Bone broth — the hot new trend
by Mary Budinger —
Nutrient-dense food and food as medicine — these concepts are generating heated interest with consumers who are looking to reshape their relationship with food and proactively ward off some of today’s biggest health concerns, such as obesity, heart attack, cancer and autoimmune diseases. Bone broth is emerging from being just an ingredient in soup stock to a mainstream remedy for nutritional deficiencies.
We are not talking about plopping a bouillon cube in water. Commercial bouillon products are often high in sodium and additives, including monosodium glutamate (MSG). Homemade stock is packed with nutrition and taste.
One of the key nutrients for healing the gut is gelatin — we know it as the stuff that makes Jell-O® jiggle. Bone broth is rich in gelatin, which is why it plays a critical role in the GAPS (gut and psychology syndrome) diet. Improving collagen status is also great for our skin and joints.
Bone broth is loaded with glycosaminoglycans, including glucosamine, which may sound familiar because people pay money for it in the health food stores as a supplement for joint health. You also get chondroitin and hyaluronic acid in broth.
In Deep Nutrition: Why Your Genes Need Traditional Food, Dr. Catherine Shanahan writes, “The health of your joints depends upon the health of the collagen in your ligaments, tendons and on the ends of your bones. Collagens are a large family of biomolecules, which include the glycosaminoglycans, very special molecules that help keep our joints healthy.”
The glycosaminoglycans we get from bone broth are resistant to digestion and are absorbed in their intact form. According to Shanahan, they stimulate cells called fibroblasts, which lay down collagen in the joints, tendons, ligaments and arteries. She suggests that the nutritional matrix in bone broth may actually help patch the holes in kidney tissue that cause the kidneys to function less optimally.
Bone broth provides the adrenal glands with much needed nutritional support to help make the shift from surviving to thriving.
The liver is the master organ of detoxification. Unfortunately, it was never intended to withstand the toxic nature of today’s body, which swims with some 80,000 untested chemicals. The liver is under assault on a daily basis, and its capacity to detoxify is limited by the availability of the amino acid glycine. Guess where you can get lots of glycine? Yes, bone broth. Bone broth is rich in minerals and amino acids.
Preindustrial societies across the globe put special emphasis on eating animals “nose to tail,” and that included using the bones for making broth. African tribes placed importance on bone broths for babies and small children. Today in Asia, emphasis is placed on stocks and broths made from fish and fish bones. In Europe, stocks and broths have become the foundation of cooking and are used not only in making soups and stews, but also for preparing reduction sauces and for braising vegetables and meats.
In butcher shops in Europe, calves’ feet are displayed and chickens come with their heads and feet attached. Hooves, feet and heads are the most gelatinous portions of the animal and fetch high prices in traditional economies. In fact, Tyson Foods, Inc. exports the feet from American chickens to China.
Bone broth is easy to make. Obtain bones only from animals raised organically (fed no hormones, steroids or antibiotics) and on pasture (a natural diet of grass, not grains or soy) for their entire lifespan. These can be found at farmers’ markets and some health food stores.
Traditional Bone Broth Recipe
Put the bones in a large stockpot (12-16 quarts) and cover with cold water. Add one-half cup apple cider vinegar to pull the minerals, especially calcium, out of the bones. Let that sit for one hour. Then turn on the heat to a low simmer, and simmer for two days.
On the second day, add vegetables to the pot — carrots, celery, a red beet, an onion, a few garlic cloves or whatever else you like. Do not stir while the broth simmers to avoid creating cloudiness. And do not be dismayed if the aroma is not the greatest — the taste will be.
After the vegetables simmer in the pot for about eight hours, turn off the stove and let the stockpot cool. If you want to add in parsley, do that in the last hour.
Strain out all the bones and veggie matter and let the fat rise to the top. You might put the stockpot in the refrigerator for several hours to cool so that the fat congeals into a white disk on the top. This will make it easier to discard the fat.
Put enough clear broth for approximately four days in glass containers in the refrigerator, and heat some a couple times a day to drink, adding a bit of sea salt, to taste. Freeze the rest in 16-ounce containers, taking two out in the morning to thaw, reheat and drink during the day.
Some recipes call for initially bringing the stock to a boil and then cooking the broth about three days. However, the initial higher heat and longer cooking time increase levels of histamine and free glutamates. Some people with health challenges do better without that extra cooking heat and time.
Bone broth can be stored in the refrigerator for no more than one week. It will keep in the freezer for six months. You can also make bouillon cubes by freezing it in ice cube trays.
A popular new book you can read on this subject is Nourishing Broth: An Old-Fashioned Remedy for the Modern World by Sally Fallon Morell and Kaayla T. Daniel.
Mary Budinger is a certified Nutritional Therapy consultant and an Emmy-award winning journalist who writes and teaches about nutrition and integrative medicine. 602-494-1999.
Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 34, Number 1, February/March 2015.