Here’s ALL you need to know about bone broth, its benefits, and how to make the BEST BONE BROTH OF YOUR LIFE (and the EASIEST!) to ensure you are giving your body what it needs to be healthy.
One of the most crucial foods for our health and well-being is bone broth (broth made by cooking meaty bones in a pot of water), and yet we’ve essentially removed it from our diet in the modern western world. Instead of nutritious and delicious, rich and beautiful bone broths and stocks, we use added and artificial flavorings made in a lab to add flavor to our packaged foods. Even if the box says “all-natural”, it’s usually not.
Not only that, we’ve lost all the amazing and very important research-backed nutritional benefits of bone broth (more on that below). Bone broth is a staple in almost every other culture, being consumed everyday. And here in the western world we almost never consume it. Even if you buy pre-made broths to make something “homemade”, it’s just not the same. You’re getting potentially harmful additives with the pre-made stuff and the nutritional profile isn’t going to be close to bone broth you make at home.
The problem is that we don’t know how to cook real food anymore and we think what we’re buying is normal. It’s not. It’s not at all. There’s a reason we’re more unhealthy today than ever before, and moving away from traditional and real foods that nourished us is a big piece of that puzzle.
I’m giving you the skinny on bone broth and then showing you how to make the BEST DAMN BONE BROTH OF YOUR LIFE (that’s also the EASIEST) so that you can drink it daily and regain not only amazing health benefits, but also the control over what goes into our bodies that the packaged food business has taken away from us without us even realizing it.
Is bone broth a fad?
Bone broth is simply a stock made of various animal components that is cooked until the cartilage has completely broken down. The term bone broth is a relatively new term for a very common, traditional food. Not only is bone broth NOT a fad, it’s quite the opposite of a fad, considering that just about every culture in the world consumes it and has been pretty much since neanderthals started boiling water (1).
So then the fad happened when we stopped making wonderful stocks and broths as a part of our daily lives, and instead started buying the muscle meat-only portions of food (as opposed to using the bones, cartilage, organs, and other parts of the whole animal) and started speeding up our cooking processes with prepackaged ingredients and junk foods. That is our new normal and we’re not better off for it.
So let’s get into the science of bone broth and why we ABSOLUTELY need to make it a bigger part of our lives.
What nutrients are present in bone broth?
Collagen is the most abundant protein in the body (2) and is plentiful in bone broth.
It is a vital protein that contains 19 amino acids, many of which we can only obtain via food, which is why they’re called essential amino acids.
Collagen is crucial for the structure, integrity, and health of our connective tissues, from our bones to our joints to our skin to our hair to our nails to our brain and nerves.
Glucosamine and hyaluronic acid are glycosaminoglycans (both found in bone broth) that are very important components of cartilage in our joints.
Glycosaminoglycans are made up of linear polymers of amino sugars and uronic acid (3).
They are highly polar (which means they attract a lot of water to themselves) and this makes them the shock absorbers of cartilage, as well as lubricants for our joints and for the synovial fluid that surrounds our cartilage (4).
Proteoglycans are formed by the covalent binding of a core protein with glycosaminoglycan chains (5). Chondroitin sulfate is a proteoglycan that’s present in bone broth and is important for the tensile strength of our cartilage, tendons, ligaments, and aortic wall. It also plays an important role in neuroplasticity (6).
Proteoglycans undergo frequent breakdown and synthesis. When there’s more breakdown than synthesis, joints begin to degrade (i.e. osteoarthritis) (7). So drink your bone broth to deliver more building blocks for proteoglycan synthesis.
Bone broth is rich in important minerals/electrolytes like sodium (we need to stop cutting this out of our diets!), potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, and calcium.
These electrolytes help power our bodies to function well. Ever have an eyelid twitch or a severe calf cramp? That’s because you need more electrolytes delivered in a natural way. That means no gatorade or supplements. Just drink your bone broth.
What are the health benefits of bone broth?
Important for bone health
Don’t reach for your calcium supplement if you’re trying to combat weak and brittle bones. Collagen, the major protein found in bone broth, gives our bones elasticity (8), while calcium makes bones harder. If you overdo it with the calcium and don’t consume enough collagen, your bones are more likely to snap since they’ll have less give to them (9). We need plenty of collagen to protect our bones.
Bone broth contains high levels of of the amino acid glycine, and we can only obtain the majority of the glycine our bodies need through our food. We are most deficient in this amino acid (10), yet glycine is the most important amino acid building block of collagen in our bones and is incredibly important for the prevention and treatment of osteoarthritis (11).
Glucosamine and chondroitin, which are plentiful in bone broth are also important for relieving symptoms of joint pain (12).
Important for healthy joints
Bone broth contains bones that are rich in cartilage and this cartilage is important for joint health. Articular cartilage is the cushion between our joints to prevent the bones from rubbing up against one other, wearing them down.
Articular cartilage (such as that found in homemade bone broth) is made of chondrocyte cells that secrete the shock-absorbing extracellular matrix of the cartilage. This extracellular matrix is made up of collagen, glycosaminoglycans (such as hyaluronic acid and glucosamine), and proteoglycans (such as chondroitin sulfate). These components of cartilage are specifically critical for maintaining the integrity of joints, as well as keeping the joints lubricated and cushioned (13).
When the cartilage in our joints breaks down, nothing but the building blocks of cartilage can restore it and bone broth is the perfect remedy for such damaged and/or inflamed joints.
It makes sense that if you need to replace damaged joint tissue (a turnover process that is actually constantly occurring in our joints (14)), that you should eat joint tissue so that the building blocks are available to your body for restoration.
The collagen in bone broth even helps to soothe the pain from joint inflammation (15) and actually blocks the degradation of collagen that is a result of rheumatoid arthritis (16). Collagen can also help prevent the degradation of chondrocytes, which are important for maintaining healthy joint cartilage (17). And the chondroitin sulfate and glucosamine that’s found in bone broth is helpful for relieving pain as well as restoring function to damaged joints (18, 19). In fact, these compounds are actually as effective as the prescription drug, Celebrex, for treating affected joints (20). And the pill form is not as effective for this as having the natural, real deal, bone broth, folks (21).
Important for healthy immune system function
Bone broth contains high amounts of the amino acid glycine, which is known to be an antiseptic and can combat dangerous bacteria like H. pylori (22). Glycine is also important for fighting inflammation throughout the body by blocking the synthesis of pro-inflammatory cytokines (particles made by cells to increase immune responses/inflammation) (23, 24). Basically, glycine aids in keeping the immune system functioning properly.
Bone broth can decrease the number of migrating immune cells (specifically, neutrophils), which results in decreased inflammation (25). This may account for why you feel better after drinking warm broth when you’re under the weather.
The glycosaminoglycans and proteoglycans in bone broth can ameliorate inflammation associated with autoimmune issues. Not only does bone broth have important building blocks for helping to block inflammation associated with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), but it also may decrease inflammation associated with multiple sclerosis (MS) (26) too. The chondroitin sulfate that’s present in the extracellular matrix of our joints is also present in our neurons and actually decreases degradation of the neurons in an animal model of MS (27).
Important for a healthy gut
Our intestines are lined with tightly apposed epithelial cells that only take in properly digested particles from our intestines via their finger-like projections, called microvilli. These microvilli form the tips of the epithelial cells and face the interior of the gut. The properly digested particles enter our bloodstream to go serve their functions within our bodies.
Leaky gut occurs when the tight junctions between epithelial cells are compromised, allowing microbes and incompletely digested food particles to leak through the now weak intestinal wall lining, making their way into the bloodstream, where the immune system finds them and initiates an immune response. This results in inflammation.
When your gut allows incompletely digested food particles to pass through and into the bloodstream, you are also not getting the full nutritional benefits from your food. The reason is that before you’re able to completely break down the food to absorb it properly, the leaky gut has already allowed the passage of it into your bloodstream. This results in nutritional deficiencies, commonly seen with those who suffer from celiac disease (28).
What helps heal a leaky gut?
You already know it. It’s bone broth!
The collagen in bone broth reinforces the gut barrier, keeps bacteria infections at bay, and may help decrease inflammation due to food allergies, irritable bowel disease, and many other gastrointestinal disorders (29).
Bone broth also helps relieve indigestion and heartburn because all that glycine that is in the broth restores acid levels in the stomach to normal levels (30). This allows for easier and better digestion of food since glycine increases gastric acid levels—more gastric acid actually equates to less heartburn because your stomach can get to business digesting that food efficiently (31). It’s a shame Americans spend billions of dollars a year on medication that blocks stomach acid (32) when just the opposite is what we need for treating acid reflux. Bone broth is the cheaper and much healthier option for treating this, am I right or am I right? No side effects either.
Important for healthy skin, hair, & nails
The best skincare and haircare secret that will save you all the $$$ is that what you put IN your body is going to work SO much better than what you put ON your body.
You want healthy skin that glows? Is soft, supple, and elastic?
The only way to truly help your skin is to nourish it with the building blocks it needs to renew, replenish, and restore itself. And the only way to do that is by eating REAL food. Bone broth will deliver a punch of goodies for your skin.
Hyaluronic acid, which is a glycosaminoglycan that’s found in high concentrations in bone broth, is what draws more water to skin cells to help make our skin plump, resilient, and youthful (33). Consuming glycosaminoglycans have also been shown to reduce skin roughness and wrinkles (34).
Collagen consumption helps the skin in so many ways. It improves skin elasticity (35), protects against UV damage (36), reduces wrinkles and increases the repair of the connective tissue in the skin (37).
In other words, bone broth is anti-aging. Plain and simple.
You can use all the skincare products in the world, slather them all over your face, and it’s not going to do much of anything until you help your skin from within. It’s like a bandaid—just because the bandaid is there doesn’t mean the wound isn’t. Your body needs to heal the wound from within, using its own building blocks to grow new skin cells. Why do we have a million skincare products that we can’t stop buying? Well for as long as skincare companies can’t deliver a product that actually stops the aging process, we’re going to keep forking over our hard-earned money in hopes of finding “the one”. Sounds like a good deal for the skincare companies!
And since collagen is so important for healthy skin, you can imagine that having healthy skin on your scalp would give you stronger, healthier hair follicles, which is probably pretty important if you are looking to get thick locks of beautiful hair and want to prevent thinning.
In addition to this, collagen is rich in the amino acid proline, which is the main component for the production of keratin—the protein from which our hair and nails are made (38).
I’ve been drinking bone broth pretty often over the past 6 months and have noticed that my hair and nails are growing incredibly rapidly. It makes sense since I’ve been providing my body with the building blocks it needs to synthesize more keratin.
Important for replenishing the body’s electrolytes
Electrolytes are simply minerals that are dissolved in the fluids of our bodies, making them positively or negatively charged ions.
Bone broth is plentiful in electrolytes that include calcium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, zinc, and magnesium.
If you take calcium pills, my own experience with them may be of some interest to you. When I was in college, I used to get intense muscle spasms in my calf (AKA charlie horse) and they happened everyday, multiple times a day. I knew I was depleting my calcium stores because I was on a specific medication that is known to do so (it was a corticosteroid anti-inflammatory to help treat my rheumatoid arthritis). I started taking ALL the calcium supplements, including drinking liquid calcium supplements, since it’s supposed to be better absorbed this way. None of that worked. At all. My calves just wouldn’t let up. And the science shows that calcium supplements do NOT work and they actually double your risk of a heart attack (43)! YIKES.
One evening while eating some chicken that my mother had prepared for dinner, I had this sudden urge and craving to eat the ends of the chicken leg bone. So I did. The next day, NO charlie horse! At all! So I continued to get my calcium this old fashioned way of consuming bones and my calf spasms completely disappeared. Everyone would always toss me their old chicken bones after they’ve eaten all the meat (so weird, right?). While I don’t really chomp on chicken leg bones anymore, I rely on bone broth for my calcium. It’s the natural and healthy way to get it in, without worrying about the risks of supplementation.
What are the best bones to use for bone broth?
Grass-fed, organic bones are the best bones to use for bone broth because those cows are on the pasture, eating what is natural to their diet and therefore, they supply you with the most nutrient-dense meat and bones you can find.
Making sure your bones come from organic and grass-fed cows means that the food they eat isn’t sprayed with herbicides that have glyphosate in them, which may cause cancer (44). The glyphosate in the Roundup herbicide accumulates mostly in our collagen because the body can actually use glyphosate (in place of glycine) as a building block for collagen (45). It’s true— “you are what you eat eats” -Michael Pollan.
How do you make the best and easiest bone broth?
Bone broth is the foundation of many traditional and beloved Persian dishes. And the same few ingredients go into the preparation of these bone broths: Meaty bones, plenty of chopped onion, turmeric powder, and some salt and pepper. That’s literally IT. It’s amazing how when you pick the right ingredients, you realize you don’t need or even want to add any more because it just confuses the flavor and dilutes it. With this simple recipe for the best bone broth, these few ingredients really let the bone broth SHIIIIIIINE! Each ingredient plays a vital role in this broth that cannot be replaced.
With this recipe for the best bone broth, you’ll end up with a rich, yet delicate, golden broth that is really addicting because it’s so extremely flavorful.
You can obviously add any other veggies or herbs you like to the pot to increase electrolytes, but they honestly don’t add any further flavor.
Some people add a tablespoon of vinegar to the pot to help extract more calcium from the bones, but I personally don’t want to get more calcium than necessary, as I don’t believe it to be particularly healthy. The process of cooking the bones for a long time already leeches plenty of calcium from the bones and if you drink bone broth regularly, it’s important to consider this.
In addition, vinegar is not added to any traditional Persian bone broths and I always err on the side of ancestral knowledge when it comes to nutrition and health, as the science usually ends up corroborating tradition.
So this is how it’s done:
- Add onions, meaty/cartilaginous bones, turmeric, sea salt, and black pepper to a large pot. Add enough water to just cover the bones and bring it to a boil. Once boiled, skim the scum that may have risen to the top. This is optional but some believe it to be helpful in keeping the taste pure. Sometimes I do it and sometimes I don’t. Totally up to you.
2. If you’re using a pressure cooker like an InstantPot, put it on the pressure cooker setting on high for 3 hours and allow the pressure to naturally release when it’s done.
If using a regular pot over the stove, let it simmer for 12-16 hours.
If using a slow-cooker, let it simmer for 12-16 hours.
3. Once it’s done, just strain it and you’ve got yourself the healthiest, tastiest, and definitely the EASIEST bone broth in the world.
The BEST (and Most Simple) Bone Broth Recipe + Bone Broth Benefits
- 2 onions, chopped if very large, use only 1
- 3-4 pounds beef bones that have cartilage and some meat on them i.e. knuckle bones, shank bones, oxtail, rib bones, femur bones
- 1 tablespoon turmeric powder
- 1 tablespoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- Add all ingredients to a large pot (or pressure cooker) and add enough water to just cover the bones. Let it boil and once it boils, turn it off so you can skim any scum that may have surfaced. (This is optional but some believe it to be helpful in keeping the taste pure. Sometimes I do it and sometimes I don't. Totally up to you.)
- If using pressure cooker like InstantPot, put it on the pressure cooker setting on high for 3 hours and allow the pressure to naturally release when it's done. If using a regular pot over the stove, let it simmer for 12-16 hours.If using a slow-cooker, let it simmer for 12-16 hours.
- Strain the cooked broth to keep the liquid gold you've just made.