The name almost sounds medieval, as if it came out of a tale of witches brew, goblins and dragons ; bone broth. Now as much as the name sounds dramatic the explanation is most definitely not.
What is Bone Broth?
Turns out, bone broth is just another name for an ingredient which your grandmother has added to soups and stews for decades. Heard of stock? Consomme’ ? Bouillon? Well bone broth is just another name for a homemade, highly nutritious stock made from boiling animal bones over a very long time (1).
Note: The cubes or powdered stock you might find in the grocery store is an extremely far cry from the way stock was traditionally made. Unfortunately many of the commercial ‘stock’ products are full of monosodium glutamate (MSG) , preservatives, stabilisers and colorants.
How is Bone Broth Made?
A bigreason why people used to make bone broth or stock, was the fact that food supplies weren’t always readily available. This meant making use of every bit of food you had available to you, even the bones and ‘bits ‘of the animal we would normally throw away.
If you stop to think about it, the piece of chicken or beef you buy in the shop is very far removed from the actual animal it came from. The tendons, cartilage, bone, ligaments, ears and skin etc are removed during processing, and disposed of. Bone broth is taking us back to a time when we didn’t have the luxury to pick and choose which piece of meat appealed to us most.
These disposed of, often inedible animal byproducts are the main ingredients of bone broth. These ingredients are simmered over many many hours or days and this ‘simmering’ causes the release of certain compounds such as collagen, chondroitin, gelatin, and glucosamine.
Before this turns you off, carry on reading.
So why are people going to so much effort? Can we not just take a pill?
Health Benefits of Bone Broth
The studies up until now have not yet conclusively proven direct benefits from consuming bone broth, however the individual nutrients are beneficial. Bone broth is very rich in these nutrients which may in the long term provide certain protective and impressive health benefits.
1. Weight loss
Bone broth is usually quite low in calories as it’s main ingredient is water. However the rich meaty taste can leave you feeling satisfied and full. This is most probably due to its high gelatin content which has been found to increase satiety and promote weight loss (2, 3).
Tip: Have a bowl before a meal as a starter and you will find that you naturally eat less at your main meal.
2. Improves joint health
Our bodies are a bit like a cars tyres. Over time and distance traveled the car tyres start to wear out. The same goes for our joints. Depending on how active you have been in your life (long distance runner, cyclist etc) your joints do have an expiry date of sorts. Bone broth is high in chondroitin and glucosamine, both of which have been shown to reduce pain and other symptoms of osteoarthritis such as inflammation and stiffness (4,5).
3. Prevents deterioration of bone health
Bone broth is rich in the essential bone-friendly nutrients; calcium, phosphorous and magnesium. When following a Paleo lifestyle, dairy is no longer a part of your diet and other sources of calcium become more important. When your diet is low in calcium your body begins to leech calcium from your bones. Dietary calcium intake prevents this.
4. Boosts immune system
You know how people often talk about giving you chicken soup when you are sick? This is not just an old wives tale. There is a reason behind this; when people couldn’t simply run to the pharmacy to fetch some medicine, they relied on good old fashioned food to aid in healing. Bone broth is similar to chicken soup in that it is nutrient dense, tastes delicious and is easy to eat and digest when you are under the weather. A study (6) has found that there are actually certain amino acids found in the broth which have immune boosting properties, such as reducing inflammation in the lungs and improving digestion.
Okay so this is not a health benefit, but any Paleo food which is lighter on our bank account helps! Bones and all the other bits that go in the bone broth, might be free from your local butcher, a bonus from last nights roast chicken or otherwise really really cheap. In addition bone broth is delicious and forms an incredible stock to add to Paleo soups and stews. Your family will thank you!
Where to Start
Visit your local butcher and ask for bones and/or hooves, ears, tendons etc. Normally if you simply ask for the ingredients to make a stock they will know what to give you. Make sure you keep in mind that the quality of the animal is just as important when buying the bones and other bits as it is when you are eating a piece of whole protein. E.g how it was raised and what it was fed.
Or, to try it first, click here to get a FREE box of my favorite bone broth (while supplies last)