Bone broth has become a popular addition to many people’s diet lately, touted as a new super food in many circles. Within the culinary scene, you will sometimes hear the phrase “nose to tail” – our hunter-gatherer ancestors also ate this way. What this means is that the entirety of the animal; nose, organs, joints, bones, meat, tail and everything else was put to use and nothing was wasted. Many of these parts of the animal are full of nutrients, especially the bones and joints. A bit of water, a large pot and some time, and you’ve got yourself some nutrient packed bone broth. Traditional cultures and cuisine have known this for a long time and it has been a staple to many tasty dishes. Now science is catching up with the traditional knowledge and showing just how healthy consuming bone broth can be. If you haven’t incorporated bone broth into your diet yet, hopefully I can convince you to start. Let’s look at why bone broth is so good for us.
It makes perfect sense that consuming bones and joints would be good for our own bodies bones and joints. Bone broth is packed with collagen (and its broken-down form, gelatin), one of the major constituents of connective tissue. It is also full of raw materials for bone like calcium, phosphorus, amino acids and more. It contains glycosaminoglycan’s (GAGs) which are important for connective tissue and the synovial fluid which lubricates the joints. All these important nutrients help support healthy skin, bones and joints and will help support the prevention of osteoporosis.
Glycine is an important amino acid which is important for collagen, gluconeogenesis, blood cells, digestion, antioxidants, and various other metabolic processes. Bone broth, as you may have guessed by now, is very high in glycine. Consumption of bone broth helps support all these vitals systems. Furthermore, the modern diet is very high in muscle meats, which are high in methionine. Elevated methionine can lead to increased levels of homocysteine which has been linked to heart disease, stroke, and more. Glycine counteracts the effects of high methionine and balances out the body.
Another major benefit of consuming bone broth is support of digestion and overall gut health. Many people today suffer from gastrointestinal related disorders (IBS, Bloating, Leaky Gut, etc). Bone broth has been shown to help support a healthy digestive system by supporting and healing the gut lining, stimulating stomach and bile acid, improving motility, and more. Recent scientific discoveries are now showing us that the condition of your gut can drastically effect all systems in the body, especially the brain (what has been called the gut-brain axis). Maintaining a healthy gut should be a priority for everyone and bone broth can help support that.
So, how can you go about getting bone broth? Well there are 2 options: you can buy a pre-made bone broth, or, you can make your own. If you are buying bone broth, it is important that you source it from organic and pastured animals. Toxins from conventionally raised animals can be stored within the connective tissue and bone. When these are cooked, they will leach into the bone broth now countering the many health benefits. There are brands and companies that have high quality standards such as Kettle and Fire, Ancient Nutrition, Vital Proteins, Broth of Life and Great Lakes. If you want to make your own bone broth it is really quite easy. All you need is a large stock pot, pressure cooker or slow cooker (my preference). Source some high-quality bones and off-cuts from your local organic butcher, toss them into the pot, add filtered water to cover and let sit on low for at least 8 hours, up to 48 (different bones will require different times). Many chefs recommend roasting the bones prior to putting them in the pot, this adds an extra layer of flavour to the broth. Adding an acid is often recommended to help pull out nutrients, such as apple cider vinegar. You can also add salt, pepper and whatever herbs you like to play to your tastes. You’ll know if the broth is full of gelatin and nutrients if it solidifies when cooled (like Jell-O). Now go out and start incorporating bone broth into your diet so that you can get the most out of all the benefits of bone broth!
- Oxlund H, Sekilde L, Ørtoft G. Reduced concentration of collagen reducible cross links in human trabecular bone with respect to age and osteoporosis. Bone 1996;19:479–84
- Peng HY, Man CF, Xu J, Fan Y. Elevated homocysteine levels and risk of cardiovascular and all-cause mortality: a meta-analysis of prospective studies. J Zhejiang Univ Sci B 2015;16(1):78-86
- Moody FG, Durbin RP. Effects of glycine and other instillates on concentration of gastric acid. Am J Physiol 1965;209:122-126
- Vessey DA. The biochemical basis for the conjugation of bile acids with either glycine or taurine. Biochem J 1978;174(2):621-626
- Carabotti M, Scirocco A, Maselli MA, Severi C. The gut-brain axis: interactions between enteric microbiota, central and enteric nervous systems. Ann Gastroenterol 2015;28(2):203-209