You’re probably familiar with bone broth as good for your own health. But it’s time to take a second look at this not-so-new superfood, because it has benefits for the whole family - even your little one!
What is bone broth?
Bone broth is made from animal bones and connective tissue that have been simmered with herbs, vegetables, and spices. Bone broth is made by simmering these simple whole ingredients in water for 12 to 24 hours or for two hours in a pressure cooker, which allows minerals and other nutrients to leach from the bones into the water. The result - a deliciously nourishing nutrient-packed broth.
Back to our roots
While bone broth has quickly risen in popularity in recent years and might seem like a relatively new addition to the health and wellness world, it has actually been around for thousands of years. Bone broth has roots in traditional cultures from all around the world. After all, our ancestors ate nose to tail and making bone broth was one way of ensuring that they didn’t waste any part of an animal.
Why is it so beneficial
While the exact nutritional content of bone broth varies based on the type of bones used and time and method of cooking, bone broth is loaded with a wide variety of minerals and amino acids that benefit the entire body.
Bone broth generally contains calcium, magnesium, copper, iron, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, and zinc. It also contains 17 different amino acids, many of which are present as proteins like collagen and gelatin. These components help to support the health of your gut, skin, heart, metabolism, brain, mood, and immunity.
Can growing baby benefit too?
We’ve heard it's great for our own health, but bone broth is also an intensely nourishing food for the quickly developing bodies and bellies of our little ones. Here’s how bone broth can benefit babies:
- Supports gut health
- Infants are born with permeable guts that close up through infancy. Although the exact time frame of this closure is uncertain, the amino acids in bone broth are known to help support the process of tightening the loose junctions in gut lining. In fact, bone broth is recommended for adults with leaky gut for this same reason! Having a less permeable gut may also help in preventing food allergies and sensitivities when introducing solids.
- Supports immunity
- Bone broth is supportive to gut health at all stages of life and the gut is at the heart of a healthy immune system. Bone broth is an excellent way to help establish a healthy ecosystem and strong immunity in little ones.
- Supports skeletal health
- Calcium and magnesium are essential for the development of strong bones and teeth and these minerals are found in a form that is easy to digest and assimilate by immature digestive systems. The glucosamine and chondroitin in bone broth support baby’s skeletal health and the gelatin and collagen help to build connective tissue, cartilage, and bone.
- Supports digestion
- Introduction of solids can be tough on immature digestive systems, but the glycine in bone broth can help to support digestion by helping to produce stomach and bile acid. The gelatin can also help to draw fluid into the intestine and improve gut motility.
- Expands baby’s palate
- Until solids are introduced, babies are only familiar with the sweet taste of breast milk or formula. The rich and savory flavor of bone broth is a great way to introduce other tastes into baby’s repertoire.
When can I start?
Bone broth can be given in small amounts as soon as your baby has been introduced to solids. Just remember, if baby is under a year, the goal isn't to replace breast milk or formula with broth, rather to offer it as an addition to breast milk and solid foods.
Also note that bone broth is high in histamine, so if your babe struggles to break down histamine (as evidenced by eczema, runny nose, flushed skin, vomiting, or other reactions) you may consider limiting exposure or adding in other foods or probiotics to support the enzyme diamine oxidase (DAO) that assists in the breakdown of histamine.
How do I make it?
Bone broth is actually quite simple to make. It requires a lot of time, but that time is almost entirely hands off - just throw everything in a pot and wait for the magic to happen! See our favorite recipe from Elana's Pantry here!
The quality of the bones is key. Bones from an animal who spent its life on a crowded factory farm and veggies sprayed with pesticides won’t result in as nutritious of a broth compared to bones of an animal raised on pasture. You can mail order organic pasture raised bones from Belcampo, or find them are your local farmer's market.
There are some very high quality store bought brands available either as shelf stable, refrigerated, or frozen. Serenity and Joe like to use Belcampo, Bare Bones, and Bonafide Provisions. Serenity blends her homemade (or store-bought) bone broth with liver for an added nutritional boost.
And of course, the Serenity Kids new Toddler Purees with Bone Broth are a great intro to this ancient superfood. The purees combine organic veggies, ethical meats and nutrient-rich bone broth into a shelf-stable pouch. Try them today!
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Kresser, Chris. “Bone Broth Benefits: Everything You Need to Know.” Chris Kresser, 16 Aug. 2019, chriskresser.com/the-bountiful-benefits-of-bone-broth-a-comprehensive-guide/.
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Hillary Bennetts is the founder and owner of Purposeful Plate Nutrition. A member of the National Association of Nutrition Professionals, she provides nutrition consulting services to individuals and businesses. Hillary holds a BA in Economics from Washington and Jefferson College, an MBA from Emory University, and an NC from Bauman College. A marathoner, mountain climber, and mama, she lives in Colorado with her husband, son, and golden retriever.
Stay connected to Hillary on Instagram and grab the free smart snacking guide for mamas on her website.