By Claire Georgiou, Reboot Naturopath, B.HSc ND
Step aside green tea, a new warm drink is getting the spotlight. Even though it’s been around for centuries, bone broth is making headlines. And here’s why.
Cultures around the world have been boiling up the bones, cartilage and connective tissue of cows, chickens and turkeys for thousands of years for medicinal benefits in addition to a healthy diet. Some refer to it as ‘nose to tail’ eating which was always practiced traditionally as no one ever wanted to waste anything. If you think you’ve never had it before, you probably did when you were enjoying Mom’s Homemade Chicken Soup – there’s a reason we have chicken soup when we are sick! Chicken soup has been consumed by many worldwide for illness and convalescence offering possible healing and regenerative properties.
So why the recent craze? It probably has to do with a little rebranding of an old classic, but here are the many reasons why bone broth is believed to be a healthy drink:
1. Heals the gut by supporting and nourishing the lining of the digestive tract
As Hippocrates said, ‘all disease begins in the gut’! Gelatine may help to heal the lining of the digestive tract by re-establishing the very fragile gastrointestinal cells that may become hyper-permeable from medications, long-term use of the oral contraceptive pill, alcohol, poor diet, stress, food intolerances and chronic gut infections combined with poor levels of good bacteria. By improving the lining you will also improve nutrient absorption.
2. Supports a healthy immune system
When our digestive systems become hyper-permeable due to these chronic irritating factors it is said that it can start a chain of events that increase the likelihood of immune-related disorders and food sensitivities. Large proteins absorb through this ultra-permeable lining that shouldn’t be and cause the immune system to attack. The broth minerals and amino acids also support a healthy immune system. Bone broth is often suggested for people who may be suffering with auto-immune diseases and allergies.
3. Supports joint tissue repair and regeneration
Tissue for tissue, this is better than any glucosamine or chondroitin tablet for the repair, regeneration of joint tissue and for the decrease in pain and discomfort. Studies have shown promise with collagen taken orally for the effective treatment of osteoarthritis.
4. Supports bone health
Again the minerals from the bone and collagen are easily re-mineralized into our bones as they are in the optimum ratio.
5. Anti-inflammatory benefits
Bone broth contains high amounts of the amino acids glycine, proline, and arginine which all have anti-inflammatory effects.
6. Supports healthy hair, skin and nails
Gelatine is consumed for its youth enhancing benefits across the globe, the collagen content of bone broth supports the connective tissue and collagen in the skin thus reducing wrinkles. It also offers increased tissue strength for the nails and hair. One study supports its use against skin aging from sun UV radiation.
7. Contains high amounts of minerals
As the bone tissue is highly mineralised with calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sulphur and others, these minerals are easily absorbed in the digestive tract in this form. When making a bone broth it is imperative to add something acidic to help draw out these nutrients such as apple cider vinegar or lemon.
How to Make Your Own Bone Broth
It is important when making a good bone broth that you use organic grass-fed bones that have been reared in a clean healthy happy environment without the use of hormone growth promotants, antibiotics and GM feed. The benefits of the broth will be directly related to the health (and happiness) of the animal. You certainly do not want to make an antibiotic pesticide artificial growth promotant enhanced broth for yourself.
Here is the recipe:
2 lbs (1kg) organic grass fed bones
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 onion, chopped
1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
2 tsp. Himalayan salt or sea salt
12 cups (1.5 L) water
Optional but highly recommended: add vegetables, and/or the pulp left over from making vegetable juice.
1. Place all of the ingredients into a large pot covered in water and bring to a boil.
2. Once it reaches boiling point, cover the pot, turn the heat down and simmer for at least 12 hours. You can also add the broth to a crockpot and simmer it that way. The longer the better.
3. Turn the heat off, let the stock slightly cool. Take out the bones then strain the broth through a sieve and discard the leftover matter.
An Option for Vegetarians and Vegans, Too
I understand that this may not suit everyone so here are some vegan and vegetarian alternatives to bone broth:
Make a soup containing any or all of these ingredients:
Vegetable scraps (great to use vegetable pulp from your juices and vegetable peels), diced root vegetables, celery, onions, garlic, any herbs and spices, a splash of apple cider vinegar, nettle leaves and/or other fresh mineral rich herbs, seaweeds for the extra mineral infusion such as nori, dulse and kelp.
Simmer these ingredients covered in water for up to 2-4hrs and strain. This will have different properties to the bone broth but it will certainly offer nutrient-rich nourishment.
For more vegetable pulp broths see Vegetable Pulp Broth and Thai Infused Broths. You can certainly add extra ingredients to increase the nutrition in any of these recipes. If you are vegetarian that consumes eggs you can add in organic egg shells, if you are a pescetarian you may want to add in wild caught fish bones and heads. This can be a great alternative to keep in portions in the freezer to use in recipes rather than buying the store bought stock.