What is bone broth?
Bone broth is a food made by boiling bones, cartilage, vegetables and seasoning.
Broth, also known as stock, made from bones of animals and birds has long been consumed as food since prehistoric times. Traditionally, it has been used as a home remedy for certain diseases, such as the flu. A 12th-century physician, Moses Maimonides, prescribed chicken broth for respiratory illnesses like colds and asthma.
Modern research has confirmed that broth has some role in preventing and treating upper respiratory tract infections. Bone broth is often actively promoted and used as a part of therapy for individuals suffering from a range of neurodevelopmental and psychiatric disorders. Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride, who holds a degree in medicine and a postgraduate degree in both neurology and human nutrition, has made bone broth more famous through her gut and psychology syndrome (GAPS) diet. She has recommended this diet for conditions, such as
Bone broth consumption is also encouraged by people who advocate a paleolithic diet. A paleo diet is a diet consisting of fish, nuts, lean meats and vegetables. It limits grain consumption. Small studies suggest that such a paleolithic diet may help people with hypertension, high cholesterol levels and diabetes.
Health benefits of bone broth include
- Improved hydration: Bone broth can provide better hydration to you when you need something more than water.
- Weight management: Bone broth is a low-calorie food that can make you full and help you keep your weight under check.
- Better sleep: Glycine is an amino acid in bone broth that can help improve your sleep. It also has a role in preventing liver ailments.
- Tasty nutrient boost: Bone broth is easy to make and when combined with other vegetables becomes a tasty and relatively inexpensive source of nutrition.
- Protein source: Bone broth contains around 20 to 26 percent protein. It helps increase immunity, repair body cells and reduces hunger pangs.
How to make bone broth
Bone broth involves taking bones along with the surrounding cartilage and simmering it in a large pot over a long period, which can range from 6 to 24 hours. The addition of spices and vegetables makes the bone broth more nutritious and enhances taste. The longer the cooking time, the more flavorful the broth.
In their recipe for chicken stock, Fallon and Enig have recommended the following method
- Take a whole chicken (including its head and its feet) and cut it into pieces
- Put the chicken pieces into a large stainless-steel pot filled with water, vinegar and vegetables. Boil the mixture and then simmer for up to 24 hours.
- Spices like garlic, ginger, thyme, celery and coriander may be added for more flavor. It can be made in large quantities and stored in the fridge for up to 4 days.
What does the current evidence say about bone broth?
While bone broth may offer health benefits, such as clearing nasal congestion, certain claims like improvement in joint health and better skin lack scientific evidence. The collagen found in bone broth is cited as the main substance responsible for these claims. However, scientists have refuted the claim by saying that plant-based foods are better at providing collagen-building blocks to the body rather than the direct collagen, which does not reach the bones and the skin.
Due to the increasing popularity of bone broth as a health drink, scientists went on to investigate the composition of bone broth made from chicken. They found the cooked chicken broth that contained the bones, skin or cartilage are contaminated with lead in amounts many times higher than in tap water. This was true even in the farm raised organic chicken. Cooking bones for a long time was a sure way to leach the lead from the bones into the broth that we consume. Lead is a known poison that has delirious effects on children as well as adults. The chicken meat without bones, cartilage and skin had much lower concentrations of lead. Hence, given the startling findings, those who want to make broth can discard the bones, cartilage and skin and choose to make chicken broth with the remaining chicken parts.