Bone broth, the elixir of life?
If you’re vegetarian or vegan look away now, this post isn’t for you. Bone broth is nothing more than a long simmered soup made from animal or fish bones plus vegetables and other seasonings if you like. It’s nothing new and forms part of practically every culture’s native culinary traditions. Our parents and grandparents certainly made soup from animal leftovers and now it seems that nutritionists are linking regular consumption of this with many, many benefits.
Here are the main benefits that I’ve come across.
1. Heal and seal your gut. According to Jill Grunewald, a holistic nutrition coach and founder of Healthful Elements, a cup a day works miracles for leaky gut syndrome but it’s also good for protecting non-leaky guts. The gelatin in the bone broth (found in the knuckles, feet, and other joints) helps seal up holes in intestines. This helps cure chronic diarrhea, constipation, and even some food intolerances.
2. Protect your joints. Taking glucosamine supplements to help with joint pain has been common knowledge for years, but it turns out that bone broth has glucosamine too. But unlike pills, the broth also includes a host of other goodies that help keep your joints happy, healthy, and pain-free. The chondroitin sulfate in bone broth has been shown to help prevent osteoarthritis.
3. Look younger. Bone broth is a rich source of collagen. You can find collagen in all kinds of “plumping” products these days, but why stick it on the outside when you can drink it? Not only is drinking it cheaper, but it can make your skin, hair, and nails look just as radiant.
4. Sleep better, and feel better. The glycine in bone broth has been shown in several studies to help people sleep better and improve memory.
5. Immune support. Mark Sisson, author of The Primal Blueprint, actually calls bone broth a “superfood” thanks to the high concentration of minerals. He says that the bone marrow can help strengthen your immune system. (Something that won’t surprise your grandmother who always made you her famous chicken soup when you got sick!) A Harvard study even showed that some people with auto-immune disorders experienced a relief of symptoms when drinking bone broth, with some achieving a complete remission.
7. More energy. I’m not sure what the mechanism is for this, but if you read accounts of bone broth, you’ll notice everyone swears by the energy boost.
8. It’s very economical! What else were you going to do with those chicken carcasses, soup bones, and veggies going bad in your fridge?
I love a good soup and, as the colder season approaches, was only too happy to take out my slow cooker and test run the following very easy recipe.
about 2 pounds of good quality bones
1 medium carrot, peeled and chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 stalk of celery, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
1 tbsp organic apple cider vinegar
vegetable ends (optional)
1. Place the bones in a 3-quart slow-cooker. You can easily adjust this recipe to the size of your slow-cooker. The bones should fill up about 3/4 of the slow-cooker.
2. Peel and cut your vegetables and garlic. If you are using organic produce, you can just roughly chop them. You can also add vegetable scraps.
3. Fill the slow-cooker with filtered water. Season with a generous amount of salt (about 1-1.5 tsp).
4. Add 1-2 tablespoons (or one good ‘glug’) of organic apple cider vinegar.
5. Set the slow-cooker on low and cook for 18-24 hours.
6. Strain the broth through cheesecloth or a strainer and cool. A good broth will usually have a layer of fat on the top, and will gelatinize when thoroughly cool. The fat can be removed and used for cooking/flavoring vegetables.
I actually cooked my broth for 36 hours for good measure and roasted the bones for an hour first (some recipes suggest this) and the result was a very tasty, full flavored broth that I’d be very happy to drink a cupful of on a regular basis or to use as a base for other soups such as lentil or barley and vegetable to get the benefits mentioned above.
I think our forebears were being more than frugal when they boiled up the animal carcass once they’d eaten the meat, I think they knew that to throw it away was to lose something of great value!