Bone broth is getting a lot of attention lately and for good reason. It is popular in the keto, low-carb, and paleo communities due to its many health benefits. It can be sipped from a mug or used in recipes in place of broth or stock. For example, it’s great in casseroles, soups, and stews.
In this article, we’ll go over what bone broth is, what the health benefits are, and ways you can incorporate it into your diet. Plus, we’ll explain what a bone broth fast is and why you should consider giving it a try.
What is bone broth?
Bone broth is a nutrient-dense stock that’s made by simmering animal bones and connective tissue. Most recipes call for simmering for 12-24 hours. It can then be used in soups, stews, sauces, and gravies, or in any recipes that call for broth or stock. Many people also enjoy drinking bone broth as a health drink.
Bone broth is not new even though it may be new to you. Back in the day, hunter-gatherers made bone broth by boiling inedible animal parts like bones and hooves into a broth they could drink.
How do I make bone broth?
Bone broth can be made at home, but it’s pretty time consuming. And with the popularity of bone broth, most people find it easier to buy it at their local grocery store or online. You can buy bone broth in liquid and powder form. For the liquid form, simply heat it in the microwave or on the stove, and it’s ready to drink. For powdered bone broth, add boiling water and stir until dissolved.
If you want to make it at home, it involves simmering bones for up to 24 hours. Bones from just about any animal will work -- pork, beef, turkey, lamb, chicken, even fish. You can also use bone marrow and connective tissues. Many homemade bone broth recipes are available online, but you don’t really need a recipe. Here are the basics of making bone broth at home.
What you need:
- A large pot, dutch oven, or slow cooker
- 2 to 4 pounds of bones (see next section on where to get bones)
- 1 gallon of water
- 2 tablespoons of vinegar* (to pull the nutrients out of the bones into the water)
- Salt and pepper to taste
*We recommend apple cider vinegar
- Place everything into the pot or slow cooker. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer for 12-24 hours. If adding vegetables and herbs, now is the time to add it (see notes below).
- Allow the broth to cool, then strain out the solids and store in a large container. It can be frozen for easy reheating.
Some things to keep in mind:
- The longer it cooks, the more nutritious the bone broth will be.
- For a more nutritious broth, use a variety of bones i.e. marrow, knuckles, feet, neck, tail. You can mix and match bones from different animals in each batch.
- You can add vegetables, herbs, or spices to your broth to enhance the flavor. Ingredients to consider: garlic, celery, onion, carrot, parsley, thyme, sage.
Where do I get bones for bone broth?
The easiest way to get bones is to save leftover bones and carcasses from meals. For example, if you buy a whole rotisserie chicken for dinner, save the carcass for making bone broth. Collect them in a large bag and store them in the freezer until you have enough.
You can also visit your local butcher, farmers market, or the meat department at your local grocery store. You can usually get them for a low price, or even for free.
NOTE: If collecting bones and making bone broth sounds like too much work, a convenient option with all the same nutritional benefits is a powdered bone broth that easily dissolves in boiling water.
What are the benefits of bone broth?
1. Enhances Skin Health
Bone broth contains hyaluronic acid, a substance that plays an important role in your skin health. Hyaluronic acid has been shown to support several biological processes, such as tissue regeneration and wound healing. It helps your skin retain moisture, keeping it hydrated and healthy [*].
2. Supports Joint Health
Bone broth is an excellent source of collagen, the main protein found in bones, tendons, and ligaments. During the simmering process, collagen is broken down into gelatin, which contains amino acids that support joint health. Bone broth also contains glucosamine and chondroitin, which are linked to reduced joint pain. The signs and symptoms of joint pain include stiffness, redness, swelling, and pain [*]. In a nutshell, consuming collagen-rich bone broth may benefit your joints.
3. Improves Digestive Health
Drinking bone broth regularly may help your digestive system. Bone broth contains gelatin, which binds to water in the digestive tract to help food move along. An amino acid called glutamine is found in gelatin, which supports intestinal function, and can prevent a condition called “leaky gut” [*]. Leaky gut is associated with several chronic diseases, including irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and ulcerative colitis [*][*].
4. Fights Inflammation
Glycine and arginine, two amino acids found in bone broth, have anti-inflammatory properties. Chronic inflammation can lead to serious diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, cancer, arthritis, and metabolic syndrome. [*]
5. Supports Weight Loss
The gelatin in bone broth can improve satiation (the feeling of fullness), which can translate to consuming fewer calories overall [*]. Overtime, this can lead to weight loss. One of the nice things about bone broth is that it’s low in calories, but can satisfy your hunger and keep you feeling fuller longer. Studies show that consuming broth-based soups regularly can support weight loss goals [*].
6. Minimizes Cold Symptoms
Drinking bone broth may help fight colds. A study found that chicken soup contains substances that may help minimize the symptoms associated with respiratory tract infections. Evidence also shows that the broth may have anti-inflammatory effects that can help alleviate symptoms. The recipe researchers used in the study included parsley, chicken, carrots, celery stems, turnips, sweet potatoes, parsnips, and onions [*].
7. Improves Sleep
Glycine (mentioned above) may also help improve sleep. Studies show that glycine can help you fall asleep faster, sleep more soundly, decrease symptoms associated with insomnia, improve day-time alertness, and improve mental function and memory [*][*][*].
How do I incorporate bone broth into my diet?
- Do a bone broth fast.
- Sip on a cup of bone broth as a lunch or a snack.
- Boil or saute your vegetables in bone broth.
- Use bone broth in place of water when cooking rice or pasta.
- Use bone broth in place of water when cooking mashed cauliflower or mashed potatoes.
- Use bone broth in your sauces, gravies, soups, and stews.
- Replace broth and stock with bone broth in recipes.
How often should I have bone broth?
There’s no scientific data on this but most bone broth fans drink one cup a day for maximum health benefits.
If you make bone broth, keep in mind it lasts in the refrigerator for about 5 days. To make it last longer, pour into individual storage containers and freeze until you’re ready to use it.
If you use powdered bone broth, you don’t need to worry about storage. Simply scoop out the powder as needed and add boiling water for a quick and convenient cup of bone broth.
What is a bone broth fast?
A bone broth fast is a 5-day eating plan that involves drinking bone broth every day. It’s a great way to kickstart weight loss and reset your digestive system. While you can do a bone broth fast at any time, it is especially beneficial if you just returned from a vacation where you splurged on a lot of unhealthy foods or you have stalled in your weight loss efforts.
What are the benefits of a bone broth fast?
- Helps reset your digestive system
- Keeps your satiation, protein, electrolytes, and nutrient intake up while still getting the benefits of a fast
- Supercharges your body with collagen, vitamins, and minerals
- Can help break a weight loss stall or kickstart new weight loss efforts
- Supports ketosis for those following a ketogenic or low-carb,high-fat diet
How does a bone broth fast work?
Day 1: Consume 5-8 cups of bone broth in addition to herbal tea and water. You can add 1 tablespoon of MCT Oil to one of your cups of bone broth if you want to increase your calories a bit.
Days 5 and on: Drink at least one cup per day to maximize the health benefits of bone broth.
Improve your health with bone broth
In a nutshell, bone broth offers many health benefits that support everything from skin and hair health, to improved sleep, to weight loss. You can incorporate it into your meal plan by drinking it out of a mug or adding it to recipes. It’s something you can make by yourself, buy from the grocery store, or order online. And it comes in liquid ready-to-drink forms as well as powdered forms, which just require adding boiling water.
If you haven’t tried bone broth, we strongly recommend giving it a try for a few weeks to see how it makes you feel.