I have such fond memories of my mom’s chicken soup growing up. It usually appeared before me when I was under the weather. It was a welcoming hot bowl of comfort, soothing my aches and pains and decongesting my stuffed little nasal cavity. I remember her pulling leftovers out of the fridge to warm up and it would be a solid gelatinous mass of goodness in the container. You could hold it upside down and it wouldn’t come out; like chicken jello with suspended carrots, celery and onions. My mom makes the best chicken soup, but I’m sure everyone feels that way about their own mother’s soup.
It wasn’t until I was in my late 20’s that I decided to try making it on my own. I remember being nervous the first time and talking to my mom on the phone while following the simple instructions of her recipe. I didn’t want to screw it up; it had to taste the same. My first attempt wasn’t an entire success, but it still tasted good. Practice makes perfect and making bone broth has become sort of a ritual in my home. I’ve always got some on hand in the freezer and the bones of beef, pork, lamb and chicken never go to waste.
Bone broths have a long history as most traditional societies across the globe simmered the bones of animals and consumed broths on a daily basis. Nothing ever goes to waste. Broths were used in soups, stews, sauces and gravies. They’re comforting, delicious and packed full of incredible nutrients and very inexpensive to prepare. Nowadays, particularly in western culture, this tradition has lost its appeal as the convenience of prepared broths, soups and stews are available in cans, bouillon cubes and tetra packs. Unfortunately, these convenience foods are highly processed and don’t have the nutrient-density that traditional preparations provide. So what is so special about homemade bone broth?
Bones are chock full of minerals and simmering them for hours helps to leach these minerals into the water. Adding acidity to the water helps to draw minerals such as calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, potassium, sulfur and other trace minerals that are easily absorbable and help improve digestion and overall gut health. Plus, these minerals are highly important for the health of your bones and teeth!
Gelatin, an excellent source of collagen, aids in digestion and is important for the health of the skin hair, nails, digestive tract, bones, joints, cartilage and muscle. Gelatin is a colloidal substance, meaning that it attracts digestive juices to itself helping to distribute digestive action evenly through your food. This helps improve digestion and reducing digestive stresses. It is also very healing for many intestinal disorders including colitis and Crohn’s disease. Gelatin is also very rich in the amino acids proline, alanine, glycine and glutamic acid, all of which are anti-inflammatory proteins.
Muscle meats are a high source of methionine, an amino acid that is necessary for growth and repair, but when consumed out of balance can raise homocysteine levels in the blood. Elevated homocysteine has been shown to be a risk factor for heart disease, stroke, fractions and mental illness. The anti-inflammatory amino acid glycine in gelatin helps to balance methionine from the meat.
Bone broth is very healing to our intestinal lining and provides the building blocks for the cells that line the gut. They also have an incredibly soothing affect on areas in the gut affected by inflammation and are the reason why they’ve been used by traditional societies as remedies for issues concerning the digestive tract. This is particularly important for those suffering with autoimmune conditions. Your joints can also find nourishment through regular bone broth consumption. Good broth also promotes the proper secretion of hydrochloric acid in the stomach, which is necessary for the break down of dietary proteins.
Although bone broth is not a complete protein, it is very rich in the amino acids proline, alanine, glutamic acid, hydroxyproline and glycine. Glycine, in particular, is essential in aiding the liver in detoxification. Sipping some bone broth daily with your meals can help your liver do its job more effectively.
As you can see, adding bone broth to your diet offers many incredible benefits. It’s time we brought the tradition of homemade bone broth back to the western diet and in Part II you’ll learn how to make your very own nutrient-dense bone broth to give yourself and your family’s health a boost.
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Butter Nutrition.com, How much protein do you need? Retrieved May 11, 2014. http://butternutrition.com/lets-talk-protein/