As we all know by now, superfoods are only “super” until a new study says otherwise—or another health food with far greater benefits comes along. A handful of them, however, prove to have incredible staying power: bone broth, for one. In case you need a quick reminder, not only is bone broth highly acclaimed by nutritionists everywhere, it has also emerged as a celebrity beauty food, responsible for Gwyneth Paltrow and Shailene Woodley’s glowing skin and Salma Hayek’s lack of wrinkles. It was even hailed in the media as a “Botox alternative,” due to its collagen-boosting properties. Plus, it’s warm, it’s tasty and it’s perfect for spring’s rainy weather. So buckle down and make some bone broth, and then freeze it so you can enjoy this natural beauty elixir all season long.
What Exactly Is Bone Broth?
Bone broth is bones, water, vegetables and herbs simmered together for a very long time. Here’s how it’s different from just broth and stock:
Broth: Regular broth is simply water simmered with vegetables, herbs, spices and meat and can include some bones. It is cooked for a short period of time.
Stock: The next step up is stock. This is broth that’s cooked with animal bones and sometimes with some meat still attached. It is cooked for a medium length of time, usually four to six hours. The goal of stock is to extract the collagen from the connective tissues and bones being simmered, which give stock its thick, gelatinous quality.
Bone Broth: It’s like broth and stock that’s been supercharged. It’s usually made from roasted bones and often cooked for more than 24 hours. The goal is to not only extract the gelatin from the bones, but also to release the nutritious minerals. It is then strained and seasoned to be enjoyed on its own like broth.
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The Skin-Specific Connection
Collagen: We all know how important it is, so we use creams and supplements and eat collagen-boosting foods (and even drink collagen beer). But bone broth might just be the ultimate collagen-boosting (and wrinkle-fighting) food. As you age, the collagen in your skin breaks down (it’s a familiar story), and as the collagen disappears, your skin becomes thinner and creases (ahem, wrinkles) form. Enter bone broth. Since collagen is abundant in bones, when you cook animal bones and make bone broth, it breaks down the collagen in the bones so it becomes more easily digestible.
Charlotte’s Book expert Laura Kraber describes bone broth as “a rich source of skin-supporting amino acids glycine and proline, along with collagen, the ultimate skin food. Bone broth can improve skin elasticity and fight wrinkles.”
Digestion: Bone broth also happens to be a digestion superfood, due to its gelatin content. Gelatin helps digestion by soothing the GI tract. Your digestive system is in charge of absorbing nutrients, removing toxins and keeping you hydrated—all healthy skin essentials. Kraber notes, “Bone broth soothes the intestinal tract and helps heal leaky gut (aka intestinal permeability). With stress, diet, alcohol, caffeine and NSAIDS wreaking havoc on our intestines, anything and everything we can do to help repair the gut is beneficial, as a healthy intestinal tract is essential to overall good health.”
Improved Sleep and Mood: Bone broth naturally and easily adds a massive variety of minerals to your diet that are otherwise difficult to incorporate without taking a pile of pills. These minerals influence all manner of things, including sleep and mood. Kraber explains, “As a result of soil degradation, the mineral content of our foods is reduced, and many of us have compromised absorption due to poor gut health. Yet minerals are critical to so many bodily functions and impact everything from our bones to our mood and our sleep. Supplying calcium, magnesium, potassium, silicon, sulfur and phosphorous, bone broth provides an excellent means of boosting your mineral intake.” Magnesium (also found in dark, leafy greens) can help prevent fine lines and acne breakouts.
Reduced Joint Pain: “Bone broth contains both chondroitin sulfate and glucosamine, which help to decrease joint pain and inflammation,” says nutritionist Dana James.
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Add It to Your Daily Routine
Making bone broth yourself is easy—you can follow the recipe below from holistic health coach Holli Thompson. Keep about three days’ worth of broth in the fridge at a time, and drink a cup a day.
2 pounds (or more) of bones from a hormone-free, grass-fed source (turkey, chicken or beef bones with marrow)
Water (to fill pot)
2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar
Optional, in Any Combination:
1 bunch of parsley
2 stalks of celery
1 teaspoon of sea salt
1 teaspoon of black pepper
1 teaspoon of ground fresh ginger
1 clove of garlic
Add more water if needed, but the point is to make a rich broth: You can always add water to serve. I prefer to make this with veggies added and then strain using a fine metal strainer for clear broth. Some purists do not add vegetables for the broth, preferring to use only bones and apple cider vinegar.