Touted for its gut-healing, immune-boosting properties, bone broth has to be one of the most delicious healing foods out there. Broth is a traditional food prepared by cultures worldwide for generations because of its association with healing. As trendy bone broth bars pop up in cities like New York and Portland, you might be wondering if this warm, salty broth is as amazing as everyone says it is.
Well, then, let’s talk about minerals.
Minerals: Essential to Life
Minerals, among other things, are essential cofactors to enzymatic reactions in the body. Enzymes are what we need to break down food, aid in cell function, and support the body’s detox systems and hormone synthesis. Minerals also contribute to the formation and integrity of bones, connective tissue, and the vascular system. Minerals like selenium and zinc are potent antioxidants, protecting the body against free radical damage. We’re talking anti-inflammatory ninjas and tireless fighters against oxidation, stress, toxins, and trauma!
Not to freak anyone out, but mineral deficiencies are a thing in modern culture for a couple of reasons. Soil depletion and commercial (read: mono-crop) agriculture aren’t doing the mineral content of soil any favors (and the mineral content of soil directly affects the mineral content of our food). Refined foods also aren’t popular because of their nutrient content and, instead, contain high amounts of sugar and harmful fats, which can actually increase the excretion of important minerals like magnesium. Mental, emotional, and physical stressors cause a cascade of hormones and neurotransmitters that result in huge demands for more vitamins and minerals in the body, most of which we never replenish.
And this is where bone broth comes in!
What is Bone Broth and Why is it Amazing?
Bone broth is made from stewing bones, connective tissue, vegetables, and herbs for several hours or even days until the stock is rich with minerals pulled from the meat, bones, and roughage. Luckily, minerals are concentrated in things like leafy greens and other plant foods, animal muscles, organs, bones, and connective tissues, herbs, nuts, and seaweed. What’s great is, minerals aren’t broken down when cooked in water.
This makes bone broth is an excellent source of bone-building minerals like phosphorus, magnesium, and potassium in forms that your body can easily absorb. It’s also rich in the amino acids glycine and proline, which are not found in significant amounts in muscle meat and are amazing for joint and collagen building. This rich broth also contains chondroitin sulfate and glucosamine, both of which reduce inflammation, arthritis, and joint pain.
The complex amino acid structure and high gelatin content may soothe and heal the gut and support the health of your bones, joints, skin, ligaments, and tendons. As your gut becomes more healthy and robust, you’re absorbing nutrients from the other foods you eat as well.
And while there isn’t a lot of really conclusive scientific proof that bone broth is a miracle tonic, and the mineral/amino content is going to vary from batch to batch, the fact is – it’s a low cost, low-maintenance, nutrient-dense drink that tastes amazing. It’s been used for years for it’s gut healing, immune-boosting properties, especially by those with who are healing or with compromised immune systems.
How Much Should I Drink and How do I Drink it?
While some nutritionist recommend up to a quart per day, I think 8-16 oz. per day is just fine. Bone broth is a traditional food that is easily adapted to your modern lifestyle. Add this nutrient-dense drink to your day by preparing a mug with a dash of salt, or add it to soups, stews, gravies, or other recipes!
Ok, ok, so you want to try it now, right?
Where to buy bone broth: (I recommend sourcing locally when possible, but hey, also do what you gotta.)
- Kettle & Fire Bone Broth (They give all my readers $10 off their first order!)
- Bare Bones Broth
- Pete’s Paleo
- The Brothery
- Real Bone Broth
- Grassland Beef
Here two of my favorite recipes: (or scroll down for a simple recipe that works great for yours truly):
Sources and further reading:
- The Weston A. Price Foundation
- Chicken soup inhibits neutrophil chemotaxis in vitro
- Bone and Vegetable Broth
Simple Bone Broth Recipe
Makes: About 4 quarts
- 1 medium, white onion
- 2 medium carrots, chopped
- 3-4 stalks celery
- 1 leek, halved
- 7 garlic cloves, smashed
- 5 lb. bones (from pastured, grassfed meat – see “A note on bones” – I use a mixture of chicken bones, feet, and beef knuckles)
- 2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
- 1 tsp. cracked whole black peppercorns
- 6 sprigs parsley
- 6 sprigs thyme
- 2 bay leaves
- Salt to taste
- 1 tsp. turmeric powder
- Cut onion, carrots, celery and leek into chunks and add to a crockpot with the bones.
- Add smashed garlic and apple cider vinegar.
- Fill the crockpot to the brim with filtered water.
- Cook broth anywhere from 24-48 hours on “low” in the crockpot (If working on a stovetop, you’ll want to keep it on a very low simmer, covered, for the same amount of time. If you don’t feel comfortable leaving the stove on at night, turn it to the very lowest setting, then turn it back up in the morning.)
- When you have about 2 hours left, add herbs/spices and make sure they’re covered with liquid.
- After the allotted time, turn the heat off and let the broth cool down until it’s safe to handle.
- Strain the liquid into a large bowl and discard all solids. From here, you can transfer your broth into smaller containers and fridge or freeze. Keep bone broth for up to one week in the fridge or freeze for up to six months.
A note on bones:
You can use beef, veal, lamb, bison, buffalo, pork, goose, turkey, chicken, or fish (including the head) bones to make bone broth, according to your taste. For meat bones, get a variety, asking your local butcher for marrow bones, oxtail, and “soup bones.” However, I highly recommend starting with fowl, as it tends to produce the mildest flavor. Save the bones from a whole chicken or turkey (after you’ve eaten the meat) and add a few chicken feet and necks for extra collagen and nutrients. Always source the highest quality bones from pastured and/or grassfed animals.
Have you tried bone broth before? What is your favorite way to get your 8 oz./day?
Mallory Leone is a Nutrition Consultant and Lead Nutritionist at Oakland Naturopathic Medicine. Mallory works with clients to navigate their own unique health journeys regardless of current fads and statistics. She focuses on real, whole foods, fun recipes, and health plans that are tailored to clients’ distinct tastes and lifestyles. She is an expert at navigating therapeutic diets from low-FODMAP, to SIBO, to Paleo, to GAPs. Mallory parties most over on Instagram and in her monthly newsletter.