There is no doubt that bone broths truly are magical liquids. Now this just might evoke images of hunchbacked witches stirring a cauldron full of bubbling liquid, but don't let that scare you away from cooking up your own batch! A cup of heart-warming, homemade bone broth will not only begin to strengthen your own bones, but also thicken your hair, fortify your nails, make your skin radiant, heal your gut, boost your immune system and much, much more. Bone broths are incredibly nutritious and are one of the best ways to nourish you and your family on an incredibly deep level.
Let's take a took at the components of bone broth that give it its healing powers...
Gelatin is the term which refers to collagen that has been extracted from a source of protein. This is produced in broth once bones have been boiled and simmered for a number of hours. Collagen acts as the cushion between our bones to help decrease friction. Gelatin will not only help to ease joint pain and arthritis, but it will also work to smooth out wrinkles, decrease cellulite and prevent stretch marks, as it is absolutely vital for skin elasticity and the renewal of the cells within our connective tissues. Talk about some amazing anti-aging benefits!
Gelatin itself is easy to digest and will coat and soothe the lining of the stomach, making it a preferable food choice for patients who are suffering from cancer, for example. Gelatin has long been endorsed by the medical community to also aid in the digestion of dairy and grains, as well as help to "heal and seal" the gut lining and promote healthy bacteria to thrive. Since the health of our gut directly correlates to our immune system, consuming bone broth can greatly increase our ability to ward of illness. No wonder Moms have been feeding their sick children chicken soup for time immemorial!
During the normal digestive process, the hydrochloric acid present in the stomach helps to extract minerals from food. Adding a splash of vinegar to your pot of bones and water will allow a similar process to take place. The minerals are extracted from the bones and pulled into the broth. Phosphorus, calcium, magnesium, potassium, sodium, fluoride and sulfate are all minerals present in bones that make the broth incredibly nutrient-dense. These minerals aid in fluid balance, circulation, bone health and nerve functioning, to name only a few. Minerals are also often needed for the body to break a fever and is one of the reason it is given when you are ill.
Chicken feet, beef ribs or knuckles, and skin are all very rich in cartilage. When slowly simmered, the cartilage is drawn from these otherwise often unused cuts of meat and is suffused into the liquid. Cartilage has been found to radically improve the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, and it has also been shown to alleviate some of the suffering of those with inflammatory bowel disease. Consuming cartilage can also stimulate human immune cells making them overall more resistant to disease and illnesses. When I meet with a client who has IBS, Crohn's disease or Colitis, I instruct them to increase their consumption of both broth to work on healing the gut.
Glycine is one of the abundant amino acids found in bone broth. Glycine is known to aid in the liver's function of detoxifying the body and can also aid in general wound healing. Those who are pregnant or who have sickle cell anemia have an increased need for this amino acid.
Glycine can also help to increase hydrochloric acid (HCL) in the stomach, which is often depleted by stress, aging and the consumption of processed foods. HCL is essential for digestion and the breakdown of nutrients in food.
This important amino acid also helps to regulate insulin in the body and will help to stabilize blood sugar.
How About Store-Bought Broths?
Most stocks and broths that you find at your local supermarket aren't the "real deal". They often contain preservatives, added flavors, MSG, tons of sodium, and have very little of the benefits that homemade broth does. If you buy the typical boxed version and compare it to a homemade batch, you'll notice that the store-bought one merely looks like brown-tinted water, while yours (if simmered long enough) will look incredibly rich, and have more of a slightly thickened, "gel" texture, especially when cooled.
While broths are very cheap and easy to make, they do take time. That said, if making your own bone broths at home is not your thing, high quality bone broths can be purchased online for a price. The Brothery (www.thebrothery.com) is a wonderful resource for those of you who cannot find a health food store that carries quality broth. Lance Roll, AKA "The Flavor Chef", takes special care and uses only the cleanest organic ingredients to make his bone broths.
Grab that Slow Cooker!
The one factor that typically turns people away from making their own broths is the time that it takes. Rather than standing over the stove for hours on end, my solution has always been to use a slow cooker. Whenever I bake a full chicken, or grab a rotisserie when I'm in a pinch for dinner, I always use the bones to make a broth. I'll also try to pick up a few chicken feet from a local butcher to make my batch even richer. Note that bone broths are best made with the bones from grass-fed beef, wild caught fish or pasture raised chickens to ensure that the bones and residual meat is as healthy as possible.
Simply made, all you need do is rinse the bones and cover them with water in your slow cooker or a large pot. Add a splash of apple cider vinegar to the stock pot to help breakdown the bones and allow the nutrients to enter the broth. Roughly chop up a few carrots, celery sticks, an onion, garlic and ginger to add additional flavor and nutrition. Then let it simmer, simmer, simmer! The longer it simmers, the more nutrients are pulled from the bones and the deeper the color will get. I typically leave mine overnight in the crockpot (approximately 12-18 hours) until I'm ready to prepare a nice soup with it for dinner the following night.
When it is ready to go, strain everything out and use the broth for a soup, freeze it for later, or simply drink a mug-full! You can seriously feel the healing happening in your body with every sip. Ahhh, I could really go for some right now!
A Diet Staple
So when it comes to nutrition, nothing compares to homemade bone broths. This just might be up there as my top All-Star food of all time! It will heal your gut, beautify your skin, amp up your immune system, and cushion your joints.
In my dreams I see "fast soup" drive-throughs where quality bone broths can be obtained as easily as driving to Starbucks! You never know because broths are definitely beginning to have a resurgence as the word gets out on how awesome they truly are for us. Though it may be a while before broth drive-throughs appear, keep an eye out for local broth companies popping up in your city!
And don't forget, broth really is easy and affordable to make at home, so skip the convenience of the boxed or canned varieties and cook up a batch, all you truly need are bones, water and a pot—the witch's cauldron is optional.
Do you have any personal stories about the benefits bone broths have brought to you and your family?