It’s an ancient food source, but one our modern culture has overlooked. For centuries, bone broth could be found simmering in a pot by the fire and was used as a ready-to-eat meal in addition to being an easily accessible base for soups and other recipes in the time before modern refrigeration. It’s a traditional food that modern eaters had forsaken—until recently when the benefits contained in bone broth, including collagen, minerals and amino acids have regained popularity. There was even an article touting the benefits of this nutrient-dense superfood in the New York Times!
What exactly is bone broth?
It couldn’t be more basic: it’s a soup-like broth made by boiling animal bones (chicken, turkey, beef or fish) in water and adding an acidic ingredient such as vinegar plus optional spices, herbs or vegetables. You can boil broth for anywhere from 4 to 48 hours. The acid helps leach nutrients out of the bones and into the broth, essentially liquifying the bone marrow so that by the end of the cooking process the bones nearly crumble in your hands. It’s an inexpensive and versatile source of key nutrients that are often lacking in modern diets.
Consuming bone broth offers many benefits. It is mineral-rich and supports the immune system, and also contains compounds including glutamine, collagen, glycine, arginine and proline know to support healing. It’s also good for digestion, helping to heal the lining of your digestive system and reduce intestinal inflammation.
You’re likely familiar with the practice of consuming chicken soup to help your body heal from a cold or respiratory illness. Bone broth, because it is simmered for longer and gains nutrients from bone marrow, takes it to the next level.
5 Key Benefits of Bone Broth
- Heals the gastrointestinal system. Collagen is beneficial in healing autoimmune disease and leaky gut by offering bio-available nutrients that soothe and smooth your intestinal lining. It supports healthy connective tissue and may also help in overcoming food allergies or intolerances. With up to 80% of your immune system function occurring in the gut, the importance of a healthy GI tract can’t be overstated.
- Boosts immune system function. Bone broth’s amino acid content includes glutamine, which can increase metabolism; arginine, which supports liver and immune function; and glycine, which facilitates the production of glutathione (a key antioxidant) and helps promote good quality sleep. The liquified bone marrow in bone broth contains compounds vital in the support of white blood cell production.
- Reduces inflammation. Chondroitin sulfate, an element found in bone broth, is linked to both anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting effects. Inflammation is increasingly indicated as a root cause of disease, so decreasing systemic inflammation is a big benefit.
- Supports joint, hair, skin and nail health. Who doesn’t want healthier joints, hair, skin and nails? If you suffer from arthritis or have a joint injury, bone broth may help improve the condition. Collagen in bone broth supports healing of joints and faster growth for your hair and nails. As the connective tissue beneath the skin, collagen also supports skin elasticity and smoothness.
- Supports natural detoxification. Bone broth supports liver function, and its glycine and potassium content assist in maximizing the natural detoxification function of the body.
How do you make bone broth?
It’s critical to start with high-quality organic chicken, turkey or grass-fed beef bones. You can find a recipe and some best practices here. In lieu of making your own, you can buy bone broth at your local organic food store or online.
How do you consume bone broth?
Chefs have long used bone broth or “stock” as a base for gravy, sauce and soup, but you can also drink it on its own, as a warm winter drink to sip from a mug, or simmer vegetables in the healthful elixir to enhance their nutritional value. You can also blend bone broth into a smoothie and even dehydrate it for bouillon to make soup.
How much should you consume?
While you likely can’t overdose on bone broth, drinking a cup per day is an especially good way to stay healthy. And if you come down with a cold, the flu or suffer a sports injury, drinking a delicious mugful several times per day may help you recover more quickly.
By incorporating bone broth into your diet, you’ll have even better odds of enjoying a happy holiday and a healthful New Year!