Anyone who knows me, will know about my deep rooted love for bone broth. It is a staple in my household – there is always one or more glass jars of it in my fridge or freezer – and I often recommend it to clients as part of their dietary plan. I use bone broth to make soups and stews, I cook my rice with it, and sometimes have it as a snack throughout the day. I started making it years ago when I was working on healing my gut, but realised that it had been a staple food throughout my childhood and adolescence already, as we often had ‘brodo’ in the evenings for dinner when I was growing up. I am thrilled to have passed on this tradition in my own family, with my daughter often asking for ‘brodo’ as part her evening meal.
In this blog post I will take you through the health benefits of bone broth, why you should consider incorporating it into your diet, and share my favourite bone broth recipe with you (although honestly, it’s so easy to make, I can hardly take any credit for it).
What is bone broth?
The name is pretty much self explanatory – bone broth is a broth obtained by simmering animal bones in water over the course of a few hours; these can be chicken, lamb, pork or beef bones. In the past, our ancestors tended to use the whole animal: the muscle meat, their organs (often prized more than the muscles!), the bones and the hides. Our ancestors knew that bones were highly nutritious – containing minerals such as calcium magnesium, potassium and phosphorus. The cartilage in the bones contains glucosamine and chondroitin, which are now well known nutrients that help support joint health. Over the years we have lost touch with these practices and are focused more on consuming muscle meats, which in excess can cause stress and inflammation in the body. Not only does making bone broth make sense on an ethical level (i.e. nose to tail eating), but it is also highly beneficial for our health. How do I love bone broth? Let me count the ways!
Bone broth is great for skin, hair and nails
Bone broth made with gelatinous cuts such as chicken necks and feet, oxtail and pigs trotters are very rich in collagen, which is the protein found in bones, tendons and ligaments. . This protein is abundant in our body and is important for maintaining our body’s structure. We tend to lose collagen as we age, which may be what contributes to our skin sagging and wrinkles forming. It is no wonder that collagen beauty drinks have become all the rage! However, there really is no need to buy expensive collagen drinks, just have a cup of bone broth daily!
Bone broth maintains joint and bone health
The collagen found in bones, when cooked, will break down and form gelatin. This is the gelatinous substance which some of you may have used to make desserts such as jelly or panna cotta. Eating foods rich in gelatin can help maintain joint health, as well as alleviating joint stiffness and pain. Gelatin is also rich in lysine, an amino acid which aids calcium absorption in the body. As mentioned above, the connective tissue is a rich source of glucosamine and chondroitin, compounds which many people now use in supplemental form to improve their joint health.
Bone broth aids digestion and immunity
Have you ever been served chicken soup or a clear broth when you were not feeling well? It is well known that broths and soups are very nourishing and easy to digest foods when we need to build ourselves back up again. Gelatin and glycine, two of the amino acids contained in bone broth, have been shown to reduce inflammation and protect against gastric ulcers, whilst glutamine helps maintain the integrity of the gut mucosa and intestinal barrier. We know that most of our immune system resides in our gut, so having a healthy gut lining is key to healthy immunity. And let’s face it, there is nothing like a hot delicious soup when we are feeling under the weather.
Bone broth is an anti-stress food
The gelatin in bone broth is devoid of tryptophan, an amino acid found in muscle meats. Many of the inflammatory and anti-ageing effects of eating too many muscle meats is down to their content of tryptophan, cysteine, methionine and histidine. Whilst I do believe that including some good quality animal meats is part of a health-promoting diet, too much muscle meat consumption can exacerbate inflammation and stress in the body. Furthermore, glycine is molecularly similar in structure to our neurotransmitter GABA, known to produce a calming effect on the body. Glycine is an ‘inhibitory’ (as opposed to ‘excitatory’) neurotransmitter, which has a protective, anti-stress action.
Bone broth can aid sleep
Glycine has been shown to help improve sleep in people with insomnia. The mechanism of action may be due to its inhibitory effects discussed above, but another theory is that it helps by regulating our internal body clock in preparation for sleep. I often recommend my clients have a bedtime snack if struggling to sleep (you can read more about that here), and a cup of bone broth with some sea salt is a great night cap option to help you fall – and stay – asleep.
Incorporating bone broth into the diet is simple: make a big batch of bone broth regularly and use it as a base for your soups, stews, sauces, or even to cook your grains in. You can also have a cup of bone broth with some sea salt throughout the day as a warming hot beverage. Are you sold on the wonders of bone broth yet? Let’s see how you can make it!
Simple bone broth recipe:
- 2-3 kgs of organic bones (choose from chicken carcass, chicken necks, chicken feet, oxtail). You can save up the bones from your meals (store them in the freezer) or ask your butcher.
- 4-6 liters of filtered water
- A splash of apple cider vinegar
- Carrot, onion and celery
Place all the ingredients in a heavy based stock pot and leave to sit for 15 minutes. Then slowly bring the water to a boil. You will notice some grey ‘scum’ appearing at the surface of the water; simply remove it with a large spoon and discards. Lower the heat to a rolling simmer, and cook for 2 hours (chicken) or 4 hours (other meats). Discard the bones and vegetables, allow the broth to cool. Once cooled, you may notice a layer of fat solidified at the top of your broth. This can be easily removed and discarded when hardened. Transfer your cooled broth to kilner jars (leaving an inch at the top if freezing, to avoid the jars exploding in the freezer once the broth expands). Your broth will last about 4 days in the fridge and longer in the freezer. Enjoy!
Do you incorporate broth into your daily diet? If you do, get in touch and let me know what health benefits you have observed. If you are struggling with any of the issues mentioned above and would like some more tailored support, click here to book a free call and let’s chat about how some simple diet and lifestyle changes can help you flourish.