The Bone Broth Diet & Benefits
It’s been widely known for hundreds and hundreds of years that bone broth is nourishing and soothing for the body, mind, and soul.
Many physicians all the way back to Hippocrates has connected bone broth with healing powers.
These healing powers are broad – digestive problems, joint problems, and a wide range of other health problems.
When addressing any health problem, the first place to begin is your diet.
A strong dietary foundation is crucial when taking proactive steps towards healing your health in a natural and holistic way.
The key component of a healthy diet is bone broth, as there are so many benefits to your body.
It’s one of the most historically nutritious foods in existence and has been around for decades and centuries before us, so its value to our bodies is well proven and established.
Bone Broth – The Historical Precedent
Early on, as far back as we can remember, people realized that if they were cooking meat on the spit over a fire, some of those juices were dripping down, and were being wasted.
Rather than letting these go to waste, the people of the era started thinking of ways to capture those juices.
Creative approaches such as using turtle shells as pots allowed for those juices to be saved, before animal skins were then used to make pots as well.
This is how soup first came to be, and back in these early days, cartilage from the meat and bones found during hunting was included in these meals without a second thought.
Moving forward to the industrial age, the idea of a stockpot on the stove had held on through many centuries and many changes in cooking techniques.
In the industrial era, people did not have the money required for fuel to keep these fires going.
During this period, the risk of disease and malnutrition was high and was a leading cause of death. Because of this, people were desperate for nourishment.
As the cost to keep a fire stoked and the stove running was too high, a more economical approach was found – portable soup powders in the form of bullion cubes were created, and are still found in our kitchens to this day.
The broth was condensed down so it was more portable and much harder, and carried as a ‘portable soup’, used highly in military expeditions for its ease of use and abilities to provide nourishment and nutrition under difficult cooking and provisional circumstances.
Even Napoleon and his armies ate this portable soup often – armies were so huge in number, they could not live off the land as they traveled through on their way to battle.
Napoleon was concerned about the quality of food being supplied to his men – he wanted to make sure his troops were healthy, energized, and were able to enjoy the food they were eating as much as possible in harsh wartime conditions.
He set out to solve this problem by creating a competition, which brought about the invention of canning.
John Dorrance, a chemist, and gourmet cook took on Napoleon’s challenge and came up with the idea of condensing soup.
This was the earliest version of Campbell Soup, a high-quality product with nourishing ingredients.
Dorrance took wilted vegetables and the rejected pieces of meat from the butcher and turned these into a condensed soup which could travel with the troops.
Florence Nightingale’s notes on nursing recommended the incorporation of bone broth into patient diets as a way to increase their ability to digest food and to encourage healing in their bodies.
The use of bone broth as a medicinal, nourishing and healing food arises throughout the course of history again and again.
How do you make bone broth?
There are many ways to make bone broth on an economical scale that will allow you to incorporate it into your family’s normal diet. You can make broth on a gas or electric stove, or in a crockpot, pressure cooker or slow cooker.
By throwing a few basic ingredients in and beginning the process, you can get a healthy bone broth going before you leave the house for work in the morning, and return home to the smell of a nourishing broth. This bone broth can then be used in a huge variety of soups, stews, and other recipes as a basic ingredient.
In order to make the most nourishing broth, it’s important to ensure that it’s gelatinous, as this gelatin component is where many of the broth’s healing elements come from. Using ingredients such as knuckle bones and shank bones are going to provide more cartilage, collagen, and improve the overall gelatinous quality. A mixture of bones is perfect, as it will provide a wide range of nutrients to the broth. It’s also a great way to get rid of offcuts or leftovers from your normal cooking, as you can throw a wide mixture of bones into the pot in order to create a nourishing broth.
Of course, you won’t find joint bones or knuckle bones sitting on supermarket shelves! In fact, the only ‘hard’ part of making bone broth is hunting down the bones you need, but once you find a supplier, this will no longer be an issue. It’s important to ensure you’re using a quality meat source – that the place you buy your bones can show their animals were raised humanely, preferably on pasture. Your local butcher is a great place to begin, as they may be able to provide you with the ‘throw away’ pieces of meat and bones which are not placed for sale in their fridges. Let your butcher know you’re looking to make a great bone broth, and he can set aside pieces like joints and knuckles for you to throw into your pot and reap the benefits from.
Your local butcher is a great place to begin, as they may be able to provide you with the ‘throw away’ pieces of meat and bones which are not placed for sale in their fridges. Let your butcher know you’re looking to make a great bone broth, and he can set aside pieces like joints and knuckles for you to throw into your pot and reap the benefits from.
Another economical way to approach bone broth is to embrace the Sunday roast. By roasting a chicken on Sunday and enjoying its beautiful meat, you’ll have a chicken carcass left over, which you can then use as the basis for your next pot of broth. It also lets you eat in a ‘nose to tail’ fashion, which is an ethical way of eating meat that limits the amount of waste by intentionally cooking in a way that uses as many different parts of the animal as possible. A chicken carcass has lots of gelatin left on it from the baking process, so is a perfect candidate as the base ingredient in your bone broth pot.
A quality bone broth will only arise from the quality of the ingredients you put in. When adding vegetables, make sure they have been grown organically, so there are no additional chemicals sliding their way into the pot and then into your diet. Fresh vegetables are also important, as this will not only add flavor to the pot but will ensure the highest possible amount of nutrients is transferred into the broth as they have not yet begun to lose these.
To cook bone broth, place your bones in a stockpot and cover with cold water. Add roughly two tablespoons of vinegar – rice, wine, cider, or balsamic – for every quart of water, or per every 2 pounds of bones. This vinegar acid is necessary in order for the minerals and nutrients from the bone to be fully extracted. If you don’t have a vinegar on hand, lemon juice can be substituted. The next step is to include garlic, onions, and ginger for increased flavor, as well as roughly chopped pieces of celery, carrot, parsley and other vegetables.
Leave the broth to simmer for 24-72 hours. When it’s finished, strain out the bones, which can now be disposed of – all of their nutrients are now in your broth! The broth can then be used in a wide variety of ways. You can drink it on its own first thing in the morning, freeze it into cubes to be added to your cooking, or use it for rice and quinoa in the place of water.
Benefits of bone broth
There are numerous benefits that result from incorporating bone broth into your diet. It’s not only nourishing but also has a very soothing effect. In fact, chicken soup is known as ‘Jewish Penicillin’, because of its incredible medicinal qualities. There’s a reason the book series ‘Chicken Soup For The Soul’ is a best seller – we all intuitively understand that chicken soup, and its base ingredient of a great bone broth, is good for us and good for our healing!
If you’re suffering from a cold or flu, hot soup, or any kind of bone broth, will greatly assist. Studies have proven that hot soup will open up airways far more effectively than hot water. This is a great help when the sinus issues that often result from a cold or flu infection are making it hard to breathe properly, so having hot soup will not only give your body a rich injection of nutrients and minerals to help fight the oncoming disease, but it’ll literally open up your airways to keep oxygen moving through your body at optimal levels.
Bone broth also possesses elements such as collagen which work to repair gut lining. Bone broth is often recommended to people suffering from leaky gut, as it works to rebuild the inner gut lining and prompt a healthier and improved digestive system. Without a fully functioning gut, no other health issue will be able to restore itself, as our digestive systems have a huge impact on every other system in our body.
When our digestive system is not in order, our body is not able to properly absorb nutrients from food, which begins to weaken many different organs and bodily functions as they’re not armed with the tools they need. Fixing a leaky gut or any other gut issues is of great importance, and many people who suffer from chronic gut issues or chronic disease are instructed to ingest bone broth on a daily basis in order to help their gut heal itself as much as they can.
Bone broth will always possess gelatin, which is not a complete protein, but is a useful protein as it has what is called a ‘sparing effect’. This phrase in common in nineteenth and twentieth-century literature, and means that less meat is required in order for you to gain all of the benefits from meat protein. If you’re eating a soup or stew or making rice or quinoa as a source of protein, use broth instead of water as the base ingredient. This will not only improve the quality of the protein but also its digestibility, which empowers your body to take the most from the nutrients you’re providing it with without unfortunate digestion issues which stop these nutrients from absorbing.
This protein in gelatin comes from its essential amino acids – glycine, proline, and glutamine. These are amino acids which dieticians tell us we’re receiving enough of, but in fact, most of us are desperately in need of more. Proline is required to create collagen, which goes into our skin and our joints. Strong knees can only remain strong if they’re getting enough cartilage, and cartilage can only be created through proline. Bone broth possesses these essential amino acids which will work to improve and maintain the health of your skin, joints, and bones.
Pregnant women require an increased intake of glycine, as well as athletes who are performing constantly in sports or in a body-building capacity. Glycine is a crucial amino acid for these groups and your daily intake can be improved by drinking bone broth or incorporating it into a meal as a key ingredient.
Glutamine is essential for healing leaky guts, which has a powerful flow-on effect to every other system in our body. Glutamine helps with irritable bowel disease and people who are celiac, and also works to build and improve the immune system.
Benefits of drinking or eating bone broth include…
Your gut health – holistic nutrition coach Jill Grunewald, the founder of Healthful Elements, says that drinking a cup of bone broth a day will work miracles for leaky gut syndrome, but will also powerfully protect non-leak guts. The gelatin in bone broth will help seal up any holes in the intestines. This can help cure chronic diarrhea, constipation, and even reverse certain food intolerances, which is great news for those of us in the 21st century when gluten, dairy, and other intolerances are running high.
Joint protection – Because bone broth has glucosamine, it’s a great tool for repairing damaged joints or protecting healthy joints. Many people take glucosamine supplements, but bone broth is a better source of glucosamine, as it is accompanied by a host of other powerful ingredients which will work together to keep your joints pain-free and working at optimal levels.
The chondroitin sulfate in bone broth has also been proven to help prevent osteoarthritis. We can all benefit from stronger joints, so you don’t need to suffer from joint issues to reap the benefits of bone broth’s healing powers. By drinking bone broth from a young age, healthy joint growth will be promoted, and many joint issues which often come later in life can even be avoided.
Anti-aging properties – Bone broth is a powerful source of collagen, which many women pay top price for when it’s included in ‘plumping’ products for skin, hair, and nails. However, it’s far cheaper, healthier and more powerful when you drink it instead of slapping it on the outside. It will work to make your skin, hair, and nails stronger and younger. Collagen works to keep all of our cells young, as well as the marrow stem cells which result from letting bones simmer long enough for these cells to be released into the broth.
Sleep improvements – Bone broth contains glycine, which several studies have found helps people to sleep better, as well as improving their memory.
Immune support – Bone broth has been referred to as a super food because of its concentration of minerals. The bone marrow it possesses can strengthen your immune system. A study conducted by Harvard has also found that some people with auto-immune disorders experienced symptom relief when drinking bone broth, with some even going into complete remission, which is an astounding result.
Stronger bones – The bones which go into the pot release phosphorus, magnesium, and small amounts of calcium. These elements are essential building blocks for healthy bones and will improve your bone strength.
Improved energy – many testimonies of people who have begun to incorporate bone broth into their diet will swear by the energy boost they receive as an added bonus.
The economy of scale – this is a great way to reduce your food wastage and to pump your body with necessary nutrients without paying top dollar for the supplements sitting on chemist shelves.
In the 19th century, many scientific examinations of gelatin took place, as the scientific community of the age debated gelatin’s nutritional properties. There was hope that gelatin could solve many malnutrition problems, and it was believed it may be a miracle food.
Unfortunately, this is not the case, and gelatin has faded in popularity when it comes to the nutritional breakthroughs of the age.
A man by the name of Charles Knox noticed that his wife, Rose, was spending a lot of time in the kitchen making homemade gelatin. He devised a plan to make this process simpler for her and, at the same time, make a profit. He began to manufacture Knox Gelatin, which quickly took off and became a popular product.
Charles died in 1908, and Rose took over, becoming a pioneering businesswoman and a very powerful woman of her time. She had the bright idea early on gelatin needed to be presented in recipe books and in the form of helpful tips, and manufactured these recipes so the everyday housewife would be encouraged to bring it into their everyday cooking and, as a result, send sales skyrocketing.
Nowadays, it’s important to look for gelatin that has not been made from factory animals, so do your research before choosing which brand to buy if you decide to supplement your homemade broth with added gelatin.
If you’re making homemade broth, you’re not going to be working with a squeaky clean skeleton. There’s going to be plenty of cartilage left on the bones you use as the broth’s base, and the amount of cartilage in your pot is going to depend on the bones you begin with. Knucklebones hold a lot of cartilage and are a cheap, easy way to increase the cartilage levels in your broth. Again, these are something your local butcher may be able to supply you with – there’s probably not too many customers asking for them!
Cartilage is primarily formed from collagen and elastin proteins, and also contains glycosaminoglycans, chondroitin sulfate, keratan sulfate, and hyaluronic acid. Chondroitin sulfate lines blood vessels and has been found to play a part in lowering cholesterol and the incidence of related heart attacks. Many people use it as a supplement for treating joint pain which is associated with osteoarthritis, and it has been shown to improve the inflammatory conditions of the gastrointestinal tract.
Scientific studies have found shark cartilage is very useful in the treatment of joint disease, but buying supplements off the shelf made up of shark cartilage is very expensive. By using cartilage-rich beef knuckles, chicken feet, and ribs in a bone soup, you can create an effective and absorbable alternative. This cartilage is useful in the treatment of:
Degenerative joint disease
Inflammatory bowel disease
Lowered immune function
The goal with a great bone broth is roughly 50% minerals, 25% collagen, 25% water. This is a good rule of thumb to follow when trying to find a recipe balance from the ingredients you have sourced or on hand.
There is a perpetuating myth in existence that people who struggle with dairy tolerances should not drink or consume bone broth, as the calcium in the bones used has transferred to the broth. In reality, this is not the case. It’s surprising how little calcium a finished bone broth actually contains. Many people have claimed that a cup of bone broth is equal to a cup of milk in calcium – this is just not the case.
An old study from the 1930s found that the broth with the most calcium was actually the broth made with the highest amount of vegetables. When a bone broth is made from mainly a bone and meat basis, the calcium levels are extremely low. So why, then, do some many people talk about bone broth’s healing properties when it comes to brittle or broken bones or osteopenia?
The key to these testimonials is the collagen in the broth, which works to increase the structure or scaffolding of our bones. This is what allows calcium and other minerals to truly be absorbed and of benefit to building healthy bones, but the collagen, which increases cartilage growth, is what allows for these bones to function within a healthy, strong and supportive structure. This is where home bone broth shines, in increasing your body’s strength and flexibility.
Bone marrow is one of the richest sources of nutrients you will find in food today. When people make Osso Bucco, one of the small, satisfying pleasures is sucking the slow-cooked marrow out of the lamb bone. Our bodies know they receive many nutrients from this marrow.
There are two types of marrow found in bones – yellow and red. When we’re born, all of our bone marrow is red. As we age, it gradually converts to yellow until about half of our marrow is red.
The yellow marrow is concentrated in the hollow interior of long bones and is where lipids and fats are stored. Red marrow is found mainly in flat bones, like the hip bone, sternum, skulls, ribs and vertebrae. Red marrow is where myeloid stem cells and lymphoid stem cells are formed.
This red marrow is a vital source of nutritional and immune assisting factors when its nutrients are extracted in the cooking of bone soup. Because it contains these stem cells, they are able to later convert into mature cell outside of the marrow, increasing the level of rich cells in our own bodies. This improves the quality of our red blood cells, which carry oxygen to other cells in the body, and white blood cells, which are essential for the proper functioning of the immune system. They also improve our platelets, which are important for clotting.
When making homemade broth, if making it from chicken, you’ll be using a lot of marrow bones. Marrow is a very primal food – some would call it the ultimate carnivore’s food – as you’re literally sucking a source of goodness out of the animal. All over the world, this is considered a sacred, energizing and regenerative food. If you’re uncomfortable with eating it directly, eating it through broth is a great alternative way to reap the same nutritional benefits.
Protein sugars, such as proteoglycans, mucopolysaccharides, and glycosaminoglycan, are all required nutrients for our body to operate at an optimal and healthy range. The scientific community believes there are eight essential sugars, which we get in different forms through various foods. They’re found in wide-ranging ingredients from shitake mushrooms through to aloe vera juice.
Many of these essential sugars are found in bone broth, such as n-acetyl galactose animal and sealed glucosamine. Ingesting these in bone broth form is a much better alternative to taking these as supplements. Bone broth allows you to take in a wide range of nutrients that will serve many different elements of your body, without the need to pay for expensive supplements and to worry about making sure you’re taking the right balance of these essential nutrients in order for your body to remain strong.
Glycine and proline are two of the most important amino acids found in bone broth. Glycine is a simple amino acid which is necessary for the manufacture of other amino acids, as well as being a vital component in the production of heme, which is the part of blood that carries oxygen. It’s also essential for wound healing.
Many detoxifying, fasting or cleansing programs use broths for their supporting properties. During fasting, as no food or energy source is being consumed, protein tissues such as muscles can often break down. By drinking broth during this process, glycine is consumed, which limits or prevents degeneration during the fasting season, preventing degeneration and bringing benefit to the detoxification process overall.
Proline is an amino acid which is essential to the structure of collagen and is necessary for healthy bones, skin, ligaments, tendons, and cartilage. Studies have found that dietary protein is necessary to keep your body’s natural proline levels at an optimal level. Proline has even been found to have a beneficial effect in the prevention of depression.
Glycine and proline are needed for…
The manufacture of glucose
The enhancing of gastric acid secretion
Soft tissue and wound healing
Healthy connective tissue
Effective detoxification by the liver
Production of plasma
A wide range of minerals are essential to our bodies, providing the basis for many of its important functions.
They are needed for…
The development of connective tissue and bone
The creation of electrical potential that facilitates nerve conduction
As catalysts for enzymatic reactions
Many people in our modern age are sadly deficient in one or more minerals, which is often the result of dietary deficiencies or poor absorption. The packaged foods which take up so much space on our supermarket shelves are often very light on in actually adding value to our bodies and the nutrients they require to function well.
Bone broth offers easily absorbable extracted minerals and supports the use of these minerals by promoting the health of the intestinal tract. As Hippocrates said, ‘all health begins in the gut’.
Bones are a powerful source of calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, sodium, potassium, sulfate and fluoride.