Soups and broths have been staple foods in various civilizations throughout history. One of the oldest books in Chinese Medicine, Dr. Yi Yins Soup Classic, documents the healing properties of soups, and historical records have proof that the Father of Western medicine, Hippocrates, encouraged his patients to drink barley soup, especially for digestive discomfort. Rather than eating a meal when a person was ill, it was much easier to sip a nourishing soup or broth.
The bone broth fad is one of the most popular health trends, with various blogs touting the health benefits. It has been marketed as a great source of collagen, and many companies push the fact that it is a high-protein meal for people with on-the-go lifestyles. The primary claim is that it has the ability to cure leaky gut, improve immune health, or reduce arthritis pain. Bone broth sales in the United States skyrocketed from $5.83 million in 2016 to $17.54 million in 2017. Brand ambassadors and celebrities alike endorse bone broth, but what’s the truth about this cure-all elixir?
What Is Bone Broth?
Bone broth is made by boiling down the roasted bones, skin, cartilage, ligaments, and tendons of animals, specifically chickens and cows, but bison, turkey, lamb, deer, and other animals are occasionally used. It takes a long time to cook bone broth, and the gelatin, calcium, phosphorus, and other minerals are drawn out of the ingredients into a broth.
Is Bone Broth Is A One-Stop Shop For All Your Nutrients?
The “unique” nutritional profile of bone broth receives a lot of attention, but research shows that broths, which are primarily comprised of vegetables, contain more nutrients. In 2017, the journal Food and Nutrition Research found that bone broth was low in calcium and magnesium. While bone broth claims to be a nutritional goldmine, it seems that the vegetables used in the cooking process are responsible for many of the nutrients. For instance, bone broth contains 19mg or less of calcium and between six to nine grams of protein. Compare that to the following plant-based sources:
- Collard greens (1 cup contains 150mg of calcium)
- Organic peanut butter (2 tablespoons contain 7 grams of protein)
- Navy beans (1 boiled cup contains 126mg of calcium)
- Kale (1 cup contains 177mg of calcium)
- Lentils (1 cooked cup contains 18 grams of protein)
Collagen? You Can Make Your Own
The human body cannot digest collagen whole. During the digestive process, the body absorbs nutrients from the food that has been consumed to build collagen. Let’s make something very clear: eating more collagen does not give the body more collagen, nor does it directly help the body in any way. A food scientist named Kantha Shelke has claimed that eating a diet that is filled with leafy green vegetables is ideal. Plant-based foods like fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, nuts, and seeds are rich in the nutrients (vitamins A, C & E, glycine, proline, and sulfur) that are necessary for collagen production. For a list of foods that aid with collagen production, click here.
Is Bone Broth Good For Gut Health?
There are claims that that bone broth is beneficial for people with poor digestion or leaky gut syndrome. Supposedly, the gelatin in bone broth binds to the water in the digestive tract, working to protect the intestinal lining. Certain animal studies show that bone broth may have that potential, but no research has been done on humans. You know what isn’t a claim or theory? Fiber-rich plant foods, including fermented foods that improve the gut micriobiome, help support gut health. This is well documented and fiber-rich foods can be found by clicking here.
Homemade Vegetable Mineral Broth
A homemade vegetable broth can be a great sources of electrolytes, enzymes, ionic minerals, and more, all of which assist to maintain overall bodily health. We found a recipe that is free of the bones of animals, gluten-free, low in sugar, nut-free, and soy-free. Make it and let us know how you like it.
- 2 (5-inch) strips of Kombu seaweed
- 6 carrots, chopped
- 1 leek, both white and green parts, chopped
- 5 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
- 5-inch piece of ginger, peeled and sliced
- ½ bunch parsley, chopped
- 6 dried shiitake mushrooms
- 2 medium brown onions, chopped
- 8 celery stalks, chopped
- 1 small pumpkin or squash, seeded and cut into chunks
- 4 cups kale, chopped
- Add all of the ingredients to a large stockpot over high heat and fill the pot about two inches below the rim with water. Cover the pot and bring to a boil.
- Remove the lid once the stock is boiling and reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for about two hours.
- You’ll notice that the water starts to evaporate as the stock simmers, so add more water if the vegetables are exposed.
- Remove from the heat and strain the stock into another large pot. Divide the stock into glass storage jars and place in the refrigerator.
- You can drink two to three cups between meals.