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Live to Eat Newsletter by The Healthy Butcher

Bone Broth - Why it's healthy, and How to make it

Thousands of years of accumulated human knowledge and tradition, and nobody bats an eye; Kobe Bryant reveals that bone broth is the reason he still dominates the hardwood after 18 gruelling years in the NBA, and it becomes a massive food trend. Go figure. Realistically, broth is not a “trend” - only in the last 50 years has the popularity of making and consuming homemade bone broth plummeted. Why? Perhaps it was because of the invention of MSG [1]; or perhaps because real whole animal butcher shops disappeared in favour of individual filet and boneless breast-slinging grocery stores; or perhaps it was because bone broth couldn’t be made with corn (although I hear that’s in development). I don’t know. What I do know is what we all know, and that is to drink soup when you get sick. So why don’t we drink it when we’re healthy?

Bone broth has been said to ease joint pain, strengthen bones, aid in digestion, enrich blood, build muscle, boost the immune system, and even improve your memory! In this edition of Live to Eat, we teach you how to make a healthy bone broth, and then delve a bit deeper into its constituent parts to discover the reasons why the slowest of slow foods makes for a great afternoon substitute for vanilla lattes.

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Bone Broth  

What makes bone broth so healthy?

To help explain why bone broth is potently healthy, I’m going to breakdown bone broth’s nutritional punch into three main camps: Proteins, Glycosaminoglycans, and Minerals. But keep in mind that the true magic behind the elixir is the combination in the perfect proportions. Although you can walk into a health food store and pick up supplements for any of the amino acids or GAGs or minerals discussed below, popping pills never has, and never will, be as effective as delivering those same ingredients the way mother nature intended.


Proteins are long chains of amino acids and are an essential part of all living organisms, especially as structural components of body tissues such as bones and muscle. Bone broth’s source of protein mainly comes from collagen, and its derivative form, gelatin. Collagen is the most abundant protein in the human body. It is the base of connective tissue (the word comes from kolla, the Greek word for glue), bone, marrow, tendons and ligaments, i.e. the same ingredients from which bone broth is made. During the cooking process, collagen is converted into gelatin. Gelatin is the ingredient that makes Jell-O jiggle, and a properly prepared broth will similarly congeal in the fridge.

The use of gelatin as a therapeutic agent goes back to the ancient Chinese. Just as vitamins occupy the center of the stage in nutritional investigations today, some two hundred years ago gelatin held a position in the forefront of food research. Research on gelatin came to an end in the 1950s because the food companies discovered how to induce Maillard reactions and produce meat-like flavors in the laboratory. In a General Foods Company report issued in 1947, chemists predicted that almost all natural flavors would soon be chemically synthesized.[2]  They failed to mention that nutrients would disappear from our diets.

The four main amino acids that are found in gelatin, collagen, and therefore bone broth are: proline, glycine, glutamine, and alanine. Proline is important for a healthy gut and digestion and has been helpful in treating “leaky gut syndrome”. It also reduces cellulite to make skin more supple, and helps regenerate cartilage in joints. [3] Glycine is the simplest of all the amino acids, and serves as the basic module for the manufacture of other amino acids. Researchers consider it to be conditionally essential because of its vital role in the synthesis of hemoglobin and porphyin (for healthy blood); creating (for supplying energy to our cells); bile salts (for digesting fat); glutathione (for detoxification); and DNA and RNA [4]. By prompting the body to secrete more stomach acid, glycine has helped treat people suffering from acid reflux and a full spectrum of inflammatory symptoms and diseases.[5]

Glutamine, the third most common amino acid in broth, is known to protect our gut lining and provide metabolic fuel for the villi of the small intestine, an important consideration for people suffering from malabsorption from the flattened villi caused by celiac or other gut diseases. Along with proline and glycine, glutamine enhances recovery from injuries, wounds, burns, stress, post-surgery trauma and most major illnesses. Patients whose diets have been supplemented with glutamine show quicker recoveries and earlier hospital releases. [6]

Finally we get to alanine, the fourth most prevalent amino acid in broth. It has roles in proper liver function, the production of glucose, and the citric acid cycle. Athletes and bodybuilders take extra alanine for endurance and the building of muscle mass. Alanine can be useful to improve physical functioning in the elderly. Alanine has been proposed as an anti-aging compound, though more research is needed.[7]

The takeaway is that collagen and gelatin – richly found in bone broth - are thought to be the unsung heroes in our diets, aiding in digestion, building bones, muscle, ligaments, and helping treat a long list of diseases. Today, all four of these amino acids are classified as “non-essential”. However, an abundance of research indicates that at least the first two – proline and glycine - should be considered “essential”, meaning the body, under normal circumstances, cannot make enough of these compounds and must get them from food.[8] One study found that chicken collagen dramatically improved symptoms in sixty patients suffering from rheumatoid arthritis; four of them (14%) showed complete remission, and none showed any side effects! [9] Similar results were obtained in a much larger trial of 274 patients with active rheumatoid arthritis. [10] How’s that for a real medicine?!


Glycosaminoglycans or GAGs are long sugar carbohydrate chains found in numerous cells in the human body. Their primary role is to maintain and support collagen (discussed above), elastin and turgitity (bounce) in the cellular spaces and keep protein fibers in balance and proportion. In broth we find three types: chondroitin sulfate, glucosamine, and hyaluronic acid. If these three GAGs sound familiar to you, its because they are by far the most common, and priciest, supplements sold today to reduce inflammation, and help with arthritis and joint pain.

One recent study showed that chondroitin sulfate performed well in reducing pain and damage in patients with osteoarthritis.[11] Glucosamine is vital for building cartilage. The science on the benefits of ingesting glucosamine are all over the map – some report improvements in symptoms related to arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease, others report no difference when compared to placebo.[12]  We really have no idea.

Hyaluronic acid is known as the “goo molecule”; it lubricates and cushions joints, muscles, bones and other moveable parts, and is a major component of synovial fluid. Every cell in the body contains hyaluronic acid, and it provides continuous moisture by binding up to a thousand times its weight in water! Because hyaluronic acid only lasts three days or less, the body needs to make a lot of it – and often. [13] It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that bone broth provides the raw materials.

SIDE NOTE:  Leave it to the Italians...
Modern medicine may soon promote hyaluronic acid to improve our sex lives. In the May 2013 issue of the International Journal of Impotence Research, we learn that 110 “Italian stallions” underwent injections of hyaluronic acid into the penis to increase volume and circumference, prevent premature ejaculation, and improve overall sexual satisfaction. According to the doctors at the Centro di Medicina Sessuale in Milan, both the men and their partners concluded the producer was worth it and that size really does matter.


This Bone broth contains calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and other trace minerals. We know that at least some of this mineral content leaches out into the water, because the bones are crumbly and demineralized when the broth is done cooking. The addition of acid is to help draw out the minerals.

The key to broth’s magic is that these minerals are in forms that your body can easily absorb. In cultures where dairy products are not available, bone broth is an essential component to their diet. These minerals are essential for the development of strong bones and teeth, proper heart and nervous system function, and muscle growth and contraction. [15]

It is impossible to get a precise profile of the mineral content in broth because every batch is different. They type of animal, how it was treated, the animals diet, how many bones were used to make the broth all play a role in the mineral content. On that basis, we always suggest using bones from The Healthy Butcher that are 100% grassfed or organic, and to use bones from various animals.

How to make bone broth
Not all broths are created equal.

To make a good bone broth, there are two key ingredients: good bones and a lot of time. Essentially your goal is to extract everything that can be extracted, and you don’t want to extract the rubbish that’s fed to conventional animals. Use 100% grassfed or Organic beef bones, Organic chicken bones, or any animal bones from animals raised the way nature intended.

- 6-8 lbs. of bones (Beef, Veal, Chicken, Duck all work well)
- 1 lb. celery
- 2 lbs. onion
- 1 lb. carrots
- 4 bay leaves
- 8 cloves garlic
- ¼ bunch fresh thyme
- 2 tsp sea salt
- ¼ cup cider vinegar

Watch Chef Ryan make a bone broth, or follow these instructions:

OPTIONAL STEP: Roasting your bones beforehand for 20-30 minutes at 500°F adds amazing depth of flavour.
1. Add bones to cold, filtered water. Ensure the bones are covered by at least 4” of water. (Cold water and a slow start will help draw impurities to the top, which will then be skimmed and discarded.
2. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to low simmer for 6 hours. As impurities appear on surface (scum), use ladle to skim off any foam or impurities.
3. After 6 hours, add your mirepoix, herbs and/or seasonings, cider vinegar and salt to the pot. If you were adding additional flavourings/ingredients, this is the time to add them in. Aside: The vinegar helps to draw out calcium and other minerals from the bones... makes for a great science experiment with the kids (see How to Make a Naked Egg).
4. After 8 hours have elapsed, remove from heat and strain liquid.
5. Cool the broth as quickly as possible, and portion to your preference.
6. Once cooled, skim settled fat from top layer.
Broth can be enjoyed fresh for up to 5 days, or freeze in portions and reheat in a pot from frozen.

Simmer your broth for a minimum of 6-8 hours (for beef, veal, lamb, pork or game), or 4-6 hours for Chicken/turkey/duck, and up to a maximum of 24 hours. Longer time means more extraction of nutrients (and flavour).

TIP: Adding other flavours and seasonings like turmeric, ginger, chili peppers or dried mushrooms will enhance the flavour and nutritional benefits of your broth.

The Healthy Butcher's Bone Broths

Enjoy our homemade bone broths, available at The Healthy Butcher or available for home delivery via

The Healthy Butcher's Bone Broths

From left-to-right:  The Healthy Butcher's Organic Lemongrass Chicken Broth, The Healthy Butcher's Organic Ancho Pepper Beef Broth, and The Healthy Butcher's Ginger Duck Broth.


The bottom line is this. Grandma was right all along, soup is just what we need when we get sick... and it so happens to be a great part of a diet for when we’re healthy as well. If you’re looking to survive on bone broth, thinking it’s a magic elixir, the solution to all of your ailments, you should look elsewhere. If you’re looking to replace a cup of coffee with something that will no doubt provide infinitely more nutrition, you don’t need to adopt the Paleo diet to appreciate a good warm cup of delicious bone broth.

Recommended Reading

Sally Fallon Morell:  Nourishing Broth: An Old-Fashioned Remedy for the Modern World.  Grand Central Life & Style, 2014. Print.

Amy Myers, M.D.: The Autoimmune Solution: Prevent and Reverse the Full Spectrum of Inflammatory Symptoms and Diseases.  Harperone, 2015: Print.

"Eat This: Bone Broth" PaleoLeap. Web. March 31, 2015.

Daniel, Kaayla. "Why Broth is Beautiful: Essential Roles for Proline, Glycine and Gelatin" The Weston A. Price Foundation. Web. March 31, 2015.

Siebecker, Allison. "Traditional Bone Broth in Modern Health and Disease." Townsend Letter. Web. March 31, 2015.


[1] Sally Fallon Morel. Nourishing Broth: An Old-Fashioned Remedy for the Modern World. (Grand Central Life & Style, 2014.) Ms. Fallon provides a great summary of the history of MSG worth reading:

"In 1908, a Japanese researcher isolated a new taste substance from the seaweed kombu. He noted that the substance had a singular taste, different from sweet, salty, sour, and bitter. He called the taste umami. The chemical he discovered was free glutamic acid, which when combined with sodium gave the most pleasing umami taste. That substance is called monosodium glutamate, or MSG.
Within a year, a new company called Ajinomoto began manufacturing MSG for the food industry, and it was MSG that made possible the profound changes to the Western diet that occurred during the twentieth century, especially after World War II. That's because monosodium glutamate in its many guises - MSG, hydrolyed protein, autolyzed protein, yeast extract, soy protein isolate - gave the food industry an inexpensive way to imitate the taste of broth.
MSG made possible the proliferation of new products that flooded the supermarket shelves after World War II. Manufacturers used it in canned bouillon, canned soups, and canned stews - aloowing the food processing industry to imitate for pennies the natural flavor of carefully prepared broth. The earliest frozen TV dinners deatured turkey with gravy - not gravy made with nourishing turkey stock but a gravylike substance comprised of water, thickeners, emulsifiers, artificial colorings, and artificial flavourings, mostly MSG. Canned spaghetti sauce was no longer an insipid imitation of the real thing but, thanks to MSG, something that had a seductive savory taste.
Whether MSG poses health problems is a matter of debate - the industry insists that MSG is a minor bother only for the rare sensititve individual and has no long-term consequences for the majority. But independent researchers are not so sure, citing neurological problems as the long-term consequence of this excitatory substance, especially in children and the elderly. Rarely mentioned is the fact that MSG is used to induce obesity in laboratory animals. Has the flood of MSG-laden foods contributed to today's epidemic of obesity? It is a question that needs to be explored.
Whatever the health hazards of MSG, one thing is certain: The use of MSG in our food has allowed the eclipse of nourishing broth, something that tradition tells us is good for us, something that science indicates should be in our diet on a daily basis."

[2] Sally Fallon Morrell. Broth is Beautiful. January 1, 2000. Web. March 30, 2015.

[3] Bone Broth Benefits for Digestion, Arthritis, and Cellulite. Web. March 30, 2015.

[4] Sally Fallon Morel. Nourishing Broth: An Old-Fashioned Remedy for the Modern World. (Grand Central Life & Style, 2014.)

[5] Amy Myers, M.D.: The Autoimmune Solution: Prevent and Reverse the Full Spectrum of Inflammatory Symptoms and Diseases. (Harperone, 2015).

[6] Sally Fallon Morel. Nourishing Broth: An Old-Fashioned Remedy for the Modern World. (Grand Central Life & Style, 2014.)

[7] Ibid.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Science. 1993 Sep 24;261(5129):1727-30. Available online here.:

[10] Arthritis Rheum. 1998 Feb;41(2):290-7.

[11] Curr Med Res Opin. 2013 Mar;29(3):259-67. doi: 10.1185/03007995.2012.753430. Epub 2013 Jan 31. Available online here:

[12] What is Glucosamine? Web. March 31, 2015.

[13] Sally Fallon Morel. Nourishing Broth: An Old-Fashioned Remedy for the Modern World. (Grand Central Life & Style, 2014.)

[14] Ibid.

[15] Megan Christie. Bone Broth: A Broth that Can Do More than Cure a Cold IDM VI. Web. March 31, 2015.



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