If you keep updated with any wellness blogger, or even just have an Instagram, you might’ve seen your favorite influencers and celebrities toting around mugs, bowls, and containers of bone broth. Sure, the name sounds like a potion made in a cauldron by a Disney witch, but the benefits are much less scary. Gwyneth Paltrow has called it “winter’s miracle drink,” Kobe Bryant swears by it for increasing energy and reducing inflammation, and Shailene Woodley has it for breakfast every day. So what’s with the hype, what the heck is bone broth, and why is the name so gross!?
What is Bone Broth?
Bone broth has been made for centuries in most cultures — it originated as a way for our ancestors to make use of every part of the animal (they were pretty thrifty!). Might be a little TMI, but every part of the animal that is not used for meat (like bones, marrow, ligaments, tendons, and even the skin or feet — stay with me here), can be boiled and then simmered over a long period of time to create a nutrient-dense broth that’s filled with flavor.
Because of this, it was a staple in many culture’s diets, but was also used for centuries as a method of healing. And they were certainly onto something. The simmering causes nutrients to release from all those gross animal parts like proline, glycine, glutamine, and collagen (yes, THE trendy ingredient). They also provide nutrients like calcium, magnesium, and sulphur in forms that are easy for your body to absorb.
What are the benefits?
Chicken soup may be good for the soul, but bone broth is good for the body — like, really good. Dr. Josh Axe, a doctor of natural medicine and clinical nutritionist, claims bone broth is the number one thing you can consume to treat a leaky gut, overcome food intolerances, improve joint health, and boost the immune system.
You know by now how good collagen is for you (your joints/muscles/skin/hair…. the list goes on), and bone broth contains the essential types of collagen. “Leaky gut” is a symptom many people suffer from but don’t always know it. Essentially, it’s referring to the breakdown of stomach and intestinal lining that allows bacteria to leak into the bloodstream, causing a range of health and digestion problems (and could possibly be the reason for food allergies). The amino acids in bone broth work to heal the gut and promote the growth of healthy probiotics, and is easily digestible. When the gut is restored, the immune system also improves. So basically, bone broth is literally a cure-all.
How should you make it?
You can make it yourself to ensure you’re getting the most natural ingredients and the most potent nutrients, but if you’re not very Martha Stewart-y, it’s also available as a pre-made broth or in powdered form (to add to hot water).
You can drink it plain (pour it in your thermos and drink it like you would your second cup of coffee), use it as a broth in any soup recipe, add veggies and protein (or noodles!) to make it into a meal, or use it to make grains by cooking quinoa, farro, or millet (à la Miranda Kerr) in bone broth instead of water. The grains will absorb all the nutrients of the broth.
Is it right for you?
Yes, bone broth has tons of good-for-you ingredients and many amazing benefits, but it’s not necessarily for everyone. As with any diet, nutrition, or lifestyle change, it’s always best to talk to your doctor about whether or not it would be good for you.
If you do decide to try bone broth, make sure it’s from a reputable, organic brand, made with grass-fed animal products, and that it’s as natural as possible (meaning no artificial colors, preservatives, or flavor enhancers). The only ingredients there should be are meat, water, bones, and salt. Also, bone broth is unfortunately not vegan or vegetarian friendly, so avoid bone broth like you would any other chicken broth or animal product if you prefer a meat-free lifestyle.