Bone Broth 101: Your New Secret Weapon
Imagine we are talking one-on-one about improving your health. After our long, in-depth conversation, part of my recommendations included adding bone broth into your regular routine. My exact words being “I want you to start drinking bone broth this week”.
You would probably nod your head and play along but as soon as we parted you would go about your day never giving this strange “bone broth” another thought. “Bone broth” sounds a bit like something out of a Harry Potter movie, I’ll stick to my familiar whey protein powder and shaker bottle, thank you very much!
Now let’s back track and imagine this same scenario from a different angle.
What if my advice for you instead was to drink a certain special unnamed drink, the-drink-that-shall-not-be-named (keeping with our Harry Potter theme).
What if I promised that this unnamed drink would boost your immune system, strengthen your hair and nails, give your skin a smooth, glow-y appearance, enable you to recover faster from your workouts, even be a key driver in your ability to lose weight.
My guess is that you would probably hop on board my special unnamed drink train without giving it a second thought. How could you not with this list of benefits?
You’ve may have already caught on to this but this unnamed special drink and “bone broth” are the exact same thing.
Bone broth automatically gets a stigma simply because of its unfortunate name (kind of like how dietary fat gets a bad rap because people equate it with body fat).
The truth is that bone broth contains powerful healing properties, such as those mentioned above, AND MORE. In this post you are going to learn the in’s and out’s of bone broth, and will understand exactly why bone broth has been given it’s well-deserved nickname, liquid gold.
A Brief History of Bone Broth
Bone broth is a traditional food dating back many years ago in America, when nose-to-tail eating was standard.
Back then, animals were raised and slaughtered locally, and nothing went to waste.
Each part of the animal was valued for its unique nutrient profile, and people knew that bones, specifically, were the storage site for an array of beneficial nutrients.
For this reason, people would save the bones and ligaments of an animal and boil them down in water for a several hours up to several days in order to release the numerous minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants housed within them.
The leftover bones were then discarded, and the nutrient-filled liquid that remained was saved as broth.
While most chefs and culinary experts are familiar with the idea of making and using bone broth (or stock)* to add rich flavor to delectable soups and braises, bone broth is just beginning to reappear in other aspects of our society.
In nearly every other culture, however, bone broth/stock has been a permanent staple in everyday cuisine. In Asia, fish and beef stock are used for popular soups like Korean Bone Soup. In Europe, various stocks serve as the foundation for stews, reductions, sauces, and braises.
*While the two terms “bone broth” and “bone stock” are now used interchangeably, traditionally the difference between bone broth vs. bone stock lies in the amount of time the bones are simmered, and the various other ingredients (such as vegetables and herbs) added along to the pot for flavoring.
Benefits of Bone Broth
Like previously mentioned, bones (and ligaments and tendons) and the storage sites for a plethora of valuable nutrients. These include protein compounds like collagen, gelatin, glutamine, proline, and glycine, as well as bioavailable forms of minerals like calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, and silicon.
Boiling down the bones, ligaments, and tendons until they break down or disintegrate is the only way to access these nutrients.
All of the nutrients above aid in specific healing as well as general functions within the different systems of your body.
Collagen is the most abundant protein within our bodies as an integral component of our skin and connective tissue. Collagen is also incredibly healing to the gut lining and helps to soothe and reduce intestinal inflammation.
Gelatin, Proline, and Glycine are all released from the breakdown of collagen, and help to support good skin health, reduce the breakdown of muscle, regenerate cartilage and heal joints, and soothe the gut lining.
Glutamine promotes metabolism and the regeneration of the small and large intestine, serving as the primary fuel for intestinal cells.
The benefits of bone broth can be summarized to include:
- Promoting gut health (collagen, gelatin, and glutamine soothe the intestinal lining and reducing intestinal inflammation)
- Improving joint health (chondroitin sulphates and glucosamine help reduce joint pain/inflammation and arthritis)
- Reducing cellulite and improving overall skin quality (cellulite often comes from a lack of connective tissue and collagen is used to build connective tissue)
- Boosting the immune system (the immune cells are housed within the gut and minerals calcium and magnesium are needed for proper immune function)
- Facilitating weight loss (bone broth is very low in calories but high in nutrients; the easily absorbed minerals in bone broth further reduce cravings since cravings are often a sign of mineral deficiency)
Getting Your Hands On Some Bone Broth
Homemade bone broth is going to be both the most affordable and healthiest form of broth you can get your hands on. While it may seem intimidating, once you take a stab at it you’ll realize how incredibly simple it is!
To make your own broth you simply need:
- Bones** from pasture-raised, healthy animals (free of any antibiotics or hormones)
- Filtered Water
- Crockpot or Large Stock Pot
- Apple Cider Vinegar
** Bones from any type of animal will work including chicken, beef, pork, lamb, fish, etc. You can purchase frozen bones from many health food stores such as Whole Foods or from a local farmer.
You can also use the bones leftover from a whole chicken, roast, or fish. Aim for about 2 lbs (or 1-2 carcasses) per batch.
Follow these instructions:
- Place bones in crockpot or stock pot and cover completely with water.
- Add a splash of apple cider vinegar (about 1 tablespoon) to water and cover pot.
- Turn heat to “high” to get water simmering (about 2-3 hours) then reduce heat to “low” to continue simmering for the remaining time.
- Simmer larger bones like beef and lamb for 24-48 hours. Simmer smaller bones like chicken and fish for 12-24 hours.
- During the last 6 hours feel free to add raw vegetables such as onions, carrots, celery and garlic or herbs and spices to flavor the broth.
- When time is up, strain the broth into a large bowl, allow to cool, then pour into glass jars to store. Broth will keep good in the fridge for a week. For longer storage, freeze in ice cube trays or flexible muffin molds, then store in a resealable plastic bag or tupperware container for up to 6 months.
If you are not ready to make your own homemade bone broth but are intrigued by its incredible benefits, luckily you can now purchase traditionally made bone broth online or at some Whole Foods locations.
The downside of doing this that it is going to be much more expensive than making your own, but if price isn’t a concern then this is a great way to get your bone broth on!
It’s important to know that canned/boxed broths you see on the shelves of the supermarket are not equivalent to traditional bone broth.
These broths are not made using real animal bones but instead using flavorings and preservatives to try to mimic the taste of traditional broths. If the broth is real, wholesome bone broth then it will be shipped to you frozen or be sold in the freezer/refrigerated section of the store.
Now that you are fully informed as to all the incredible benefits of bone broth, it’s time you go get yourself some bones and start up your first batch!