In recent years there has been a huge resurgence in acknowledging the health benefits associated with consuming bone broth. Suddenly we can buy pouches of 24 hour simmered bone broth, dehydrated bone broth that we can drink instead of coffee. Of course some cultures have done this for centuries to help with illness and nourish in times of scarcity. The Matzo ball soup is often referred as “Jewish Penicillin”. As a child if I was sick with a cold my Nonna would make me a pot of chicken soup. She would use a whole boiler chicken and some extra wings and simmer it all day. I am sure that in times of hardship this was the only medicine they had, simple soup and get some rest. When I see a pouch of bone broth for $15.00 I can’t help to think of my late Nonna and how she would have a fit if she knew how much people are willing to pay for a bit of “brodo”.
My homemade bone broth makes an appearance in many of my meals including: pasta sauce, curries, soups, roast chicken, noodle soup, risotto, paella, braises and casseroles. Once you get into the habit of making your own you will rarely buy cheap premade stocks again. In doing so you avoid irritating additives such as hydrolysed vegetable and meat proteins, soy protein and excessive salt.
As the winter chills are truly setting in right now in Sydney, I encourage everyone to get their stock pots out and boil up some good stock. It will keep your family nourished, happy and healthy throughout the winter.
NUTRITIONAL PROFILE OF BONE BROTH:
Bone broth is rich in essential amino acids, these are the amino acids our body doesn’t make itself and may not be supplied adequately in the diet. The amino acids present in bone broth are:
Proline: is required for collagen synthesis, this helps the body rebuild cartilage, connective tissues, hair, skin and nails.
Glycine: is required for DNA/RNA expression, glycine may support genetic mutations and auto-immune diseases. Glycine also supports blood sugar stabilisation.
Arginine: supports healthy kidney function, healthy arteries and wound healing.
Glutamine: is often associated with being the brains amino acid due its role in the brain/gut axis. It is used to heal the intestine, reducing permeability otherwise known as “leaky gut”.
BONE BROTH THE GUT AND IMMUNE HEALTH
How something as simple as bone broth can support immune function is really interesting. The high content of glutamine, arginine, and proline work together to support the integrity of the gut lining. Glycine supports our immune function by supporting healthy DNA/RNA replication.
Our small intestine plays host to our immune cells, in times of sickness our intestine works hard to protect our whole body from pathogens. However, if the intestinal lining is damaged it cannot secrete the immune cells and nutrient absorbency is compromised. The intestine needs its protective villi to function, this is the microscopic carpet like surface that lines the mucosal walls.
Without the villi the intestine becomes permeable and absorbency is compromised. In the process, the intestines essential microbiome is depleted. As a result,the immune response is weakened and we get sick. This is why people with intestinal diseases such as Crohn’s and unmanaged Ceoliac’s disease will suffer with poor immunity. For everyone else we can strengthen our bodies innate immunity by supporting our gut health. (3)
As it is now well documented the damage that antibiotic therapy has on the intestine, we can see how relying on antibiotics may reduce our innate immune response. It makes good sense before we rush to take a prescription to use some age old remedies first. In doing so we may support our immune system for the long term.
BONE BROTH AND MENTAL HEALTH
A major study that involved implementing a diet called the “Gut Makeover”, made participants follow a diet that supported gut health. Nearly all subjects found a reduction in symptoms of stress and anxiety.
As our gut is anatomically referred to as our second brain. The brain and the small intestine communicate via the vagus nerve. (1) Bone broth is the foundation of the GAPS diet developed by Natasha McBride. The GAPS (Gut and Psychology Syndrome) diet was developed to support children with autism spectrum disorders to heal their gut and reduce some of the symptoms and complications they experience.
In times of stress, anxiety and depression, it makes good sense to care for our gut. This is not to trivialise the complexity of mental illness, but if we take time to nourish and care for our gut in tough times we may come out the other end a healthier being.
BONE BROTH SIDE EFFECTS
It appears to be the trend of our modern adaptation. We realise that the old traditions are what we have neglected, then we use them to the point of excess. Some people may find that they react to bone broth. So how does something so good make some people feel ill?
Bone broth that has been reduced for 24 hours is incredibly high in histamines. For people who suffer histamine intolerance (HIT), they will find that they will get headaches and sinus symptoms. It may also create a disturbing amount of flatulence.
Highly gelatinous bone broth is also high in glutamate, yes like MSG, but naturally occurring. So people who have sensitivities to MSG, will experience similar symptoms.
My advice is to start with a stock, reduced no more than 3-6 hours and work your tolerance gradually. As you heal your gut and reduce your immune sensitivities you should be able to tolerate a more reduced broth.
Don’t rule out making a good fish broth, it doesn’t contain any glutamate and is lower in histamines. It makes a delicious base for bouillabaisse, chowder, noodle soups and marinara sauce.
SLOW COOKER CHICKEN BONE BROTH
I am about to reveal to you the easiest way to make nutrient dense bone broth, it involves using a slow cooker. I personally would not leave anything on my gas stove for 12 hours plus, I will happily use my slow cooker instead. Slow cookers are safe, just set and forget. While you are sleeping, working or playing your slow cooker is creating rich gelatinous stock. It a simple and inexpensive way to make your own bone broth. Remember to freeze portions so you always have stock on hand.
5 litres of water
1.5 kilos of boney chicken pieces (necks, legs and wings)
6 chicken feet
1 onion halved
12 garlic cloves
4 bay leaves
2 celery sticks chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 handfuls of flat leaf parley
1 tablespoon of celtic sea salt
1 teaspoon of peppercorns
1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar
*Optional inclusions: I suggest a ½ cup of sliced turmeric, ½ cup of sliced ginger, kaffir lime leaves and a stick of lemongrass. These aromatics give a wonderful Asian infusion to your stock. It makes a wonderful base for curries, Pho, tom yum and other Asian dishes.
Soak chicken for an hour in cold water, this helps draw out the nutrients. Place all ingredients in the slow cooker and set for 12 hours. Depending on the cooker you may choose slow or medium. Stock should reduce by about 5 cm from the original quantity. What is important is when it cools it resembles a gelatinous, blobby stock.
If you are sensitive to bone broth I recommend cooking this broth on the stove for only 3 hours. You can reassess your tolerance gradually building up to more reduced stock.
If you prefer beef, lamb or even fish just replace the chicken with your choice of protein