Food is Your Best Medicine: The Benefits of Bone Broth
Hi, I’m Dr. Marie Starling
At The Healing Center Denver, we help people like you reach their full potential.
I specialize in adjunctive care for internal disorders, autoimmune conditions, IBS, thyroid symptoms, diabetes, and other complex health issues.
By Jessica Yoches, CNTP
While cooler, Fall weather calls for nourishing soups and stews and the pleasant smells of them warming on the stove, it also invokes the worry of possible colds and the flu. Turns out soup is just what the body is asking for: homemade bone broth is an inexpensive, effective antidote for preventing and healing colds or the flu, while also supplying important minerals and nutrients for overall health. As the popular book series indicates, chicken soup is good for the soul! Bone broth has remained a traditional household staple across many cultures and countries since the 12th Century and is just as therapeutic even after 2000 years. The elimination of bone broth in the diet correlates with comprised health and disease. Canned broth or bouillon cubes won’t cut it; no substitute can recreate the magic of homemade broth. But why is homemade bone broth so beneficial?
The benefits of homemade bone broth are numerous and include:
- Easy to digest and rich in highly absorbable minerals.
- Full of bone-building minerals like Calcium, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Silicon, Sulphur, and other trace minerals that support healthy bone formation.
- No artificial ingredients, preservatives, or side effects
- Contains boiled down cartilage and tendons that support joint health. Compounds such as glycosaminoglycan’s, glucosamine, and chondroitin sulphates are released while cooking. These compounds alleviate joint pain and arthritis more effectively than supplements.
- Cheaper than buying supplements of each compound in isolation. These compounds are sold as expensive supplements, but are better absorbed in their whole food form.
- Consistency in nutrients – commercial soups vary in their efficacy and quantity of nutrients.
- Helps prevent and fight off colds.
- Speeds healing and recovery from the cold or flu.
- Alleviates inflammation – broth contains certain anti-inflammatory amino acids such as proline, glycine, and arginine.
- Another amino acid in broth, cysteine, helps thin and expel mucus from the lungs more easily.
- Helpful for infections of the upper respiratory tract – bone broth contains compounds that increase nasal mucus velocity. The steam opens up a congested nose or throat.
- Contains immune-optimizing substances, helpful for auto-immune disorders
- The gelatin content improves nail and hair health.
- The gelatin is a hydrophilic colloid that attracts and holds liquids including digestive juices that support digestion.
- Lastly…bone broth is one of the most vital components for gut healing.
Broth and Gut Repair
Not only is homemade bone broth easy to digest and full of minerals and nutrients, but it also helps heal the gut lining, sealing a leaky gut. The gelatin in broth attracts and holds intestinal juices to support digestion. Because of our diet today, our exposure to toxins, and our antibiotic and drug use, the nation as a whole is in need of serious gut repair to eliminate infections and heal the intestinal lining. The gut requires specific nutrients to function optimally; the health of the gut influences the health of the rest of the body.
By healing the gut, you can eradicate food allergies, asthma, autism, attention deficit disorder, autoimmune disorders, and other mood disorders such as A.D.H.D., anxiety, depression, dyslexia, eating disorders, and schizophrenia. Being diagnosed with any of the above conditions is an automatic indication that bone broth will be therapeutic in eliminating that condition. Healing the gut is crucial to healing the body, and bone broth is a key ingredient in the process.
The C’s – Cost effective, Cheap, Commitment is low, Crockpots too!
All of the ingredients for broth can be purchased in bulk, saving money; extras can be stored and put to other uses. This includes celery, carrots, onions, parsley, vinegar, and whole, organic chickens or other bones bought in quantity. These vegetables are cheap, as is buying meat in bulk. Cooking a whole chicken first will provide meat for many meals. Next, use the carcass and bones to make homemade bone broth that can be put to many uses. Even if you can’t use the bones right away, you can freeze them to make broth later. The commitment of time spent making broth is low. Preparation may take up to an hour, but once the broth is started, it cooks on its own. Broth should be cooked for at least 24 hours and up to 72 hours or 3 days.
Cooking bone broth in a Crockpot is an excellent way to make broth and allows you to walk away, go to work, etc. and come home to delicious broth waiting! Vinegar is added to enhance mineral content as it pulls minerals out of the bones into the broth. With minimal preparation and planning you can have delicious bone broth all the time. It can be used for soups, main dishes, sautéing, or freezing for later use. Make sure to freeze in glass jars. Broth adds layers of complexity to any dish, while healing the gut and helping prevent future colds and the flu. Talk about bang for your buck!
Importance of Organic Bones
When buying soup bones or a whole chicken, it’s extremely important to select bones only from high-quality organic and grass-fed animals. Look for organic meats and bones, or shop at your farmers market. Conventional animals contain mineral depleted bones and possible contamination. According to Sally Fallon, author of Nourishing Traditions, the stock made from non-organic chickens doesn’t gel; the gelatin is an extremely beneficial property of bone broth and conventional chickens lack this asset.
Different Types of Broth
You can make homemade bone broth from many types of animal bones such as beef, chicken, or fish. Each one will impart a different flavor. Even the bones in the head and feet are nutritious; all bones in the fish, including the head are good for broth, while chicken feet and heads are good sources of collagen. Broth can also be made from vegetables. If bone broth is preferable, starting with chicken broth is recommended as it has the mildest flavor.
Being your Denver functional medicine specialist, we have a recipe for each type of broth. Bone broth is an essential piece of our gut repair protocol and we help you in the process with recipes and a diet plan that supports your individual healing needs. See below for one of our recipes to make chicken bone broth.
Recipe – Chicken Stock
- 1 whole free-range chicken or 2 to 3 pounds of bony chicken parts, such as necks, backs, breastbones and wings*
- gizzards from one chicken (optional)
- 2-4 chicken feet (optional)
- 4 quarts cold filtered water
- 2 tablespoons vinegar
- 1 large onion, coarsely chopped
- 2 carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
- 3 celery stalks, coarsely chopped
- 1 bunch parsley
*Note: Farm-raised, free-range chickens give the best results. Many battery-raised chickens will not produce stock that gels.
If you are using a whole chicken, cut off the wings and remove the neck, fat glands and the gizzards from the cavity. Cut chicken parts into several pieces. (If you are using a whole chicken, remove the neck and wings and cut them into several pieces.) Place chicken or chicken pieces in a large stainless steel pot with water, vinegar and all vegetables except parsley. Let stand 30 minutes to 1 hour. Bring to a boil, and remove scum that rises to the top. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 6 to 8 hours. The longer you cook the stock, the richer and more flavorful it will be. About 10 minutes before finishing the stock, add parsley. This will impart additional mineral ions to the broth.
Remove whole chicken or pieces with a slotted spoon. If you are using a whole chicken, let cool and remove chicken meat from the carcass. Reserve for other uses, such as chicken salads, enchiladas, sandwiches or curries.
Strain the stock into a large bowl and reserve in your refrigerator until the fat rises to the top and congeals. Skim off this fat and reserve the stock in covered containers in your refrigerator or freezer!