If you’re someone who pays attention to your health or follows health trends, you’ve most certainly heard of bone broth by now. In fact, bone broth has gained such popularity recently that you could have been living under a rock for the last 3 years and still probably have heard of it. Not to be confused with stock or plain old broth, bone broth can more accurately be described as a combination of the two, but with added benefits. Bone broth is made with roasted bones (which can have some meat attached), and simmered for a long period of time – it’s not unheard of to simmer bone broth for more than 24 hours – to extract not only gelatin (which is also present in stock), but also healthful minerals and amino acids that contribute to the many medicinal benefits that bone broth provides. Once the bones have been long-simmered, the broth can be seasoned and consumed on its own, or used in place of regular broth or stock in cookbook recipes. It can be used in most any recipe to add a regular dose of healing bone broth soup to your diet, or used in higher doses to help build immunity or repair gut health.
So, What’s The Big Deal About Bone Broth?
We’ve talked about the difference between bone broth and stock as far as the preparation is concerned, but what makes bone broth healthier than its counterparts? The secret lies in the simmering.
When bones are simmered for an extended period of time, they release collagen-rich gelatin, joint-healing glucosamine and chondroitin (helps joint pain), and loads of minerals, vitamin A, Vitamin C, other vitamins, and anti-inflammatory amino acids. As you might expect, bones aren’t easily broken down, and this is why the long simmering times are necessary to truly get the most benefit out of your bone broth. Without these long simmer times that allow the important nutrient-dense compounds present in the bones to be released, you have a delicious but much less nutritious stock.
While stock may make a delicious soup, bone broth has been said to aid in the healing of a host of health issues such as inflammation and leaky gut syndrome, not to mention the effect that the collagen-rich goodness of bone broth can have on your skin health and hair!
How Does Bone Broth Reduce Inflammation?
When bones and joints are simmered for extended periods of time, they release collagen, which is made up of scores of essential amino acids. Two of these amino acids are arginine and glycine, which have been shown to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Glycine also aids in the digestion of food by stimulating the production of stomach acids. When our bodies are better able to digest the food we eat, it not only reduces the inflammatory response in our body but allows us to fully absorb the nutrients contained in our food.
What is Leaky Gut?
You may be wondering what on earth leaky gut is – while anyone who has dealt with digestive system issues and follows a natural lifestyle has probably heard this term, it may not be familiar to you. It’s an increasingly common issue though, and occurs when the intestinal wall weakens, allowing bacteria and toxins to permeate the intestinal barrier and enter the bloodstream. Your body then arms itself to fight these mysterious “invaders” – not only is leaky gut associated with digestive problems, but recent studies have shown that it can be a contributing factor to autoimmune diseases. Leaky gut also inhibits the body’s ability to absorb nutrients, which can cause you to be deficient in key vitamins and minerals. This can help explain why someone may eat a healthful diet but still suffer from digestive upsets, bloating, fatigue, and low energy.
While this sounds like a frightening prospect, it is possible to “heal and seal” a leaky gut, and bone broth is integral to this healing process. Once again, we can thank collagen. Collagen is a crucial protein, responsible for building connective tissues, ligaments, skin, and bones. The collagen in bone broth is easily digestible due to its liquid form, and the amino acids present in collagen help to rebuild the intestinal wall, sealing the gut permeability and allowing the body to better digest and absorb nutrients. Once the gut begins to heal, the toxins and bacteria that were previously allowed to enter your bloodstream are contained, reducing the likelihood of an inflammatory immune system response.
How Does Bone Broth Improve Hair and Skin?
As we’ve discussed, collagen is a protein that helps to build other proteins in the body – and guess what your hair is made of? Collagen can help to strengthen your hair and improve elasticity by not only aiding in the building of new and stronger hair follicles, but the gut healing and digestive enhancing properties of animal bone broth help your hair become healthier by building that health from the inside out. Often, hair loss can be attributed to a deficiency in iron or other minerals, or a hormonal imbalance. Proper gut health can go a long way to healing these issues and helping your body rebuild vital proteins such as those present in your hair, skin, and nails.
Isn’t There a Supplement I Can Take Instead?
First of all, supplements can be helpful for a variety of health issues, but they’re just that – supplements. They are meant to supplement our bodies with nutrients that we can’t obtain from our diets. The absolute best way to consume any nutrients is through our food. Part of what makes bone broth such a healing food is that it’s a liquid – it’s easily digestible, and your body doesn’t have to work hard to break it down in order to absorb all of its benefits.
If you’ve ever seen bone broth, you’ll notice that it congeals when it cools. That’s because the gelatin in bone broth naturally binds onto liquids, which is another way it aids in digestion. When you consume bone broth, the gelatin attaches to the water in your digestive tract, allowing the food you consume to move through your gut more easily.
The Food as Medicine Movement
The food as medicine movement is as old as medicine itself. It’s ironic then, that modern medicine has moved so from this adage coined by the Hippocrates, whom they call the “founder of medicine” – “let food be thy medicine, and let medicine be thy food”. Hippocrates considered nutrition to be one of the most important things a physician could use to heal. Many modern functional and naturopathic medical doctors continue to follow this edict, and it’s a well established tenet of natural medicine.
It’s no surprise then, that bone broth is considered such a cornerstone of this movement. The remedy of healing with broth has been around for centuries and can be found in almost every culture around the world. In today’s fast paced world, it’s even more important to slow down sometimes and get back to our healing roots.
Whether you choose to make your own bone broth or purchase ready-made broth, we can’t overemphasize the importance of the quality of the bones. As we’ve mentioned, to make bone broth it is simmered for hours upon hours to get every last nutrient out of the bones and into your broth. If you use low quality meat, not only are the nutrients and minerals being leached out of the bones, but so are the hormones, antibiotics, and pesticides from a grain-heavy diet. Only use the bones of organic, grass fed and pastured animals. Any bones can be used to make broth, but the most common ones used are beef, chicken, pork, turkey, lamb, and fish. When you make sure to use only the highest quality of bones, your broth will be full of the wholesome and nutrient dense vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and collagen, which most of us don’t get nearly enough of in our daily diet.
Where to Find Bone Broth
Bone broth is relatively easy to make at home – you’ll need a large stock pot, bones from one or more organic, pasture-raised animals (marrow bones and joints, and feet supply the richest amounts of collagen for a thick and nutrient rich broth, and roasting the bones brings out the flavor) and additions such as onions and garlic, peppercorns, and an acidic substance such as apple cider vinegar to help draw the collagen and nutrients out of the bones.
During the cooking process some choose to add the scraps of various veggies and herbs to their broth, but as long as the bones are simmered for long enough, even the simplest bone broth recipe can produce the healthiest and most satisfying broth.
If you don’t have the time or inclination to make your own bone broth, The Osso Good Co. makes a delicious assortment of ready-made bone broth that is Whole30 Approved and Paleo Certified – and of course is made with organic and grass fed meat, organic vegetables, filtered water and herbs. That’s it! You can choose from beef bone broth, chicken bone broth, or blended sippable broth, and you can choose from a weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly subscription, so you can receive the amazing benefits of bone broth without even thinking about it.