Bone Broth: What It Is + Why I'm Drinking It

You've undoubtedly heard the buzz about what has become a new staple in the wellness world's 'superfood index': the golden elixir that is bone broth. While there are a million articles + recipes floating around on the topic already, I wanted to hold space here on the Journal to discuss my take on the trend, as I get asked about it almost daily. 

Despite it's recent surge in popularity, bone broth is actually not a new health trend, but an ancient healing practice with roots in Chinese medicine. It's a powerful medicinal tonic that works to support digestive health, strengthen immunity, protect + repair joints, reduce inflammation, balance hormones, boost detoxification, and nourish the skin from the inside out.

The real magic of bone broth lies in it's ability to literally rebuild + strengthen our gut/digestive tract linings. A weak, "leaky" gut (which is massively more common than you'd think) is a guarantee for digestive discomfort, hormonal imbalances, mood disorders, bacteria overgrowth, troubled skin, compromised nutrient absorption, weakened immunity, chronic fatigue, autoimmune disorders, and disease onset. The gut houses 80% of our immune cells and 90% of our serotonin, making it the single most powerful determinant of our physical + mental wellbeing. Imbalances here will create imbalances everywhere. 

Among the myriad of nutrients supplied by bone broth are over 19 amino acids (which are assembled by the body to create proteins), collagen, gelatin, calcium, magnesium, potassium, and a host of other minerals, electrolytes, and chemical compounds to support stellar mind-body health. 

Though you can find pre-made broths at Whole Foods, butcher shops, farmer's markets, and cafes, I suggest making your own. It's surprisingly simple, always seems to taste better, and ends up being wildly more cost-effective. The most important aspect in the process is sourcing super high-quality, organic bones. An unhealthy, conventionally-raised animal will unfortunately yield a nutritionally-poor broth laden with chemicals + antibiotics. I have an incredible supplier in West Palm Beach that I visit weekly. 

It's important to note that bone broth is different than the majority of broths you'll find in grocery store aisles or most soups. While a simple chicken stock can be created in just a few hours, bone broth needs a minimum of 12 hours and (for a richer flavor + nutrient profile) up to 72 hours.  

I know some people are super turned-off by the idea of using and handling animal bones + carcasses (I totally get it), but it's actually a really beautiful, zero-waste use of the animal meat. No part of the animal is wasted, mimicking the food practices + reverences held of our ancestors and the Native Americans. I usually roast a whole chicken at the beginning of each week, use the meat for as many meals as possible, and then incorporate the bones in a broth.

I began regularly incorporating bone broth into my diet about a year ago as a means to heal my hormonal imbalances, strengthen my gut health, and clear my skin - which it did, quite quickly + extremely effectively. It still remains a daily fixture in my diet, usually enjoyed first thing in the a.m. on an empty stomach (post lemon water) or in between meals as a nourishing midday pick-me-up. 

I quite like the flavor and drink it straight up, warmed like a tea, but it's also fabulous for cooking and creating grain, veggie, and soup-based dishes. I'm in the habit of stirring in 1-2 scoops of collagen powder for an extra dose of healing, but this is totally optional. For your reference, below you'll find my basic, minimal, and fool-proof recipe for brewing a nourishing golden bone broth. 


BASIC BONE BROTH

  • 2-4 pounds bones 
  • 12 cups water (or enough to fill your large soup pot)
  • 1/4 cup raw apple cider vinegar
  • Optional: herbs, garlic, and vegetable scraps | I usually toss in a few cloves of garlic (peeled), ginger + turmeric root (peeled), a handful of fresh herbs, and roughly chopped carrots and onions

TO MAKE: Add all ingredients to a large soup pot or slow cooker, filling to the top with water. Bring to boil (uncovered), skimming off any scum/residue that floats to the top. Once boiling, reduce to a simmer, cover, and allow to cook for 12-72 hours. The longer the bones simmer, the more nutrient-dense the broth. 

Once cooking is complete, strain broth into a large bowl through a fine mesh strainer. Store in airtight glass jars.

Broth will keep fresh refrigerated for three days, and should be frozen if not used before then. For jars you plan to freeze, be sure to leave extra room at the top as the liquid will expand.