The reasons why
‘chicken soup is good for the soul’
Research actually shows that it might lengthen it via suppression of white blood cell movement, but the same study also suggests that chicken soup – the “grandma’s recipe” in this study included chicken, onions, sweet potatoes, parsnips, turnips, carrots, celery stems, parsley, salt and pepper – may contain a number of substances with beneficial medicinal activity.
Bone broth is even better than chicken soup
According to researcher and author Sally Fallon Morell, President of the Weston A. Price Foundation, bone broth is essential for the prevention — and possibly even the cure — of diseases like osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, scleroderma, psoriasis, cancer, colitis, and other digestive disorders and its use in anti-aging and sports medicine. (3)
As reported by Donna Gates, author of Body Ecology, bone broth not only cures leaky gut syndrome, but also makes skin supple and can decrease cellulite. (4)
Both science and ancestral traditions agree that bone broth is highly nourishing depending upon:
- Diet and lifestyle of the animal, bird, or fish
- Its age and overall health
- Processing and cooking methods
- Choice of included vegetables, herbs, and additional ingredients
Bone broth, being rich of collagen, cartilage, bone, and marrow, gives the body “the right stuff” to rebuild and rejuvenate. Its components also include vitamins and minerals, and besides the conditionally essential amino acids discussed above, contains healing “essential” sugars known as proteoglycans.(*)
Gelatine and collagen
Bone broth main functional components are gelatin and collagen. Collagen is the protein found in connective tissue of vertebrate animals. Almost 35% of our body protein is collagen, the word comes from the Greek kolla=glue. In fact, just like glue, collagen literally holds the body together. It is found copiously in bone, marrow, cartilage, tendons, and ligaments. Gelatin is the product of collagen breakdown in bone broth. (7)
Studies suggest collagen is even more important than calcium and other minerals for building strong flexible bones and preventing osteopenia and osteoporosis. Indeed, collagen is the likeliest reason bone broth supports bone health. Measured levels of calcium and trace minerals are low in bone broth, but being easily assimilated, it holds the right ratios for bone building. Studies have proved collagen, hence bone broth, to be superior to calcium supplementation when it comes to successfully manage and even cure both osteoarthritis and osteoporosis. (8)
Strangely enough, when compared to other sources, bone broth calcium levels are low(**) and additional calcium conteining foods will be needed even when consuming bone broth daily. Besides calcium and magnesium, it contains phosphorus, silicon, sulphur and others trace minerals in a form that the body can easily absorb.
While undergoing radiation treatment, the doctors at the Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center urged me to stop taking my calcium supplements. New research studies were showing that calcium supplementation has harmful effects on cardiovascular health, (14) while borum, often combined with it for bone health, greatly reduced Sex-Hormone Binding Globulin (SHBG) that testosterone, and other hormones need to circulate in the blood stream. (9)
In their book “Nourishing Broth”, Sally Fallon Morrel and Kaayla Daniel, explain how the abundance of collagen in all types of bone broth promotes heart health through strong and supple arteries, vision with healthy corneas, digestion through gut healing, and overall disease prevention via immune system modulation. While deficiencies in collagen and other nutrients causes brittle hair and nails, underdeveloped musculature, premature skin aging, osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, gut disorders, and autoimmune disease. All of them can be remedied with the help of genuine old- fashioned bone broth. Furthermore, broth even contributes to emotional stability and a positive mental attitude.
Our ancestor consumed bone marrow every time an animal was caught and butchered for good reasons, as it seems to contain the right ingredients for healing and rejuvenation.
Few people realize that marrow is one of the largest organs in the human body, and most importantly a primary lymphatic organ. Humane bone marrow contains a small amount of lipids, in the form of many different forms of choline of which a large amount is constituted by lecithin, and a small amount by phosphatidylethanolamine (PE) and phosphatidylserine (PS).
These are extremely important, because they are vital to nervous system function. They are found heavily in the white matter of the brain, nerves, neural tissue, and the spinal cord. PS is known to improve brain function and mental acuity.
Consumig bone broth regularly allows cut backs on the amount complete protein we would otherwise need to eat. Consuming large quantities of steaks, chops and other muscle meats as recommended on many diet plans, can cause premature aging through a process of methylation at a cellular level.
When our body absorbs gelatin rich broth the amount of complete protein it needs diminishes. Consequently it can help reduce the strain on the digestive system, diminishing the need to consume large amounts of muscle meat, and can copiously lower the chances of the cell damaging methylation. (10)
The Weston A. Price Foundation reiterates the importance of bone broth as a healing food for convalescents, because it helps prevent unwanted weight loss and loss of muscle which occurs when the body goes out of nitrogen balance and cannibalizes the protein stored in its own muscles.
Collagen — as well as gelatin- rich bone broth—contains limited amounts of amino acids, like low histidine, tyrosine, cysteine, and tryptophan is completely missing. Consequently, the ideal way to consume bone broth is in the form of soups and stews that also include other high – quality animal products such as fish, meat, organ meats, poultry, eggs, or dairy, or in sauces and gravies on meat and fish. (11)
It is important to use only grass-fed, organic and non-GMO products, to avoid toxicity and get the full benefits of both healthy animal and vegetable products. Studies conducted in the United Kingdom have shown dangerous amounts of lead in broth made with non-organic chicken.
Get to know your local butcher. Lately, mine has become my best friend, because it’s not always easy to find good quality meats and a varity of bones. You need somebody you can trust.
A good solution, especially in big cities is to subscribe to a CSA (Community-supported agriculture), and even buy a share on a whole animal while is still out in pasture makes a lot of sense. Two or more families can do this together or you could partner with family or friends. To find local CSAs in your area go to the Local Harvest website. The Weston A. Price Foundation website lists leaders of its local chapters nationwide. They wil help you find locally-grown organic and biodynamic vegetables, fruits and grains; and milk products, butter, eggs, chicken and meat from pasture-fed animals.
My own Version
My favorite mix:
- 1 beef knucklebone, tendons and some fat attached – split
- 3-4 beef marrow bones
- 4 chicken wings
- 1 pig foot – split
- 2 turkey necks
- 1 chicken back
- 1 large onion, not peeled but with the jacket
- 2 large Carrot
- 3-4 Celery stalks/or a small celery root
- 1 warming root vegetable, either parsnip or beet
- 1 piece of horseradish root – my favorite when available
- 1 piece of kombu seaweed, about 5 finger long, for iodine
- few pieces of dried organic reishi mushrooms, for added immune power
I also add any withered vegetables sitting in the fridge.
Spices might include:
- Bay leaves
- Black pepper corns
- Red chili pepper (I like chipotle)
- Fresh Rosemary
- Fresh Sage
- Whole fenugreek seeds
- Whole cumin seeds
- Whole clove
- Piece of turmeric, or powder
- Allspice berries
- Fresh parsley
Rules of thumb & tips
to obtain better gelatin and collagen in the broth:
- Beef, lamb, pork bones can simmer up to 48 hours,
- birds 8 -12 hours
- Fish 5 hours
- Longer simmers shortens collagen molecules, will not yield solid gelatin
- Let any additional piece of meat simmer only about 2-3 hours, until it starts falling off the bone
- I brown additional meat in some bacon fat, ghee or extra virgin raw coconut oil.
- Separate meat and bones, and put back the bones into the pot to simmer for additional time
- Green vegetables should be added about one hour before turning the burner off
- Fresh mushrooms 1/2 hour
- Dried shitake, reishi, maitake or any medicinal mushroom can be boiled up to 72 hours. They require longer simmers in order to get all the medicinal constituents out
- Spices, add 1/2 before turning the burner off
- Garlic looses all of its powerful medicinal components once cooked. Add it minced after you remove from fire or before drinking it to get its benefits
- You need to add some acid, either vinegar or lemon to the water
- let the bone soack for 1/2 in cold water with two tablespons of vinegar or lemon
- Always add bones to cold water – never after it starts boiling
- Roasted bones will produce a tastier broth
- roasted vegetables too
- refrigerated broth will be good for up to a week
- Frozen 3 months
- If you canned it in sterilized can jars when hot, will keep in the fridge much longer
You want your broth to gel solid when cold. Longer simmers than what is specified above, will create shorter collagen molecules that will not yield solid gelatin.
Add meat, bones, and feet to the pot (pot should be filled with the bones), cover all with filtered water. Add 2 tablespoons of organic raw apple cider vinegar to the water. and let it soak with the bones 1/2 hour before turning on the stove. When it starts simmering, skim off foam and scum, then add the vegetables.
It should never be a rolling boil. After it starts boiling turn the burner down to simmer. The simmering needs to be barely visible. You might want to add a spacer between the pot and the burner. Remove any impurities, foam or scum as they surface. Grass-fed organic bones usually produce little to none. Periodically, add water to bring the broth back to level.
When cold, even before refrigeration bone broth should have a solid gelatinous consistency. Once refrigerated you can remove the fat solids for better taste. I like to keep some of the fat in my broth. I use a wisk to emulsify it into the broth before drink it.
I let it simmer during the day, about 8-12 hrs, or keep track of time during the night if needs to simmer some more. Remember, longer simmers yeld more out of the bones, but do not let go over the times listed above or you will loose the gelatin-collagen benefits.
Save bones from your roasted chicken, osso buco, steaks, backribs dishes, etc. refrigerate them or freeze them, then add them to your broth. Always include some bones for marrow in your broth. Chicken skin, heads and wings – if you can find them – make excellent broth. So do lamb necks, and heads, cows feet, pork jowls, skins, ears and tails – lots of collagen. Veal tracheas have a lot of good collagen as well, but they are not easy to find.
It is better to use an enameled pot, a Dutch oven, a large earthenware or a stainless steel one. I do suggest the use of an iron or aluminum pot, because the vinegar might increase leaching of metal into the broth.
Traditionally, chefs and cooks develop a signature broth that is used as stock in most of their recipes.
I started using broth almost daily in my cooking, developing an eclectic number of delicious meals. Bone broth makes delicious both hot and cold soups. I like to make it into pudding adding eggs and raw coconut flour. I even revived two of my mother favorites, eggdropp soup with spinach, and a solid gelatin dish, a veggie meat mix she use to prepare with her broth leftovers.
When drinking it straight I like to dilute it with canned whole fat coconut milk – not the fake stuff now sold in the dairy aisle.
Add a dash of paprika, or some cinnamon and I guarantee tastes even better than a morning coffee or cappucino, not to mention that saves you from the adrenal fatigue induced by caffeine use. Sometimes, to my daily cups I simply add fresh ginger, a dash of curry, turmeric, or a bit of fresh squeezed lime or lemon.
Lately, for a more complete calcium profile, I have been adding calcium citrate that I prepare myself using egg shells. In double blind studies performed in Nederland and Japan, it was proven to be one of the safest and most effective method for calcium supplementation.
The studies showed that taken this way, eggshells improve bone mineral density, without significantly increasing blood calcium levels (12) that has been deemed dangerous by the Harvard study mentioned above.
More about this later…
(*) The major biological function of proteoglycans is to provide hydration and swelling pressure to the tissue, enabling it to withstand compressional forces. Glucosamine, chondroitin sulfate, methylsulfonylmethane, and hyaluronic acid, are basically the backbone of the proteoglycans molecular structures.
(**)Studies reported the calcium content of several types of bone broth at just 5.2 to 28.6 mg per 100 cc, definitely low when compared with 119 to 128 mg calcium per 100 cc in cow’s milk . RDA for calcium is 1000 mg per day, but up to 1300 mg per day for boys and girls between nine and eighteen, for pregnant and lactating women under the age of nineteen, and 1200 mg per day for women over the age of fifty-one and men over the age of seventy-one.(13)
Joel Fuhram, Super Immunity: The Essential Nutrition Guide for Boosting Your Body’s Defenses to Live Longer, Stronger, and Disease Free. (2011)HarperCollins.
Rennard BO, Ertl RF, Gossman GL, et al. Chicken soup inhibits neutrophil chemotaxis in vitro.(2000) (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11035691)
Kaayla T. Daniel,Taking Stock: Soup for Healing Body, Mind, Mood, and Soul. (2012) (https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/naughty-nutrition/201202/taking-stock-soup-healing-body-mind-mood-and-soul)
Donna Gates, The Body Ecology Diet: Recovering Your Health and Rebuilding Your Immunity. (2011) Hay House Inc.
Terry Wahls, Eve Adamson, The Wahls Protocol: How I Beat Progressive MS Using Paleo Principles and Functional. (2014) Penguin Group US. Kindle Edition.
Kaayla T. Daniel, Research Reveals Little Calcium in Bone Broth (2014) (http://www.thehealthyhomeeconomist.com/bone-broth-calcium/)
Harvard Medical School – “High calcium intake from supplements linked to heart disease in men (2013) Harvard Health Blog (http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/high-calcium-intake-from-supplements-linked-to-heart-disease-in-men-201302065861)
Naghii MR, Mofid M, Asgari AR, Hedayati M, Daneshpour MS, -Comparative effects of daily and weekly boron supplementation on plasma steroid hormones and pro-inflammatory cytokines (2011) (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21129941)
Sally Fallon Morell and Kaayla T. Daniel (2014). Nourishing Broth: An Old-Fashioned Remedy for the Modern World. Grand Central Publishing.
Kaayla T. Daniel, “Why Broth is Beautiful: Essential Roles for Proline, Glycine and Gelatin,” (2012) Weston A. Price Foundation. ( http://www.westonaprice.org/food-features/why-broth-is-beautiful)