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Bone Broth

Bone Broth: Nature’s Multivitamin 

Written by: Liz Hoobchaak, PT, DPT, CNPT, CAHNS


Homemade bone broth is known as “Nature’s multivitamin” for good reason. It benefits every part of our body, from our digestive tract to our brain, muscles and ligaments, skin and blood vessels. Bone broth’s beginnings lie with our hunter and gatherer ancestors when food was scarce and they had to use every part of the animal out of necessity. It is made by simmering healthy animal bones with herbs, vegetables and something acidic over a low heat for an extended period of time. This process releases very important essential vitamins and minerals stored within the bones that are highly nutritious. The result is a very flavorful broth that can be drank alone or used in soups, stews or smoothies. 


The main component of bone broth that makes it such a powerful healing food is collagen. Collagen is the most abundant protein in our bodies and is found in our muscles, bones, ligaments, skin, digestive tract and blood vessels. Unfortunately by age 25, our supply of collagen begins to decline which leads to the outward signs of aging such as wrinkles and aching joints. By drinking bone broth, we are able to replenish what is being lost. Essentially, bone broth is one of the best anti-aging foods to consume. 


Top 5 Benefits of Bone Broth:


1. Promotes Gut Health 

Bone broth is one of the top healing foods recommended for those with digestive disorders such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Inflammatory Bowel Disease (Crohn’s, ulcerative colitis), leaky gut syndrome or diverticulitis. It is a staple for those who follow specific gut healing diet protocols. Bone broth is very easily digestible and soothing to the digestive system which allows the body to more easily absorb and benefit from its nutrients. It has an abundance of several minerals and essential amino acids that can be difficult to obtain through diet, especially for those who may suffer from gastrointestinal disorders. 


The collagen in bone broth has been shown to be beneficial for restoring the strength and the lining of the gut wall. The essential amino acids contained in the collagen help build the tissues that make up the whole digestive tract. By consuming collagen in the form of bone broth, you are giving your body the building blocks it needs to maintain a strong and healthy gut. 


2. Supports Immune System Function 

80% of our immune system resides in our gut.  The lining of our gut wall is only a few cells deep.  In a healthy digestive system, these cells are tightly lined up together with no holes or gaps. When weak spots occur in our gut tissue due to various reasons, leaky gut syndrome occurs, and undigested food particles, bacteria and other toxic particles are allowed to enter into the bloodstream. This leads to increased systemic inflammation levels which prompts our body to create an immune response.  The immune system releases high levels of antibodies that cause an autoimmune-like response and attacks healthy tissues. This is what may lead to chronic illness, such as cancer or autoimmune diseases, over time.  


As stated above, the amino acids in collagen are responsible for building the tissues that line the entire digestive tract.  Since we naturally loose our body’s stores of collagen starting in our 20’s, it is imperative to replace them to help foster a healthy digestive system.  The stronger our gut wall lining is, the healthier our immune system will be. 


3. Helps Protect Joints

Collagen is a protein that is found in all animals, including us humans. It is located in our bones, muscles, tendons, ligaments, cartilage, and skin. It is responsible for keeping our skeletons strong, flexible and lubricated. As we age, we loose our joint cartilage which leads to joint pain, muscle pain, decreased flexibility and overall decreased functioning. 


Bone broth is one of the worlds best sources of natural collagen. As the bones are simmered over a long period of time, collagen is released into the broth and becomes absorbable to help restore our lost cartilage. Collagen that has been cooked over a long period of time turns into gelatin. Gelatin is very important to help lubricate the joints so they glide easily as we move. This in turn will lessen symptoms of arthritis and may slow down progression. Collagen also promotes strong bone density which helps keep us mobile into our later years and decreases risks of falls or fractures.


Bone Broth contains the amino acids glucosamine, chondroitin sulfate and hyaluronic acid,  which are very popular supplements / treatments for those with osteoarthritis. Consuming bone broth is a great way to naturally increase your bodies ability to absorb these essential amino acids to help maintain healthy joints and combat the symptoms of arthritis. 



4. Maintains Healthy Skin, Hair and Nails

Collagen supports healthy skin by forming elastin which is responsible for maintaining our skin’s youthful appearance and firm texture without wrinkles. Many factors play into the loss of collagen in our skin. Sun exposure, life stresses, alcohol, smoking and environmental pollutants are all contributors to the deterioration of our skin health. By drinking bone broth, you can replace the lost collagen with new collagen fibers and restore youthful appearance of your skin.  


Hyaluronic acid is another component of bone broth that is very important for skin health. Hyaluronic acid is a natural substance that your skin produces to help with hydration. It also plays an important role in wound healing, skin repair and tissue regeneration. It has a unique capacity for retaining water in the skin. Hyaluronic acid and collagen work together to help keep skin hydrated and youthful. The same process also helps restore the health of hair, nails and teeth which are also comprised of high levels of collagen.  


It is common to see many facial lotions and creams that contain collagen and hyaluronic acid. While lotions have shown to be beneficial and decrease outward appearance of aging,  consuming these compounds in the form of bone broth is more effective since they strengthen your skin from within. 


5. Aids in Detoxification 

In todays world, we are exposed to so many toxins, pesticides, artificial ingredients and other chemicals through our diet and environment. Our body has a natural detox process, but sometimes it isn’t enough to combat the vast number of toxins we come across daily. 


Bone broth is rich in nutrients that help fuel the detoxification process.  Specifically, it contains glycine which is needed to produce glutathione, the liver’s most powerful antioxidant. It helps protects our cells and tissues from free radical damage by flushing out toxins, excess hormones and other waste. Bone broth also contains several essential minerals that act like a binding agent to remove toxins by stopping heavy metals, like mercury and lead, from accumulating. 


Types of Bone Broth


Chicken vs. Beef Bone Broth

Bone broth can be made out of any animal bones including chicken, beef, fish or lamb. Beef and Chicken are the most common and while they share some similarities, they also have differences in taste, nutrition profile and techniques used for cooking. Chicken broth often tastes lighter whereas beef bone broth has a richer more concentrated flavor. 


Chicken broth may be easier to make since the bones are more readily available.  You can simply use the bones or carcass from your already cooked chicken. Beef bones are thicker and take longer to break down. They may be more difficult to find, however they should be readily available at any specialty grocery stores or butchers. 


As far as nutrition, beef bones tends to have more Omega-3s than chicken, especially if you are using bones from grass-fed animals. Chicken broth usually has higher concentrations of omega-6 since chickens are often feed mostly a grain diet. Chicken broth does tend to have more hydrating minerals like potassium, magnesium and phosphorus while beef bone broth has more collagen. 


Which is better? 

Although both chicken and beef bone broth have all the same benefits, each one is more superior for certain areas. Chicken bone broth is better for joint protection, tendon pain and skin health because it contains more collagen type II fibers which has a slightly different amino acid profile compared to beef bones. Beef Broth is better for your gut since it contains glycine which is made up of more collagen type III fibers. Glycine is what is mainly responsible for laying down new cells throughout the gastrointestinal tract. This helps to fight inflammation by keeping the intestinal cell junctions tights and preventing leaky gut syndrome. 


There is no one answer to which type of bone broth is best.  They both offer exceptional benefits and drinking any type of bone broth is better than not drinking any at all. Choose whichever is convenient for you to enjoy whether you are sipping it in a warm mug or using it in your cooking. 


Homemade vs. Store Bought Bone Broth

 Store bought broths don’t compare to an organic homemade bone broth. The process for making store bought broths usually don’t involve the long simmering time. Therefore they are lacking many of the healthy nutrients and collagen compared to a homemade broth. Many store bought broths may have added ingredients, such as MSG, that are not necessary to add and are not the healthiest option. In fact, MSG is a harmful ingredient to consume and is detrimental to our health.   Many store bought broths may not even use bones from animals and may instead use a beef flavoring.  By making it at home, you can ensure that you use high quality meat bones and vegetables and the freshest of ingredients. 


There are many collagen and bone broth supplements on the market. You must be aware that not all are created equal. Make sure you are buying from a reputable company and it is properly sourced without antibiotics or other additives. 


How to Make Bone Broth


To make bone broth properly at home, you must first start with organic, grass-fed bones that you bought from a reputable source.  You want to make sure that they are bones from healthy animals that were properly taken care of and not treated with any hormones or antibiotics. You can make a broth using just bones, but many studies have shown that using vegetables along with the bones seem to have a synergistic effect and can be more beneficial than either alone. It is also important to add some sort of acid (lemon, vinegar or wine) to help with the extraction of nutrients from the bones. 


Although there are many different recipes for bone broth, here is the one I have used for years that has a wonderful rich flavor.  It took many years of trying different combinations, but I think the key that sets this recipe apart is the flavor that comes with the addition of lemongrass, cinnamon sticks and coriander. Bone broth really needs the low and slow simmer to extract the collagen protein and other healing properties. Although the soup takes a long time to cook, the active time to prepare the stock pot is very minimal. 



6 beef soup bones, roasted

4 carrots

4 celery stalks

2 lemongrass stalks

1 head of garlic

1 onion

1 tbsp whole peppercorns

1 tbsp whole coriander seed

3 cinnamon sticks

1 tbsp salt

1 cup red wine



1. Place the beef bones on a baking tray and roast in the oven for 30 min at 400F. 

2. Fill a large stockpot with water about 3/4 of the way full. 

3. Chop the carrots, celery stalks, and lemongrass into large chunks. Cut off the ends of the onion and remove the outer layer. Slice off the top of the head of garlic. Place all the ingredients in the pot and let it simmer on low  

    for at least 12 hours. 

4. After 12 hours, skim off the top layer of fat and let it cool.

5.  Remove all the remaining pieces of bone and vegetables.

6.  Stir in salt to taste. 

7.  Once liquid is cooled, strain liquid into freezer safe storage containers.


Drink a warm mug of the bone broth daily or take out a frozen container to add to soups and stews to reap all the benefits for optimal health.  Enjoy! 

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