By Debra Soufleris, B.S., DTR
If you’re concerned about your bone health, then you may have considered taking collagen supplements, calcium, and other products. These can be highly beneficial when your diet is deficient in certain nutrients. However, there is a more natural alternative. Bone broth benefits have been known for a long time, and the best part is that you can make it at home.
For thousands of years, people from many cultures have been making bone broth. Most likely because they used all parts of the animal in the cooking process, probably without realizing all the nutritional benefits it contains. Nowadays, bone broth has become so mainstream, mainly due to the popularity of diets like Paleo and Keto, that there are shops dedicated solely to selling this high-quality elixir. But is it really worth adding to your daily diet?
Making bone broth is a simple process of simmering bones from beef, poultry, lamb, pork, and even fish for a very long time to extract all the goodness they contain. Although, if you own a pressure cooker or Instant Pot, you can reduce the cooking time drastically and still get the same delicious results with all the benefits.
Adding a little vinegar (or any acid) will help pull out all the beneficial minerals from the bones. Don’t worry, you won’t taste the vinegar in the broth as it fades away during the cooking process. Additionally, adding some vegetables and spices will boost the nutrient content and flavor.
If you’re looking to add a ton of vitamins and minerals to your diet in a delicious and low-calorie way, you need to add bone broth to your daily routine. It makes for an ideal pre-dinner appetizer, as it sets the gut up for good digestion. Also, for many people looking to scale back on their caffeine fix, bone broth can be a satisfying, healthy replacement.
Bone broth is nutrient-dense, easy to digest, rich in flavor, and helps heal your gut. Since it’s a liquid, it’s easily absorbed by the body. It contains many important minerals like calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, silicon, and Sulphur. The slow simmering process helps release healing compounds such as collagen, proline, glycine, and glutamine. It also contains chondroitin sulfate and glucosamine, which are known to reduce inflammation and help with arthritis and joint pain.
Gelatin is a byproduct of simmering bones and breaking down the collagen. The collagen is the protein found in the connective tissue of vertebrate animals. The Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology found that gelatin effectively supports intestinal health and its integrity. Gelatin has beneficial properties that help restore and strengthen the lining of the gut. This is extremely helpful for those dealing with food sensitivities. It also helps with the growth of probiotics (the good bacteria) and fights in reducing inflammation, which is at the heart of most chronic conditions.
As we get older, our joints naturally wear down and our cartilage diminishes and becomes less flexible. For athletes, this is even more pronounced. As a result, our joints can become damaged due to the constant movement and pressure.
According to a 2017 review in the Journal of Sports Medicine, gelatin, like the kind produced from bone broth, increases the amount of collagen in the tissues. As bone broth simmers, collagen leaches out into the broth and becomes readily available to help restore our own cartilage when consumed. This may help protect the joints from unnecessary stress.
One of the most incredible features of bone broth is its ability to help heal the lining of the gut. If your gut is damaged, you’re much more susceptible to a weakened immune system. This occurs when undigested food particles seep into the bloodstream through the lining of the intestines, causing a whole host of issues.
The immune system responds by releasing high levels of antibodies that cause auto-immune-like responses and attacks healthy tissues. The protein found in bone broth can help seal and line the gut so that nothing seeps out into the bloodstream. By restoring the gut lining, you help support a healthy immune system.
The collagen found in bone broth helps form elastin and other compounds in our skin that are responsible for maintaining a youthful appearance, texture, and glow. Collagen works to help reduce the visible signs of aging by helping skin become more elastic. It also hydrates the skin by reducing dryness and increasing skin moisture, giving your skin a smoother, firmer appearance. Now, who wouldn’t want that??
By regularly drinking bone broth or using it in recipes, you can help promote a healthy gut, improve joint health, boost your immune system, and help maintain the integrity of your skin. Be careful with store-bought brands as they may contain ingredients you’ll want to avoid. Try the easy recipe below to make your own broth at home.
Adapted from: Medical News Today
A simple way to make it is to save bones from other meals. Many butchers and meat sections at grocery stores also sell any bones that they have available. Bones that have lots of tendons and ligaments provide the most collagen, such as oxtails, chicken feet or necks, knuckles, ham hocks, and beef ribs.
Boil the ingredients together in a large pot or slow cooker, then reduce to a simmer for 10–24 hours before letting it cool (the longer the better). For added flavor, roast uncooked bones in the oven at 350° for about 30 minutes prior to simmering. Strain the broth through a sieve and pour into smaller containers for storage.
*It might also help to add salt, vegetables like carrots, onions, and celery, and spices such as sage or thyme to give the broth more flavor.
After making a big batch of broth, store it in smaller containers in the freezer. Heat these smaller containers as needed, and the broth will last longer.