Here’s Why Humans Have Been Drinking Bone Broth for Thousands of Years
By Christopher Walker
“Good broth will resurrect the dead,” a South American proverb.
- What Is Bone Broth?
- The History of Bone Broth
- Benefits Of Drinking Bone Broth
- How To Make Bone Broth
Roast chicken and short ribs are delicious, but you’re likely missing out on the best part of the meat when you toss the leftover bones. Bone broth is a delicious and nutritious meal on its own, but it can also be added to many different recipes. Bone broth has been used for thousands of years not just for its taste, but also its healing properties. In this article, we will explore what bone broth really is, what makes it nutritious, and ways you can utilize it in the kitchen.
What Is Bone Broth?:
Often overlooked in the U.S., bone broth is made by boiling animal bones and the connective tissues of cows, chicken and fish.
Bone broth differs from regular broth and even stock because the latter two use bones, meat and vegetables, while the first truly only requires the bones (although vegetables and spices can be added to it). Additionally, broth and stock take a relatively short time to cook, up to two and 4-6 hours respectively, while bone broth takes much longer to prepare, up to 24 hours.
Bison cave painting in the great Hall of Polychromes, located in the Cave of Altamira, Spain. Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons
“A bone broth can’t really be overcooked,” explains New York chef Marco Canora, “because the point is to break down all of the cartilage until there’s a lot of collagen-rich gelatin in that broth.”
The longer cooking time pulls out a maximum amount of nutrients, gelatin and flavor. If you need further proof that bone broth is different, just refrigerate it. Unlike stock or regular broth, bone broth will quickly turn into a Jell-O like, solid form while the other two will remain in liquid form.
The History of Bone Broth?:
Bone broth is relatively new to most consumers. It started gaining popularity in the U.S. about seven years ago when the Paleo-diet craze started. When health-conscious individuals were advised to eat like their ancestors — the cavemen from 2.5 million years ago — they began to seek more meat-sources to include in their diet.
Vintage advertisements from Bovril’s “Liquid Beef.” Courtesy: Unilever Brands UK
Shortly after, bone broth began to pop up in Whole Foods and other grocery stores for up to $10 per container. In fact, sales of bone broth tripled in just one year, rising from $5.83 million in 2016 to $17.54 million in 2017¹. Worldwide bone broth sales are forecasted to surpass $2.83 billion by 2024².
While it’s great that Americans are becoming more aware of bone broth, don’t mistake it for a trend. Bone broth has been around for thousands of years (at a much lower price too!). It’s regarded by many as the world’s first “fast food,” one that is affordable and requires little preparation to make.
Our ancestors were hunters-gatherers who survived on whatever they could hunt and forage. They wasted little, and made food and clothing from animals, as well as shelter and tools. Bones, hooves, knuckles and legs were difficult to eat and didn’t work for any other purpose. So our ancestors burned them to extract the nutrients inside.
The process likely started by dropping hot stones right on top of the animal bones about 2,500 years ago, but evolved into using the abdominal pouches of animals to hold the bones over hot rocks (likely to avoid being burned). The invention of the pot around 2nd century B.C. in ancient China made the process of bone broth preparation easier because the bones and other parts could now be boiled over a fire.
The word broth actually comes from the German word bru, which means “to prepare by boiling,” according to the book, “On Food And Cooking: The Science And Lore Of The Kitchen”. This is when the true medicinal powers of bone broth were discovered, as evidenced by records from Traditional Chinese Medicine from that time. Chinese medical practitioners prescribed bone broth for a variety of different ailments.
Bone broth was actually used by ancient cultures all over the world. One of Greek’s most notable figures, the ancient physician Hippocrates, who was born around 460BC, recommended it for healing the gut.
The popularity of bone broth spread far and wide — from the Middle East, where it became known as “Jewish penicillin,” to the Caribbean, where they still call it “cow foot soup.”
The preparation of bone broth began declining during the Industrial Revolution, when many people couldn’t afford to pay for fuel to make a fire. This is when broth powders and bouillons propelled the rise of “portable soup,” which was used by the likes of Napoleon to feed his French army.
The invention of canning in the 1800s led to the creation of condensed soup, which Campbell’s monopolized starting in 1869 in Camden, New Jersey. It was originally cooked by famous chefs who used the highest ingredients, but has evolved into a very different and inferior product today, that’s full of monosodium glutamate (MSG), fillers, pesticides and genetically-modified organisms (GMOs).
MSG is largely responsible for replacing bone broth in 1908 because it fooled consumers into tasting the flavor of meat without any actual meat present. This chemical is still present in many popular soups, stews, gravies and sauces.
If you want good-quality bone broth without forking over a ton of money, you can easily make it at home yourself. We don’t doubt that you will after reading all about its benefits.
Benefits Of Drinking Bone Broth:
“It’s an old-fashioned remedy for the modern world,” says Dr. Kaayla Daniel, Vice President of the Weston A. Price Foundation and co-author of the book, “Nourishing Broth.”
IN-DEPTH: The Bone Broth Survival Guide
It is heralded for its “unique” nutritional content, and for being high in protein while low in calories. Bone broth has a host of nutrients, such as:
- Chondroitin Sulfate
- Amino Acids (proline, glycine and glutamine that build protein)
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin K
Bone broth is nutrient dense and is extolled by many for its medicinal uses.
Bone Broth Is Gut Healing:
The amino acids, especially glutamine, in bone broth have incredible properties that strengthen our digestive system. A 2017 study³ reported that bone broth was able to heal the intestinal barrier in both animals and humans. Glutamine can help with gastrointestinal disorders like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and leaky gut syndrome.
Bone broth improves the digestive process, helping to relieve constipation, gas and diarrhea. It helps to grow “good bacteria” in our digestive track via probiotics that have been shown to have amazing benefits for both the mind and body.
In fact, bone broth is the principal ingredient in the Gut and Psychology Syndrome (GAPS) diet, by Russian neurologist Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride to treat food sensitivities and allergies, neurological and intestinal conditions because of imbalanced bacteria in the gut.
It’s no wonder that bone broth is used in both the Paleo and Keto diets, as its properties help users lose weight.
Bone Broth Contains Skin-Smoothing Collagen:
From collagen peptides powder to collagen capsules, people are paying a lot of money to promote youth and their appearance. This is due to collagen’s unique ability to help our skin rejuvenate itself and look younger.
Collagen is a protein found in our bodies, more specifically in our muscles, tendons, digestive system, blood vessels, bones and skin. It is responsible for making our hair and nails grow, as well as regulating our skin, tissues, bones, tendons and gut health.
Collagen is the most abundant protein, called a complex protein because it has 19 amino acids, including:
- Glycine: The smallest protein has a big job of building DNA strands, as well as helping to build creatine that helps our muscles develop and produce energy during workouts.
- Glutamine: One of the most common amino acids that is created in the body naturally and consumed in our diets. Glutamine regulates mental health and prevents sleep disorders, anxiety, stress and poor concentration. It also controls our immune system and digestive track, muscle mass, joints and even has wound healing abilities.
- Proline: Helps our blood vessels, joins and cardiovascular system work properly.
- Arginine (also called L-arginine): Arginine turns into nitric oxide in our bodies, which controls heart and arterial health, improves blood circulation and the immune system.
Obviously, collagen is a pretty important nutrient and plays a big part in helping us grow properly, maintain our health and our looks. Although collagen is necessary at all parts of our lives, our bodies produce less collagen as we age; so it’s vital to seek other supplementary sources of collagen.
Collagen has been scientifically proven to:
- Promote better skin elasticity and skin moisture with little to no side effects
- Decrease cellulite
- Reduce joint pain
- Improve osteoporosis symptoms
Now that you know this, you can ditch your $50 collagen cream and treat yourself to a much more affordable and proven solution!
Bone Broth Has Anti-Inflammatory Nutrients:
Inflammation is a natural process. It’s the way our immune system heals injuries and fights infections. However, sometimes this process can go into overdrive and try to “heal” things that don’t need healing, which leads to chronic inflammation. This occurs when well-meaning blood cells try to heal healthy parts of our body. This is dangerous for our health, and it can lead to a host of different health concerns, such as:
- Autoimmune Disease
- Heart Attack
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Leaky Gut Syndrome
One of the best and most natural ways to fight inflammation without medicine is to eat a non-inflammatory diet. Bone broth is recognized for its ability to reduce inflammation in the gut. Dr. Kellyann recommends drinking at least one cup of bone broth daily for maximum benefits.
Bone Broth Fights Cold and Flu:
Chicken soup is often referred to as “penicillin,” and scientists definitely agree. There’s a reason that chicken soup is not only comforting, but also a popular staple we tend to crave during times of cold or flu. That’s because chicken soup is actually proven to help our bodies fight infections.
Research shows that chicken soup, which is made from bone broth:
- May be responsible for slowing or blocking the migration of these WBCs to the upper respiratory tract and thus, aid in relieving cold symptoms
- Could help inhibit the pro-inflammatory conditions typically associated with the initial stages of viral infections and prevent the development of the common cold
- May improve the ability of the tiny hairline projections in the nose (called cilia) to prevent infectious particles from afflicting the body
How To Make Bone Broth:
Here’s a great recipe to make bone broth at home. You don’t need to purchase new meat to make bone broth as it requires bones, not meat. After you’ve enjoyed a chicken or beef dish (such as short ribs), reuse the bones to make a brand new recipe — bone broth.
Enjoy a low calorie and high protein recipe that you can eat on the go!
- 4 lbs meat bones (marrow, knuckles or short ribs)
- 2 medium carrots (cut into two inch pieces)
- 1 medium leek (peeled, cut into two inch pieces)
- 1 garlic head (quartered)
- medium onion (quartered)
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
Preheat oven to 450°F. Place beef bones, carrots, leek, onion, and garlic on a roasting
pan or rimmed baking sheet and roast for 20 minutes. Toss the contents of the pan and
continue to roast until deeply browned, about 20 minutes more.
Fill a large (at least 6-quart) stockpot with 12 cups of water (preferably filtered) . Add
bay leaves, peppercorns, and vinegar. Scrape the roasted bones and vegetables
into the pot along with any juices. Add more water if necessary to cover bones and
Cover the pot and bring to a gentle boil. Reduce heat to a very low simmer and cook
with lid slightly ajar, skimming foam and excess fat occasionally, for at least 8 but up to
24 hours on the stovetop. (Do not leave on stovetop unattended, simply cool and
continue simmering the next day.) The longer you simmer it, the better your broth will
be. Add more water if necessary to ensure bones and vegetables are fully submerged.
Alternately, you can cook the broth in a slow cooker on low for the same amount of
Remove the pot from the heat and let cool slightly. Strain broth using a fine-mesh sieve
and discard bones and vegetables. Let continue to cool until barely warm, then
refrigerate in smaller containers overnight. Remove solidified fat from the top of the
Bone broth is perfect for meal prepping, as it can be refrigerated for up to five days, or frozen for up to six months. Plus, it can be added as a base for many dishes, such as:
- Meat Marinade
Get the Benefits of Bone Broth Without the Hassle Today:
It’s so easy and affordable to incorporate bone broth into your daily diet. However, if you want an even easier way to get the benefits of bone broth with no effort, try zuBroth
Enjoy glowing skin, strong joints, increased muscle development and cardiovascular health with a daily cup of zuBroth. Each fat-free serving provides a hearty dose of protein and dozen of amino acids like glycine, proline and arginine. Our broth is sourced from grass-fed, GMO-free, organic beef bones.
We are so convinced that you will love this product that we challenge you to try it for 60 days. If you don’t experience the great benefits yourself, you will get your money back.
Now that you know how good it is for you, try making it! Happy cooking and happy eating!
Citations and Sources
- 1. FoodNavigator-USA.com, “Bone broth sales more than tripled in 2016, albeit off a very small base“
- 2. Global Market Insights, “Worldwide Broth Market worth over USD 2.8 Billion by 2024: Global Market Insights, Inc.“
- 3. Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition & Metabolic Care, “Glutamine and the regulation of intestinal permeability: from bench to bedside.”
- 4. Medical Xpress, “Why gut bacteria are essential for a healthy immune system“
- 5. Skin Pharmacology and Physiology, “Oral supplementation of specific collagen peptides has beneficial effects on human skin physiology: a double-blind, placebo-controlled study.“
- 6. International Journal of Cosmetic Science, “Cellulite and its treatment.“
- 7. EBSCO Publishing, “Proteolytic Enzymes“
- 8. International Journal of Cosmetic Science, “Safety and efficacy of undenatured type II collagen in the treatment of osteoarthritis of the knee: a clinical trial“
- 9. Clinical and Experimental Gastroenterology, “Gelatin tannate reduces the proinflammatory effects of lipopolysaccharide in human intestinal epithelial cells“
- 10. UCLA, “An Inside Scoop on the Science Behind Chicken Soup and the Common Cold“
- 11. The Nurse Practitioner, “Chicken Soup Cure May Not Be a Myth“
- 13. Bon Appetite, “Wait a Minute, Are Bone Broth and Stock the Same Thing?”
- 14. Harold McGee, “On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen”
- 15. Kellyann Petrucci, “Dr. Kellyann’s Bone Broth Diet”
- 16. Sally Fallon Morell, “Nourish Broth: An Old-Fashion Remedy For The Modern World”