Bone broth, not to be confused with regular broth or stock, is a nutrient-dense powerhouse made from the slow-simmered bones and connective tissue of animals. Restorative when consumed on its own and versatile in recipes, it can be used the same way as stock, but packs a much more savory and nutritious punch, due to the length of time the bones are simmered.
How is Bone Broth Made?
Bone broth has been used for centuries, and in fact, most cultures around the world have a variant of bone broth which has been passed down through generations. It is made by slowly simmering the bones and connective tissue of animals to make a healing broth full of vitamins, minerals, and gut-healing collagen. Bone broth can be made with any type of bones, but the most popular options are chicken, beef, pork, turkey, and lamb. Due to the length of time that the bones are simmered, it’s important to ensure that you are using only the highest quality bones from organic, pastured, and grass fed animals. The slow simmering process used to cook the broth extracts a variety of beneficial nutrients and healing collagen, but if your bones are not of high quality, it will also extract anything built up in the bones – such as antibiotics, hormones, and pesticides from a grain-heavy diet.
How Does Bone Broth Differ from Regular Broth
As we’ve mentioned, one of the main differences that sets bone broth apart from its close relatives broth and stock is the length of time that it’s simmered. But what exactly does that extra time add to the composition of the broth? If the ingredients are mostly the same, why is it important to simmer the bone broth for so long; does it really make a difference?
When bone broth is simmered for hours on low heat (“slow and low” as bone broth aficionados like to call it), it helps to release collagen-rich gelatin from the bones and connective tissue. Collagen is a vital protein that makes up 25% of our body, including bones, muscles, skin, and tendons. Collagen helps to support all of these systems in the body, as well as to “heal and seal” the gut by strengthening the intestinal lining, assisting in the healing of digestive issues such as leaky gut syndrome, irritable bowel syndrome, and Crohn’s disease. Gelatin, which is the cooked form of collagen, supports the digestive process by binding to the liquid in your gut and helping food move through the gut more easily (this binding is also what causes properly-made bone broth to congeal when it cools.)
Why is Bone Broth So Important?
The modern diet is deficient in the crucial nutrients that bone broth provides
Bone broth is an incredibly healing food, full of vital nutrients that are often missing from the conventional modern diet.
In addition to being rich in collagen, animal bones contain important minerals such as calcium, magnesium and potassium, as well as vitamins, amino acids, and trace minerals. These nutrients were common in our ancestors’ diet due to their high intake of animal products, but the cuts of meat that contain the most collagen are the odd bits such as skin, tendons, and joints, which we generally throw out today – leaving most of us lacking in these crucial nutrients, especially collagen. Traditional cultures consumed the entire animal to avoid waste, a practice that ensured the consumption of collagen-rich bones, tendons, joints, and skin – either on their own or as the base of a nurturing, vitamin-rich broth. While you won’t find anyone today racing to sit down to a plate of raw tendons, we can still consume the important nutrients found in these ancestral foods and reduce waste by using these parts of the animal in the preparation of nourishing bone broth. Not only is bone broth a rich source of these essential nutrients, but it provides them in an easily-digestible liquid form that allows the body to absorb them without difficulty.
Bone broth is a plentiful source of amino acids, which are known to heal the intestinal lining, aiding in the healing of intestinal permeability (“leaky gut”), and reducing inflammation in the body caused by this and other digestive issues. These nutrients have also been shown to help protect and strengthen the joints and may also improve sleep and mental clarity.
One such amino acid is glycine, one of the building blocks of glutathione – a crucial antioxidant that aids in the removal of toxins, helps to build muscle, and keeps your immune system strong. Glutathione plays such an integral role in our health that it is referred to as the “mother of all antioxidants” – but most people are lacking in glutathione already, and our body’s produce less of it as we age. A healthy diet rich in whole foods and an abundance of bone broth aids in the body’s production of this vital nutrient.
Bone broth plays a vital role in the gut-brain connection
If you’ve never heard of the gut-brain connection, you’re not alone. Though conventional medicine is beginning to study this connection and the importance of gut health in treating illness and chronic medical problems, outside of the natural health community the link between these two seemingly unrelated systems isn’t widely discussed.
However new the science may be, practitioners such as Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride (creator of the GAPS diet) have discovered a strong link between improving gut health and healing the symptoms of psychological issues such as autism, depression, and ADHD. Bone broth is a key component of the GAPS (Gut And Psychology Syndrome) Diet, since it aids in replenishing our body’s gut bacteria and healing the intestinal lining. Dr. Campbell-McBride has credited these functions with healing inflammation in the body, and helping to treat the issues mentioned above, among others.
Bone Broth Can Be Used Medicinally or in Recipes
Whether you’re consuming bone broth medicinally or as a savory addition to culinary recipes, you’ll reap the benefits of this nutritionally rich food. It is relatively easy to make, and is delicious consumed on its own or used in place of water or broth in recipes. No matter how or why you decide to try bone broth, your body will thank you, and you’ll be glad you were introduced to this wholesome and versatile staple.