Bone broth is an increasingly popular health trend in the US, and for good reason. It’s known for alleviating symptoms of arthritis, healing the digestive tract, being a natural botox alternative, and reducing cellulite. Gwyneth Paltrow even called it “winter’s miracle drink,” siding with the many health advocates that constantly use bone broth for weight loss. So, how did this “miracle elixir” come about? Well, bone broth isn’t much of a secret; cultures and tribes from around the globe have consumed bone broth for millenia to build strong, healthy bodies from childhood to old age. Sold in New York City for nearly $9 a cup and used by the Los Angeles Lakers as a post-game remedy/supplement, bone broth has come a long way from simply being a healthy base for chicken soup. In this article, we’ll explore the specific benefits of bone broth for not only bodily cells but also your gut microbiome, and how that can impact your quality of life down the line. We’ll also look into different methods of preparing bone broth, and why, usually, homemade options are the way to go.
1. Firstly, and perhaps most famously, bone broth contains up to and potentially more than 10 grams of collagen per cup!
Collagen, a vital protein for joint, hair, skin, gut, and bone health, is found in the connective tissues of animals; when this collagen from their tendons and bones is cooked, it’s converted into gelatin, a protein that has a virtually identical nutritional profile and is ready for absorption. Your body absolutely needs the proline and glycine from this compound to produce more collagen, leading to youthful skin and healthy joints.
2. Depending on your broth mix, bone broth will provide a wealth of vitamins and minerals that pack a stronger punch than any old multivitamin supplement.
Bone broth is high in calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, and potassium, which are all vital for the production and maintenance of healthy bones. Unfortunately, nearly 40% of the U.S population doesn’t meet calcium requirements from their diet alone, so bone broth is a great way to push past that threshold. In fact, to get more calcium in, try adding egg shells! Besides these minerals, the marrow in bone broth is high in vitamins A and K2, iron, zinc, boron, manganese, selenium, and omega-3’s.
3. Bone broth contains hyaluronic acid.
That’s right! Bone broth contains the same compound found in that hydrating beauty serum on your bathroom counter. And it’ll have similar effects on your skin and other organ barriers, improving skin elasticity and elasticity while the collagen works its magic as well.
4. Bone broth can reduce arthritis symptoms and joint pain.
Bone broth’s high levels of glucosamine, a supplement commonly taken by the elderly for joint pain, and chondroitin from animal tendons and ligaments can support joint health by stimulating new collagen growth and joint maintenance, reducing the incidence of osteoarthritis.
5. Bone broth can alleviate chronic inflammation.
With inflammation being one of the most common ailments in the Western world, it’s important to keep a diet high in anti-inflammatory foods, and bone broth, with its high glycine and arginine content, is a prime candidate. Arginine has been shown to open up inflamed airways in mice with asthma, and could play a role in defeating diseases like Alzheimer’s, some cancers, and heart disease.
6. Bone broth can regulate your sleep cycle without the need for endocrine-disrupting melatonin.
Glycine, an amino acid found in bone broth that has a wealth of benefits and functions in organ systems, has been shown to help regulate sleep patterns. For those suffering from insomnia, glycine has been analyzed as a potential dietary treatment that improves sleep quality, with its mechanism being how it regulates our circadian rhythms and lowers our body temperatures in preparation for a good night’s sleep.
7. Bone broth is a commonly used mood booster.
Back to the benefits of glycine, it’s been shown to expand memory and increase mental clarity and sharpness as a supplement to one’s diet, also relieving stress by reducing the production of norepinephrine, a neurotransmitter/hormone that induces feelings of anxiety and increased heart rate. All of this regulation leads to increased productivity and decreased brain fog, signs of a healthy brain and mental state. Glycine not only boosts these areas, it also prevents them from disease: it's observed in helping protect post-stroke individuals against neuronal death and decay. This also comes due to the improvement of the gut-brain connection, which we’ll explore in the subsequent section.
But wait, you might ask, why is the gut microbiome/our gut health so important?
Don’t get confused by the wording; the gut microbiome is anything but “micro.” It governs areas like immunity, skin, food intolerance, and other organ systems, even impacting areas as far as brain health and psychology. It makes sense when you realize that there’s 40 trillion bacterial cells in our body and only 30 trillion human cells, meaning we’re more bacteria than we are human! We share a complex symbiosis with our gut microorganisms, and without them, we wouldn’t be able to survive, so it’s important to take care of them the best you can to live a life of fulfillment and longevity.
Without a balance of good and bad bacteria in the gut, commonly known as dysbiosis, leaky gut syndrome takes hold. How does this happen? When we eat proteins found in unsprouted grains, refined sugar, and other processed foods, this leads to a mass dieoff of good bacteria, which leaves space for bad bacteria to invade, messing up the permeability of the intestinal wall and letting toxins flow from food into the bloodstream instead of being filtered out. This leads to brain fog, chronic diarrhea, skin problems like eczema and rashes, and joint pain, so it’s important to take preventative measures to keep leaky gut at bay.
So where does bone broth come in? Firstly, the high gelatin content binds to water in the digestive tract, which aids food mobility and helps to pass stools more easily. Bone broth components also heal the mucous membranes and linings of the gut, decreasing inflammation and providing a sort of protective lining. Apart from proline and glycine, the glutamine found in gelatin sustains the intestinal wall function as a selective barrier, which prevents conditions like leaky gut. The nutrients and proteins bone broth provides are beneficial not only for bodily cells, but also good bacteria found in probiotics, giving them the resources and energy to thrive and push out bad bacteria. Typically, regular consumption of bone broth will lead to noticeable improvements in irritable bowels in 7-14 days!
Bone broth is also the foundation of the dietary protocol to heal Gut and Psychology syndrome (GAPS), which explains how broth and the gelatin it contains can heal a myriad of psychological conditions such as depression, autism spectrum disorders, chemical imbalances in the brain, even improving more severe conditions like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.
Instant/powder bone broth is actually liquid bone broth that has gone through agglomeration, or a process that turns the liquid into a powder with large particles for effective surface area interaction. While instant bone broth retains a mostly identical nutritional profile to liquid or frozen bone broths, the gelatin in instant bone broth has been hydrolyzed and will not form a gel when mixed with water and chilled, making it inferior to liquid bone broth in cases where gel is necessary. But, as we’ll explore later in this article, there are some better, more economical ways to include bone broth in your diet.
Bone broth is known to contain 30-35 calories per cup, so it’s extremely effective for dieting, as it will generally keep you full and provide essential nutrients while laying low on the caloric side. Furthermore, collagen helps with weight management by keeping the stomach full for longer, reducing inflammation, and providing proteins for lean muscle mass in those looking to do some body recomposition, as muscle tissue generally uses more energy than adipose fat tissue. Amino acids like glycine are also metabolism boosters that regulate blood sugar levels, meaning that those midnight snack cravings will stop in their tracks. Thus, consuming bone broth is a healthy and smart idea to sprinkle into your routine for steady hunger levels and burning fat.
As you might imagine, with so many spectacular benefits for humans, a regular hydrating cup of bone broth mixed into your dog’s food can do wonders for their health too.
The collagen, glucosamine, glycine, and gelatin can improve your dog's mobility, skin health, coat health, and digestion. The high protein content overall can build up your dog's muscular strength and prevent premature atrophy. If your dog has digestion issues, a cup of bone broth can work to repair their gut microbiome and any warning signs of leaky gut. Glycine, a particular amino acid, is used by the liver to help filter toxins, so glycine-high bone broth will help improve your dog’s liver health and function. Thus, especially following a sickness, bone broth is a must in every dog pantry. Start slow to ease the bone broth into your dog’s diet, with a few ounces a day, removing the bone pieces of course, as they provide a choking hazard. A side of caution however; store-bought bone broth may contain high salt, onions, and garlic, which can potentially prove toxic or unhealthy for your dog, so it’s best to go homemade here.
We love our dogs just as much as we’d love any other child or family member, so why not feed them with the same love and care?
Although collagen powder may give you more of the pure substance, it doesn’t provide any other nutrients or support for the collagen to make the healthiest difference on the body. On the other hand, bone broth contains not only collagen, but also glutamine and other amino acids, as well as alkylglycerols for healing and supporting bodily functions. If your gut health is suffering, then a collagen powder won’t have a profound effect on your overall lifestyle in the same way that a leaky gut, low energy fixing cup of bone broth will.
Tetrapaks of chicken, beef or vegetable broth are cheap–usually between $2 and $3 for 32 ounces. Yet, this type of broth scores lower than deeply nutritious bone broth in areas like gelatin content, minerals, amino acids, and nutrients, not to mention the raised sodium content. If you purchase organic bone broth from a store like Whole Foods, it’s often found in the freezer section, and you should expect to pay $7-$12 for 2 to 3 cups of high quality broth. Given that it’s recommended for a person to drink at least 1-2 cups of broth every day, over time, that becomes unreasonably expensive.
Now, on to homemade costs.
Soup bones, which are usually the most gelatinous, go for $2 to $5 per pound, depending on location. It is important to buy the highest-quality bones available: organic at the very least (pasture-raised being ideal). Good quality bones will cost a little more than conventional, but conventional bones can contain toxins like arsenic, hormones, glyphosate, pesticides and other nasty things that will get distilled into your broth and do much more harm than good. If you are going to the trouble to make bone broth—make sure it’s from the best quality bones you can get. One to two large soup bones (about half a pound) can yield approximately 8-12 cups of broth. Already the savings are evident: an average cost of $10 for 2-3 cups, or a cost of about $3 for 10 cups. If you want to incorporate bone broth into your diet on a regular basis, the answer is clear:making your own bone broth makes the most financial sense.
To prepare bone broth yourself, simply save produce scraps, bones and rinsed eggshells while preparing meals and add to a bag kept in the freezer. Once the bag is full, empty its contents into your cooker with water and, in order to extract the most nutrients from the bones, add a generous amount of apple cider vinegar.
Once your bone broth has cooled you may notice the presence of gel, which is a sign that your broth contains plenty of collagen and gelatin, the elements that help with digestive and joint health. If not, do not fret; broth that doesn’t contain gel still has the other benefits of bone broth, being nutrient and mineral-rich.
Enjoyed as is, in the morning or afternoon, bone broth will keep in the fridge for up to five days.
Yet, at this stage, there’s still room for improvement.
Bone broth made in a pressure cooker or other non-clay cookers may not have the most gelatin, or best-tasting, nutritious broth. In contrast, a clay cooker like the VitaClay will slow cook recipes without overheating during any step of the cooking process, due to the low thermal conductivity of the clay itself. This way, nutrients get released at a steady rate and in greater concentrations. Furthermore, a common fear people have of bone broth is that it binds heavy metals and is not safe for children. Without a clay cooker, this fear is certainly valid. The problem arises from how Instant Pots, crockpots, and stainless steel stockpots all use some sort of metal, and vinegar, an acid, is needed to extract the nutrients from the bones in bone broth. The vinegar’s acidic pH will cause leaching of heavy metals into your broth and impart known carcinogens like nickel. On the other hand, using a certified lead-free VitaClay, your broth will be heavy-metal free, while also containing an optimized amount of all those rich benefits that bone broth has to offer.
I make it in my VitaClay at least once a week. All you need are some bones (“soup” bones are perfect; the left-over bones from a roasted chicken/turkey are also a great option), some water and a little time.
I love making bone broth in myVitaClay because I don’t have to worry about the stove being on: I can leave it cooking overnight or while I’m out, then refrigerate it and use it in everything!
So, now that you have the miracle elixir on hand, here are a few suggestions of how to use your amazing, nutrient-dense bone broth.
cook rice or other grains or pasta in broth instead of water
add a splash of broth to your stir-fries when they get dry
replace water with broth in any savory dish to add flavor and nutrition!
Use bone broth as a soup base for any type of soup or stew
replace broth for water/bouillon in recipes
drink a mug of warm broth with a sprinkle of sea salt before bed
if you’re trying to quit coffee, try drinking a hot cup of broth in the morning instead
I keep a batch (several jars-full) in the fridge and add it to pretty much everything savory. Sometimes I even drink it from a mug with a little real salt! It can also be frozen if you want to keep it much longer than a couple of weeks, or just make a really huge batch.
Now that you’re a bone broth-making aficionado, here are some recipes for you, your dog, or the whole family!
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