This “It” ingredient of a several food-oriented lifestyle movements (Paleo, organic, whole food, and preindustrial to name a few) may be just what you and your dog’s diet needs.
This natural source of vital minerals and bone and joint-building nutrients has been used for thousands of years around the world. Hippocrates made mention of its various benefits in and outside of the kitchen.i Evidence of the first broths from the Paleolithic era reveal broth was made in animal stomachs by adding hot rocks to a mixed bag of meat, bones, and wild vegetables. Most recently, the LA Lakers under the instruction of Dr. Cate Shanahan, a Cornell University alum and nutritionist have made bone broth a regular part of their diets.
What It Is
A broth is typically a seasoned liquid created by simmering meat, sometimes grains, veggies, and bones and an acid (like vinegar) for several hours. It’s used in cooking as a flavor enhancer or enjoyed alone.
A stock is similar to a broth and is prepared the same way, but generally features bones and can include meat.
Bone Broth is a bit of a confusing mix of the two: it’s often unseasoned, but you can enjoy it alone, and it may not include veggies—but it can if you like, for flavor. It can be simmered anywhere from 8-12 hours or more, with an acid (again, like vinegar or wine). Some recipes call for upwards of 48 hours.
What it does
Sally Fallon Morell, author of “Nourishing Traditions” (over half a million copies sold), is a farmer and a leader of the Weston A. Price Foundation. (The group is dedicated to promoting preindustrial foods and cooking techniques.) Studies on the medicinal effects of bone broth are still scant, but the foundation has performed extensive analysis offering evidence of what many traditional cultures, the world over, have already noted:
Reduced inflammation, eased digestive issues, revitalized joints, better liver detoxification, healthier dopamine levels, and a stronger immune system. viii
Bone broth is an excellent source of important amino acids proline and glycine,ix as well as glucosamine, chondroitin, magnesium, and collagen. These essential nutrients strengthen, build and renew joints, strengthen the immune system, aid in stress recovery, encourage fur and nail growth, and can help the liver detoxify—a must for your dog in a world of pesticides, medications, artificial fertilizers, and chemical run off in neighborhood drains and dog parks.
This use is one the LA Lakers and other athletes swear by. Hydrating and full of beneficial amino acids and electrolytes, bone broth can be a great way to recover from a competition, work out, or a day in the field—sans sugar or caffeine. The canine athlete in your life has similar needs. Bone broth can be frozen and added to bowl of water or served chilled to help your dog recover from strenuous activities.
Immune System - Bone broth can lend your immune system a hand in fending off upper respiratory tract infections—if made from chicken bones. According to a study published in 2000 in the medical journal Chest, “Chicken soup may contain a number of substances with beneficial medicinal activity.”xi That beneficial activity includes reducing inflammation (not to mention keeping you hydrated)—perfect for the joins of your aging pet.
Glycine - Glycine is required in large amounts by the body to detoxify and keeps the GI tract healthy by stimulating it to produce gastric acid.xii A study published in the American Journal of Physiology found low levels of gastric acid can make digesting proteins difficult and impairs the absorption of B vitamins, vitamin C and vital minerals. Glycine also aids the body in wound healing.xiii Bone broth is en excellent source of this simple, yet important amino acid. Digestive problems can become perilous extremely quickly for all breeds. A strong GI tract is essential for a healthy pet or working dog.
Glucosamine and Chondroitin
A study published in the International Journal of Medical Sciences found the glucosamine and chondroitin in collagen—like that found in large amounts in bone broth—to be just what your body needs to maintain joint, tendon, and ligament health. (Bone broth is one of, if not the best natural source of collagen.) Keeping knees and hips strong and flexible can be a battle for breeds prone to hip dysplasia. Adding bone broth to your dog’s diet is an easy, effective way to help ensure a long, comfortable life.
This mineral is found in every cell in our body, allows us to absorb the calcium we need for healthy bones, is a potent detoxifier, and drives almost all of the metabolic activities in our bodies (and those of our furry companions). Sadly certain fertilizers, the tannins in our favorite coffees and teas, and various preservatives can inhibit and exhaust our bodies’ supplies of this vital mineral. Bone broth is an efficient, tasty way to maintain sufficient levels of magnesium in our diets and those of our dogs. xiv
Where to Buy it
You can find this nutrient-rich “super food,” at your local Whole Foods, some Farmer’s Markets (this depends on the variety of vendors at your location), and at some grocery chains. Unfortunately, the prepackaged bone broths at stores often lack the amounts of minerals, amino acids, gelatin, and cartilage to make the broth worth its purchase.
Making it at home is great, cost-effective solution. Otherwise, make sure your store-bought broth passes the “Jello-O” test: It should solidify like the fruity, gelatin-based treat when put in the fridge overnight.