Is Bone Broth a nutritional elixir or just a trendy hoo-ha?
Using Bone Broth as a drink or as a culinary ingredient has become a trend not only amongst people who are health conscious and there is a good reason for this. I hear more and more that athletes of various levels are also increasingly including Bone Broth into their diets to support their increased nutrient demands. Bone Broth is made by slowly cooking bones and the connective tissue of animals for about 12-24 hours. Essentially, by doing this, vital minerals and nutrients leach out of bones into a highly nutritious stock which can then be used in various recipes such as stews, soups, sauces as well as a nutritious drink. I grew up on a farm and remember my mum and grandma making Bone Broth regularly. It didn’t look pretty; it was a big 3 litre jar of bone broth in the fridge with white fat floating on top and we used it in pretty much every meal. There was no such thing as stock cubes. We didn’t buy a piece of meat in the shop ever, dad slaughtered either a whole pig, deer, boar, venison, chicken or duck. In the fishing season, it would be fish (my personal favourite is freshwater fish bone broth). All the bits that aren’t edible, like hooves, beaks, fins, feet, bones and knuckles were thrown into a massive pot and boiled for ever to create a thick jelly-like-broth full of collagen, gelatine, minerals and electrolytes. I don’t know if it was for health benefits or it was the mindset of eating “nose to tail”, I think it was both. Unfortunately, modern western cultures seem to have given up on this practice of whole-animal eating, and Bone Broth making now seems to be almost a luxury. But the point is – you make it from the animal bones that get thrown in the landfill otherwise anyway, so it shouldn’t be expensive or a luxury at all.
How to make Bone Broth
You don’t need a recipe to make one, all you need is a good amount of bones, big pot or slow cooker, water and some vinegar. I recommend using the best quality bones you have access to, what I mean with best quality is, from happy animals, either farmed properly, where they had been able to walk outside in fields eating grass or wild animals or fish. I also like to add some veg, herbs and spices for taste, I tend to add some whole peeled onion and garlic, celery, carrots and bay leaves. Some salt and pepper. Add a big splash of vinegar, I usually use apple cider vinegar, as this helps pull the nutrients of the bones into the water.
Why am I fond of Bone Broth?
Although the amount of nutrients in each broth you make, will be different and dependent on the bones you use, minerals such as magnesium, potassium, calcium, zinc, iron, selenium, as well as vitamins A and K2, essential fatty acids Omega-3 and Omega-6 and 17 different amino acids are typically found in bone broths. I am all for foods first when it comes to optimal levels of nutrients, therefore why use water (and supplements) in your cooking if you can use this highly nutritious broth?
Bone Broth for digestive health Bone Broth is most popular for its power to “heal” the gut lining and decrease “leaky gut” symptoms. An amino acid in gelatine called glutamine is thought to be responsible for this as it has the ability to maintain and heal the intestinal wall. Gelatine also promotes the digestive process itself, since it attracts water and promotes an effortless passage of food through your digestive tract. This is why Bone Broth can be a very effective nutritional aid for people with digestive troubles, such as IBS and “leaky gut” itself. It is also great for people who train strenuously and experience digestive distress alongside it. Bone Broth for immunity Do you ever remember mum or grandma making chicken soup when you had a cold or flu? The amino acids found in bone broth such as glycine, as well as Omega-3, for example, provide powerful anti-inflammatory effects, therefore boosting your immune activity in order to fight illness. There are so many nutrients in Bone Broth that are Immune Health supportive, and now more than ever we should be looking after our immune systems any way we can. Bone Broth for joints, muscles and bones It’s kind of obvious to think that nutrients from the bones will provide us with the best nutrients for our bones and joints. The main players here are collagen which is a major building block of muscles, ligaments, cartilage, tendons and bones, and gelatine that essentially provide padding and flexibility to our joints. Bone Broth also contain the amino acid glucosamine, which is a popular supplement for joint health. In terms of muscles and performance, Bone Broth also contain amino acid glycine which is essential for the transportation of oxygen throughout the blood and muscle, therefore advocating sound muscle synthesis, function and repair. Minerals phosphorus and magnesium, in addition, are required for the formation of energy (ATP), therefore potentially further increasing muscle performance. Bone Broth for brain function and sleep Abundance of nutrients found in Bone Broth also promote a heathy nervous system. Glycine is one example known for its relaxation properties and therefore considered a useful aid to support mental calmness and sound sleep. Another nutrient Chondroitin sulfate supports plasticity of the nervous system, therefore potentially promoting learning and memory. In summary... Although there aren’t masses of research on bone broth itself, there are plenty of evidence on the nutrients that bone broth contains and their benefits for our health and performance. It is not just a trendy hoo-ha; it is evident that bone broth is highly nutritious and therefore incorporating it in our regular diet can only be beneficial. Get friendly with your local butcher and enjoy your own bone broths in your nourishing winter recipes.