Bone broth has been a long-standing staple of wellness, but in recent decades, we lost the art of making it. Thanks to the Paleo diet andancient food trends making a comeback, bone broth is once again becoming a nutritional staple.
What is Bone Broth?
Bone broth looks like soup stock, but is more nutritionally dense. While stock is made from vegetables or meat, bone broth is made from slow simmering bones for 12 or more hours, extracting nutrients from the bones that are health promoting.
Made by boiling and simmering bones in water with an acid, like apple cider vinegar, bone broth tastes a lot like soup stock but contains bone nutrients like amino acids, minerals, vitamins, and more.
Bone broth can be made from nearly any animal bones, but most popularly it is made from chicken, beef, or fish. You can also use chicken feet and beaks, a whole chicken carcass, and other parts of the animal that you have on hand.
What Nutrients Are Found in Bone Broth?
While all bone broth contains more nutrients than basic meat or vegetable stock, each batch will have slightly different nutrient profiles depending on the bones or parts used, how long it was cooked, and what type of animal it is sourced from.
Generally speaking, bone broth contains the following nutrients:
- Vitamin K2
- Vitamin A
- Omega-3 fatty acids
15 Health Benefits of Bone Broth
Bone broth has numerous health benefits thanks to the many nutrients that it contains. These are the top reasons to make it a regular part of your health routine.
Many chronic and autoimmune conditions end up having their roots in inflammation that the body can’t get under control. Bone broth is a gut health superfood that can help to tame inflammation, right at the source.
Protects Bone and Teeth
While many people view bones as brick-like structures in the body, bones are living material that is constantly in a state of being broken down and rebuilt.
When the body lacks the proper nutrients, bones are rebuilt weaker, and the necessary minerals end up being distributed elsewhere in the body. Bone broth is rich in nutrients like calcium, magnesium, and phosphorous that support healthy bones.
Bone broth is also a therapeutic food for conditions like osteoporosis and osteopenia, conditions where the bone has become brittle, could break easily, and lacks proper nutrients.
Helps with Weight Loss
Weight loss can be tricky for a number of reasons, but bone broth is a supportive food for shedding pounds. It’s low in calories and contains protein, healthy fat, and plenty of vitamins and minerals.
It can promote feelings of fullness, and can be a great meal-replacement drink or snack option. Plus, balancing the bacteria in the gut also helps to shed weight, and bone broth contains collagen and glycine, two nutrients that help repair a leaky gut and promote health.
Bone broth supports natural immune system function by protecting and repairing the gut. A majority of the immune system lives in the gut, and is regulated by the microbiome.
When the immune system is not healthy, it’s response either becomes exaggerated or downgraded, and either way, the result is an improper immune response.
In order to be healthy, the immune system needs to function correctly. Bone broth fights inflammation and provides nutrients needed to keep the gut healthy.
Promotes Healthy Joints
Joints facilitate movement in the body, yet joint pain and problems are common. Bone broth is loaded with nutrients that are often taken in supplement form to help promote healthy joints: glucosamine and chondroitin.
These nutrients can reduce painful symptoms associated with osteoarthritis and can help to improve overall mobility.(source) Collagen, also found in bone broth, helps to support healthy ligaments and tendons.
Gelatin, which collagen is found in, acts like padding between bones, supporting healthy joints, and preventing bone-on-bone grinding and pain.
Protects Healthy Brain Function
The nervous system is run by the brain, but involved a wide network of nerves, neurotransmitters, and other chemical components. Bone broth is rich in nutrients that support a healthy nervous system.
Glycine, an amino acid found in bone broth, helps to protect brain cells from death, and is also instrumental in promoting healthy brain development for fetuses in utero.
Bone broth also contains nutrients that help to nourish the brain, protecting against depression and a lack of ability to focus, and boosting the brain’s ability to learn and remember. (source)
Boosts Gut Health & Integrity
Gelatin, a major component of bone broth, supports the lining of the gut wall. When taken, it helps prevent and heal leaky gut, and can even help to address gut-related issues like autoimmune disorders, decreased immunity, and food allergies.
A healthy gut is also essential for a well-balanced microbiome, which is the collection of good and bad bacteria that live in the colon. Without a diverse blend of bacteria, neither the gut nor overall immunity will be balanced.
Bone broth is a soothing food for the digestive lining, which makes it especially therapeutic for chronic disorders like IBD, Crohn’s disease, celiac disease, and rheumatoid arthritis.
Promotes Healthy Skin & Fights Wrinkles
Collagen is one of the primary components of skin and tissue, and it naturally decreases with age. It is one of the main reasons why skin retains elasticity, so as natural aging occurs and collagen levels decrease, the skin gradually starts to sag and wrinkle.
Consuming collagen daily, including in bone broth, helps to fight skin dryness and promotes a healthy, vibrant, youthful appearance. It can also decrease the formation of cellulite since it typically forms in areas where collagen has been lost.
Regular, daily intake of collagen can improve skin appearance in as little as four weeks. Proline is another amino acid in bone broth that helps promote firm skin.
Supports Natural Detoxification & Liver Health
Modern living has brought with it a significantly increased daily exposure to toxins, chemicals, and pesticides, all of which can contribute to the body’s toxic load.
The liver is the primary detox organ which rids the body of these chemical exposures, but in order to do that efficiently, the liver needs nutrients to keep it healthy. Bone broth not only supports a healthy liver, but contains nutrients that improve the body’s ability to use antioxidants for protection.
Bone broth also contains other nutrients, like glycine, glutathione, and potassium, that protect liver cells and keep cellular pathways functioning as they should.
The amino acids and other nutrients in bone broth can also protect the liver from damage, such as in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, as well as damage from excessive alcohol intake. Bone broth can even be helpful in supporting a body after a liver transplant.
Boosts Heart Health
The heart is a muscle the supplies the body with blood and oxygen. Without a properly functioning heart, the entire body is at risk for serious complications. Bone broth is rich in amino acids that support a healthy heart. Glycine can nourish the heart and reduce the risk of serious heart attacks.
Supports Healthy Metabolic Function
Blood sugar is an essential source for energy in the body, but numerous factors can influence how it’s used.
When the body’s response to insulin is decreased, blood sugar levels can remain elevated, leading to a number of metabolic problems like diabetes and heart disease. Bone broth is rich in glycine, an amino acid that helps regulate blood sugar levels.
Helps Improve Sleep Quality
Glycine, an amino acid, can help to improve sleep quality. Without a healthy sleep routine, neurotransmitter levels will change, decreasing mood and leading to problems like anxiety, blood sugar problems, immune dysfunction, and more.
Bone broth is an excellent way to promote a healthy sleep routine.
Improves Digestive Function
Digestive problems are common in our fast-paced, modern culture. Eating too quickly, not thoroughly chewing food, and a diet too high in “fast” foods can all cause digestive disorders like acid reflux, heartburn, bloating, and constipation.
The amino acids in bone broth prep the stomach for healthy digestion by stimulating the production of gastric juices, the acids that break down food for absorption.
Protects Eye Health
The eyes are often something we take for granted, but healthy vision and eyes are largely dependent on getting the right nutrients in your diet. Vitamin A is an essential nutrients for eye health, and with too low levels, night blindness can occur.
The eye has three distinct layers, and the hyaluronic acid found in bone broth protects epithelial cells that protect the cornea, and replaces collagen that makes up the middle layer of the eye.
Glycine has also been found to protect against the formation of cataracts, which can often form in response to diabetes or the aging process.
Supports Mood & Mental Health
Glycine is an amino acid but also functions as a neurotransmitter in the brain. Neurotransmitters are chemical messengers that promote balance and proper brain and mood function.
Glycine in particular helps to lower anxiety levels, increase feelings of calm in the brain, and support healthy sleep cycles.
How to Make Your Own Bone Broth At Home
You can make your own bone broth to save money, and it’s extremely easy. You can follow a recipe or you can just wing it with what you have on hand.
The basic principles of making bone broth are as follows. You’ll need to gather:
- Bones, cartilage, a carcass, marrow, etc. as the nutrient source. You an ask a butcher for these items and sometimes they’re provided free of charge with your meat order.
- A large stock pot, the bigger, the better.
- Apple cider vinegar, around a ½ cup
- Water, enough to cover the bones, plus more to make a nice big batch
- Salt, pepper, or other spices are optional, but can make the broth taste better. Use at least 1 teaspoon of salt.
- Optional other add-ons: garlic cloves, whole or halved; herbs like rosemary and thyme; onions, peeled and halved; carrot, celery, or other vegetable scraps
To get your bone broth going, you have a few options.
On the Stove: If you make your bone broth on the stove, add all ingredients to a stock pot and bring to a boil. After that, reduce heat to low-medium and simmer for 12-24 hours.
Slow Cooker: Add all ingredients to the slow cooker and cook on high for 12 hours, reducing to low heat for the next 10-12 hours.
Pressure Cooker: Add all ingredients to the pressure cooker, seal, and set to “soup” for 120 minutes. When the cook time is done, leave on the keep warm setting for 2-4 hours.
Once the broth is done cooking, you’ll need to let it cool for a few hours. After that, strain it, remove the solids, and store in the refrigerator in glass jars or containers.
It will keep in the fridge for up to 5 days, and for up to 3 months in the freezer.
The Bottom Line About Bone Broth
Bone broth is an ancient superfood that is filled with nutrients that the body needs. These include amino acids like glycine, proline, and glutamine, as well as vitamins, minerals, protein, and healthy fats.
Bone broth can easily be made at home and is safe to be consumed on a daily basis. Drinking bone broth or using it for cooking supplies the body with many critical nutrients for numerous aspects of health.
Bone broth can be made from chicken, beef, fish, or other animals and can be used in soups, stews, cooking grains, and more.
Making bone broth a daily part of your wellness routine can boost skin, digestive, neurological, cardiovascular, and gut health, among many others, and can even support healthy weight loss.
Aimee McNew, MNT, CNTP, is a certified nutritionist who specializes in women’s health, thyroid problems, infertility, and digestive wellness. She ate her way back to health using a Paleo diet, lost 80 pounds, and had a healthy baby after numerous miscarriages. She focuses on simple nutrition practices that promote long-lasting results.