For thousands of years there have been traditional foods like fermented vegetables and cultured dairy that have been touted for their health benefits.
But one common healing food that is now being recognized for it’s incredible health benefits is bone broth. Bone broth benefits are numerous and extensive so let me share a few ancient secrets with you.
Bone Broth Benefits
I have found bone broth to be the #1 thing you can consume to:
Chicken soup isn’t just good for the soul: there’s a reason that it’s prescribed by doctors and mothers alike when you’re feeling under the weather. All bone broths beef, chicken, fish, lamb and more are staples in the traditional diets of every culture and the basis of all fine cuisine. That’s because bone broths are nutrient-dense, easy to digest, rich in flavor and–they boost healing.
Bone broth or stock was a way our ancestors made use of every part of an animal. Bones and marrow, skin and feet, tendons and ligaments that you can’t eat directly, can be boiled then simmered over a period of days. This simmering causes the bones and ligaments to release healing compounds like collagen, proline, glycine, and glutamine that have the power to transform your health.
Nutrition researchers Sally Fallon and Kaayla Daniel of the Weston A. Price Foundation explain that bone broths contain minerals in forms that your body can easily absorb: calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, silicon, sulphur and others. They containchondroitin sulphates and glucosamine, the compounds sold as pricey supplements to reduce inflammation, arthritis and joint pain.1
A study of chicken soup (broth) conducted by the University of Nebraska Medical Centerwondered what it was in the soup that made it so beneficial for colds and flu. They found that the amino acids that were produced when making chicken stock reduced inflammation in the respiratory system and improved digestion. Also, research is proving it can also boost the immune system and heal disorders like allergies, asthma, and arthritis.2
Sally Fallon explains that most store bought “stock and “broth” today aren’t “REAL”. Instead, they use lab-produced meat flavors in bouillon cubes, soup and sauce mixes. Also, manufacturers began using monosodium glutamate (MSG), which is recognized as a meat flavor but in reality is a neurotoxin.
If you want real bone broth you can make it yourself at home which I will explain at the end of this chapter. You will need to get grass fed bones from your local farmers market or from a online health food store like Wise Choice Market.
The Magic of Collagen and Gelatin
Real collagen is the source of stock’s immune-boosting properties. You’ve probably seen this jiggling layer atop the broth in your cooling roasting pan and discarded it but think again next time–this is the good stuff.
Collagen is the protein found in connective tissue of vertebrate animals. It’s abundant in bone, marrow, cartilage, tendons, and ligaments. The breakdown of collagen in bone broths is what produces gelatin.
Gelatin (the breakdown of collagen) was one of the first functional foods, used as a medical treatment in ancient China.
Dr. Francis Pottenger and other world class researches have found gelatin and collagen to have the listed benefits:
Gelatin helps people with food allergies and sensitivities tolerate those foods including cows milk and gluten.
Collagen protects and soothes the lining of the digestive tract and can aid in healing IBS, crohn’s, ulcerative colitis and acid reflux.
Gelatin promotes probiotic balance and growth.
Bone broth increases collagen reducing the appearance of wrinkles and banishing cellulite.
Because gelatin helps break down proteins and soothes the gut lining, it may prove useful for leaky gut syndrome and the autoimmune disorders that accompany it.
Gelatin provides bone-building minerals in easily absorbable ways, preventing bone loss and reducing join pain.3
And here is another incredible benefit from the collagen found in bone broth, it can make your skin look amazing! According to Donna Gates, author of Body Ecology, bone broth makes your skin supple and can decrease cellulite!
She says cellulite comes from a lack of connective tissue and if someone has very smooth skin it’s because their skin is high in connective tissue. Donna explains that consuming collagen-rich bone broth can reduce cellulite and tighten your skin making you look younger.
Healing Amino Acids
Gelatin in bone broths contains “conditional” amino acids arginine, glycine, glutamine and proline. These amino acids also contribute to stock’s healing properties.
Conditional amino acids are those classified as nonessential amino acids that are essential under some conditions: you don’t produce them very well if you are ill or stressed.
Kaayla Daniel points out that unhealthy Western diets, heavy on processed carbohydrates, low in quality grass-fed animal products, and devoid of homemade soups and broths, make it likely that these amino acids are chronically essential.
What do these conditional amino acids do?
Necessary for immune system function and wound healing
Needed for the production and release of growth hormone
Helps regenerate damaged liver cells
Needed for the production of sperm
Prevents breakdown of protein tissue like muscle
Used to make bile salts and glutathione
Helps detoxify the body of chemicals and acts as antioxidant4
Is a neurotransmitter that improves sleep and improves memory and performance
Helps regenerate cartilage and heal joints
Reduces cellulite and makes skin more supple
Helps repair leaky gut
Protects gut lining
Metabolic fuel for cells in small intestine
Improves metabolism and muscle building
Talk about some incredible health benefits! For these reasons, I have most of my patients consume bone broth as a partial fast, detox, or during meals to help heal their gut and detoxify their cells, gut and liver.
How to Make Bone Broth
There are a few important basics to consider when making good stock. You can make bone broth with animal components alone but in his chicken soup study, Dr. Rennard found that the combination of animal products and vegetables seemed to have synergistic effects, working together to be more beneficial than either alone.
Sally Fallon says that it’s important to use body parts that aren’t commonly found in the meat department of your grocery store, things like chicken feet and neck.
You’ll also want to buy animal products that you know are pasture-fed and free of antibiotics and hormones.
Fallon describes the essentials as bones, fat, meat, vegetables and water. If you’re making beef broth or lamb broth, you should brown the meat before putting it into a stock pot. Fish and poultry are fine to put in a pot without browning first. Add a bit of apple cider vinegar to your pot to help draw the minerals from the bones.
Place bones into a large stock pot and cover with water.
Add two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar to water prior to cooking. This helps to pull out important nutrients from the bones.
Fill stock pot with filtered water. Leave plenty of room for water to boil.
Heat slowly. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to simmer for at least six hours. Remove scum as it arises.
Cook slow and at low heat. Chicken bones can cook for 24 hours. Beef bones can cook for 48 hours. A low and slow cook time is necessary in order to fully extract the nutrients in and around bone.
You can also add in vegetables such as onions, garlic, carrots, and celery for added nutrient value.
After cooking, the broth will cool and a layer of fat will harden on top. This layer protects the broth beneath. Discard this layer only when you are about to eat the broth.
Remember, bone broth is rich in minerals that support the immune system and contains healing compounds like collagen, glutamine, glycine, and proline.
The collagen in bone broth will heal your gut lining and reduce intestinal inflammation. In addition, collagen will support healthy skin and can reduce the appearance of cellulite. Also, the glycine in bone broth can detoxify your cells from chemicals and improve brain function.
I recommend consuming 8oz 1-2x daily as a soup, a plain beverage, or doing a bone broth fast. I typically drink 8oz upon waking every morning.
Have you ever had bone broth? Do you think you might give it a try?
References Kaayla T. Daniel, “Why Broth is Beautiful: Essential Roles for Proline, Glycine and Gelatin,” Weston A. Price Foundation. http://www.westonaprice.org/food-features/why-broth-is-beautiful (accessed 18 June 2013).
University of Nebraska Medical Center. “Chicken Soup for a Cold” http://www.unmc.edu/publicrelations/chickensoup_newsrelease.htm (accessed 21 October 2011).
Kaayla T. Daniel, “Taking Stock: Soup for Healing Body, Mind, Mood, and Soul,” Psychology Today http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/naughty-nutrition/201202/taking-stock-soup-healing-body-mind-mood-and-soul (accessed 20 February 2012).
Sekhar RV, Patel SG, Guthikonda AP, Reid M, Balasubramanyam A, Taffet GE, Jahoor F. Deficient synthesis of glutathione underlies oxidative stress in aging and can be corrected by dietary cysteine and glycine supplementation. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.2011;94(3):847-53
Gersten D, The 20 Amino Acids: What They Are and How They Keep You Alive and Vibrant. http://www.imagerynet.com/amino/20_amino.html (accessed 28 June 2013).