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What Doctors Don't Tell You

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July 2020 (Vol. 5 Issue 5)

Souper Food

About the author: 
Louise Hay & Heather Dane

Souper Food image

Grandma knew best—homemade bone broth is one of the most anti-aging of superfoods and particularly healing for your digestion, say Louise Hay and Heather Dane

In 1765, the first restaurant in history is believed to have been opened by soup-maker A. Boulanger, who wanted to provide restorative broth to the workers of Paris, who needed quick, easy, strengthening meals during the Industrial Revolution.1 Boulanger believed so much in the powers of soup that a sign in his restaurant said: COME TO ME, ALL YOU WHO ARE WEARY AND BURDENED, AND I WILL RESTORE YOU.2 Thus reputedly launched the use of the term restaurant for food establishments.

Nevertheless, bone broth has been used as food and in healing remedies as far back as AD 1000.3

At its essence, bone broth is simply bones and water, simmered for between 1½ and 48 hours. To some, it’s just soup—but it’s really so much more than that. Most broth today is being offered up by farm-to-table chefs, nose-to-tail butchers, organic farmers and dedicated health enthusiasts—those who have rediscovered the healing benefits of this once-forgotten humble liquid.

Today, countless health experts talk about why this traditional broth is the best way to stay healthy in the modern world, and why it should replace coffee as our go-to pick-me-up. They use exciting terms such as superfood, anti-aging, gut healing and energizing.

Besides reconnecting us to those warm, safe kitchens of our memories, there are four key reasons to consume bone broth.

Bioavailable collagen

Collagen, the body’s most abundant protein, is one of the most studied proteins in science and the most sought-after in the beauty industry, present in products projected to be a nearly $4 billion industry by the year 2020.4

Collagen supports, strengthens, cushions, provides structure and holds the body together. Collagen makes up bones, teeth, tendons, ligaments, joints and cartilage, and is a key element for beautiful hair, skin and nails. It strengthens the muscles, aids cell growth and supports the hollow organs of your digestive system—your esophagus, stomach, and small and large intestines).

The greatest advantage of bone broth is that it’s a source of bioavailable collagen: the collagen has been broken down (or denatured) into gelatin, which is easily digested and assimilated in the body.

Gelatin, like that highly processed, sugar-laden version called Jell-O, is liquid when hot or at room temperature and becomes thick and jiggly when it’s completely cooled in the refrigerator.

There are mainly three types of collagen in animals: Type I collagen in bones, tendons, ligaments and skin; type II in cartilage; and type III collagen in skin, muscle and bone marrow.5 Bone broth made with a variety of bones, cartilage and skin may contain all three types of collagen.

Why is this important? Healthy human bodies produce collagen, but after age 20, its production begins to decline by 1 percent each year.6 In addition to aging, stress and autoimmune conditions can adversely impact the production of collagen.7

When collagen declines or is defective, some common symptoms are loose, sagging or wrinkled skin; sagging muscles; thin or dry hair and nails; joint issues or brittle bones;8 and digestive issues such as gastroesophageal reflux disease) and irritable bowel syndrome.9

As animal protein is the only food source of collagen (particularly the parts used to make bone broth, such as bones, tendons, ligaments, cartilage, skin and marrow), bone broth delivers a wonderful bioavailable source for the body. While plant foods do not contain collagen, foods high in vitamins such as C, B complex, A, D and E; minerals like silicon, sulfur and copper; and amino acids like proline can all help build collagen (see box, page 71).

Besides being good for your skin, collagen profoundly aids digestion in two ways:

Protecting and sealing the intestines. Gelatin lines the mucous membrane and defends against any further issues from food or drink, which makes it a valuable option for improving digestive problems.10

Increasing total nutritional value. Several studies show that, when gelatin is combined with other foods, the total nutritional value increases considerably.10 This may be due to gelatin’s ability to aid the body’s digestive process.

Bioavailable nutrients

Bone broth provides predigested nutrients, which makes it easier for your body to assimilate them. The actual nutritional makeup varies, based which body parts, vegetables, herbs and spices are used, but here are the most important nutrients:

Amino acids

Bone broth is full of important amino acids, the building blocks of protein, which help to build and repair every tissue and organ in the body. Amino acids contribute to every bodily function, such as its growth and repair, as well as moods, energy, focus and hormone balance.

Those that are particularly abundant in collagen are glycine, proline and hydroxyproline. Additional amino acids you may find in bone broth are aspartic acid, glutamic acid (glutamine), serine, threonine, alanine, arginine, valine, isoleucine, leucine, tyrosine and phenylalanine.11


These days, we hear a lot about calcium, but much less about magnesium and other minerals such as phosphorus, sulfur, potassium, iron, manganese, zinc, copper, cobalt, fluoride and selenium. Bones and teeth are made up of more than just calcium; therefore, we need a full range of minerals for bone health and overall wellness. Bone broth contains a wide base of easily digested minerals.11


Cartilage and other connective tissues in animals contain glucosaminoglycans (GAGs), amino acid–sugar molecules that make up the network of proteoglycans, which play a supporting role in connective tissue along with collagen.12 GAGs essentially cushion and lubricate the skin, joints, muscles and eyes. The most well-known examples of these are hyaluronic acid, chondroitin sulfate and glucosamine—all used in supplements for joint health. Hyaluronic acid is also used in cosmetics and eye surgery. Bone broth that gels nicely is a good source of glucosaminoglycans.

Vitamins and other nutrients of your choosing

While a basic bone broth only needs a variety of bones and water, many people boost the nutrient value by adding vegetable scraps, herbs and spices. Adding these ingredients allows you to get extra easily digested vitamins, minerals and antioxidants into your broth.

Healthy fats

Bone marrow, skin, meat, and other fatty parts of beef, poultry and fish have healthy fats that can support good moods, satiety (and therefore losing or maintaining weight) and brain health.13 Fats also help carry important vitamins like A, D, E and K into the body.

Better for your budget and the planet

An entire cow could feed a family of four for a year if they ate like their ancestors—if they ate the whole cow and not just a few choice cuts. Choice cuts like filet mignon and ribeye make up only 15 percent of the cow. With growing demand for such cuts, this has meant a demand for more cows (and spawned the current inhumane factory-farm industry)—that same family of four eating many cows for a year, not just one.

Cheaper cuts of meat are actually healthier than choice cuts because they provide the most collagen, glucosaminoglycans and essential fatty acids to aid digestion and bone, skin and joint health.Bone broth is also budget friendly, as it allows us to use what is considered garbage and usually thrown away. Even the bones can be used again after making broth.

Healing flavor enhancer

With bone broth, you will no longer have to use processed, chemical-laden bouillon cubes to flavor soups, stews and sauces. Now you’ll have a flavor enhancer that also delivers big health and beauty benefits.

Getting started

1) Decide on the flavor

Neutral broths are almost flavorless (or perhaps have a very mild taste) and can be used in a variety of recipes without imposing a meat flavor on the dish. These broths are typically made with bones only and no meat (or very little meat, like oxtail), as the meat is where the flavor is. Neutral broths are exceptionally good for sneaking into desserts and cocktails to add health benefits.

Flavored broths, made with bones, meat scraps, vegetables, herbs and spices, have some flavor from the ingredients. They can make really nice sipping broths or be the basis of savory dishes.

Finished broths are flavored with add ingredients that we’re calling ‘finishers’—from spices and bitters to fish sauce (a condiment popular in Thailand and Vietnam, made of fermented anchovies). Add any spices or flavorings you love, but quality is key: organic spices, fresh herbs and sea or Himalayan salt (as opposed to table salt).

2) Choose your bones and ingredients

Bones: Use enough bones to fill two-thirds of your pot, leaving room at the top to just cover with water. (You’ll need to adjust this if you’re using vegetables because they take up room in the pot as well.) Look for collagen- and cartilage-rich animal parts, which are key for a rich gelatin, and skin (like chicken skin for chicken broth, pig skin for a meat broth, or fish heads and skin for fish broth), knuckles, feet, joints (chicken feet for chicken broth, and beef or pig’s feet for meat broths), necks, heads and tails
(like oxtail).

Water: Use filtered or spring water instead of tap water for the most pure, healing bone broth.

Optional ingredients: Adding an acid like apple cider vinegar, lemons or white vinegar is popularly believed to help pull minerals from bones, but this was debunked in a study done as far back as 1934. If using apple cider vinegar, the general guideline is to use approximately 2 tsp per quart of water. Add to the water and bones and in your pot, allow it to sit for one hour at room temperature, then begin cooking according to your recipe.

Vegetables, herbs and spices all add flavor and nutrients to your bone broth,.

3) Prepare your bones

You can keep it simple and use raw bones, or use bones cooked as part of a meal, like a chicken carcass. Many people like to brown their bones first for added flavor and a nice, clear broth.

Set your oven to 350° F (177° C) and roast the bones for 45 minutes to an hour, turning them at the 30-minute mark.

Another possibility is parboiling the bones first, by putting them in a stockpot, covering with water, bringing to a boil, then reducing the heat to medium high and boiling for five minutes. Drain and discard the water and then begin the process of making broth. Parboiling is used to remove blood and impurities from bones; most people only use it for pig’s or beef feet.

4) Fill your stockpot or slow cooker

Fill the cooking pot: Set your slow cooker to low. If using a stockpot, set your burner to high, bring the water to a boil and then reduce the temperature to low so you have no more than a simmer. Your meat stock should simmer for three hours maximum; your bone broth,for many hours longer, depending on the recipe you’re following.

5) Skim the fat

When you bring bone broth to a boil, foam rises to the top, which is referred to as ‘scum,’ which could include toxins. Chefs and traditional cooks often skim the scum off with a fine mesh strainer so that the impurities are removed, although the fat globules can be hard to strain out. An easier way is to strain the broth through a fine mesh strainer into jars and chill them in the refrigerator. The fat will rise to the top of the chilled broth and can then be taken off very easily with a spoon.

If you cook a stock or broth with bones and meat from commercial animals, definitely skim off the scum and avoid eating the marrow and fat.

6) Strain your broth

Once you’ve finished simmering, take a fine mesh strainer or colander with fine holes (you can add a layer or two of cheesecloth, if you like, to catch any of the fine debris) and place it over a very large glass or stainless
steel bowl.

It’s usually most prudent to put your colander or fine mesh strainer over a bowl in the sink and slowly pour the broth into it (via a ladle or a glass measuring cup), allowing the liquid to be collected in the bowl. Once your broth is cooled, you’ll have a thick, jiggly gelatin instead of a liquid. If you didn’t get a thick gel, that’s okay—it will still be good and nutrient-rich.

7) Store your broth

We like to store ours in quart-sized Mason jars, but some people like to put theirs in pint-sized jars or even various sizes of silicone ice-cube trays to be used as needed.

Your stock or broth should last up to seven days in the refrigerator and up to six months in the freezer. Many experienced broth makers say theirs last longer in the refrigerator if they leave the fat cap on the broth until they’re ready to start using it; once the fat cap is removed, they find they have to use it within five to seven days. Two people consuming broth daily can likely use two or three quart-sized jars in a week.

Adapted from The Bone Broth Secret by Louise Hay and Heather Dane, $24.99 (Hay House, 2015)

The science behind bone broth

Most of the many studies on the anti-aging skin benefits of collagen concern supplements, which have been found to reduce wrinkles, dry skin and scaling, and to counteract natural photoaging.1 But experts such as Kaayla T. Daniel, PhD, propose that eating a collagen-rich diet may reduce cellulite.2

Biologist and professor Ray Peat says that the degenerative and inflammatory diseases on the rise in industrialized societies could be corrected by the use of gelatin-rich foods due to the presence of restorative amino acids like glycine, alanine, proline and hydroxyproline.3

Other research shows that gelatin may also have the following benefits:

  • Stronger, healthier nails
  • Anti-aging
  • Antitumor
  • Arthritis/joint-pain relief
  • Cell-protective
  • Can alleviate diabetes, lower blood sugar, support insulin regulation
  • Can improve sleep
  • Regulate bleeding from nosebleeds, heavy menstruation, ulcers, hemorrhoids, bladder haemorrhage
  • Normalize stomach acid (useful for colitis, celiac disease, ulcers, other inflammatory gut conditions).3

Beef or lamb slightly flavored stock

This recipe by naturopath Kim Schuette, CN, makes a lovely broth with some added flavor and nutrients from the herbs, spices and vegetables.

If you want to make a broth that’s ideal for adding nutrition and flavor to soups, stews and other recipes, a flavored one like this would make an excellent choice.

Hands-on prep time: 45 minutes

Total prep time: 3½–48½ hours

Yield: Approximately 3–4 quarts

4–5 lb marrowbones and knucklebones

3 lb meaty ribs or neck bones

1 calf’s foot or beef foot, if available (cut into pieces optional)

2 tsp Celtic sea salt

½ cup raw apple cider vinegar

Assorted vegetables as desired (avoid starchy ones like parsnips, winter squash, potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams)

1–2 medium yellow onions

2–4 carrots

1 tsp black pepper

Bouquet garni (fresh herbs tied together with cooking twine):

2 fresh bay leaves

3 sprigs each of fresh thyme, rosemary, sage

Or you can also use dried herbs tied up in cheesecloth, making a kind of ‘tea bag’ of herbs:

1 bay leaf

1–2 tsp each of dried thyme, rosemary, sage

3 sprigs of fresh parsley (or 1 Tbsp dried)

Optional ingredients for variety:



Lemon rind

2–3 celery stalks, sliced

Instructions for broth

After simmering the stock for 3–4 hours, remove the meaty bones with a large fork or tongs and remove the meat, reserving it for another meal.

Return the bones to the pot, add additional water to cover the bones (if needed), and continue to simmer for 36–48 hours. You may find that your water reduces a bit after so many hours of simmering, and the bones are peeking out of the water. If this happens, you can add more water to cover the bones.

If you’re using a slow cooker, always use the lid; if you’re using a stockpot, use the lid as well, but you may want to leave the lid slightly open so that air can escape. Some people like to leave the stockpot uncovered for the last hour of simmering.

Add the parsley during the last 10 minutes of simmering.

Chicken, pheasant or turkey flavored broth

This recipe, also by by Kim Schuette, is delicious and provides some added flavor and nutrients from the herbs, spices and vegetables. If you want to make a broth that’s ideal for adding nutrition and flavor to your poultry soups, stews and other recipes, a flavored broth like this would be an excellent choice.

Hands-on prep time: 30 minutes

Total prep time: 3½–25½ hours

Yield: 3–4 quarts

1 whole chicken, pheasant or turkey

2–4 chicken, pheasant or turkey feet (optional)

1–2 chicken, pheasant or turkey heads (optional)

2 Tbsp raw apple cider vinegar

Assorted vegetables as desired (avoid starchy ones like parsnips, winter squash, potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams)

1–2 medium yellow onions

2–4 carrots

Bouquet garni (fresh herbs tied together with cooking twine):

2 fresh bay leaves

3 sprigs each of fresh thyme, rosemary, sage

Or you can use dried herbs tied up in cheesecloth, making a kind of ‘tea bag’ of herbs:

1 bay leaf

1–2 tsp each of thyme, rosemary, sage

3 sprigs of fresh parsley (or 1 Tbsp dried)

2–3 celery stalks, sliced

1–2 tsp sea salt

Instructions for broth:

As previously described

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