This week I am so excited to share with you a guest post from my friend and colleague Rachel Gregory, board certified nutrition specialist, strength and conditioning coach and creator of KillinItKeto.com. I hope to have more collaborative posts coming soon! If you enjoy this post, please let me know. -Bret
Health Benefits of Bone Broth
Bone broth is one of the most nutrient dense foods that you can consume. It’s rich in vitamins, minerals, and jam packed with nutrients that are rarely found in other common foods consumed nowadays. The reason for this is because the process of making high-quality bone broth utilizes parts of an animal that cannot otherwise be consumed, such as tendons, ligaments, bones, marrow, skin, and feet. When these animal parts are simmered in hot water for long periods of time, they release powerful nutrients like gelatin, collagen, amino acids, and tons of vitamins and minerals needed to optimize overall health and longevity.
Here are just a few of the common health benefits associated with bone broth consumption:
Bone Broth Health Benefits
- Boosts Immune System
- Protects Joint Health
- Strengthens Bones, Teeth, Skin, Hair, and Nails
- Aids in Hydration and Electrolyte Balance
- Supports Gut Health
Boosts Immune System
Remember when you were a kid and your mom used to give you chicken soup if you were feeling under the weather? Well, it was for good reason! The broth in that soup contained vitamins and nutrients that your body needs when it’s trying to fight off a common cold or sore throat. Bone broth is like chicken soup on steroids (for lack of a better term). It not only contains large amounts of beneficial vitamins and minerals but is also packed with amino acids and collagen that help support immune system function and provide easily digested nutrients.
Protects Joint Health
As we age, the cartilage and connective tissues that make up our joints naturally begin to degrade and it’s very important to protect and restore these as best we can. Bone broth helps make this possible because it contains the very compounds that form connective tissues in our bodies – collagen and gelatin. You can think of collagen as sort of the glue that holds our bodies together and gelatin as the cushioning between our bones. Consuming real bone broth is one of the easiest ways to make sure you’re restoring and absorbing these essential building blocks needed to promote the growth of new cartilage and maintain healthy joints.
Strengthens Bones, Teeth, Skin, Hair, and Nails
The abundance of amino acids found in bone broth play a major role in helping to support bone mineral density and improve your body’s ability to grow and maintain healthy muscle tissue, teeth, hair, nails, and much more. Additionally, collagen is one of the most powerful anti-aging nutrients that forms compounds in your skin (such as elastin) that help to increase skin elasticity, maintain youthfulness, and reduce the appearance of wrinkles. Why spend hundreds (or even thousands) of dollars on supplements or skin rejuvenation treatments when you can make the ultimate anti-aging elixir right in your own home?
Aids in Hydration and Electrolyte Balance
One of the most common issues that many people face on a daily basis is the lack of proper hydration and imbalance of electrolytes within their body. Many of us have been taught that in order to replenish these electrolytes and stay hydrated, we need to be consuming sports drinks or adding squirts of processed chemicals to our water. This is completely false and can actually do more harm than good, especially when these products are jam packed with sugar and other unnecessary preservatives. Skip the processed junk and reach for nutritious bone broth that contains essential electrolytes like calcium, magnesium, and potassium that help to support proper hydration, cellular health, and so much more.
Supports Gut Health
Gut health is one of the most talked about issues in today’s society and there are millions of people who are struggling with a condition known as leaky gut syndrome. This condition occurs when the lining of the small intestine becomes damaged and causes bacteria, toxins, and partially digested food particles to “leak” into the blood stream causing increased inflammation and other problems within the digestive tract.
But what if there was a way to help protect the lining of the gut and prevent this “leakage” from occurring? Enter bone broth! The collagen and amino acids found in bone broth, particularly proline and glycine, are major players when it comes to healing damaged cell walls within your gut and reducing inflammation within the intestine.
How to distinguish between “real” and “fake” bone broth
It’s very important to understand that many of the broths and stocks that you find on your average grocery store shelf are NOT considered real bone broth. Most of those cartons and cans are filled with ingredients that have never even come in contact with real bones. Usually these products contain water, spices, and some type of preservatives or thickening agents – definitely not what you want!
Your best bet is to make bone broth at home because it saves money and ensures you are getting all the good stuff, minus the junk! (See below for how to make homemade bone broth). If you’re really pressed for time or don’t have access to the ingredients/cookware to make it at home, there are some brands like Kettle & Fire or Osso Good that you can purchase and are made from the real thing (bones!).
Homemade Bone Broth Recipe
Makes 4 to 5 quarts/Prep time: 10 minutes/Cook Time: 24 to 48 hours
I always cook a big batch and store it in individual containers in the freezer. When a recipe calls for bone broth, just defrost one container the night before in the refrigerator and you’re good to go.
4-6 large beef bones (about 4 or 5 pounds) or 1 whole chicken or fish carcass (with skin)
4 celery stalks, roughly chopped
1 large onion, cut into quarters
6 garlic cloves, smashed
1 bunch fresh parsley, rosemary, or other herbs of choice
2 tablespoons sea salt
1 tablespoon peppercorns
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
4-5 quarts water, or enough to fill the pot
- Preheat oven to 400 Fahrenheit
- In a large roasting pan or baking sheet, arrange celery, onion, and garlic in an even layer.
- Place bones on top of the vegetables and roast in the oven for 30 minutes.
- Remove bones and vegetables from the oven and transfer to a slow cooker.
- Add fresh herbs, salt, peppercorns, and vinegar. Pour enough water to cover the bones and vegetables.
- Simmer on low for 24 to 48 hours. The longer the broth cooks, the more nutrients will be extracted from the bones.
- Let the broth cool completely, strain it, and then store in glass containers with airtight lids in the refrigerator or freezer. Make sure to only fill the containers ¾ of the way full to allow room for the liquid to expand in the freezer and prevent containers from cracking.
Bone Broth Making Tips:
- Add chicken feet and fish heads to boost the collagen and flavor of your bone broth.
- Add Apple Cider Vinegar to help draw the nutrients out of the bones and other animal parts.
- When possible, use animal products that are pasture raised and free of antibiotics and hormones.
- The longer it simmers, the more nutrients will be extracted (aim for 48 hours).
Get more recipes by Rachel here.
Rachel Gregory, MS, CNS, ATC, CSCS, is a Board-Certified Nutrition Specialist, Athletic Trainer, and Strength and Conditioning Coach. Rachel is the Founder and CEO of Killin It Keto, LLC and creator of the 21-Day Keto Challenge. Get more recipes like this in her book, 21-Day Keto Challenge.