RECIPE: How to make bone broth and why you should

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Recipe courtesy of Authority Nutrition

Bone broth is made by boiling down animal bones and connective tissue. This nutrient-dense stock is used for soups, sauces and health drinks. All you really need is a large pot, water, vinegar and bones. To get you started here is an easy recipe you can follow:

Ingredients

  • 1 gallon (4 liters) of water – this is an estimate since crockpots are different sizes. I just make sure most of the bones are covered with liquid.
  • 2 tbsp (30 ml) apple cider vinegar – be sure you use one with “the mother” included
  • 2–4 pounds (about 1–2 kg) of animal bones
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

  1. Place all ingredients in a large pot or slow cooker.
  2. Bring to a boil.
  3. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 12–24 hours. The longer it cooks, the better it will taste and more nutritious it will be.
  4. Allow the broth to cool. Strain it into a large container and discard the solids.

In order to make the most nutritious broth, it is best to use a variety of bones — marrow bones, oxtail, knuckles and feet. You can even mix and match bones in the same batch.

Adding vinegar is important because it helps pull all of the valuable nutrients out of the bones and into the water, which is ultimately what you will be consuming.

You can also add vegetables and herbs and spices to your broth to enhance the flavor.

Common additions include garlic, onion, celery, carrot, parsley and thyme. These can be added right away in step one. I use dried spices mostly, like garlic powder, onion powder, celery powder, parsley, thyme, etc.

Now, why should you make bone broth?

1. It Contains Many Important Vitamins and Minerals

Bowl of Bone Broth

In general, bone broth is very nutritious. However, the nutrient content does depend on the ingredients you use, as each brings something different to the table.

Animal bones are rich in calcium, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus and other trace minerals — the same minerals needed to build and strengthen your own bones. Fish bones also contain iodine, which is essential for healthy thyroid function and metabolism. Connective tissue gives you glucosamine and chondroitin, natural compounds found in cartilage that are known to support joint health. Marrow provides vitamin A, vitamin K2, minerals like zinc, iron, boron, manganese and selenium, as well as omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.

All of these animal parts also contain the protein collagen, which turns into gelatin when cooked and yields several important amino acids. As the ingredients simmer, their nutrients are released into the water in a form your body can easily absorb. Many people don’t get enough of these nutrients in their diet, so drinking bone broth is a good way to get more.

Unfortunately, it’s impossible to know the exact amount of each nutrient contained in the broth because every batch of bones is so different.

2. It May Benefit the Digestive System

Scientists have discovered that your overall health depends heavily on the health of your intestinal tract. Not only is bone broth easy to digest, it may also aid in the digestion of other foods.

The gelatin found in bone broth naturally attracts and holds liquids. This is why properly prepared broth congeals in the fridge. Gelatin can also bind to water in your digestive tract, which helps foods move through your gut more easily. It has also been shown to protect and heal the mucosal lining of the digestive tract in rats. It is thought to have the same effect in humans, but more research needs to be done to show its effectiveness. An amino acid in gelatin called glutamine helps maintain the function of the intestinal wall, and has been known to prevent and heal a condition known as “leaky gut”.

Leaky gut is a dangerous condition in which the barrier between your gut and the rest of your body isn’t working properly. Substances that your body doesn’t normally allow through leak into your bloodstream, which leads to inflammation and other problems. For all of these reasons, drinking bone broth may be beneficial for individuals with leaky gut, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or irritable bowel disease (IBD), such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease.

3. It May Help Fight Inflammation

Wooden Spoon and Broth

The amino acids found in bone broth, including glycine and arginine, have strong anti-inflammatory effects. Arginine, in particular, may help fight the inflammation associated with obesity. One study shows higher levels of arginine in the blood are associated with decreased inflammation in obese women. Another study in rats suggests that supplementing with arginine could help fight inflammation in obese individuals, but more research needs to be done in humans to support these results.

While some inflammation is necessary, chronic inflammation may lead to a number of serious diseases. These include heart disease, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, Alzheimer’s disease, arthritis and many types of cancer.

Because of this, it’s important to eat plenty of anti-inflammatory foods.

4. Its Nutrients Have Been Shown to Improve Joint Health

Collagen is the main protein found in bones, tendons and ligaments. During the cooking process, collagen from bones and connective tissue is broken down into another protein called gelatin. Gelatin contains important amino acids that support joint health. It contains proline and glycine, which your body uses to build its own connective tissue. This includes tendons, which connect muscles to bones, and ligaments, which connect bones to each other.

Bone broth also contains glucosamine and chondroitin, which are natural compounds found in cartilage. Multiple studies have found that glucosamine and chondroitin can decrease joint pain and lessen the symptoms of osteoarthritis.

The proteins in bone broth have also proven beneficial for those with rheumatoid arthritis, which is a chronic autoimmune disease that causes painful damage to the tendons and ligaments. In one study, 60 people with rheumatoid arthritis consumed chicken collagen for three months. Symptoms improved significantly in all 60 participants, with four showing complete remission of the disease.

5. It Is Weight Loss Friendly

Black Set of Scales and a Measuring Tape

Bone broth is typically very low in calories, but can still satisfy hunger. Studies have found that eating broth-based soup on a regular basis can increase fullness, reduce calorie intake and lead to weight loss over time.

What’s more, bone broth contains gelatin, which has specifically been shown to promote feelings of fullness. One study found that gelatin was more effective at reducing hunger than the protein casein, which is found in dairy products. Another study in 53 men found that, when combined with resistance training, collagen helped increase muscle mass and decrease body fat.

6. It May Improve Sleep and Brain Function

The amino acid glycine, found in bone broth, may help you relax. Multiple studies have found that glycine helps promote sleep. One study found that taking 3 grams of glycine before bed significantly improved the quality of sleep in individuals who have difficulty sleeping. Taking glycine before bed helped participants fall asleep faster, maintain a deeper sleep and wake up fewer times throughout the night. This study also found that glycine reduced daytime sleepiness and improved mental function and memory.

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