A Nutritionist On Why & How You Should Be Eating Bone Broth Right Now
As a dietitian with a background in naturopathic medicine, I use functional medicine approaches to addressing chronic illness from the root cause seeking the "why" behind imbalance. I have found over my past 10 years of clinical experience that if chronic stress is not addressed, and the individual is running on survival mode, they will not heal. Anxiety is truly the Achilles heel of wellness.
Why caring for your gut is essential at a time of stress.
The gut includes both the small and large intestine, which are essential for nutrient absorption and production, housing the immune system and microbiome, detoxification and hydration, neurotransmitter production, and interaction with the central nervous system.
If the gut is in an optimal state of health, the lining will be intact, able to prevent large particles or irritants from entering the bloodstream, provide space for good bacteria to thrive, and enhance nutrient absorption.
When the gut is in a stressed state with leaky gut or damage to the delicate internal lining, you are at risk for nutrient deficiency and increased food and chemical sensitivity, as the damaged barrier allows large compounds into the bloodstream, creating an overactive inflammatory response.
In addition, when the gut lining is damaged, many of the large particles that enter the bloodstream are more disruptive to brain and mental health as they now may cross the blood-brain barrier and interfere with the way your neurotransmitters function.
Adding insult to injury, stress alone—from mental or emotional stressors—can directly drive damage to gut tissue by depleting glutamine and sending signals of panic through the enteric nervous system, the second brain in your gut regulated by your microbiome. During the continued high stress climate of unknowns with the pandemic, it would be highly advised to be proactive in your gut support.
L-glutamine is an amino acid that serves as both a fuel source and a building block for your gut cells. When stressed, cortisol depletes glutamine1 from the body causing muscle aches, fatigue, and gut tissue weakening or damage.
Furthermore, when under stress, the body produces immunological signals2 of survival including secretory IgA, an antibody that protects mucosal membranes. Secretory IgA plays a significant role in leaky gut after chronic stimulation drives chronically low levels and gut permeability.
Bone broth: The key to gut support.
Prevent the hit of chronic stress on your gut by fueling the lining with foods rich in L-glutamine and connective tissue compounds. Glutamine is an amino acid that is found concentrated in dense protein foods: beef, lamb, chicken, seafood, grass-fed whey, eggs, and cabbage.
Bone broth provides a rich source of glutamine along with connective tissue support from collagen and gelatin. This synergy of ingredients makes bone broth the most powerful gut-supporting ingredient.
Beyond glutamine, bone broth provides arginine and glycine as potent amino acids. These both have been shown to aid in reducing inflammation and body fat.
Glycine aids in relaxation release of neuromuscular tension while supporting the production of GABA a neuroinhibitory mellowing-out neurotransmitter that reduces anxiety response. Not only are you protecting your gut from the impact of stress, but with bone broth, you can also reduce your body's stress response!
Yes, even in summer it is worth working bone broth into your diet, which can also serve as an electrolyte stabilizer providing sodium, potassium, calcium, and phosphorus, which are essential to replenish after a long day at the pool.
You may want to sip hot broth when cool in your home late in the evening or in the a.m. to swap out for your cup of coffee, or you can try sipping it just slightly warm or at room temperature blended into coconut milk, with turmeric, cilantro, and lime as a zesty mid-day pick-me-up.
How to pick the best bone broth in stores:
- When purchasing bone broth, choose a product with quality ingredients: ones that use grass-fed, organic, or free-range bones, seasonings, vegetables, and apple cider vinegar and are free of additives such as maltodextrin, MSG, or hydrolyzed proteins.
- Once the ingredients pass the test for quality, look for a product that notes a slow simmer process of at least 12 hours.
- Choose an option that has the least toxic packaging, such as a glass jar or BPA-free freezer bag.
Although packaged broths can be convenient, homemade, slow-simmered bone broth is by far the most complex in flavor. Plus, when you are in control of ingredients, you can count on the highest nutrient density.
- Be sure to always start with quality bones that you pre-roast for the best flavor.
- Adding an acid such as Bragg Raw Apple Cider Vinegar aids in leaching the nutrients out of the bones, enhancing release of amino acids glutamine, proline, arginine, and glycine, as well as minerals.
- Be sure to add black peppercorns to aid in your digestion of the fatty protein in bone broth and enough sea salt to balance out all the flavors.
- You can take your bone broth to the next level by adding in nutrient-dense roots, herbs, spices, and vegetables.
5 creative ways to use bone broth.
To make the recipes below, start with 3 cups of simmering chicken or beef bone broth and add the suggested ingredients with salt and pepper to taste. Makes two (1½-cup) servings.
Simple Cream of Spinach
• ½ cup onion, sautéed
• 3 cups chopped and sautéed spinach
• ½ cup full-fat coconut milk
Blend all ingredients on high for 2 minutes until creamy.
Bone Broth Bloody Mary
• 2 cloves garlic, crushed
• 2 ounces pickle juice (choose one with live probiotics)
• 16 ounces organic tomato juice
Cool broth down to room temperature, then shake with tomato juice to combine. Shake with remaining ingredients on ice, and add hot sauce, to taste.
Turmeric Lime Broth
• Juice of ½ lime
• 1 tablespoon dried turmeric
• ⅓ cup coconut milk, canned
• ⅓ cup cilantro leaves, chopped
Blend broth, lime, turmeric, and coconut milk on high for about 1 minute until creamy. Top with coarse salt and cilantro.
• ⅔ cup mushrooms, sautéed in sesame oil
• 1 tablespoon miso
• Hot sesame oil, to taste
Remove broth from heat, and stir ingredients until well combined, then top with chopped scallions and sesame seeds.
• ½ cup sautéed onion
• 1½ cups stewed or sautéed fresh tomatoes
• 3 tablespoons pesto
Blend broth on high with the onions and tomatoes for about 2 minutes until creamy, then top with pesto.
Ali Miller R.D., L.D., CDE is a Registered Dietitian with a naturopathic background and a contagious passion for using nutrients and food as the foundation of treatment protocols and programs. She received her bachelor's in nutrition and dietetics from Bastyr University. She is the author of the cookbook Naturally Nourished: Food-as-Medicine for Optimal Health, The Anti-Anxiety Diet, and The Anti-Anxiety Cookbook.
Her Food-As-Medicine philosophy is supported by up-to-date scientific research for a functional integrative approach to healing the body. Ali is a certified diabetes educator (CDE) and renowned expert in the ketogenic diet with over a decade of clinical results using a unique whole foods approach tailored to support thyroid, adrenal and hormonal balance.
Ali’s message has influenced millions through the medical community and media with television, print, and her award winning podcast, Naturally Nourished. Ali’s expertise can be accessed through her website: www.alimillerRD.com offering her blog, podcast, virtual learning, and access to her practice and supplement line Naturally Nourished.