm bone broth soup that’s spicy with plenty of pepper. The spices will release watery fluids in your mouth, throat, and lungs, which will help thin the respiratory mucus so it’s easier to expel. Bone broth also contains a variety of valuable nutrients in a form your body can easily absorb and use — not to mention, it’s also great for when your appetite is weak from being sick.
How to Make Bone Broth
The best bones to choose for making bone broth are the ones with the most marrow. You can typically find “soup bones” at your local butcher that will work nicely. You can also easily find chicken feet or giblets to use, or even the whole carcass. Next time you roast a whole chicken, freeze the carcass until you’re ready to make your broth.
- 2 pounds of bones
- 1 gallon water
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 onion
- 2 large carrots (if from an organic source, you can rough chop and don’t need to peel)
- 2 celery stalks, rough chopped
- salt, pepper, and spices to taste
- If you’re using raw bones, roast the bones for 30 minutes at 350 degrees to help increase flavor.
- Place bones in a large stockpot and cover with water. Add the vinegar and allow to sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes.
- Roughly chop the vegetables and add to the stockpot. Bring to a rolling boil and then lower to a simmer.
- For the first 2-3 hours, skim any foamy layer that develops on the top and discard.
- For beef broth, simmer for 48 hours, for chicken broth, simmer for 24 hours, for fish broth, simmer for 8 hours.
- Allow to cool slightly and strain. Store in an airtight Mason jar or freeze until ready to use.
Ways to Eat Bone Broth
The most obvious way to use bone broth would be as the base of a soup. Simply use it as you would any broth for added nutritional value and flavor. You can create a sauce or even make a homemade bone broth gravy. You can also use it to saute or roast vegetables. You can even drink a mug of it daily as you would your morning coffee to get all the health benefits it has to offer.
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