I’ve written about bone broth before, but almost a decade down the track, it’s time to take another look at it, this time through the lens of perimenopause.
I stated making bone broth all those years ago as a gut-healing protocol after one of the family became sick with a compromised gut. At that time, I literally had a batch on the go almost constantly so that we had a steady supply.
It’s remained a staple all those years, mainly over winter when it’s immune-boosting abilities are put to the test – it always helps and comes up trumps as helping anyone who isn’t feeling well or is starting to feel rundown.
While I’m still a huge advocate for it for the above reasons – and it makes dishes taste much better – it’s now become a focus for me as a way of supporting my own health through perimenopause.
So I thought I’d share with you some reasons why.
How bone broth can be good for perimenopause and beyond
Bone broth is loaded with gelatin and collagen, and the several different forms of collagen comprise around 30 percent of your body’s protein. Connective tissues like cartilage, tendons, ligaments, bone and skin all rely on collagen, but as we age our ability to make collagen decreases. Wear and tear on my joints from years of sport and sitting at a computer is beginning to become painfully obvious (literally), so I’m welcoming gelatin and collagen into my diet regularly.
Look, collagen is promoted as some kind of anti-ageing cure, but that’s not why I use it. It is critical for your skin (and hair and nails) and while the beauty industry bangs on about that, I’m more interested in the studies that have shown gelatin to give some protection against UV damage to skin, given I have had two decades of skin cancer treatments. I figure the gelatin isn’t going to hurt me, but it may well help me, and more protection is always welcome.
Gut and digestion support
Your health starts in the gut – pretty much everything relies on the efficacy of your gut, including your ability to digest the good stuff from what you eat. As we age, our digestive system can become sluggish and compromised, including a reduction in stomach acid. The gelatin in bone broth is known for it’s ability to heal the gut lining, and the broth is loaded with minerals that are easy to absorb and shown to aid digestion.
Bone broth is loaded with amino acids that support your adrenal glands, which are often stretched to their limit in this stage of life, when we experience high amounts of stress but hormone fluctuations mean we are less able to cope with the stress.
It’s also been shown to help with moods, promote better sleep, aid detoxification, and have cardiovascular and metabolic benefits, all of which are mighty useful during this transition phase. This guide from Chris Kresser has plenty of the nitty gritty if you’re interested.
Some people drink bone broth every day. I don’t. I never will. I don’t see it as a cure all, and don’t think anything other than water is something you should have every day.
And as with all things, there are downsides – in this case, if you are sensitive to glutamates. I can’t comment on this as I’ve not researched it and have no experience with it.
How do I use it then?
I make fast soups and stews – add onion, garlic, chicken, various vegetables, grated ginger, tumeric, garlic (or garden herbs). Or add miso paste and tofu and veg.
Or I use it to add to other dishes, like curries.
Or I add to pan cooked greens, with garlic.
The kids will sometimes make a ‘cup of soup’ – use some broth, add tamari or miso, with tofu, peas, carrot, shallots, and sometimes with noodles.
My (latest) bone broth recipe
I take an organic whole chicken, pop it into a large stock pot, fill with water, along with about 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar (and honestly, I don’t measure, just pour, so don’t quote me on that, it might be more like a 1/2 cup), and the offcuts of organic onions (including skins), celery tops, carrot tops and peels, ginger peel, garlic peel, and a tablespoon of black peppercorns.
Simmer on the stove for two hours. Then I remove the chicken, remove the flesh from the bones (this shredded meat is used for dinner and/or lunches), and return all the bones, skin and cartilage – the scraps – back to the pot, top up with extra water and leave to simmer a further four hours.
Remove from the heat, and using a ladle, I scoop the liquid out, pour through a strainer into glass jars. Allow to cool slightly before putting on lids and moving to fridge or freezer. It will cool with a layer of fat on the top – that’s not a bad thing, it seals the broth. And the broth will be super gelatinous – very much like a jar of jelly. Again, that’s a good thing – that’s the gelatin content.
As you can see, I’m a chicken broth fan, rather than beef broth. I’ve made it with beef bones before, but prefer the more subtle flavour of chicken.
I keep a store of veggie offcuts in my freezer, putting them in there as I go when making dinners, so I have a supply when it’s time to make broth. If you don’t have offcuts, cut up an onion (use the skins too) and about three stalks of celery (leaves as well).
I choose to use only organic meat and veg – you are literally leaching the minerals from the bones (the vinegar draws the minerals out), so I’d rather not have any toxins and chemicals included in the mix.
And yes, I’ve made it with a slow cooker – it used to be my preferred method – but I prefer doing it this way now. I’ve had much greater success this way.