There are two types of people when it comes to bone broth:
This article is for both, if you've never heard of bone broth or wonder why anyone would drink it let alone make it, this blog will change your mind. I also share my recipe and a video so you can also make your own broth!
If you frequently use broth, then this article will help you understand why broth is so darn good for you!
What actually is bone broth?
Bone broths are made by heating bones in water for an extended period (generally 12-48 hours). Broths are different to stocks due to the time spent under heat. Stocks are usually made in 1-4 hours. Broths require much more time (and use a lot less heat). This enables a lot more nutrients to be extracted from the bones, marrow, tendons and meat. The end product is rich in glycine (an amino acid found in collagen) and is hugely beneficial to gut health.
Bone broth has been a common staple in cultures around the world for eons. Even a generation ago it would have been common to see your grandmother simmering chicken carcasses to make broth. It's only been in recent time that the western world has shied away from foods such as bone broth and organ meats, favouring lean muscle meats instead.
Lots of cultures still use broths (a lot of Thai food use broth from fish heads, Vietnamese Pho has a bone broth base, and any decent home made soup will be made from a bone broth base). But in todays 'quick and easy' society we used powered stocks full of flavouring enhancers and colours, missing out on the beneficial nutrients that are found in a hearty bone broth.
Traditional Vietnamese Pho - Made Using Bone Broth
Before we delve deeper into bone broth, you may hear about people using broth to 'fix their gut'. I am going to cover the benefits of broth shortly, but first let's look at why it's so important to heal and nourish our gut.
A lot of people eating a standard western diet have some gut dysfunction. Widespread antibiotic use causes havoc on the gut bacteria, many do not replenish this die off by eating fermented foods – over time this can cause massive health issues. Researchers are starting to find more and more links between gut issues and underlying health problems we see in society today.
Here's a few facts on gut health:
How do you fix or improve your gut health? There are numerous things we can do - eating plenty of fermented foods is one, avoiding toxic foods is another, but one food that does wonders for you gut is of course bone broth.
Don't let the name scare you, I know it doesn't sound very appealing but this is one of the best drinks you can consume. Seriously its that amazing! Plus, with a few tricks I'm going to share with you it actually tastes pretty darn good!
More than 30% of protein in the body is in the extracellular matrix. A physical network of proteins bonded with sugars that create frames that cells attach to - forming organic structures.
This matrix is made up of compounds such as collagen, glucosamine, chondroitin sulfate and hyaluronic acid. Consuming these compounds is vital for our health, yet many eating a conventional western diet miss out on these nutrients. Muscle meats don't contain many of these compounds for example.
Collagen consumption has been shown to improve:
And this is from collagen alone. There are also numerous benefits from consuming the other compounds mentioned above. So sure you could go out and buy various supplements. But this is expensive. Plus there's a much more effective and natural way to consume these nutrients. You guessed it - Bone broth is one such food source!
Ideally good bone broth will be made using bones that have bits of meat, cartilage, tendons and marrow still present. I make sure by bones have been sawed in half to exposure the inner matrix of the bone, this helps release huge amounts of nutrients from the bone.
As a covered above, there are huge benefits to consuming bone broth. If you do make it yourself, make sure you don't throw out all the chunks of meat and tendons that will fall off the bone. This is another reason why making your own broth is a better option. Store brought broth has been strained and filtered, so you don't get all these matrix enriching nuggets of meat, tendon and cartilage. If you're thinking 'wouldn't this all be chewy?' - No. Thats the beauty for broth - its simmered for such a long time that all these tough fibres are broken down.
Bone marrow for instance is packed full of good fats and proteins and so many micronutrients that I'm not even going to list them all here. It also contains alkygycerols which are involved in the production of white blood cells - protecting our body from infections and viruses. Can you see why chicken soup (made the traditional way - from chicken bones, not artificial flavours!) is recommended when people fall sick?!
So what are the other benefits of drinking bone broth:
“Good broth will resurrect the dead,” says a South American proverb. Obviously slightly exaggerated(!), there is some truth in the saying. A good bone broth has powerful anti-aging properties.
This from Mark Sisson (From his article - Bone Broth Questions Answered):
"The biggest nutritional takeaway from bone broth is the gelatin. Excessive methionine, the amino acid found in steak, eggs, dairy, and other “evil” animal foods, can reduce longevity in animal trials, which is why the life extension/calorie restriction crowd is so preoccupied with limiting it. They want to wring out a few extra years, and they’re willing to abstain from everything delicious to make it happen. It turns out that full-on methionine restriction may be unnecessary if you eat enough gelatin; glycine, the primary amino acid present in gelatin, “opposes” the methionine present in muscle meat. Adding glycine to a methionine-rich diet has even been shown to mimic the life extension seen with methionine restriction"
Bone broth does more than simply 'nourish your gut', it can also help your sleep.
Introducing methionine. Methionine is an amino acid found in proteins such as muscle meats and eggs. Those eating a modern diet consume plenty of these things and thus have high levels of methionine in the body. However, very high levels of methionine can be toxic and can reduce longevity. One way to balance this out is with the amino acid glycine. Glycine is present in gelatin - which is found in high doses in, you guessed it, bone broth.
What about sleep? Well glycine deficiency (from overeating muscle meats and not eating glycine rich bone broth or organ meats) can affect your serotonin production ( serotonin is required for melatonin production) and thus impact sleep (amongst other physiological issues that I won't cover in this post).
So how can avoid being deficient in glycine? Simple, consume bone broth, bone marrow and organ meats while reducing your intake of muscle meats. A great sleep enhancer is to have a cup of bone broth a few hours before bed. Try it and see how you sleep!
After learning all these great benefits of broth I'm sure you're itching to go out and buy some... or better yet, make some of your own?!
Not only is broth super nutritious, it's also one of the easiest things to make, plus it's dirt cheap to make!
All you need is some bones (a few dollars from a butcher), some quality water and some salt.
Most recipes call for herbs, and vegetables to be added to the broth, and yes it's probably a good idea. I'm such a purest (or maybe lazy is a better word!) that I go without!
I'm going to briefly list how to make bone broth below, but I'll also link to some more detailed recipes for those who need more guidance.
If you don't see yourself making your own broth, then I suggest you check out Kettle & Fire Bone Broth HERE.
How To Make Bone Broth
Should I use a slow cooker or can I use a pressure cooker to make my broth?
Personally I like the traditional way of slow cooking. If you do use the slow cooking method, make sure it's a low simmer and not at boiling temp (a rookie mistake that I made years ago).
I know some people think pressure cooking destroys nutrients but there have been studies that show this is false. There is a great article on this here. Also, a lot of people who use Pressure Cookers find their broth is more gelatinous than their Slow Cooker broth (a sign of more collagen in the broth - a good thing).
Another great article which delves into how food is actually cooked is the article 'Is Pressure Cooking Healthy'. To be honest, I don't think there is any harm making your broth in a pressure cooker. If you don't like technology then stick to your slow cooker. Otherwise if you have a pressure cooker consider making it in there to save time (though the house won't have that love or hate bone broth smell all night!)
Personally, I drink my broth like soup (add some salt, add some of the meat from the broth, add some vegetables etc - and you have a nutritious soup), but here are a few other ways to consume it:
Bone Broth Tea - Add salt and enjoy!
If you want more of a detailed bone broth recipe with some extra ways to use your broth, check out:
Or have a look at this book for even more ideas: Nose to Tail.
The recipe above refers to Beef Bone broth (though the health benefits apply to all types of broth made with bones). But don't feel limited to only using beef bones. You can still get all the benefits from making broth from fish heads, chicken feet or oxtail. Here are a few ideas:
If you really can't make your own broth then you can buy it. Firstly, I don't see any reason why you can't make your own. Butchers literally throw these bones away so price shouldn't be an issue.
The other ingredients are salt and water. Time is the only constraint, if it is, buy a slow cooker/pressure cooker combo and make it in that. The pressure cooker function reduces time to only a few hours. Put it on in the morning and it will be done in the evening.
If you must, you can buy your own broth. Kettle and Fire is one such place to source quality broth.
Quality broth can be expensive, and you will miss out on all the meat, tendons and cartilage that you would get if you made your own. If you do buy your own broth, make sure its a quality broth. It should be stored in the fridge and it shouldn't have any additives/preservatives or chemicals on the ingredient list.
Hopefully now I have inspired add bone broth to your diet, or even better, hopefully you have the motivation to go out and make your own broth!
If you do, please share your experiences below. If you have any questions, leave them below and I will be sure to respond.
Finally, if you were already an avid broth consumer but learnt something new from this article please give me a like, a share or a comment below. I always like knowing when I add value to peoples lives. If you enjoyed this post, please sign up to my newsletter below for more content like this.
This blog post was written by Alex Fergus. Alex is an ISSN Sports Nutrition Specialist, Fitness Professional and certified Superhuman Coach who continues to expand his knowledge base and help people across the world with their health and wellness. Alex is recognized as the National Record Holder in Powerlifting and Indoor Rowing and has earned the title of the Australian National Natural Bodybuilding Champion. Having worked as a health coach and personal trainer for over a decade, Alex now researches all things health and wellness and shares his findings on this blog. Learn more about Alex's Credentials HERE.
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