When Sharon Brown’s second son was young, he suffered from chronic sinus infections, ear infections, and other illnesses. She trusted the doctors and the medications they were prescribing, and at the time had little knowledge of the immune system and holistic treatments.
But his health didn’t improve.
“Since we implemented this diet, he has not been on a single round of antibiotics or been back to the doctor in nearly 10 years,” said one mom.
The Carlsbad, California, native began to do extensive research on the body, food as medicine, natural remedies, the gut, and alternative methods of healing. The family switched to a whole-foods and nutrient-based diet of seasonal fruit and vegetables, organically sourced proteins, nothing boxed or shelf-stable — and homemade bone broth.
“Bone broth went into every meal I prepared, including veggies, meats, and potatoes. Within three months, we started seeing improvement,” Brown told LifeZette. “My son is now 17 years old, and since we implemented this diet, he has not been on a single round of antibiotics or been back to the doctor in nearly 10 years. Food was and still is his medicine.”
The experience inspired her to become a certified clinical nutritionist, as well as a gut and psychology syndrome (GAPS) practitioner; she is able to support people in private practice all over the United States. She ultimately launched Bonafide Provisions to help make the healing power of bone broth convenient and accessible to all.
While many have yet to learn that bone broth exists, let alone that it’s been trending throughout the United States the past several years, bone broth is a restorative beverage that has been consumed for thousands of years throughout different cultures.
It was removed as a staple in the American diet in the 1950s, Brown said, as big food corporations pushed the more “convenient” bouillon and canned stock.
But these substitutes, according to health experts and a growing number of fans, have nothing on the real deal.
- A true bone broth is slowly simmered over 24 to 48 hours to maximize nutrient content by producing gelatin from collagen-rich joints and by extracting minerals from the bones into the broth. Nutrient-dense broth is made from the bones of animals using water, bones, vegetables, and apple cider vinegar.
“Bone broth is a great source of bio-available minerals, including phosphorus, magnesium, calcium, silicon and sulfur, and this high concentration of minerals helps support immunity,” said Brown. “It’s also incredibly beneficial for people looking to support gut health, those who seek to reinforce skin and joint health, as well as active individuals and athletes who wish to support performance and recovery.”
It’s gluten-free for those who have a gluten sensitivity or Celiac disease, and paleo-friendly for those who follow a paleo diet, she added. Bone broth is also extremely versatile and can be sipped in place of coffee or tea, used as a base for soups and smoothies, and incorporated into a variety of different recipes.
“We have served bone broth to our clients for the past five years,” said New York City’s Tricia Williams, executive chef and founder of Food Matters NYC. “The trend started with our clients who are athletes. We give them half a liter a day.”
Williams said that more than half of her clients now — especially through the cold winter months — all supplement their meals with bone broth. And the health benefits, she said, are real.
“Bone broth is not some new miracle liquid. If we look back to the wisdom of our ancestors, bone broth has been a healing part of many cultures. It’s just marketed differently now,” said Williams. “We are seeing health trends right now that go back to traditional wisdoms [sic] of nutrition. The fermented food craze is no different. Bone broth is a great supplement to a meal plan.”
And it is just that — a supplement to a meal plan.
And while food trends like these often appear on either coast in the U.S., those living in the “flyover states” are still in the loop. Several families LifeZette talked with laughed and simply said, “I’ve got some on the stove right now.”
“First things first: We called it chicken stock, not bone broth,” said Amy Erickson, from the Minneapolis, Minnesota, area. “But with its rise in popularity, the name has changed. I grew up making chicken stock/bone broth with my mother. I still save bones when I make chicken and freeze them until I have enough to fill my crockpot.”
Besides loving a good bowl of homemade chicken soup on a cold winter night, Erickson said she appreciates the broth, "because we throw away so many valuable parts of an animal in the U.S. We don't eat organ meat, and the least we can do is use the bones in a beneficial way."
Companies specializing in bone broth are popping up and restaurants are cashing in on the trend as well, Brown said. Brothee, for example, based in Los Angeles, California, creates broths by "selecting the finest organic and wild ingredients." After carefully roasting the bones (from grass-fed animals), their brother is slowly simmered to preserve "valuable nutrients with delicious flavor." The company offers three core broths: chicken, beef, and vegan mushroom, according to the website. It caters to diets that are vegan, gluten-free, paleo, dairy-free, and more.
Brown doesn't believe the bone broth "trend" will go away any time soon.
"I believe we are going to find that bone broth isn't a fad, but rather a thousand-year-old tradition that is coming back into the American diet to stay. Consumers are more educated now about the healing benefits of the foods they consume."