A few days ago (March 1), I ventured into new ground for me, though not for my family. A year or so ago, my husband started making chicken bone broth, which was lovely. And then, somewhere along the line, he shifted what he was cooking and the bone broth stopped being made. But we still roasted chickens. As a former vegetarian, it’s important to me that we honour the death of an animal that gives us life by using as much of it as we can. So, I wanted to revive this tradition.
Bone broth also has excellent nutritional value. An article on the online info site Healthline (McDonell, 2020) entitled ‘Bone Broth: How to Make It and 6 Reasons Why You Should’ notes that 1. it contains many minerals, vitamins and amino acids, 2. these nutrients can improve joint health, 3. bone broth may be beneficial to the digestive system, 4. it may also be anti-inflammatory, 5. it can help with weight-loss and 6. it can improve your sleep and help your brain do it’s stuff! Not bad! And, perhaps, why I always felt great after eating my husband’s soup.
Digging a bit deeper into this, Sarah Ballantyne (2017) discusses the importance of two amino acids in bone broth, glycine and proline, both of which tend to be underrepresented in our diets. Both of these are found in connective tissue and play essential roles in healing. While they are non-essential (meaning we can produce them ourselves), having them readily available is more efficient (Ballantyne 2017, p. 179).
Glycine is required for DNA and RNA synthesis, hence bone broth’s importance in healing, especially the gut. It also converts into serine, a neurotransmitter involved in memory and alertness as well as good moods (Ballantyne, 2017, p. 179). This is presumably part and parcel of why glycine can improve sleep quality (Yumadera et al., 2007 in McDonnell 2020).
Proline also is important for wound healing and a healthy immune system but also helps to regulate cellular metabolism, gene expression and protein synthesis. Both glycine and proline are essential components of collagen supporting bone, gut and cardiovascular health (Ballantyne 2017, p. 179). While talking about vitamin C’s role in the production of collagen, Aileen Burford-Mason underlines the importance of collagen to maintain the body through ‘daily wear and tear’, noting connective tissue disorders such as osteoporsis, heart murmurs, hernias and rotator cuff injuries (2017, p. 73).
McDonnell (2020) further includes the amino acid arginine in her discussion noting that it is important for reducing chronic inflammation, making bone broth potentially helpful for fighting diseases associated with inflammation such as heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, Alzheimer’s and cancer.
Soups generally are associated with regulating a healthy weight (McDonnel 2020). An interesting note about smooth vs chunky soups comes from one of the article McDonnel (2020) cites where smooth soups were observed to induce ‘greater fullness’ than chunky soups because of both “feelings of gastric distension and rapid accessibility of nutrients causing a greater glycaemic response” (Clegg et al, 2013). Good to know! When given the choice, I’ll definitely be pureeing my soups.
To make the bone broth, I followed my husband’s recipe, which was ultra simple. One onion, 1/4 c. of apple cider vinegar and chopped organic chicken bones. They all went into a slow cooker to cook there for a couple of days.
Two days later…. I strained the bone broth and stuck it in a covered bowl in the fridge, ready to make soup!!
Ballantyne, Sarah. (2017). Paleo-Principles. Victory Belt Publishing.
Burford-Mason, Aileen. (2017). The healthy brain: Optimize brain power at any age. Harper Collins.
Clegg, M. E., Ranawana, V., Shafat, A. & Henry, C.J. (2013). Soups increase satiety through delayed gastric emptying yet increase glycaemic response. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition67 (1), 8-11. https://doi.org/10.1038/ejcn.2012.152
McDonell, Kayla. (2020). Bone broth: How to make it and 6 reasons why you should. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/bone-broth.
Yumadera, W., Inagawa, K., Chiba, S., Bannai, M., Takahashi, M. & Nakayma, K. (2007). Glycine ingestion improves subjective sleep quality in human volunteers, correlating with polysomnographic changes. Sleep and Biological Rhythms 5, 126-131. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1479-8425.2007.00262.x