Bone broth, a centuries old remedy, has moved into the mainstream recently thanks in part to paleo diet devotees. But my sister was onto it ahead of those fashionably picky eaters. She told me about the wonder of broth years ago and showed me how to make it then. It wasn’t until this year though that I really read up on its powerful benefits to the body and began to appreciate what regular consumption of it can mean for allover wellness – and beauty.
Bone broth is the nutrient-dense liquid that comes from boiling bones, along with vegetables and herbs (for flavoring), in water for 12-48 hours. Beef, bison, lamb, chicken, pork, even fish, are all great options. You can either save bones from your meat dishes or stop by the butcher and purchase them (if beef, opt for grass-fed). Increasingly, supermarkets are offering bones pre-packed in a freezer section. They’re really cheap, too, a satisfying aspect of this superfood. Don’t confuse homemade bone broth with store bought boxed broths which are often full of salt, msg, and other preservatives. You can however trust bone broth from dedicated broth shops, like Brodo in NYC and Ramen-San in Chicago. I suspect these are the first in a wave of broth eateries that we can expect to see opening, as more people want to incorporate broth into their diets. And considering the aforementioned bone prices, it’s not a capitalist’s worst business idea either. I expect a bone broth pitch on Shark Tank in no time.
think of bones as compact little Mary Poppins satchels brimming with all sorts of surprises. When you boil them, all of the nutrients are unleashed from within and get converted into a form that your body can easily absorb. Many of these key nutrients are non-existent elsewhere in the modern western diet.
Collagen is one of these nutrients. It gets hydrolized into gelatin in the boiling process. Gelatin, as well as glycine, and other amino acids are superb for strengthening the gut and aiding with digestion. Our stomach linings need to be somewhat permeable for nutrients to pass through, but factors like stress, poor diet and bacterial overgrowth can make them too permeable, which leads to health issues such as indigestion, leaky gut, ulcers, and autoimmune issues. Gelatin counteracts this gut hyper-permeability. And, as an aside, the more glycine you consume, the better your liver can function.
Gelatin in your diet also makes you feel more full; your need for other proteins diminishes slightly.
Collagen is also packed full of a category of nutrients called glycosaminoglycans (GAG’s) – you know, the stuff that you might have seen in supplement form marketed to support joint health. Well there’s no purer, more direct way to get chondroitin sulfate, hyaluronic acid and glucosamine into your body to reduce inflammation, arthritis, and joint pain than through broth.
And minerals like calcium, phosphorus, magnesium and potassium in this absorb-able form will boost bone and tooth health.
It’s no surprise to matzah-ball-soup-making grannies that bone broth speeds healing from viruses and illnesses, hence the nickname “jewish penicillin”.
You can read on and on about the prolific health benefits of bone broth all over the web, but as this is, after all, a beauty blog, let me share a little bone-broth beauty story with you.
I cut my hair short this summer and wanted to grow it out again this fall. But my hair growth just kind of whimpered to a halt, resisting to grow past my shoulders. I read somewhere that bone broth could boost hair growth and overall hair shine and strength. I decided to test the claim: I committed to a regimen of daily broth for two months starting December 1. Every sunday I made a huge stockpot to last the week (sometimes I froze batches for later consumption) and every morning I enjoyed a warm mug of broth.
I didn’t change anything else in my diet so I feel confident attributing the outcome to the broth: My hair grew, and it grew with luster. In early February I stopped by to see a friend who I see quite regularly, about every two weeks. She asked if I had gotten extensions because my hair was so long, so suddenly.
All roads lead to gelatin. It’s believed that the collagen/gelatin duo can have radiant effects on hair, skin and nails. Facialists are even recommending it to their clients to help promote youthful complexions.
The results of my little experiment have made me a believer, and I have to think bone broth would work for some of you out there who are hair-discouraged. And, in the very least, if it doesn’t generate longer locks it’s still doing a ton of behind the scenes work internally to make you function at your best.
Here’s a comprehensive Q & A that I like for answering questions about the brothing process.