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Bone broth benefits so many people following a gluten-free diet and/or who suffer from digestive distress.
In fact, I think many experts agree that bone broth can be a healing tonic for digestive distress and inflammation. This is why I wanted to feature not only the bone broth benefits on my blog this month, but also I want to share my delicious, nutrient-dense bone broth recipe with you too.
In this article, I will:
- Discuss a few bone broth benefits
- Share with you why I decided to make bone broth a regular part of my gluten-free diet
- Give you my delicious bone broth recipe
Bone Broth Benefits
(1) Mineral & Protein Rich
Bone broth is rich in minerals that your body can easily absorb such as calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium. Bone broth also is a great source for protein. It offers 19 easily absorbed essential and nonessential amino acids.
(2) Heals gut and reduces intestinal inflammation
Bone broth benefits to your gut too. The collagen in bone broth works to restore and strengthen your gut lining, helping prevent leaky gut and combat food intolerances and allergies. Second, bone broth soothes the digestive system unlike other foods that inflame your digestive tract. And third, the gelatin-rich bone broth promotes the growth of beneficial bacteria in your gut, which is essential for good health. Simply put, bone broth is the perfect natural healing tonic for those of us suffering from any sort of digestive distress like celiac disease, leaky gut, irritable bowel syndrome, etc.
(3) Gives Immune System a Boost
Bone broths also benefits your immune system. When you heal and strengthen your gut, you naturally feel better. Studies show that bone broths successfully reduce inflammation in the respiratory system, thereby enabling you to heal from the common cold more quickly. Grandma was right, homemade chicken soup does have healing powers!
(4) Restores Cartilage & Bone Density
Another bone broth benefit is that it contains collagen, which is needed to help keep our joints healthy. As we age, the collagen in our joints crumple so much so that we begin to experience pain and inflammation in the joints. Bone broth restores collagen to your joints. Furthermore, bone broth is a great source of glucosamine, which reduces inflammation and joint pain. Many people take pricey glucosamine supplements to relieve joint pain and inflammation, but you can get it naturally by sipping on bone broth! Bone broth also contains gelatin. Think of gelatin as the cushion between bones that helps your joints move without painful friction – it is perfect for anyone suffering from any sort of joint pain (arthritis, gout, etc.).
(5) Maintains Healthy Skin
The collagen in bone broth benefits your skin and helps it maintain its youthful tone, texture and appearance by decreasing wrinkles and other signs of aging. Some research suggests the collagen in bone broth can also decrease cellulite.
(6) Gives You Energy
Amino acids found in bone broth benefits us by helping us maintain our muscle tissue, protect us from skeletal muscle loss and help us maintain energy by sending nutrients to our cells. Bone broth also contributes to your overall health, which will naturally give you the energy boost you need to get through the day.
We are exposed to a variety of environmental toxins through the air we breathe and the food we consume. When our bodies are flooded with toxic exposure, it has a hard time keeping up. That’s where bone broth can help. The glycine in bone broth detoxifies your cells, working as antioxidant to repair oxidative stress in your body. Bone broth is a powerful detoxifying agent because it helps to expel waste and remove toxins from your body.
Wow, as you can see, bone broth benefits so many parts of our body and promises to vastly improve our overall health!
Why I Turned to Bone Broth
This last year, I’ve felt the best I’ve ever felt. My digestive distress finally felt under control and I rarely felt bloated and gassy.
But despite feeling my best, I’ve still had my fair share of health challenges that started when I decided to go off birth control. It struck me that I had been on synthetic hormones for 20 years (minus the few years I was pregnant or nursing). Twenty years!!! It was definitely time to go off of birth control and work towards regulating my hormones and healing my body. (Plus, I learned that the pill can do more harm than good.)
(I highly recommend Beyond the Pill by Dr. Jolene Brighton if you want to understand how birth control increases your chances of getting an autoimmune disorder, as well as what post-birth control syndrome looks like – the struggle is real!)
So last year, on January 1, 2016, I stopped my birth control cold turkey. A few months after quitting birth control, my energy was good and I even felt less bloated and crampy. I couldn’t help but wonder if my birth control contributed to some of the inflammation in gut – I don’t know for sure, but I do know I feel better without it!
However, I didn’t foresee some of the other issues that would follow when I messed with my hormone levels. I started getting hormonal acne and my once-thick hair began thinning. I started to investigate what was happening to me and that’s when I realized that these things – acne and hair loss – are normal side effects to sudden hormonal changes.
Feeling defeated by my acne and thinning hair, I decided to go to my doctor to make sure nothing else was awry. She ran all sorts of tests on me – she checked my thyroid, hormone levels and vitamin levels to ensure I wasn’t missing anything that might be contributing to the acne or hair loss.
When my tests came back, I learned that I’m perfectly healthy. Everything she tested came back in the normal range – even my hormone levels! There was nothing wrong with me. My doctor said the acne and hair loss were likely explained by the changes in my hormone (what I now know is called post-birth control syndrome).
She said my body was still adjusting, and that I should be patient and allow my body time to adjust to its new normal. That’s when I realized that 20 years of hormone dependency would take more than a year for my body to normalize. I know that our bodies know how to heal themselves… and I also know they need time and space to heal.
Chinese Face Mapping Reveals Hormone Imbalance
During my holistic nutrition studies at the Institute of Integrative Nutrition, I learned about Chinese Face Mapping. Chinese Face Mapping is an ancient practice that reveals how our skin (our external organ) is deeply connected to our internal organs. When something shows up on our skin, our bodies are trying to tell us that something is going awry inside. (You can read more about Chinese Face Mapping in this article on David Wolfe’s site.)
The first site of my acne was the chin and jawline. According to Chinese Face Mapping, this is a sign of a hormonal imbalance. OK, that makes perfect sense that my hormones are out of whack since I discontinued birth control. Even though my doctor told me my hormone levels are normal, they are still different and working towards achieving a new level of balance.
The second site of my acne was my forehead. I learned that this part of the body is connected to the small intestine. This makes perfect sense because I have celiac disease, and celiac disease is very much connected to the small intestine. In fact, a biopsy of my small intestine confirmed my celiac diagnosis. Perhaps I had ingested gluten at some point unknowingly, and the acne on my forehead was a sign of that? Who knows!
Did Bone Broth Benefit Me?
Regardless of the cause of my acne, I was set on figuring out how to heal myself. I knew about the benefits of bone broths and wanted to see if bone broth could help me with my skin inflammation and hair loss. My doctor didn’t have any suggestions for me, so I was feeling pretty much on my own to figure this out…. so I turned to holistic measures.
Over the last few months, I’ve made several batches of homemade bone broth using organic chicken parts. I’ve been sipping on a cup of my bone broth daily in hopes of detoxifying my body.
Over time, my skin started to clear up and I was feeling better. I don’t know that the bone broth impacted my hair loss, but the thinning has subsided, likely as my body adjusted to its new hormone levels.
One unforeseen benefit of sipping on bone broth is that I lost a few pounds. It filled me up so much that I was skipping lunch. Perhaps the weight loss also reduced inflammation in my body… I know that a lot of people lose weight, even a little weight, and their ailments quickly clear up.
So while I can’t say for sure if bone broth is helping me with my hormonal imbalance, I do feel good drinking it. It warms me from the inside out, gives me all sorts of important nutrients that I can’t find in other foods, and is helping me maintain a healthy weight. I’m also hoping that bone broth benefits my immune system – boosting it enough to get me through the winter months without catching a cold or the flu.
How to Make Bone Broth – a Recipe!
Ok, so if you want to make some bone broth for yourself – perhaps to help you detoxify or maybe to give you an instant immunity boost (there’s nothing like good old fashioned chicken soup to help you kick that cold) – try the bone broth recipe I adapted from Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon. It’s fairly easy to make once you get the hang of it. (BTW, Nourishing Traditions is one of the most important books you’ll ever read if you’re looking to clean up your diet for good!)
In addition to the bone broth recipe below, here are a few other tips to making your bone broth adventure go well:
- Use every part of the animal you can get your hands on including the bones, marrow, skin, feet, organs, neck, head, etc. Ask your butcher to help you cut up the chicken into 8 parts (2 breasts, 2 thighs, 2 wings and 2 legs) plus the neck, giblets (organs) and feet (optional, if possible). You can use all of the chicken or just the boney pieces like the wings, legs and backbones. (HINT: At Whole Foods you can buy organic chicken backbones and neckbone for really cheap!! I now make my broth solely with backbones and necks).
- Use only organic chicken (or beef) when making my healing bone broth recipe. Don’t use a “sick” animal to help you achieve good health.
- Always cook the bone broth recipe in a large stockpot for 8-24 hours (the longer the better – I usually never cook my broth for less than 24 hours) to ensure the bones and ligaments release all the healing compounds needed to transform your health. My husband bought me a 16-quart All Clad stockpot to help me make big batches of bone broth at once. I love my stockpot and highly recommend getting a good quality, sturdy stock pot if you’re going to be making bone broth often.
- Store the finished bone broth product in pre-measured containers or zip top storage bags. You may want to use your bone broth in a soup or rice recipe that calls for two cups of broth, so pre measuring the broth before freezer storage is very helpful. I store bone broth in both zip top storage bags and these plastic soup containers that you can purchase on Amazon. These are AWESOME! (You can also reuse soup containers from Chinese take out.)
While I can’t say for sure bone broth is the cure all for acne or hair loss, I can say that it makes you feel good. And regardless of all the bone broth benefits, I firmly believe putting good stuff in your body ups your chances of feeling your best and living a long, healthy life.
So drink up and cheers! I hope you enjoy this delicious and nutritious bone broth recipe!
Gluten-Free Bone Broth
- 2-3 lbs. chicken bones (backbone, neckbone, wings, legs, etc.)
- Gizzards from one chicken (optional)
- Feet from chicken (optional)
- About 4 quarts cold filtered water
- 2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
- 1 large onion, coarsely chopped
- 2 carrots, leave peels on and coarsely chopped
- 2 celery sticks, coarsely chopped
- 1 bunch parsley
- 2-inch ginger or tumeric root (optional)
- Sea salt or Kosher salt to taste
- Cut chicken into several parts (ask butcher to cut a whole chicken into 8 parts + neck, gizzards and feet – if possible).
- Place boney chicken pieces in large stainless steel pot with water, vinegar and all vegetables except parsley.
- Bring mixture to a boil and remove scum that rises to the top.
- Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 8-24 hours. The longer you cook the stock, the richer and more flavorful it will be. Remember to simmer your broth - it should always be at a rolling boil.
- About 1 hour before finishing the stock, add parsley. This will impart additional mineral ions into the broth.
- Remove large chicken pieces with a slotted spoon (if there is meat on the bone, remove and use the meat for other dishes).
- Strain the stock into a large bowl and reserve in your refrigerator until fat rises to the top and congeals - usually overnight.
- Skim off the fat (and discard) and reserve the stock in covered containers in your refrigerator or freezer.