There's a reason why your grandmother made you chicken soup when you were ill. The truth is traditionally prepared soups really do boost your immune system and make you feel better. When I say "traditionally prepared" I'm referring to a time before bullion cubes existed where bones were used to make the base of soups. The benefits of bone broth are extensive; with its high concentration of protein, collagen, glycine, and minerals. These nutrients aid in digestion, joint health, detoxification and mineral intake.
Digestion is a major issue affecting people around the globe. Lack of stomach acids can lead to acid reflux and GERD as food doesn't properly breakdown so sits in the stomach and ferments creating pressure on the LES valve moving food back up, instead of down, the digestive tract. Another important digestive fluid found in the body is bile, which is used to break down fat properly and is crucial for the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins which include vitamins A, D, E and K. The glycine found in nutritious broth stimulates the production of both stomach and bile acids while glutamine is a natural remedy for "leaky gut", or intestinal permeability, when the barrier between your gut and the rest of your body is compromised, allowing molecules that should stay inside the gut to cross over into the bloodstream and potentially set off a cascade of autoimmune reactions. It helps to maintain the function of the intestinal wall.
Joint health seems to be a growing concern with many people supplementing with glucosamine and gelatin, both of which are naturally found in healthy cartilage which melts into the broth. Let's break it down. Collagen is the protein matrix in bones, tendons, ligaments and other flexible tissues. When collagen is broken down in the cooking process, it turns into gelatin which contains proline and glycine. These proteins perform crucial functions like giving the body raw materials to rebuild connective tissue, especially tendons and ligaments. Imagine ridding yourself of tendonitis, aching joints, rheumatoid arthritis, and chronic autoimmune disease all while supporting the growth of healthy hair, nails, and skin. A quick note that you can supplement with glucosamine and/or chondroitin yet studies have shown that collagen is way more effective than these.
It's no surprise that detoxification is of vital importance to a healthy body as we are in constant contact with harmful substances found in our food, air, water, cleaning supplies and hygiene products. With so many detox trends it's important to note how crucial glycine is to the process of detoxification. The liver being the body's natural way of detoxifying, glycine lends a hand in removing anything dangerous from the body. It's also necessary for the synthesis of glutathione and uric acid which are the most important internally produced antioxidants.
Here's a brief note on blood levels. Muscle meats and eggs are high in methionine, an amino acid that raises homocysteine levels in the blood and increases our need for homocysteine-neutralizing nutrients like vitamins B6, B12, folate, and choline. Homocysteine presents a serious health factor for heart disease and stroke, so it's important to eat a more balanced diet including gelatin-rich foods over lean meats. Just another reason to eat the whole animal as the proteins in muscle meat and connective tissue balance each other out for optimal nutrition.
We tend to focus much on vitamins with little attention to minerals, but our bodies can manufacture some vitamins, yet make no minerals. It's increasingly difficult to get enough minerals in our diet without supplementation. This is mainly due to depleting nutrients in soils which has been documented from as far back as 1936. Mineral-depleting items are also a huge factor. Some finding their way into a typical modern diet include acid blockers, low stomach acid, cortisone, pharmaceutical drugs, birth control pills, alcohol, coffee, soda, sugar, and stress. A study done by the Senate Document 264 74th Congress, 1936 states that 99% of the American population is deficient in minerals. Bone broth is rich in minerals like calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium and is readily available for easy absorption in the body. Minerals are vital as they act as co-factors for enzyme reactions, maintain pH balance, contract and relax muscles and regulate hormones.
Now that we know that bone broth is a true superfood how do we make use of bones so we can reap the benefits of consuming it? The basics are simple. All you need is bone with marrow and cartilage intact. These include beef knuckles, marrow bones, rib and neck bones, etc. The crucial ingredient for extracting the minerals is something acidic. I recommend apple cider vinegar and feel free to use wine. Cooking low and slow is also critical. Broth can be used in recipes which call for stock or broth. No need to stock up on canned or boxed broths anymore. These don't contain all the nutritious benefits that bone broth does anyhow. I like to make soup from it or have a mug with a pinch of salt in the morning instead of coffee. It's delicious, and the natural fats found in the broth will give you extended energy!
Bone marrow is considered organ meat and essential part of the immune system which contains all kinds of cells necessary for immune function and bone growth. Some benefits include building immunity, repairing wounds, helping with digestion and fighting cancer. Almost every culture claims some form of bone-based concoction. If you search the web, you'll find recipes from Ireland, the Philippines, Korea, and France. Mongolian and Native American cultures extracted the marrow raw. In gourmet cooking, marrow is a garnish for beef tenderloin and beef stews. There's no end to what can be done with nutritious marrow.
Have you heard of the term "nose-to-tail"? This refers to the use of the whole animal which is what preindustrial societies across the globe did. Letting food go to waste just wasn't an option. This trend is gaining momentum as you can now find restaurants serving up the whole animal in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago and beyond. It's all about sustainability. No doubt we're all used to the same cuts of beef when we go the grocery store to pick up dinner but what if the whole animal was available with recipes and recommendations for cooking? Would you venture out of your comfort zone and become one of the many who are following this sustainability movement and reaping the benefits of eating the entire animal? More on this later.
Bone Broth Recipe
Here's a link to a beef bone broth recipe so you can start making your own.