“Food is the most intimate thing you can buy…Unlike clothes and shoes that dress the outside, food goes into your body and builds who you become.” – Ani Phyo
There is something about my Italian grandmother’s chicken noodle soup. I could eat an entire pot in one sitting. My body feels like it is getting some magical nutrient. Something only the love from an Italian grandmother could provide. This soup is so different, so nourishing, and I finally realized why.
The broth is homemade. Such a simple revelation, but so powerful. The taste of homemade broth is unparalleled by anything else. How many of us today actually make homemade broth? The tally is most likely small. The tally of home cooking at all is most likely small. I started to learn about the power of broth (bone broth in particular) through the book Gut and Psychology Syndrome. The nutrient power of broths for immune health, brain health, digestive health and joint health (not to mention skin, nails, wrinkles and cellulite) really leaves me asking what it doesn’t do, and why this information isn’t more well known.
Broths have been a staple in our lives for thousands of years. Until about 100 years ago we used broths for just about everything; soups, gravies, stews, reductions, sauces, etc. So why did we stop? MSG came along and gave us a quick, artificial way to add that rich flavor into our food. Broths were packaged for quick use, bouillon cubes for extra flavor, and the slow art (and healing power) of broths started to fade away.
Louise Hay & I talking bone broths over dinner 😀 –>
Vegetable broths are amazingly mineralizing and alkalizing. When I have a bunch of veggies about to go bad that I just can’t let go to waste, I chop them up and let simmer for 4-24 hours, strain and freeze, and I have vegetable broth for months. My favorite way to use this broth is when I cook quinoa, instead of water I use this nutrient dense broth. Vegetable broth is amazing as a base for sauces, soups, or just to drink down on its own. They are also frequently incorporated into cleanses, giving your body a power house of minerals in every cup.
Typical vegetables used in broths:
Onion. Garlic. Celery. Carrot. <- My go to.
Potato. Mushroom. Bay Leaves. Thyme. Rosemary. Any veggie scraps at all can be thrown in if you plan to strain.
While I love vegetable broths, for those that eat meat, bone broths are the focus is in the GAPS (Gut & Psychology Syndrome) meal plan. The process consists of boiling all of the same veggies as the veggie broth, along with bones and joints from a healthy animal: beef, bison, lamb, poultry, fish, whatever it is you like to eat. To be fully transparent, at first I was a little grossed out. I’m not a big meat eater, so buying and cooking the bones was a bit much, but after sipping my first broth, memories of that special nutrient my grandmother provided came right back. I knew this was a gold mine for my body. When I shared the information with my mom, she said every time she went to visit her grandparents they had a bone broth on the stove. Of course they did.
Bone broths are high in calcium, magnesium and phosphorus. They come highly recommended for women during pregnancy. When boiling the bones we pull out minerals and collagen that is inside of the bone, along with bone marrow. What could be more perfect for bone and tooth health than what is coming from a bone. The collagen that comes from the joints of the animal is used in our body the same way that collagen we produce would be used: filling out wrinkles and cellulite, lubricating joints, all from the inside. What I really find the most powerful is that bone broths plug up the holes and heal leaky gut.
What is leaky gut? Over time our guts have become extremely permeable. Our gut should act like a screen door, letting just the nutrients into the body. For various reasons (antibiotics, candida overgrowth, high sugar and low fermented food diets) the bad bacteria in our guts have taken over and we develop these holes in our gut. This is like a big hole in a screen door letting all the bugs in. Our body then attacks anything that comes through those holes and into our system because these food proteins shouldn’t be in our blood stream, which then causes bloating and inflammation.
A note on antibiotics. Just in the past month I’ve had two clients who came to me after taking courses of antibiotics. One now has frozen muscles and tendons and the other developed an allergy to the antibiotic and can never take it again. While antibiotics are nothing short of amazing and saving lives, we have to question how often we are taking them and acknowledge that they wipe out the bad bacteria as well as the good. As I mentioned, this is just one of the causes of a leaky gut, or a gut with holes.
As Dr. Mark Hyman explains, ‘Leaky gut can cause irritable bowel, joint pain, fatigue, cognitive problems, depression, allergies, congestions and rashes like eczema.’
When making a bone broth, the collagen pulled from the joints plugs up these gut holes, allowing good bacteria to grow and populate, lowering inflammation, easing digestion, and allowing nutrients to be absorbed and toxic waste to release instead of floating back into our body. Bone broth also nourishes our bodies with the amino acid glycine. The liver, which detoxifies our bodies, can only detoxify when it has this amino acid available.
Our gut houses our immune system and has over 100 million neurons, more than the number of nerve cells in the spinal cord. The article titled The Future of Psychiatry May be Inside Your Stomach explains in detail the connection between our gut and our health, our gut and our mind, our gut and our behaviors or diseases.
This has been known and studied for decades. The Institute for the Psychology of Eating also details how the Gut is the Brain in our Belly. Really drills home why what we put into our gut is so important.
Vegans and vegetarians, you can absolutely heal those holes as well. High probiotic rich foods (like these), glutamine, evening primrose oil, omega 3 fats, zinc and Vit A all help repair the gut. Turmeric is also a fantastic spice that reduces inflammation and heals a leaky gut.
How to Make Bone Broth
A starter bone broth is a chicken broth and an advanced bone broth is made with bigger bones and joints of a larger animal, like bison, deer, cow, etc. I label them as starter and advanced because the bone broth is very rich, so getting your body used to a chicken broth is a nice way to ease in. Plugging up those gut walls too quickly can result in die-off of bad bacteria and a bit of nausea. I typically have two cups per week. Broths have also been shown to lower the need for protein in the body, so we use more of the animal and less animals overall.
I HIGHLY discourage making broths with conventional bones. In fact, I think you are causing more harm than not having the broth at all. The animal must be the highest quality (healthy, free roaming in the sun, grass-fed) that you can find. Boiling pulls everything out of the bones, including toxins, antibiotics, hormones, etc of conventionally raised animals. Find pasture raised, humane raised animals, only the highest quality you can find.
Your best bet is a local butcher or local farm where you can ask them questions. I also love Miller’s Organic Farm which will ship you the bones.
5 gallon pot (or bigger!)
2 big bones & 1 big joint (if chicken broth substitute with 1 or 2 chicken carcasses)*
2 tbspns apple cidar vinegar or lemon juice
1 large onion chopped
½ – 1 head of garlic
3 large carrots
3-5 large celery stalks
herbs & spices
celtic sea salt & pepper
Bring the pot to a boil and then simmer to where it bubbles every 3 seconds or so. The mixture can boil anywhere from 4 hours –48 hours.
Check the pot the first hour and skim off any impurities that have risen to the top.
Any bones with marrow make sure to scoop the marrow out at the very end and let dissolve in the soup.
I typically simmer my broths for 24 hours, let cool, strain and either refrigerate or freeze.
For chicken I roast the chicken beforehand, take off all of the meat and either eat it or add it back in to make a chicken soup.
Fast Fact: Broths are mineralizing, alkalizing, and can help to repair the gut lining which eases joint pain, inflammation, ezcema, digestive issues, smooths fine lines, cellulite, builds strong bones, hair and nails. In my opinion, the biggest benefit of broths, is that they bring you back to your roots and force you to slow down.
Action: Make a vegetable or bone broth at home and use it as a base in soups, gravies, stews, or in place of water for a richer flavor in any recipe. The longer you let it simmer, the better. Enjoy! 🙂