Bone broth or “stock” is very much an “in vogue” health food at the moment. With bone broth stands now cropping up at various locations around New York City, New Yorkers are getting in on the act with the daily ritual cup of warm broth now akin to the morning coffee. This super food is being acknowledged for its many health benefits and fast becoming one of the biggest health trends.
Bone broth is far from a new phenomenon of course. Often cited as “Jewish penicillin” and praised in South American proverbs with it being deemed “good broth will resurrect the dead” the health benefits of this wonderful food have been attested for many centuries.
“Broth is a liquid food preparation, typically consisting of water, in which bones, meat, fish, cereal grains, or vegetables have been simmered. Broth is used as a basis for other edible liquids such as soup, gravy, or sauce”.1
From Eastern Asia to Britain and everywhere in between, the humble stock has long been seen as not simply a cure it all, but as a tasty base for soups, stews and casseroles. Along with the introduction of convenience foods came the introduction of commercial stocks and then that of the dried stock in the early 20th century by companies such as Maggi and Oxo. Unfortunately, as with most commercial ventures, quality suffered as a result and the benefits of this beautiful healing food were lost along the way.
What are the benefits of this wonderful food and why should I be consuming it regularly?
Alluded to the above in its ability to cure all infections in the Jewish traditions, bone broth has been shown to be fantastic for curing infection. One particular study showed a fresh chicken soup (made with chicken broth) as displaying inhibitory properties over neutrophil activity in the case of colds and flus. This suggested that chicken stock does indeed have a medicinal effect on the body and did indeed promote healing through anti-inflammatory mechanisms2. The old adage that chicken soup cured a cold therefore has scientific backing meaning a good homemade chicken soup will shorten your recovery time from a cold or flu and promote a speedy recovery from respiratory issues. Chicken broth is also rich in an amino acid called cysteine which helps to thin mucus in the lungs and make it easier to expel.
Helps to Heal and Seal The Gut
“All disease begins in the gut” or so Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, was known to say.
As a nutritional therapist I understand the huge importance of gut health in the development of all illness, not least that of autoimmune conditions, diagnosis of which are greatly rising in recent times. Healing and sealing up the gut wall which is often more permeable than it should be is a key objective in most of my clients protocols and one which I greatly promote for overall health.
Hailed as an important component of the Gut and Phycology Syndrome (GAPS) protocol by neurologist Dr Natasha Campbell McBride, healing the gut is also seen as an extremely important component of the healing process for neurological conditions such as autism, where the toxicity of the gut leads to issues with behaviour issues 3 by healing and sealing up the gut lining. The gelatin found in bone broth is a hydrophilic colloid meaning it attracts and holds liquids including digestive enzymes promoting more effective digestion and improved healing.
Reduces joint pain and promoting bone health
Bone broths play an important part in reducing joint pain and improving bone health. Sally Fallon of the Weston A Price Foundation explains that bone broths contain minerals such as calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, and silicon as well as chondroitin and glucosamine, all of which are easily absorbed into your body and promote joint and bone health as well as prevent arthritis and osteoporosis.
Many chronic conditions are driven by inflammation. Reducing chronic inflammation is key to preventing the development of illness in the long run. Amino acids such as glycine and arginine have anti-inflammatory properties and are rich in bone broth.
Rich in Gelatin
We are all familiar with collagen and its benefits for skin, hair, and nail health. The beauty industry has long since promoted its merits and it is often found in anti-aging products. Collagen is found in the tendons and skin of meats and is released into bone broth as gelatin during cooking. The longer you cook your bone broth the more gelatin is released. Therefore regularly eating bone broth can help to reduce aging and promote skin, nail, and hair health!
Making Your Own Bone Broth
Now that you know the benefits of bone broth, how can you make it a useful tool in your Paleo plan or overall health promotion lifestyle? Firstly, it is best to make it yourself. Commercial stocks do not possess the same benefits and are often full of taste enhancer, hidden gluten, and other nasty extras. People often get a little squeamish when I recommend making your own bone broth. It is really easy to do and quickly becomes just another routine job you can incorporate into your lifestyle.
Bones can be raw or uncooked but organic is best as animals store toxins in their bone marrow which will then be released into your broth. I like to use the cooked carcass from my roast chicken dinner. In this way it just becomes another routine – the night after my chicken dinner I strip the meat off and make my broth. Larger bones like beef bones need to be broken up to allow the marrow to be penetrated. Ask your butcher to do this or break it yourself with a kitchen saw or clean hammer.
Browning the bones by roasting them prior to cooking is a useful way to impart more flavour and colour into your finished broth. Add an acid – it is important to add an acid to the water to aid the release of minerals from the bones. I like to use an organic apple cider vinegar. This is an important step.
The longer you cook a broth the better it becomes. It may be cooked on the hob, pressure cooker, or in a slow cooker. I personally like to make 24 hour bone broth in my slow cooker and I find it the most economical and easiest way to make broth. If you don’t have time to wait or do not own a slow cooker I recommend the pressure method.
- 1-2 organic chicken carcasses
- Filtered water, enough to cover
- 1-2 tbsp of organic apple cider vinegar
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 carrot
- 1 onion
- 2 celery sticks
- 2 Bay Leaves
- Place your bones in your slow cooker.
- Just cover with cold filtered water.
- Add the vinegar (this leaches the minerals from bone easier).
- Place on a low heat for 24 hours.
- When cooked pass through a fine sieve to remove any sediment.
- Cool and refrigerate for up to 4 days. Freeze if desired for backup if a cold hits!
Alternatives: Add vegetables such as celery, carrots and onions to your stock also to add flavour if desired.
- Rombauer, I. S., Becker, M.R., Becker, E. (1997). Joy of Cooking. New York, USA: Scribner. pp. 42. ISBN 0-684-81870-1.
- Rennard, B.O., et al. (2000).Chicken Soup Inhibits Neutrophil Chemotaxis In Vitro. In Journal for American College of Chest Physicians Oct;118(4):1150-7. Retrieved from http://journal.publications.chestnet.org/article.aspx?articleid=1079188
- Campbell-McBride, N. (2004). Gut and Psychology Syndrome: Natural Treatment for Autism, ADD/ADHD, Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, Depression, Schizophrenia. [s.l.]: Medinform Publishing. ISBN13: 9780954852009.