Bone broth has played such an important role in my healing journey. When I was first diagnosed with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, I lived off of quinoa, kale and lentils. My diet consisted mainly of carbohydrates and I often struggled to keep my blood sugar in balance. Even though I was eating a healthy plant-based diet, I continued to have poor digestive health, nutrient deficiencies and increasing food intolerances. I started working on healing my gut and learned that many of these “healthy” foods were actually problematic for people with autoimmune disease. It wasn’t until I switched to a paleo/primal paradigm that my health began to improve.
Bone broth has been around for thousands of years and was a staple of traditional diets in nearly every culture. I’m so excited that its making a come back in our modern culture and has become the latest health & wellness trend. Sipping on homemade bone broth is one of the best ways to reap the health benefits of this nourishing elixir. It’s rich in nutrients, easily-digested and contains healing compounds such as collagen and amino acids. Bone broth helps repair the intestinal lining, heal digestive issues, reduce inflammation, reverse nutrient deficiencies, improve joint heath and support the immune system.
What is bone broth?
Bone broth is made from simmering bones (such as beef or chicken), water, vegetables and seasonings over an extended period of time. This slow process allows healing compounds and nutrients to be released, resulting in a flavourful and nourishing broth. Bones are typically roasted or browned first to improve the flavour of the broth. After it cooks, the solids are removed by straining the stock with a fine mesh sieve. Once the broth has cooled, the top layer of fat is then skimmed and discarded. This way, we can reap the benefits without ingesting harmful oxidized fats. Bone broth is used as a base for making soups, stews and sauces, braising vegetables and meat, and more recently, drinking straight from your cup.
Homemade bone broth is easy, affordable and the best quality you can get. Making your own from scratch allows you to control the ingredients and avoid the many “flavourings” and food additives found in store-bought brands. I like to use grass-fed or pastured bones from my local butcher, organic vegetables, herbs, spices and filtered water from my Berkey. If you’re on the autoimmune protocol or another specialized diet, you can cater your broth-making exactly to your needs. In order to reap all of it’s amazing health benefits, homemade bone broth is hands down the way to go!
What are the benefits?
Between its abundance of nutrients, gut-healing amino acids and benefits for the immune system, there are plenty of reasons to add bone broth to your diet. Let’s take a look at some of the health benefits in more detail.
Reverses Nutrient Deficiencies
Since abandoning many of our traditional foods and farming practices, our modern diet is often nutrient deficient. Combined with unhealthy eating habits, many of us are deprived of the essential nutrients that help fight disease and keep us healthy. And since the majority of people with autoimmune disease also suffer from leaky gut, our bodies are not able to absorb all of the necessary nutrients from our food. Bone broth is an excellent source of vitamins, minerals and amino acids that are often difficult to get from diet alone. These nutrients are also highly bio-available, meaning that they are easily digested and absorbed into the bloodstream. Think of bone broth as nature’s multivitamin!
Supports Digestion & Heals Leaky Gut
Aside from genetics and environmental factors, leaky gut almost always contributes to autoimmune disease. Leaky gut occurs when the cells of the intestinal lining become damaged (or permeable), allowing undigested food particles, toxins and other foreign substances to leak into the bloodstream. There are many things that can lead to leaky gut including inflammation, food intolerances, stress, infections, alcohol and the standard American diet (SAD). Bone broth contains amino acids glycine, glutamine, arginine and proline. Together, these amino acids create collagen which help sooth and repair the gut lining. It’s also rich in gelatin, which supports the growth of healthy bacteria in the gut and helps reduce inflammation.
Supports the Immune System
When foreign substances enter the bloodstream, the immune system responds by creating antibodies against these molecules. Previously harmless foods become tagged as enemies and food allergies and intolerances are born. Every time one of these perceived antigens is consumed, the antibodies trigger an inflammatory reaction. In autoimmune disease, antibodies often mistake the body’s own tissues as foreign invaders. This is known as molecular mimicry, and results in an autoimmune attack against healthy tissues and organs. Inflammation of the thyroid gland results in Hashimoto’s or Grave’s disease, joint inflammation results in rheumatoid arthritis, inflammation of the intestines results in Crohn’s disease, and so on. Since bone broth helps to heal leaky gut, it’s safe to say that it can also tame inflammation and support the immune system.
Not only can leaky gut create food sensitivities, but the microbes in the gut can also leak into the blood stream. This creates a toxic burden on the liver and overwhelms it’s ability to detoxify. In severe cases, people often develop additional sensitivities to perfume, cigarettes and other environmental toxins. Common signs of liver overload include fatigue, brain fog, poor concentration and a dull complexion. Bone broth contains sulphur and glutathione which stimulate liver detoxification and help rid the body of harmful substances. It’s also rich in potassium and glycine which promote cellular detoxification, leaving you energized, glowing and clear-minded.
Promotes Healthy Skin, Hair & Nails
Collagen is not only beneficial for repairing the intestinal lining, it’s also a great source of protein and a natural beauty food. It’s what helps give our skin elasticity, grow strong nails and healthy hair. While our bodies naturally produce collagen, it begins to decline as we age and experience free radical damage (from our diet, sun damage, pollutants, etc.). By eating protein and collagen-rich foods such as bone broth, we can help prevent wrinkles and keep our skin looking youthful and vibrant. Hair loss and brittle nails are a common symptom for people with autoimmune disease, especially hashimoto’s, alopecia and lupus. Adding a cup of bone broth to your daily routine can help strengthen hair and nails and speed up their growth rate.
Improves Joint Health
Collagen is also found in our bones and connective tissues such as tendons and cartilage. As we age, our joints naturally experience wear and tear and become less flexible. Drinking bone broth provides readily absorbable collagen to help protect and restore our joints. Gelatin has many of the same properties as collagen and supports joint health by promoting the growth of new cartilage. Collagen and gelatin are both anti-inflammatory and have been found to reduce the pain associated with arthritis. Bone broth also contains chondroitin sulfate and glucosamine, which helps improve joint pain and maintain healthy joint function.
- 8 cups filtered water
- 2.5 lbs pastured chicken bones
- 2 onions
- 3 carrots
- 3 celery sticks
- 4 garlic cloves
- 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 tbsp avocado oil
- 3 bay leaves
- 1 stick fresh rosemary
- 1 bunch fresh thyme
- 1 tsp sea salt
- Loosely chop onions, carrots, celery and garlic, leaving skins on. Set aside.
- Set Instant Pot to SAUTE and adjust to HIGH. When it reaches HOT, add 1 tbsp avocado oil.
- Add chicken bones and brown for 2-3 minutes per side.
- Turn off Instant Pot and remove bones. Set aside in a large bowl.
- Add ½ cup of filtered water to the pot and deglaze with a wooden spoon.
- Put chicken bones back into pot along with all remaining ingredients.
- Press MANUAL and set Instant Pot to pressure cook on HIGH for 2 hours. Allow to slow release for an additional 45 minutes.
- Strain bone broth through a mesh sieve over a large bowl and discard bones, vegetables and herbs.
- Let cool before transferring to mason jars and storing in the fridge. Skim fat before serving or using in cooking.
*Recipe adapted from Pressure Cook Recipes.