Gut-Healing Bone Broth
What happens to your tummy when you get nervous? Have you ever heard of the gut-brain connection? Well, there are actually more nerve cells in your gut than there are in your spinal cord. That’s why you get butterflies in your tummy when you’re anxious or intestinal distress when you’re worried. Studies are now showing the numerous benefits that healing your gut can have on your brain and nervous system!
Want to boost that belly power? Well, healing should always come first! Alongside probiotic-rich foods, your diet should also consist of therapeutic anti-inflammatory foods. Amongst this list is a traditional remedy that our ancestors have been using for centuries and is still prepared all over the world: bone broth (sorry vegetarians... I still love you, I promise).
Bone broth is rich in minerals and contains healing compounds like collagen, glycine, proline and glutamine. The collagen contained within this tasty broth helps to heal your gut lining, while also reducing intestinal inflammation. The prolonged cooking of bones in water results in a broth rich in nutritional constituents that tonify the blood, promote strength, help to prevent bone and connective tissue disorders and nourish your body in times of sickness and rehabilitation.
So, what the heck makes bone broth so healing anyways?
Cartilage: Chondroitin Sulfate is a structural component of cartilage that is essential in maintaining the integrity of the extracellular matrix (ECM). Okay, so do you want that in English now? Well, the ECM is a collection of molecules secreted by your cells, surrounding them acting like scaffolding while providing additional support. Long story short, this stuff is important. Cartilage has also been found to be useful in the treatment of joint disease and in the stimulation of immune cells.
Collagen and Gelatin: There are at least 15 types of collagen, which makes up about 25% of all the protein in the body. It’s in your skin, your bones and in your lymph. The word collagen comes from the root "kola", meaning glue. So, collagen is basically the same thing as gelatin. Collagen is the word used for its form when found in the body, and gelatin refers to the extracted collagen that is used as food. You also need it for healing the coating of mucus membranes within the gastrointestinal tract - sounds pretty sexy, doesn’t it?
Bone Marrow: There are 2 types of marrow in bones, yellow and red. Red marrow is an integral source of nutritional and immune support factors, extracted within the cooking process of bone broth. Red marrow contains lymphoid stem cells, the precursors to white blood cells and platelets and myeloid stem cells, which are the precursors to red blood cells. This is fantastic news for your immune system, your brain and for your cardiovascular system - just to name a few.
Glycine and Proline: Ever heard of these words before? They’re important amino acids (the building blocks of protein) found within bone broth. Glycine supports digestion by enhancing the secretion of gastric acid and is also needed for wound healing. This plays a direct part in healing your gut! Proline is essential to the structure of collagen, so it’s necessary for healthy skin, bones, ligaments, cartilage and tendons.
Minerals: Bone is an excellent source of calcium and phosphorus. It also contains trace amounts of magnesium, sodium, potassium and sulfate. You need these minerals, folks!
Wanna give it a shot? Well, here’s how to make it:
- Get some high quality, pastured, ethically and locally-raised bones from either beef or chicken. If you are using beef bones, for flavour purposes alone, you can roast them in the oven first, until browned (400F or 200C for 45-90 minutes).
- Place the bones into a large stock pot and cover with water. Remember to leave plenty of room for the water to boil. In order to efficiently pull out the integral nutrients from the bones, you will need an acid to break them down. Add approximately two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar to the water prior to heating. Lemon juice or other types of vinegar can be substituted.
- Bring to heat slowly. Once boiling, reduce heat to simmer for at least six hours. Cook slowly and at a consistent low heat in order to fully extract all the healthy nutrients from around the bones. Do not allow the broth to come to a fast boil, and if more water is needed to keep the bones covered, add only hot water, not cold or lukewarm.
- Skim off any “scum” as it rises to the top. I know that sounds nasty, but it’s just some of the fat from the bones coming out.
- Chicken bones are great to use as they are especially high in red marrow. They can cook for around 24 hours. Beef bones can cook for around 48 hours. You can also add in some vegetables, like celery, garlic, onions, carrots and fresh herbs, for additional healing benefits, during the last 1-2 hours of cooking.
- After cooking, remove the bones and vegetables and discard. Use a strainer to ensure that the broth is clear. Properly prepared broth will cool to a rubbery, jelly-like consistency due to the high gelatin content of the collagen. Don’t worry, because this layer helps to protect the broth beneath. Be sure to discard this layer only when you’re about to eat the broth. It can be re-heated and used as a simple nutritious drink, or for a more complex soup, add steamed or sautéed vegetables, meat, and/or beans.
The broth can be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight jar or container for no more than a week. Frozen in an airtight jar or container for months. Alternatively, you can freeze the broth into ice cube trays, and when frozen, transfer the cubes into a re-sealable freezer bag where they will keep for up to 6 months.
- Catherine Sugrue