4 Easy Ways To Enjoy The Health Benefits of Bone Broth
A little over 3 years ago, I heard about the health benefits of bone broth as part of an anti-inflammatory diet. At the time, I was as a pescatarian, eating a mostly plant-based diet. I initially felt disgusted just hearing the term “bone broth.” I’m so glad I decided to give it a try.
Many people are surprised to hear that one of the top “tools” I used in my own gut healing journey that I believe was incredibly instrumental in reducing my symptoms fast and putting me on the path to restoring proper digestive function and overall health was soup.
Soup, you say?
Yep, you heard that right. Good old-fashioned homemade soup has more healing powers than you may have known.
The secret to using soups for improving your health in this way lies in one almost magical ingredient: the traditional broth.
Two Types of Traditional Broth
You may have heard of the health benefits of bone broth. The thing is, it is not absolutely mandatory to use bone broth per se. The important thing is that you incorporate a traditional broth or stock as a base for your soups.
Option 1 is to make or buy full-on bone broth. This involves simmering just bones, water and some other flavor-enhancing aromatic ingredients for at least 24-48 hours.
But bone broth can be a little too intense for some people. And there’s also another option that you can incorporate into your homemade soups for these purposes. It’s called “meat stock” or short-simmered meat broth.
Meat stock or meat broth involves simmering meat with the bone still intact. If you make this in a regular stockpot on the stove, it takes just a little longer than it would normally take to cook a meal. That means roughly 1 hour for chicken stock, or 2-4 hours for beef or lamb stock.
The truth is, this second type of broth/stock is incredibly easy to make (once you get the hang of it). So easy that I routinely make this type of broth while travelling. Even while on a Europe trip staying in hostels or trekking on the Camino de Santiago!
No, it’s not the typical hostel meal, but it’s delicious and nourishing nonetheless and soothes the stomach like no other.
I will briefly outline the health benefits of bone broth and meat broth/stock below. For simplicity sake I will often mention “broth” or “bone broth” instead of “bone broth and meat stock.” There are slight differences between the two, but for the most part this list applies to both.
Health Benefits of Bone Broth and Short-Simmered Meat Stock
Rich source of minerals
Bone broth is a rich source of several important minerals, as well as additional trace minerals. The main minerals are calcium, magnesium and phosphorus.
One key thing to note is it not only contains a high amount of these minerals, but they are in a highly absorbable and bioavailable form. Translation: it’s easy for our body to absorb and use these nutrients.
In functional nutrition, we often see issues with mineral deficiencies. This is not always due to a lack of minerals in the diet, but due to insufficient absorption. This is why it’s key to get minerals in such a highly absorbable form as this broth.
Rich source of specific amino acids that aid in pain-free joints and gut health
Broth contains compounds such as glucosamine and chondroitin. These serve as important building blocks for maintaining healthy and pain-free joints, cartilage, and tendons.
More importantly for the types of clients I usually see, the amino acids in broth also aid in repairing and rebuilding a damaged gut lining. This is so commonly needed in cases of leaky gut, intestinal permeability and chronic inflammatory conditions.
Rich in nutrients that support healthy skin, hair and nails
Broth contains gelatin, which:
- Supports the connective tissues of the body
- Helps fingernails and hair grow strong
- And can even help reduce cellulite and wrinkles.
It is not uncommon after drinking broth regularly for a few weeks or months to receive compliments that you seem to be glowing. People will likely ask you what you’ve been doing to your skin or hair. (Even when you’ve been doing nothing different at all in terms of your skincare/hair care regimen).
True beauty starts from the inside out. In that way broth can actually be an important part of your beauty regimen!
Drinking some broth before a meal can help stimulate gastric juices. These gastric juices allow the body to properly break down, digest and absorb all the other great food you eat.
Unfortunately it is far too common to have dysfunction in this area. A number of factors cause our stomachs to release insufficient acid and enzymes needed to break down proteins.
This could mean that you are eating the most perfect diet in the world but getting very little benefit from it. We certainly do not want that to happen!
Broth can be an important tool to help the body work the way it is supposed to.
Supports overall health
Other components in bone broth promote healthy adrenals. Undue stress and strain on the adrenal glands typically leads to all kinds of hormonal imbalances and immune issues. Broth may even support healthy kidneys and blood, according to Chinese medicine.
In addition to the minerals and amino acids mentioned separately above, traditional broth also contains healthy fats. These fats are necessary cofactors to effectively absorb minerals and fat soluble vitamins. These fat soluble vitamins are absolutely crucial for optimal health.
Want more details on the health benefits of bone broth? Check out the below video interview where board-certified nutritionist Dr. Kellyann Petrucci breaks down why collagen-rich broth is “liquid gold”…
The Bottom Line: More Bone Broth, Please!
The bottom line is that bone broth or meat stock deserves an important part of the modern diet. Especially if you are actively working to resolve stomach issues, digestive symptoms, leaky gut or inflammation.
Homemade, traditionally prepared broths contain specific amino acids that help maintain a healthy gut lining. This broth also contains a mix of amino acids, fat and minerals in an ideal form that makes it especially easy for our GI tract to digest and absorb these nutrients.
Homemade bone broth or meat broth can also help soothe the GI lining, reduce unpleasant GI symptoms or inflammation, and even help quell sugar cravings.
Our ancestors instinctively knew about these health benefits of bone broth, even if they didn’t necessarily know all the exact science behind them.
It’s time to bring broth back to the modern diet. And that means true, traditionally prepared broth, not processed boxes of broth or bouillon cubes. (Those boxes/cubes are essentially a glorified form of chicken-flavored water, unfortunately).
The best part about this type of true broth? The benefits listed above may sound like some kind of expensive miracle supplement. But you can get all those benefits practically for free!
It’s incredibly cheap to make your own traditional broth. That’s because if you do it right, it’s essentially a byproduct of making a regular meal.
How To Get Started With Homemade Bone Broth or Meat Stock
Ready to cook your own broth from scratch at home? A good place to start is with shorter simmered meat broth. This means using bone-in cuts of meat (such as chicken legs or a whole chicken), water and (optional) vegetables.
This is a good starting point for most because it’s both easiest and gentlest on the system. After you simmer the broth, you end up with a meal. That’s because you can pull the chicken off the bones and it’s still good to consume. Toss that cooked chicken into the broth to make a quick and easy nourishing chicken soup. Or save it as leftovers for other meals later in the week.
Click here for a step-by-step written Instant Pot chicken broth recipe. It’s just as easy as making a meal!
Here’s a link to an article by Your Healthy Home Body that outlines this process using a pot on the stove. Note that a whole chicken is the cheapest meat option. But if that is too overwhelming, you can use 2-4 lbs of any bone-in cut of chicken. Examples are chicken legs, quarters, or drumsticks.
The higher the ratio of chicken to water, the more gelatinous your broth will turn out. However, there’s no exact science to that ratio. You can experiment with different ratios to find your own personal preference.
Traditional Cooking Not Your Thing?
If making your own bone broth or meat stock at home is simply not going to happen anytime soon, that’s perfectly OK! I’ve been there too. I actually didn’t feel anywhere near ready for making my own broth at first. I didn’t make it myself at all until I had actually been consuming it for a month or longer.
If you’re like me when I was just getting started, I wanted you to know there are options for you too.
Option 1: buy real bone broth from the freezer section of health food stores
I like the brand Bonafide Provisions. This is what I personally started with. I actually met the owner of this company in person and heard her inspiring healing story. She made it her mission to make this type of high quality bone broth more easily available.
You can also buy it online here but it’s a bit more expensive than in store. If you’re in the US, there’s a good chance your local health food store has it in the freezer section.
There seem to be other similar options popping up all the time. Check out what your local health food store has. If you find another brand, perhaps do some research into the sourcing of ingredients and process they use to confirm it’s the real deal.
Option 2: buy frozen soups that are already made using real bone broth as a base
This option has been my favorite lately. Clients used to always ask me if there was a meal delivery service I recommended. An “easy button” if you will, for making this real food eating style more doable in a busy life. The answer was always “unfortunately, no”…that is, until I discovered Captain Soup.
Unfortunately the majority of meal delivery services out there either:
- Use questionable sourcing (not truly organic, pasture-raised, etc.) and/or
- Are loaded with nightshades and other gray area foods. (These foods often cause problems in people with gut inflammation, autoimmunity, etc.)
Similar to Bonafide Provisions mentioned above, the founder of Captain Soup Brian Gaudette went through his own healing journey using traditional/ancestral bone broth based soups as an integral tool. In his case, he even made it work while he was serving in the army!
I very fortunately met Brian and discovered his soups at what may have been the last big in-person health conference of the year. This was literally days before the coronavirus pandemic struck the U.S. and everything was shut down. I’m so grateful I did…
Captain Soup: A lifesaver during busy times!
When my full-time work became busier than ever during the early days of the quarantine, these soups became a lifesaver staple. They helped cut down on the time I was spending in the kitchen and make this real food Paleo lifestyle all a little bit easier on myself.
Yes, I know how to make these same soups from scratch very easily. I previously did just that for years straight before I discovered this option. But there’s something just so incredibly nice about receiving a shipment of frozen soups, perfectly ready to defrost and eat without having to do any prep work.
Incorporating these bone broth soups into your weekly meal plan can be a great option even if you’re just getting started. Especially if you have limited time to cook and you don’t necessarily want to consume broth every single day.
I don’t recommend relying exclusively on these soups. The only protein choices currently are beef and lamb. As amazing as they taste, that can get boring and repetitive fast.
If you stock your freezer with a batch of these soups you can start slowly mixing these soups into your weekly rotation. Enjoy them in addition to regular meals such as chicken, fish turkey, etc. you would otherwise cook yourself.
Honestly, these soups taste AMAZING and also make a really good real food, grain-free, egg-free breakfast!
If you do decide to try a batch of these delicious soups, use the coupon code REALFOODPLAN for $15 off. Here’s the link to check them out.
Option 3: buy a “good enough” shelf-stable bone broth
Although homemade or fresh/frozen is optimal, sometimes life gets in the way. It’s hard to always have those options on hand.
Since the beginning of the quarantine I have been keeping a stash of shelf stable Kettle & Fire bone broths on hand. These serve either as an emergency food or as a fallback option. I typically use these when I don’t have time to cook or order the frozen bone broth soups from Captain Soup.
These bone broths and soups made with bone broth as a base are:
- Made from the bones of animals that are humanely raised and 100% grass fed and grass finished.
- Free of anything artificial.
- They are essentially made the traditional way and then packaged in a special way that makes them shelf stable for up to 2 years.
- Without any of the junk you may find in typical store bought broth brands.
You can also find their broths and soups on the shelfs of some health food stores such as Sprouts.
Ready to give bone broth soups a try?
For the month of October, I’m going to try to follow along with a soup challenge hosted by Cara Comini of Health Home & Happiness.
The idea is simple: every day for the month of October, consume at least one serving of soup. This can be either bone broth, meat stock, or soup made using that broth/stock as a base.
While it’s ideal to batch prep some of your own broths and soups for this challenge (and Cara outlines plenty of recipes and tips here) you can also use any of the resources mentioned above if homemade broth and/or soup doesn’t fit so well into your plans for the month.
I will for sure stock up on more Captain Soup for convenience sake. I’m still slowly working my way through the Kettle & Fire bundle I bought back in March as well. (For when I don’t have time to cook broth/soup or I don’t have a Captain Soup on hand).
If you’re reading this later, you can still implement some form of this challenge on your own.
Don’t want to commit to doing this every single day for 30 days? You can still start to incorporate these traditional broths and soups into your weekly routine.
It may just be one of the best habits you can start, especially if gut health is a priority.
Let's keep in touch!
Let me know if you decide to join me in the challenge. Or just keep me posted/share photos as you start to incorporate traditional/ancestral broths and soups into your eating plan.
Wondering what to add to your soups (besides meat/protein) to make a satiating, well-rounded low-inflammatory meal? Be sure to also grab a copy of my free guide, Top 6 Real Food Healthy Carb Swaps.
– Author: Janna Melissa, FNTP