Think back to when you were a little kid, sick in bed with a runny nose and fever. Did your parents or grandparents ever make you hot soup? Chances are the answer is yes. In fact, they probably made you bowl after bowl of hot chicken soup because they told you it would help make you feel better. I know mine did! Now, here’s another question for you: Did the soup actually help to speed up the recovery process? According to numerous scientific studies, it did!
What The Heck Is Bone Broth?!
Bone broth is simply homemade stock made from boiling and simmering animal bones/ligaments. You can use just about any animal’s bones to create bone broth — from chicken to turkey, beef, pork, lamb, or fish. You can even use a variety of organic, grass-fed animal bones. To bump up the nutritional value even more, a lot of people like to add spices and vegetables to their stock. I’ll talk more about this below!
Why Is Bone Broth So Healthy?
When you allow the animal bones to boil and simmer in water for eight or more hours, powerful nutrients are released from the bones and leach into the water. Some of those nutrients include beneficial calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, amino acids, and trace minerals. Bone broth is also rich in chondroitin sulfates, glucosamine, collagen, and gelatin.
Throughout this article, you will hear me put a lot of emphasis on collagen and gelatin. To put it simply, uncooked animal bones are one of the best sources of collagen in the world. When the bones simmer in water, that collagen turns into gelatin. These very important nutrients act as “glue” in the body and are one of the main reasons bone broth is so healing. So, the more gelatinous a broth is, the more nourishing it will be. If you make bone broth and notice it gets jiggly after being refrigerated, don’t freak out. It’s actually a sign that your stock (or bone broth) is made well.
While some bones offer more gelatin than others (like chicken’s feet, pig’s feet, and joint bones), other bones offer other benefits. For example, shank and leg bones are known to be rich in bone marrow, which is also essential for the human body.
Overall, to create the healthiest stock that you possibly can, you’ll want to use a mixture of animal bones. Ideally, you would use the entire organic chicken carcass or all of the bones and cartilage from a wild-caught fish.
Please note: You can’t achieve the amazing bone broth health benefits from the fake soups you get at the grocery store.
While today’s processed, canned soups are certainly convenient and taste pretty good, it’s important to stress they do very little to improve your health. Rather, they are chock full of sodium and other food additives — such as monosodium glutamate (MSG) — that you’re better off avoiding. If you want real bone broth that offers your body real benefits then you are going to have to bust out the crockpot and make it yourself at home. Trust me, it’s worth the small effort.
Top 6 Health Benefits of Bone Broth
1) Heals Leaky Gut
The famous Greek physician Hippocrates once said, “All disease begins in the gut.” Now, centuries later, it turns out he was right. Doctors, scientists, and researchers alike are starting to realize how powerful the gut truly is. It’s been linked to just about every function in the human body. From digestive health to immunity, mood, mental health, weight, and even skin condition. As you can tell, it’s very important to keep a happy and healthy gut. Health officials (from Hippocrates to new-day doctors) say one way you can do that is to add bone broth to your regular diet.
Since bone broth contains gelatin, it can help tighten the pores in your digestive tract. If the pores in your intestinal lining widen, harmful substances (such as harmful bacteria, toxins, and undigested food particles) can literally “leak” into the bloodstream and cause serious health issues. This condition is called “Leaky Gut Syndrome.” Check out the following diagram to help you visualize Leaky Gut Syndrome:
Bone broth is also easy to digest, extremely soothing on the digestive tract, and can help fight inflammation in the intestines. For these reasons, broth is a foundational component of the Gut and Psychology Syndrome (GAPS) diet. The GAPS diet is designed to help relieve people suffering from various digestive disorders, such as Leaky Gut Syndrome, Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), and autoimmune diseases.
2) Reduces Joint Pain & Builds Strong Bones
Whether your joints are aching from the loss of cartilage over the years or you’re suffering from arthritis, bone broth may be able to ease some of your pain. Again, this is because of the rich amounts of collagen and gelatin found in bone broth. Researchers say the gelatin in bone broth is absorbed into the body and then acts like a soft cushion between bones. This helps bones move and glide without painful friction. Gelatin also provides the body with essential nutrients to build and maintain strong bones. When a person’s bones are strong they can help relieve pressure off of aging joints.
3) Fights The Common Cold/ Flu
This one may come as no surprise. Since bone broth is full of various vitamins and minerals, drinking it can definitely give your immune system a good boost. As you probably know, a strong immune system is crucial for warding off sicknesses, such as the common cold and flu.
Along with fighting off harmful bacteria and viruses in the body, chicken bone broth contains cysteine, a natural amino acid that can thin the mucus in your lungs. By thinning your mucus, it makes it easier to expel. Speaking of decongestion, if you are drinking bone broth to help fight off a cold, doctors recommend making your stock hot and spicy. The spices will trigger the release of fluids in your lungs, throat, and mouth, which will help thin down mucus so it’s easier to expel. You can achieve this effect by adding pepper to your bone broth.
4) May Promote a Better Night’s Sleep
We here it over and over again — how we aren’t getting enough sleep. We’re supposed to catch about seven to nine hours of zzz’s every night, but many of us don’t get anywhere near that. After a long day filled with bosses, kids, relationships, and other responsibilities, a lot of people are just too wired to turn in at night. Some people get caught up watching their favorite shows and binge-watching Netflix so they don’t turn off the lights and shut their eyes. Others are too caught up on social media and what’s going on online. Whatever the case may be, people are not prioritizing sleep and that needs to change.
While hot detox baths and reading a good book can certainly get you in the sleeping mood, you can also try sipping on a cup of bone broth. Researchers say the amino acid Glycine found in bone broth has a calming effect that promotes a better night’s sleep. Several studies have looked into the sleep-promoting benefits of bone broth and they seem promising.
5) May Improve Skin & Fights Aging
I’m sorry to break the news to you, but as we get older, we, unfortunately, lose collagen in our skin. This contributes to unwanted wrinkles and an overall aged appearance. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say no one likes that! That’s why, to help fight the beauty clock and maintain a youthful look, many people load up on expensive skin care creams that promise to make you look years younger. Do you know what’s in those creams? You guessed it … collagen!
Collagen helps form elastin and other compounds in the skin that keep us looking young. It reduces wrinkles, decreases puffiness, and fights other visible signs of aging. Along with slathering on those expensive skin creams, another great way to get extra collagen into your body is by slurping on bone broth. Did you know that when it comes to your skin’s appearance, what you put inside your body is just as important as what you put on it?
In one study, women between the ages of 35-55 were given either daily collagen hydrolysate supplements or a daily placebo pill. After eight weeks, researchers noticed the participants who took the collagen supplements experienced “significant improvement” in their skin elasticity, skin moisture, transepidermal water loss (dryness) and skin roughness.
Speaking of beauty benefits, the collagen and gelatin found in bone broth also help to strengthen hair and nails.
6) Boost Detoxification
Today, we are surrounded by toxins. From environmental toxins to the pesticides that are sprayed on our produce. While the human body does a great job of detoxifying itself, certain foods are said to help boost the detoxification process. Bone broth is one of those foods for a few reasons.
For one, bone broth helps promote regular bowel movements. By passing a bowel movement regularly, you are getting rid of the toxic waste that needs to leave your body in order to maintain health. Additionally, bone broth contains various nutrients, such as potassium and glycine, that support cell and liver detoxification. Then there is the sulfur and glutathione found in bone broth, which helps to lower oxidative stress. Glutathione is so powerful researchers say:
“Glutathione deficiency contributes to oxidative stress, which plays a key role in aging and the pathogenesis of many diseases (including kwashiorkor, seizure, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, liver disease, cystic fibrosis, sickle cell anemia, HIV, AIDS, cancer, heart attack, stroke, and diabetes).”
How To Make Bone Broth
Bone broth is truly a breeze to make. It just requires a little planning.
First, you need to gather your ingredients. When it comes to animal bones, look for free-range chicken, grass-fed beef, or wild caught fish. You want to avoid animals that have been pumped with antibiotics and hormones. If you are adding vegetables into your bone broth, organic is definitely preferred. You don’t want to dump a bunch of pesticides into your healthy stock.
Once you have gathered your ingredients, it’s time to cook! One of the easiest ways to make homemade bone broth is to put your ingredients into a crockpot or slow cooker, turn it on low heat, and go about your day as usual. By the time you are finished with work or running your day’s errands, the stock should be done! Although, some people do let their bone broth simmer in the slow cooker for upwards of 48 hours.
Check out these videos for recipe ideas to create a healthy bone broth: