Bone broth has been a staple in traditional cultures all over the world and for good reason: not only is it cheap and easy to make and adds a lot of flavor to any dish but also it’s one of the most healing foods one can consume.
Bone broth possesses a unique combination of minerals, amino acids and cartilage. The combination varies depending on the type of bones and the cooking method used and different types of broth will be suitable for different types of dishes.
The healing components of broth:
Bone broth is very nourishing as it contains dissolved collagen, marrow and bone; minerals and vitamins; and the important amino acids glycine, proline and glutamine.
Collagen is needed nearly everywhere in the body. The entire collagen molecule consists of over 1000 amino acids of which every third is glycine. The structure of the molecule varies in different species. We need collagen for firm skin, strong bones and healthy muscles, tendons and cartilage. Collagen production slows as we age or when we’re ill. Broth contains all the nutrients the body needs to produce collagen and therefore consuming collagen-rich broth and meat is a great measure to help counteract the signs of aging.
Cartilage is the framework between all moving parts of the body that reduces friction and absorbs shocks. The components of animal cartilage are dissolved into bone broth and those are the nutrients humans need to maintain healthy cartilage and even rebuild it.
Bones in broth provide an array of minerals in a very bio-available form. The number and combination depends on the status of the animal. These minerals support bone health and provide the matrix that makes bones hard. Collagen on the other hand is needed as the basic building block of bones and keeps them strong and resilient.
Marrow is dissolved into broth during the long cooking process and is one of the most nourishing foods. It helps with stem cell regeneration, immunity, blood sugar regulation, fat deposition and oxygen transport. It also helps to build strong bones and connective tissue.
The most abundant amino acids in bone broth are proline, glycine, alanine and glutamine. Although they are non-essential, an already sick body will have problems manufacturing them. Proline and glycine are the most important building blocks for collagen and cartilage. Glycine is extremely important for healthy blood, digestion and detoxification. It is also helpful in reducing inflammation. Glutamine is the ideal food for gut cells and therefore has great gut healing properties. It may also increase immunity and detoxification, help to repair and build muscle and also provides food for the brain. Alanine is important for liver function, the production of glucose and the citric acid cycle (energy production in cells).
Proteoglycans are sugars that collect and hold water. One type of proteoglycan is HA which is a major component of synovial fluid (carries nutrients to the cartilage and prevents tear and wear). HA cushions and lubricates all movable parts of the body. It is also present in all skin tissue where it provides continuous moisture. HA is mainly made up of protein sugars called GAGs. One of them is glucosamine which is known to decrease inflammation and helps to repair cartilage. It also helps repair the GAG layer in the gut (which is often defect in autoimmune disorders). Another helpful sugar found in GAGs is galactosamine which supports the immune system. Another proteoglycan that protects cartilage is chondroitin sulfate. Broth can assist the utilization and digestibility of protein and furthermore diminishes the amount of protein needed by the body. However, broth is not a complete protein and therefore should be consumed in addition to other protein rich foods.
According to Sally Fallon and Kaayla Daniel, the authors of ‘Nourishing Broth‘, bone broth can help cure and prevent many of our modern day diseases. It aids in:
Recovery from illness and surgery, the healing from pain and inflammation, emotional balance, better digestion, lessening of allergies, and the treatment of many autoimmune disorders.
If you want to learn more about how broth can help you and how to make and use broth I can really recommend this book.
I love broth because not only is it very comforting but also it makes use of the whole animal (and I’m a fan of no-waste), it is very cheap to make (my local butcher gives away bones for free) and it adds a lot of flavor (no more MSG laden stock cubes!).
There’s different ways you can make broth and the preparation varies depending on the type of bones used. Below are some options so you can start making tasty broth yourself!
- About 3 pounds of bones (fresh or from a roast)
- Chicken feet, heads, pig’s foot or calf foot (optional but this produces more gelatin)
- 4 Tbsp vinegar
- Coarsely chopped vegetables such as peeled carrots, onion, celery, leek and parsley (optional)
- About 6 pints cold filtered water
- Place the bones in a stock pot or slow cooker and pour the vinegar over them
- Place the options vegetables on top and as enough water to cover everything
- Let sit for 30 mins or longer
- Cover, bring just to a boil and then cook on low for 12–24 hours. Maintain a simmer but prevent boiling (leave the lid slightly ajar)
- Skim off any foam that rises to the top and occasionally check to make sure the ingredients stay covered
- Remove the bones and vegetables and fill the broth into containers. Once cooled, the fat wool rose to the top and can be skimmed off. You can store the broth in the fridge for up to a week or in the freezer for many months. The bones can be reused up to two more times.