By Dr. Will Cole, Functional Medicine Doctor, expert contributor
A South American proverb says: “Good broth will resurrect the dead.” And while that may be stretching the benefits of bone broth just a bit, bone broth is still one of my all-time favorite gut-healing food medicines and society is starting to catch on to this age-old remedy. Over the last few years it has acquired quite the popular status in the wellness world as the go-to natural tool to repair a compromised gut and in turn, help bring relief to whatever health problem you are dealing with since your gut is the foundation of your entire health.
“…your gut is the foundation of your entire health.”
But what exactly makes bone broth so special? Well, unlike your conventional broth that is made from simmering vegetables or meat scraps for a few hours, bone broth simmers the bones (hence the name) for anywhere between 12-48 hours! This is the reason why bone broth is so beneficial. The long simmer time allows for all of the important nutrients to be pulled out of the bones.
Now, the idea of bone broth is certainly not a new concept. You probably remember your mom or grandma making you a big pot of chicken noodle or other type of soup when you were sick. Before the days of prepackaged food, people used as much of the animal as possible – I’m sure we all have at least one memory of liver and onions – bones included! Not only was it beneficial for your health but it was a great way to stretch your dollar even further.
Due to the long simmer time of the bones it produces a thick nutrient-dense gelatin which differentiates bone broth from thinner broths and stocks. Gelatin is considered a hydrophilic colloid which attracts liquids and absorbs them like how a sponge would. When you digest this gelatin it absorbs stomach acid and helps support healthy digestion.
Good quality homemade or premade bone broth also contains apple cider vinegar – which is a great gut healer on its own – because of its ability to help draw out nutrients from the bones. In fact, research has shown that the combination of gelatin and tannic acid from tannins found in apple cider vinegar aid in reducing inflammation in the gut, specifically by reducing the effects of lipopolysaccharides (LPS).* These bacterial endotoxins are located on gram-negative bacteria in the microbiome and can pass into the bloodstream when your gut lining is compromised fueling chronic inflammation and other health problems like anxiety and autoimmune conditions. Makes sense when you consider the fact that around 80% of your immune system is found in your gut and about 90% of your feel-good neurotransmitter serotonin is stored and produced in your gut.
Instead of “happy wife, happy life” we should all be saying “happy gut, happy life!”
Bone broth is also rich in electrolytes such as sodium, potassium, and magnesium which are essential for daily function and require replenishment during times of being sick. So I guess you could say that bone broth was the OG Gatorade! It is also rich in collagen protein which is made up of three amino acids glycine, proline, and hyoxyproline. Since it is responsible for forming our connective tissue such as tendons, skin, cartilage, and more, as well as regulating our own collagen production, it is essential for restoring damaged gut lining. And because your body doesn’t make enough of these amino acids on its own adding in bone broth can be a delicious way to get these in without having to add yet another supplement into your routine.
You can really make bone broth from any type of bones, but chicken and beef are the most popular due to availability and taste. Make sure you are getting bones from grass-fed cows or organic chickens to avoid drawing out additional toxins from conventionally raised animals. You can also make broth from fish bones which will provide you will all of the benefits of chicken or beef bone broth with the added benefit of iodine which is essential for making thyroid hormones. Every single cell in your body has a thyroid receptor site making thyroid hormones the most important hormone for your entire body to function optimally.
The most cost effective option is to make your own but it can definitely be time consuming. If you are looking for convenience of buying pre-made bone broth you want to make sure the quality is superb. You wouldn’t want to be unknowingly harming your gut with bad ingredients when you are trying to heal it. Bonafide Provisions is the one brand that I know with certainty goes to the next-level when it comes to their quality. The bones are always sourced from organic and grass-fed animals and include apple cider vinegar. They even go above and beyond and freeze their bone broth instead of making it shelf-stable like other brands in order to keep their product pure and free from chemicals and toxins that can seep into broth from packaging and processing.
If you are already familiar with bone broth and want to switch up your routine there are many ways to include bone broth in your daily recipes besides making yourself yet another soup.