Bone broth have so many wonderful health benefits, that certainly deserve our attention, especially if we want to use food as medicine! Bone broth has been used for centuries to support gut health, immune systems and nourishing the body in times of illness.
At the very bottom of this blog is a basic recipe, but first, lots of information to get you motivated. As well as cooking up a storm and making your own beautiful and magical bone broth sometimes a pre-made easy to use on the go broth is what we need. Much of the information is taken from Sally Fallon & Kaayla Daniel’s book “Nourishing Broth”, you can find many other recipes in their book. I would like to thank Nutritionist Donna Stark for compiling the below 🙂
Our diets have become collagen-poor with significant repercussions for chronic illness throughout the body and we reach instead for pharmaceutical solutions. Also diets have become higher in bran and other fibres with quick cooking of meat becoming more fashionable and this has meant slow cooked stews, soups and broths have all but disappeared.
ALL ABOUT BONE BROTHS
Collagen is the glue that holds our body together. The word comes from kolla, the Greek word for glue, and glue was made back in ancient times by boiling down the skin and sinews of animals. When we make broth, we turn skin, cartilage, tendons, and ligaments into a rich natural gelatin liquid glue.
This gelatin is the by-product of the breakdown that occurs during cooking and this ‘glue’ is called connective tissue made from multiple proteins that form the twisted cables that strengthen the tendons, ligaments and allow muscles to connect to bone. Collagen is the secret to well-oiled and well-cushioned joints. There are as many as 29 distinct types of collagen that exist in animal tissues but Types 1 – 5 are the most common.
In addition to the structural support of bones, muscles and ligaments, this collagen supports skin and internal organs, helps skin retain it’s youthful firmness, suppleness and elasticity and it builds a barrier that prevents the absorption and spread of pathogenic substances, environmental toxins and micro organisms and cancerous cells.
Production of collagen slows with age and ill health, causing skin, joints and other parts of the body to become drier, less compliant, thinner and weaker. This ‘glue’ dries up, leading to sagging skin, stiffer joints, weakened muscles which leads to higher risk of injury. Collagen plays a role in preventing and treating autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn’s disease.
While mainstream science tells us that breakdown is a ‘normal part of ageing’, the best that is offered is to take NSAIDS (Non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) to block the pain. Now this is a double whammy because in order to heal, the body relies on the first stage of the Inflammation process to send nutrients to the site to help healing and when we purchase Over-the-Counter (OTC) or prescription drugs to block the pain, we block the inflammation and prevent healing.
If we could instead provide a cheap, nutritional food alternative that does not require pharmaceuticals or nutraceuticals then we become empowered to afford-ably treating ourselves.
Popular supplements glucose and chondroitin have become well known and used by many for joint complaints but these are only two of the proteins required for collagen production. Gelatin consists of only denatured collagen but even the best powders only offer Types 1 & 2 of the collagen constituents.
Interestingly when it comes to bone health, science is now focusing less on just Calcium, Magnesium and Vitamin D, but recognizing that minerals and collagen are essential for building strong flexible bones and preventing osteopenia and osteoporosis which is why this old Grandma’s broth is an all round common sense approach for all people.
WHAT ABOUT CARTILAGE?
When it comes to cartilage, which acts as our shock absorbers and reduces the friction between moving parts, college relies on water and amino acids to remain spongy and resilient. This jiggly gelatinous matrix is compiled by complex combinations of proteins and sugars known as proteoglycans, whose primary role is to get and retain water. And the best way to retain these sugars and to preserve our cartilage we need the right constituents of glycine, proline, glutamine and proteoglycans and other nutrients found in bone broth.
Digestive disorders are now in epidemic proportions in western culture. Hippocrates who was born around 460 BC was known as the father of medicine and it was he who said “all disease starts in the gut”. In the 19th century, broth and gelatin were widely prescribed for all manner of illnesses where convalescing patients who could not digest food or who had little strength, could begin the process of digestion.
Broth and gelatin were prescribed for acid reflux and peptic ulcers because it modulated (lowered or heightened) the hydrochloric acid according to need and kidney patients could take the broth where they had to reduce meat due to limited protein tolerance.
Do Broths Stand The Test Of Time?
Nutrition texts from the 1920’s and 1930’s recommended mixing gelatin into infant formulas to help bring the cow’s milk closer to human milk. This draws on research over a 30 year period where gelatin was proven to improve digestion of milk and milk products. It serves not only to emulsify the fat but to also stabilise the casein and improve digestibility and absorption of fat which would be beneficial in diabetes mellitus.
BENEFICIAL IN INFECTIONS
Gelatin is widely recognised in popular and medical literature as the best food for cases of cholera, typhoid fever and other infections diseases marked by severe diarrhoea where it is thought to neutralise intestinal poisons or by providing a protective coating of the mucous membranes. But this went out of fashion as antacids, gastrin antagonists, cholinergics (messengers of the parasympathetic nervous system) and other pharmaceuticals became widely available.
And There’s More…….
- Well prepared broths provide a thick layer of mucus coated bicarbonate solution to keep acid from burning the stomach lining. In the small intestines mucus nourishes the good gut bacteria and blocks bad bacteria which plays a huge role in immune response.
- Chronic infections deplete mucus secreting cells which disrupts the bacterial colonies and overall disrupts the intestinal homoeostasis. This result is “leaky gut” which leads to inflammation in the gut and systemically.
- The microbiome plays a vital role in absorption and these bacteria are nourished by protein sugars found in broth. Broth is a staple is Natasha Campbell-McBride’s GAPS DIET, Dr Joseph Brasco and Jordan Rubin’s GUTS AND GLORY DIET, Donna Gate’s BODY ECOLOGY DIET.
- Glycine & Glutamine in broth contribute to the liver’s production of the glutathione needed to detoxify mercury and other heavy metals commonly stored in the gut lining, contributing to gut, brain and immune system dysfunction.
- The Glycine content of broth and gelatin aids digestion by enhancing gastric acid secretion. Glycine is the single most important amino acid that must be supplied to children recovering from malnutrition.
- The Glutamine content is the primary nutrient for the enterocytes, the cells that absorb digested food from the lumen and transport nutrients into the blood stream. Glutamine also stops the loss of electrolytes and water from the intestines during either acute or chronic diarrhoea and greatly benefit patients with IBS, Ulcerative Colitis, Crohn’s disease and other severe bowel diseases.
Broth’s Allow For A Lower Muscle Meat Consumption!
Muscle meats, which are consumed in large amounts in the west, are high in methionine, which is an amino acid needed for every process in the body and brain. But too much of it can lead to serious and complicated biochemical processes including mental distress. We should not avoid eating meat but could benefit from eating less and when we do eat it, we should consider consuming the skin, cartilage and bones which contain amino acids proline, glycine, glutamine and alanine. These are essential to mental & gut health, immune support, blood glucose balance, muscle building, healthy bones, healing and rejuvenation, sleep, and smooth skin. If you’re not too keen on ‘chewing on the bones’ then consider introducing bone broth as an alternative and making soups with this rich broth where the added meat and vegetables provide a complete food.
Broth has been recognised for mental illness since the 12th century and for centuries in Chinese medicine. It is thought to be a key component in calming, nourishing, ‘oiling’ and replenishing. Home made chicken soup has been studied in 2003 by Malaysian researchers and the key outcomes was that those who took broth had reduced anxiety because it assisted them to feel better. Many have reported that having one cup of bone broth daily for 3 months resulted in a noticeable and profound sense of strength mentally and emotionally. And surprisingly this was not coming from better brain function alone but better gut function. Both glycine and glutamine are critical for gut healing as discussed above. The gut is commonly known as our “second brain” where there are more nerve endings than the spine and more manufacture of neurotransmitters than the brain. Indeed, 95% of our serotonin is manufactured in the gut. When we have adequate levels of serotonin, we are less likely to experience insomnia, depression and other mood disorders.
WHAT TO KNOW BEFORE YOU GET STARTED
The Gel Needs to Wobble!
The kind of broth you want is a gelatinous stock, stock that sets as a solid wobbly jelly when it is put in the fridge. This is achieved by using the unique qualities of collagen fibres which will coagulate as they cool and will unwind from their rope-like structures when re- heated.
What Types of Bones and Pieces Will You Need?
In order to get this gel, you must look for bones that have lots of cartilage.
Chicken necks or wings, carcasses, feet and pig hocks, trotters, beef bones with knuckles or tail bones sold as oxtail are suitable. While chicken feet are not as easy to find, pigs trotters are found in many butchers and supermarkets. The traditional way that we can accomplish a collagen-rich broth is by using chicken feet and pigs’ trotters. In western culture we usually turn up our noses at the thought because we have become so ‘cultured’ and the thought of chicken or pigs feet is unappealing!
Type of Water and Temperature Matter!
Cooking with spring or filtered water is essential and water should just cover the bones. If cooking on the stove in a large boiler, make sure you have this at a very low temperature as cooking at high temperatures will break down the collagen fibres into tiny strands and these won’t coagulate when they cool as well. The best option is to place ingredients in a large slow cooker and place it on low for a minimum of 6-12 hours or longer.
Where to Buy the Bones?
Speak to butchers and organic meat stores. Markets are a great place to source the unusual parts of the bones needed. In Adelaide listed below is a place in the Central Market (not in the main section but heading toward China town), that sell free range chicken feet, carcasses, pork trotters and hocks.
1-2 chicken carcasses 1 pig trotter
6 chicken feet
4 large garlic cloves, crushed but left in skins 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons Himalayan salt
Cold filtered water
(Other optional additions: 2 carrots, 2 sticks of celery, 1 chilli for a bit of bite, 1 apple chopped).
Place all ingredients in a slow cooker with water to the top or in a boiler covering just the bones. Cook on very low heat covered for 6-12 hours.
Remove the bones and vegetables and strain the stock through a fine mesh strainer or a nut milk bag or cheese cloth. The vegetables and meat off the bones can be kept to put back into a soup.
Store in the fridge in sealed glass jars and use up to 3 cups per day if unwell and 1 cup per day for 3 months to maintain well—being. Store in the fridge for up to 5 days and freeze in glass containers if making a large amount.
All notes are an abbreviation as per Nourishing Broth – An Old Fashioned Remedy for the Modern World;Sally Fallon Morell Author of Nourishing Traditions and Kaayla T. Daniel, PhD, CCN; 2014 Grand Central Life & Style Hachette Book Group., USA
- Types 1 to V are: Kadler KE, Homes DF. Collagen fibril formation [review article]. Biochem J. 1996.316:1-11;
- Roughly PJ, Alini M, Antoniou J. The role of proteoglycans in aging, degeneration and repair of the inter-vertebral disc. Biochem Soc Trans. 2002.30 (Pt 6): 869 – 874.
- In the nineteenth century: Pat Wilard, a Soothing Broth (Broadway Books, 1998), 71,124;Florence Nightingale, Notes on Nursing (Dover Books on Biology, 1969), 43.
- Broth and gelatin: Nathan R. Gotthoffer, Gelatin in Nutrition and Medicine (Grayslake, 1945), 70-75
- Glycine is one of those that do: Wald A, Adibi SA. Stimulation of gastric acid secretion by glycine and related oligopeptides in humans. Am J Physiol. 1982.5 (242): G 86 – G88.
- Glutamine furthermore stems the loss of electrolytes: Li Y, Guo M, Li J, Effect of growth hormone, Glutamine and enteral nutrition on intestinal adaption in patients with short bowel syndrome.
- World J Gastroenterol. 2003.9 (6): 1327 – 1332: Buchman AL. Glutamine for the gut: mystical properties or an ordinary amino acid? Curr Gastroenterol Rep. 999.1 (5): 417 – 423.
- Both Glycine and glutamine: Cocci R. Anti depressive properties of L-Glutamine: preliminary report. Acta Psychiatr Belg. 1976.76(4):658-666.
- One exception is a 2003 study: Zain AM, Syedsahiliamalulail S. Effect of taking chicken essence on stress and cognition of human volunteers. Malays J Nutrition.2003.9(1)19-29
- Chris Masterjohn, phD: Chris Masterjohn, “Meat, Organs, Bones and Skin: Nutrition for Mental Health,” Wise Traditions, Spring 2013, 35.