Homemade bone broth has a long history in folk medicine across many cultures. From the Jewish tradition of chicken soup for a cold to the iconic Asian stock pot, the art of broth making crosses cultural lines and transcends time.
Archaeologists have discovered evidence that our ancestors were putting pots in open fires at least 20,000 years ago. Quite literally, the nutritious art of making broth may really be as old as time.
"Beef tea may be chosen as an illustration of great nutrient power in sickness." -Florence Nightingale
An old South American proverb claims that “a good broth will resurrect the dead.” While this may be overstated, homemade broth does contain an impressive nutritional profile.
Stock, bone broth, and broth are terms that are somewhat interchangeable. Stock usually refers to a preparation with both bones and meat. Bone broth is usually just bones; while broth can refer to either preparation. Stock, which includes meat, generally has a full and richer flavor. However, using meatless discarded bones is considerably less expensive and yields similar nutrients.
Nutritional analysis of bone broth reveals a powerful trifecta for healing many ailments. Bone broth is rich in collagen peptides. These 3-stranded proteins are essential for building and replacing healthy joints, skin, and intestines.
Collagen is the main protein structure utilized in building bones, joints, skin, hair and nails in animals and humans alike. Over 25% of protein within the human body is composed of collagen peptides. Joints are comprised of cartilage and tendons which are both made of collagen peptide protein molecules.
Collagen is the most abundant protein in all the animal kingdom. In other words, most of the animal kingdom, including humans, are composed of protein molecules called collagen. Human carnivores are familiar with collagen and easily recognize it as the white opaque tissue attached to the end of bones. Humankind’s modern diet does not generally include collagen. Our grocery trips usually yield cartilage, skin, and fat free cuts of poultry or beef. When compared to ancient diets, our modern diet is severely deficient in collagen protein sources.
Collagen is manufactured in your body using raw materials from your diet. The primary components of collagen are amino acids. There are 19 different amino acids wound together in collagen peptides. Proline and glycine constitute the the bulk of the amino acids in collagen peptides. Each collagen peptide is over 30% glycine.
Proline and glycine are called nonessential (conditional) amino acids. According to popular scientific belief, it is not necessary that these amino acids are consumed in the diet, because they can be manufactured within the body.
However, a plethora of studies show incredible benefits when these so-called nonessential amino acids are increased or supplemented in the diet. Perhaps these amino acids should be labeled as “conditionally essential.”
Human joints are made from collagen. Drinking collagen-rich bone broth will fortify failing arthritic joints. Bone broth can be both preventive and profitable for joint degeneration and disease. One study even showed a decrease in joint pain when collagen was supplemented. Both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis respond to increased dietary collagen. Study patients reported less pain and more ability to move, stand, and support weight.
Skin tissues are primarily made from collagen. Consuming supplemental or food-based collagen speeds the repair and manufacture of skin cells. Countless studies confirm that wrinkles, fine lines, and cellulite decrease with increased collagen intake.
The collagen in bone broth can be especially helpful for digestive and immune disorders. Because a majority of your immune cells reside in the intestines, gut health and overall immune health are inherently linked. The amino acids in collagen aid in the building and repair of intestinal cells. As the intestinal cells heal, leaky gut, food sensitivities, and other serious gut disorders will resolve.
If you would like to learn more about healing a leaky gut, you can read this article about the 4 R's of restoring and maintaining a healthy gut.
Unflavored collagen protein powders are very different than many of the commercial protein powders you are familiar with. Most protein powders cause a chalky or thick texture. Typical commercial protein powders often contain sweeteners and preservatives to prevent clumping. Unflavored collagen powder, on the other hand, does not change the consistency or texture of your beverage. Collagen protein powder may be added to any beverage, hot or cold, without changing the flavor.
Whey protein is a common supplement, but collagen protein has shown itself to be a superior protein supplement. When compared with whey, collagen provides more satiety and faster absorption.
When shopping for a collagen protein powder it is wise to consult the label for details. Look for collagen peptide protein powder sourced from grass-fed and antibiotic-free cows, poultry or fish. Most of the high quality bovine collagen peptide protein powders are sourced from Argentinian or Brazilian cows, like Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides. All of this care promises to deliver a very high quality and toxin-free protein supplement. Don’t be shy about calling the manufacturer directly to ask where they source their collagen peptide protein powders.
Make your own:
Broth making is an art with a healthy dose of science involved. Chefs and wise kitchen stewards will gather and freeze vegetable scraps as well as bones to later prepare their health benefits rich bone broth. Trimmings that would otherwise be wasted, can all be stored in the freezer and added to the pot with bones.
3-5 pounds of organic pastured bones (cooked or raw)
2 cups of water for every 1 pound of bones
3 stalks of celery
2 bay leaves
Any vegetable scraps
Method for using a crock pot:
Add all ingredients to the crock pot. Turn the crock pot on High until water reaches a boil; turn to the Low setting immediately. Allow the broth to simmer or “slow” cook on Low for 24-48 hours.
For chicken bones cook for 24 hours
For beef and other large animals, allow to cook for 36-48 hours
Method for an electric pressure cooker/Instant-Pot
Use the Soup setting and cook for 90 minutes;
Use the “Stay Warm” setting for 5 hours.
Let broth cool completely and store.
Test for potency: The true test of any broth is the gel. Once the broth has cooled in the refrigerator, the broth will gel and appear thick. It will have the same consistency as the infamous Jello that children love to eat.
If your homemade broth does not gel, there are two culprits: heat or water. If you have boiled your broth at a high temperature you will have destroyed the delicate collagen molecules and gelling will not occur. If you have added too much water, the collagen molecules will be there, but will be too diluted to create a gel.
Do not pour hot broth into plastic containers because this can cause the plastics to taint the broth with BPA (bisphenolA).
After broth is prepared, it can be stored in the refrigerator for 1 week.
Storage in the freezer is convenient and reliable for up to 3 months.
Once broth has cooled completely, pour the broth into silicone or stainless steel ice cube
moulds and freeze. Extra large ice cube trays allow for ½ cup of broth per cube.
How to enjoy:
6-8 ounces of warm bone broth is an excellent morning ritual. Salt, turmeric, or other spices will enhance the flavor. Bone broth can also be used as the base for soups, sauces, or for simmering vegetables or rice.
Bone broth may be a fad for the gourmet food world, but it is a staple for any nutrient-rich eating plan.
Prudden, J, The Biological activity of bovine cartilage preparations, Seminars in Arthritis and Rheumatology, 1974, III, 4, 287–321.
Wu, X.; Zhang, C.; Goldberg, P.; Cohen, D.; Pan, Y.; Arpin, T.; Bar-Yosef, O. (2012). "Early Pottery at 20,000 Years Ago in Xianrendong Cave, China". Science. 336 (6089): 1696–1700. PMID 22745428. doi:10.1126/science.1218643.
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