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The Healing Benefits of Broth

The Healing Benefits of Broth

“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.

brennaortnerlouisehayBroths 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

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.


Bone Broths

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.

chxbrothBone 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.

gutOur 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 BellyReally 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! 🙂


Love & brussels sprouts,



  1. Debbie says:

    Can you make the broth in a crock pot?

    • Brenna says:

      I don’t see why not! 🙂 I haven’t tried it myself, let me know how it goes.

      • I always make my bone broths in the crock pot!! After I cook a whole chicken in the crock pot, I let it cool enough to get all the meat off, keep the carcass (along with all the juices from when the chicken was cooking) in the crock pot with vegetables and some water and turn it on overnight. In the morning I strain it and throw it in the fridge to use in whatever during the week! There’s so much gelatin/ collagen that it turns completely solid! And it is DELICIOUS!

        • Brenna Ortner says:

          Thanks for that information Kim! 🙂 Sounds delicious!!

          • Thanks for all of your good information!! I cannot believe how much bone broth is coming to mainstream or maybe the word is returning to mainstream. People like Louise Hay, Sally Fallon, and YOU are helping us understand the benefits!

  2. debbie says:

    You didn’t mention taking off the fat after refrigerating it. Do you use it with the fat?

    • Brenna says:

      Hi Debbie,

      Great question! Half of the research shows to discard the fat and half shows to keep it. I’ve decided to throw out the fat, simply because my 94 year old Italian grandmother told me to.

      Ultimately I would leave that decision up to you. If you are simmering for under 12 hours and using the highest quality foods, the fat can be really beneficial; however, if boiling for more like 24 – 48 hours the fat can go rancid. Hope that helps!

  3. HomemadE Broth/Stock can be used as the liquid in making soups, stews, gravies, sauces, and reductions. It can also be used to saute or roast vegetables.Especially in the fall and winter, we try to drink at least 1 cup per person per day as a health boost. My favorite way is to heat 8-16 ounces with a little salt and sometimes whisk in an egg until cooked (makes a soup like egg-drop soup).

  4. Tamara Keyes says:

    If you are simmering for 24 hrs are you constantly adding water?

    • Brenna says:

      Hi Tamara,

      I keep the lid on so not too much evaporates. I’d say I only add 18 oz or so during the process. 🙂


  5. Carla says:

    How do you simmer 24 hours without using a crock pot. Do you simmer all day refrigerate over night then the next morning start simmering again to make 24 hrs?

    • Brenna says:

      I leave it very low overnight where it’s barely a simmer and turn back up in the morning. If you’re not comfortable doing that just start right when you wake up and finish that night. 12 hours is really good too!

  6. Theresa says:

    What about using a pressure cooker?

    • Brenna says:

      I’m not sure about a pressure cooker Theresa, but I would imagine it would work. Give it a try!

  7. michele says:

    hi there,
    I felt the same about my grandmother’s chicken soup, which we had every sunday. when I started cooking for my family, and tried to make soup it just wasn’t the same. what my gram told me is that the most important thing is “an old hen.” she would go to a special butcher and get chickens that were several years old, and according to her, had more fat, which was the healing ingredient for colds. i think she was right, and i’ve never seen a recipe suggest this. thought i’d share in honor of my sweet nanny, who died last year at 97, and never took a med until she was 94!

    • Brenna says:

      That’s so interesting, thank you for sharing! I’ll have to try and find an old hen for my next batch. 🙂 I will be sure to think of your sweet nanny and love that you shared in honor of her. <3

  8. Thanks! Very interesting! Especially the bit on bone broth as a restorative for leaky gut. This is especially important for rheumatoid arthritis and other degenerative diseases of the musculoskeletal system. Good point of always going organic. Same goes for the veggies. As you say, “Boiling pulls everything out”

  9. Derek John Thomas says:

    I have been living in South Korea for several years, and it’s pretty difficult to find things other than popular cuts of meat in grocery stores these days. Small butchers have slowly been disappearing as well. I’ve been pondering the broth thing. There is a kind of traditional bone broth soup that is made in many restaurants here. It is made from cow joints only, and it’s boiled for a minimum of 24 hours. It’s pure white because it has no vegetables or meat, and when chilled it’s like a very thik pudding, the thing I’m curious about is if it’s as helpful without the vegetables. It’s almost flavorless, almost like a very mild slightly oily creamer?

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