What’s so good about bone broth?
Well, in short, many things! My handsome dog, Billy, was sick over the weekend with some sort of gastrointestinal upset. We went to the vet and he received acupuncture, a spinal adjustment some homeopathy and Chinese herbs. These worked wonders over the next few days and he is definitely on the mend. I of course had to add some nutritional adjustments to help soothe his gastrointestinal tract and to make sure that he was not loosing too many vital nutrients and fluids. The answer was simple, bone broth!
*Please note that bone broth ingredients does differ for dogs and humans. For Billy’s broth I only used grass fed bones, apple cider vinegar, celery and kale with water.
Broth is an ancient food that traditional cultures and trained chefs have been using for ages; it is an inexpensive and versatile source of nutrients. Years ago, many families kept a pot of broth simmering on the hearth. This provided an easy base for soups and other recipes and also a way to keep the broth fresh before the invention of refrigerators.
It’s one of the many traditional foods that we’ve largely forgotten in modern culture. Broth is easily and simply made by boiling bones (beef, chicken, fish, etc) in water with an acid (like vinegar) and optional spices, vegetables and herbs. Broth can boil for as little as 4 hours or up to 48 (or more as traditional cultures did).
Broth is wonderful for nutrient absorption in two ways:
- It is a source of bio-available nutrients in an easy-to-digest form
- Its amino acid structure and high gelatin content makes it soothing and healing for the gut and enhances the absorption of nutrients from other foods as well.
Supports Hair, Skin, Nails & Joints
Broth contains collagen, which supports hair, skin and nail health. It also contains glucosamine, chondroitin sulphates and other compounds that support joint health.
Bone broth provides the amino acids needed for collagen production. Collagen keeps the skin smooth, firm and reduces wrinkles. The gelatin in bone broth also helps strengthen hair and nails and speed their growth.
Necessary Amino Acids
Broth is an excellent source of several essential amino acids that are often difficult to get from diet alone:
- Proline: A precursor for hydroxyproline, which the body uses to make collagen, proline helps the body break down proteins and helps improve skin elasticity and smoothness. It is often recommended for its benefits to the heart, including keeping arteries from stiffening.
- Glycine: Necessary for DNA and RNA synthesis and digestive health. It is used for the production of glutathione, for blood sugar regulation and digestion (through bile salt regulation). Glycine also enhances muscle repair/growth by increasing levels of creatine and regulating Human Growth Hormone secretion from the pituitary gland.
- Arginine: Helpful for proper kidney function and wound healing. It is also good for hear t health by keeping the arteries supple.
- Glutamine: Bone broth is an excellent source of glutamine which aids in the proliferation and repair of gastrointestinal cells. It is vital for maintaining the integrity of the intestinal lining and keeping our gut bacteria healthy.
Gut and Immune Health
Chicken soup and broth is a timeless remedy for illness, but modern research is starting to understand its role in immune health. As we now understand that much of the immune system is in the gut, broth is especially helpful because its high gelatin/collagen content supports gut health and its amino acids help reduce inflammation. Gelatin helps “heal and seal” the gut, and in doing so is helpful for reversing leaky gut syndrome and digestive problems.
Broth vs Bone Broth vs Stock
- Broth is typically made with meat and can contain a small amount of bones (think of the bones in a fresh whole chicken). Broth is typically simmered for a short period of time (45 minutes to 2 hours). It is very light in flavour, thin in texture and rich in protein.
- Stock is typically made with bones and can contain a small amount of meat (think of the meat that adheres to a beef neck bone). Often the bones are roasted before simmering them as this simple technique greatly improves the flavour. Beef stocks, for example, can present a faint acrid flavour if the bones aren’t first roasted. Stock is typically simmered for a moderate amount of time (3 to 4 hours). Stock is rich in minerals and gelatin.
- Bone Broth is typically made with bones and can contain a small amount of meat adhering to the bones. As with stock, bones are typically roasted first to improve the flavour of the bone broth. Bone broths are typically simmered for a very long period of time (often in excess of 24 hours). This long cooking time helps to remove as many minerals and nutrients as possible from the bones. At the end of cooking, so many minerals have leached from the bones and into the broth that the bones crumble when pressed lightly between your thumb and forefinger.
How to use broth
Broth is extremely versatile and many chefs use it as a base for soups, gravies, sauces and more. Here are some great ways to use broth:
- As a base for soups and stews
- In a mug by itself as a warm drink
- As a base for gravy and sauce
- Use it to cook veggies in for extra nutrients
- Dehydrate to make your own bouillon powder
Bone broth the Easy Way
- 1 whole chicken (organic or free range if possible. You can also use the leftover frame from a roast chook) or beef, lamb, fish bones. I like to go to the local butcher and let them know that I am making a broth so they select for me bones that have a high cartilage content or marrow.
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tbsp black pepper
- Any vegetable scraps you have on hand
- Filtered water
- Place bones into your slow cooker with bay leaves, black peppercorns and any vegetable scraps you have on hand. Cover with filtered water and cook on low for any length of time from 24 hours up till one week!
- After twenty-four hours, you may begin using the broth. As you need broth or stock, simply dip a ladle or measuring cup into the slow cooker to remove the amount of stock you need. Pour it through a fine-mesh sieve or, preferably, a reusable coffee filter which will help to clarify the broth. Replace the broth you remove from the slow cooker with an equivalent amount of filtered water. If you’re using a whole, fresh chicken, you may also remove chicken meat from the slow cooker as desired for stir-fries, in soups or in any other meal.
- Once you have finished, strain off any remaining broth and discard or compost the bones. The bones should crumble when pressed between your thumb and forefinger. Their softness is an indication that much of the nourishment from the bones – minerals, amino acids – have leached from the bones and into the broth.