Taking stock of your health

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Cooking chicken broth

WOULDN’T it be wonderful if there was a cheap, effective one stop shop to treat skin conditions, joint problems and digestive issues, while ensuring you have shiny hair and strong nails?

Well, you’ll be pleased to hear there is such a thing and not alone is it nutritious, it’s also delicious. To top it all off, you can even make it right in your own kitchen.

I’m talking, of course, about bone broth. It’s as old as the hills and often featured at times when it was necessary to stretch expensive ingredients like meat products as far as possible. It was also considered a good option for those who were convalescing.

They may not have had enough vitality and digestive fire to break down the complex protein structure of meat itself, but could derive the benefits of the minerals and trace elements by consuming broth.

Ask your butcher for bones specifically to make broth, or use the bones left over after you’ve cooked a chicken or piece of meat. Certainly don’t throw the bones out, as that’s where a lot of the nourishment is.

You might even find that kids who don’t like eating pieces of meat are happy to eat soups, stews and ragus made using bone broth as the base. By consuming vegetables or lentils cooked in broth, or stock, the nutrients inside become a lot more bioavailable.

Because broth itself is high in magnesium, calcium and phosphorous, amongst other things, it’s a great tonic for your bones. People who have been diagnosed with osteoporosis or osteopoenia would do well to consume broth on a regular basis. Rather than spending a fortune on expensive creams and lotions, drinking a mug or two of broth each day rebuilds your skin from the inside out.

Broth is rich in collagen, the substance we need to plump up our skin. This tends to deplete as we get older, and will also be under attack if you smoke, drink a lot of alcohol, eat a lot of sugar or spend a lot of time indoors.

No doubt you’ve seen hyaluronic acid mentioned on various beauty products. It helps keep your skin hydrated, so it looks more youthful and vibrant. You’ve guessed it. Broth is your go-to food in this respect too, providing plenty hyaluronic acid. Equally, if you find your nails and hair are very weak, constantly breaking at the slightest provocation, make broth a fixture on your daily menu.

You can make a large pot of broth, depending on how many bones you have available, then freeze it in batches, so it’s ready to use whenever you need it. If you only have small amounts of bones at any one time, if you live on your own, for example, freeze the bones and once you have enough stored up, you can make a large batch of broth, to maximise efficiency.

You can add various herbs, like bay leaf, thyme, sage, black peppercorns and so on, as well as pieces of vegetable, like celery or carrot. Perhaps the most important thing to add though is a spoonful of organic apple cider vinegar, as that helps extract even more minerals from the bones.

You really don’t have to do much with the bones other than that. If you’ve already roasted a chicken, for example, and have removed all the meat, place the bones in a large pot. Cover with water and that all-important vinegar, adding herbs and vegetables, if you wish. Bring the pot to the boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer.

If you see any impurities floating to the surface over the following hours, just skim them off with a spoon and discard. Just use healthy bones when making your broth. Don’t use battery chickens, for example. This way, you’ll end up with a much healthier broth, but you’ll also have a lot less scum forming on the top.

After a number of hours, take the pot off the heat, leave to cool and then transfer to storage tubs to keep in the freezer or into a kilner jar in the fridge, if you intend using it in the immediate days.

The overwhelming benefit of drinking broth is its restorative impact on gut health. Numerous conditions, such as eczema, psoriasis, arthritis, asthma, cognitive conditions, colitis and IBS all respond well to bone broth consumption for this reason.

They all originate in the gut, so restoring optimum gut health is integral to lasting improvement in these and many other conditions.

For such a cheap, easily produced food, it punches way above its weight and is the ideal food to have to hand on these icy, wintery days. Just try consuming it for the next month and see what health improvements you notice, for you and the whole family.