Bone Broth: the most important food you are probably not consuming

When it gets chilly outside, I love to slowly sip on a cup of something hot to warm me up. Normally, we look to various teas and coffees to do the trick. As beneficial to our health as teas and coffee can be, we are missing out if we are not drinking bone broth on a daily basis.

What is bone broth? Bone broth is a type of broth created by gently boiling the bones of a grass-fed animal (usually cow or chicken) for 24-48 hours. This is the traditional way beef and chicken stock was made by our great grandmothers prior to the invention of chicken or beef stock out of a carton. Slow cooked bone broth is bar-none one of the healthiest foods on the planet yet almost none of us are consuming it.

Unlike store-bought broth (which can also contain MSG), bone broth contains many beneficial nutrients including essential minerals and amino acids. Remember, there are certain nutrients that our body cannot make and, thus, we must get these nutrients from our diets. Minerals such as calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, sulfur, sodium, potassium and chloride all play significant roles in the body, therefore, regular consumption of foods that contain these minerals is essential.

There are also several amino acids that the body cannot make and thus, we must get them from food sources. Remember, protein is made up of lots of amino acids linked together. When we digest protein, we break each amino acid down so we can absorb it and utilize it in the body.

The main amino acids found in meat are histidine, lysine, threonine, isoleucine, leucine, valine, phenylalanine and tryptophan. These amino acids all play very important roles in the body. However, meat eaters usually get enough of these amino acids because we eat meat on a daily basis or at least multiple times per week. Unlike meat, which comes from an animal’s muscle tissue and thus contains a specific set of muscle amino acids, bone broth amino acids come from the cartilaginous parts of the animal--parts that society now deems “gross” and no longer eats them. Thus, we get an imbalance of amino acids: too many from muscle tissue and not enough from cartilaginous tissue.

It’s unfortunate really, because the main amino acids found in bone broth (arginine, glycine, glutamine and proline) are some of the most healing amino acids we know. Since the body is in a constant state of repair, healing amino acids are essential. And since lots of us suffer from inflammatory diseases such as arthritis, colitis, IBS, etc, healing amino acids are even more essential.

The benefits of bone broth are many:

  • Improved joint health (bone broth contains glucosamine sulfate and chondroitin)

  • Reduced gut inflammation (via the healing amino acid glutamine as well as supporting the gut bacteria)

  • Increased collagen production (better skin health, nails, some people even report cellulite reduction!)

  • Better immune function (via the healing of the gut lining)

  • Enhanced detoxification (the amino acid glycine is great at detoxification and the mineral sulfur can support liver phase II detoxification)

  • Stronger bones (bone broth contains highly absorbable forms of important bone minerals such as calcium and phosphorus)

When making bone broth (see recipe below), do not discard the gelatinous film that develops as the broth cools. That gelatin is the healthiest part of the entire broth! The gelatin contains all of the healing amino acids as well as collagen which is great for hair, skin and nails.

Chicken Bone Broth Recipe

2-3 lbs of pastured, collagenous chicken bones (necks, feet, backs, etc)

Filtered water (enough to fill the crockpot)

1-2 T apple cider vinegar

In a crockpot, place all of the ingredients listed above. Turn crockpot on low and let simmer for 24-48 hours (the longer it goes, the more nutrients are leached from the bones and into the liquid). After 24-48 hours, strain the liquid into a pot on the stove and discard the remains. Into the liquid, add any herbs and seasonings with which you want to flavor your broth such as parsley, rosemary, thyme, pepper and sea salt. Allow your broth to simmer with these herbs and seasonings for an additional hour.

Enjoy 1-3 cups daily for better health!

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