Chicken Stock for Your Bones, Joints, Immunity, and Digestion — A True Superfood!

Chicken stock. Maybe your mom made it when you were young, or maybe  after Thanksgiving she turned the turkey carcass into soup. It’s not that I ever questioned why my mom did those things, but I didn’t think about there being any health benefits. I suppose if I had contemplated it at all, I would have most likely just thought it was a way to use more of the bird—to make more meals out of it (to save money?). Today, it’s pretty easy to go to the store and buy a can or box of soup stock. The problem is that when you buy the soup, it has been processed enough that it is no longer containing many of the nutritional benefits. Additionally, it probably has things added to it that don’t benefit you to ingest, especially the non-organic canned varieties.

There are so many things chicken stock can do for you in terms of your health, and it really is quite easy to do yourself.

First, the benefits of making stock with a whole chicken (or with lots of chicken pieces that contain bones/joints):

  • Chicken broth is hydrophillic. This means that when you ingest it, it attracts water (instead of repelling it, like most cooked foods do), and it becomes especially easy to digest and assimilate the nutrients. For people who have trouble digesting raw vegetables, and for people (as most do) who ingest pasteurized milk, bone broths add significant quality and benefit to the diet.
  • The glycosaminoglycans in the connective tissue contain over 100 compounds that are supportive of your own connective tissue. For people with arthritis and/or joint issues, this is especially helpful, but it is also good for everyone. If you think about a person who takes a glucosamine supplement for their joints, consider that consuming broths made from a whole chicken contain that compound plus around 100 more. Additionally, the natural forms of these compounds are more easily assimilated in the body compared to a synthetic supplement.
  • The compounds in the bones/joints also translate to healthy (strong but flexible) bones.
  • Chicken broth has been shown to reduce the length of a cold, and it assists with recovering from the flu (this isn’t an Old Wives Tale—but it only works with the stock made from whole chicken parts!).
  • Chicken broth is soothing and repairing for the digestive tract. People who have IBS, colitis, gluten issues, and/or many other intestinal conditions, will find this especially helpful in repairing damage to the mucosal lining of the intestines.
(References: Deep Nutrition by Catherine Shanahan, Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon, and The Whole Food Guide to Strong Bones by Annemarie Colbin)
This is what you end up with--it takes a few steps, but yields quite a bit! I got 4 quarts (I didn't reduce it could if you want a stronger flavor or less liquid).

Second, the instructions:

Buy a whole organic free range chicken (the essence of this animal is going to be in your soup—so if it’s an unhealthy hormone/antibiotic exposed chicken, your soup will reflect that).

Put 4 quarts of filtered water into a large pot. Add the chicken, after you’ve cut off the wings, removed anything that was stored in the body cavity, and chopped it into a few large pieces (you can also use pieces of chicken instead of a whole one as long as the meat is still on the bones). Add 2 tbsp vinegar (this draws the “good stuff” out of the bones and joints) and then let this sit for one hour. Next, add two roughly chopped (peeled) carrots, one roughly chopped onion, and two chopped celery stalks. You can add garlic too. Next, turn the stove on High. When it boils, skim the scum off the top, and reduce to a simmer with the lid on for 6-24 hours (longer is better). When it is 10 minutes from being done, add a bunch of fresh parsley.

Strain the broth, pick the pieces of veg/chicken out of the pot that you may want to eat (I threw all of it out–the veg were really mushy, and there were a lot of little bones loose in there—I picked out the large not-gross pieces of chicken and saved those), and then store the broth in the fridge for up to 5 days, or in the freezer for much much longer. The chicken you save from this broth also contains many beneficial compounds because it was cooked on the bones. Anytime you eat meat that was cooked on the bone, you are gaining some benefit from it.

Now, what should you do with the stock? Eat it as soup (add whatever you want to it to make soup) or drink it warm (or cold–that might be gross!). Everyday…or as many days out of the week as you can.

I know it looks gross, but doesn't it make sense that if you consume the compounds that make up the healthy bones and joints, you'll translate those benefits into your own bones and joints?!

Have you ever made soup stock from bones? If not, would you? It’s such a cheap and simple thing to do, with so many great benefits—I’m having three clients test this for the intestinal healing benefit. If they actually stick to it consistently, I will let you know the results!

I hope you’re having a great week—I love the fact that it’s almost the end of the semester, and I have so many things to look forward to in the next month!

I’ve been a little lax on blogging—it’s funny, I have so many things I could have blogged about this week that I researched for clients, but I just didn’t post about them! Any of the topics interest you? Food and anxiety, cholesterol lowering without medication, gluten/thyroid issues/links, higher protein breakfast and lunch ideas, how to add more micronutrients to the diet, benefits of coconut for weight loss and thyroid health, what baby’s first food should be (egg yolks!) and what it should NOT be (rice cereal!)…

It’s cold enough here now that I’m having trouble sticking to my several-times-a-day activity plan (My real desire is to hibernate). I’m still getting 2-3 hours on most days, but definitely not on all days—I’m hoping winter break helps me in that department too.

I have also been experimenting in the kitchen (a lot!) with high fat, high protein recipes that satisfy some old carb cravings…there are a few awesome results that I’ll be sharing soon. I have been eating this way (10% or less of calories from carbs, no grains) since the beginning of August, and I am still a new person—physically and mentally. It’s a great feeling to have found (after so many years of being frustrated) the right plan for myself. I’m sure I’ll continue to evolve my habits too.

Do you feel like you have found your dietary niche? 


33 thoughts on “Chicken Stock for Your Bones, Joints, Immunity, and Digestion — A True Superfood!”

  1. My acupuncturist has recommended that I do a vegetarian, I want to for my health but am having a hard time thinking about actually doing it.  I could even buy bone broth at my local corner store (yes, they’re that awesome there!) but need to mentally trick myself into thinking it’s veggie broth!

  2. Heather (Where's the Beach)

    Well, as a vegetarian (and terribly squeamish at that) I’ve never made meat-based stocks. Now veggies stocks….. 😉 I love that you’re figuring out a diet that works best for you. I think that’s important. In some ways I feel like I have found my dietary niche, but I’m not always so certain. I’m feeling more compelled to give up all dairy.

  3. oh i vote on food and anxiety next. that would be interesting! chicken broth is so healing, homemade is the best source for us, agreed. I also want to try bone marrow for its health benefits. tried it?

  4. I’ve been interested in making bone broths for a while now but I live with a vegetarian and don’t want to gross him out 🙂

    I have definitely NOT found my dietary niche.  I go back and forth all the time between thinking I should try vegetarian, vegan, paleo, gluten-free, or just give up on dietary rules all together.  I hope that as time goes on that I’ll settle into something that feels right.

  5. Well…I shuddered a bit at the raw chicken picture…but I’d definitely be interested in hearing about any and all of those topics that you mentioned!  Would love to learn more about the best foods to introduce to a baby.  I’ve noticed that you haven’t been blogging much.  Life trumps blog…as well it should.  But I’m always happy to see you pop in my reader.  I miss you when I don’t “see” you for a while!  🙂

  6. nice to catch up with you, lisa! that is the beauty of blogging – we can all write our own blog and read other blogs when convenient!
    i have fond memories of my mom making homemade soup stock and soups, growing up. a hearty soup was a winter supper staple! i have never made stock…i’ve made soup about as many times as i can count on one hand!…but i do totally agree that the nutritional benefits are plentiful.
    i would enjoy reading more about food and anxiety, and feeding baby – not that i have one, but that sounds interesting!
    glad you have found what works for you, food-wise – i’d love to see what you have made up for hi fat hi protein recipes!

  7. No, have not found my dietary niche. #collegeproblems
    BUT I am excited to eat yummy food when I get home in a week and a half!! Can we make kale chips? And macaroons? And protein balls? hehe. balls. Talk to you soon love!

  8. I don’t know that I’ve completely found my niche but I am def. getting their. Since discovering some new-to-me foods that I actually like things have gotten easier. I do think it takes time as well as the ability to be extremely in tune with your body to know if you’ve found it or not!

  9. Nope, I STILL have not found my dietary niche. Probably because I don’t stick with things long enough. I do love the bone broth, though, and keep swearing to whip up a batch. My bones need it!

    I have also done low carb-, no-dairy and no-grain regimens. But nothing seems to make me say, “Wow, that’s it!” I’m hypothyroid and recovering from adrenal fatigue thattotally wiped me out, so experimented with gluten free. But it’s not like I started waking up feeling like a new woman!

    Any of those topics you offered would be cool, with a special nod to gluten sensitivities/coconut oil and thyroid. Can’t wait to hear the results of your clients who are doing the bone broth experiment! Thanks, Lisa!

  10. I completely relate to you about having so much to say but not blogging about it…
    This was really interesting to read. 
    I still haven’t totally figured out the perfect plan for myself but I’m getting closer!
    Funny how everyone is told to start babies on cereal as a first food!  I started all 3 of mine on avocado!

  11. I wish, when I was taking care of my nephew, that I had known (or thought to ask/google) what to feed him—I just kind of did what all the “moms” around me told me to do. Avocado sounds like the perfect baby food for so many reasons!

    On Wed 07/12/11 09:05 , “Disqus” sent:

  12. great interesting post! I grew up eating lots of chicken stock soups… oh my mom used to make a big pot every other day and we added noodles, rice or veggies to it. I believe it was her secret health recipe. i am so happy for u to have found ur personal eating plan/habits and cant wait to read more about them!

  13. owwwwwww! I want to know about babys first food and higher protein breakfast and lunch ideas! Its funny, we always turn to broth when we’re sick- we should totally take it in more when we’re well too! I’ve never made it from scratch

  14. It’s such a process to figure it all out…and things keep changing too. I was always looking for something really obvious to happen, and after 8 years of experimenting, I finally got to a good point!

  15. I actually don’t even like soup—I like the idea of it, but I’m never in the mood for it! With the stock, I left it totally plain (strained out all the stuff) and then drank it warm. Weird to do, but totally good on a chilly day!

  16. The raw chicken really grossed me out—Joe chopped the veg for me and wouldn’t even look at it! Even when the chicken was cooked, it was kinda gross with all the joint/bone pieces floating around….but hey, what I won’t do for health!!

    Loved your laundry post—summed up my life perfectly 🙂

  17. I definitely grossed Joe out with the raw/cooked chicken/bones…it is kinda yucky. But, it smells good (I think even to a vegetarian if he doesn’t have to see the parts!)…and is totally worth it 🙂

  18. I had NO idea that homemade chicken broth was so beneficial!!  I hardly ever make my own broth, and now I totally want to change that.  I would love to experiment with the intestinal healing aspect of it.  And I would love to hear more about the gluten/thyroid connection and the coconut/weight loss bit.  You are a veritable wealth of information, my friend! <3

  19. I was also just reading that bone broths help to draw fluoride toxins out of the body (stored in bones and joints)…but I need to do a little more research on how to do that best, since all sources/exposures to fluoride have to be removed for it to work!
    I have a few clients who are working on the intestinal healing part—so I’ll be sure to post an update about what happens if they stick with it!

  20. I just recently became aware about babies first food really shouldn’t be cereal and things like avocado and bananas. So interesting and glad I’m learning this stuff now!

    I never knew that homemade chicken broth is that beneficial. I’ve never made any before, but now, as you know, I plan to make it this weekend!

    I have had homemade chicken stock in Italy from fresh chickens (like from my aunts backyard, lol) and I loved it. So tasty!

    Once again you taught me something!

    I haven’t yet found my dietary niche. I test out many different things. It’s hard because you hear so many different things, but just have to figure out what’s best for your body! That’s the hard part 🙂

  21. Oh yes, all the time. I need a better method for removing the bones though. The vertebrae kind of gross me out.

  22. I think that part grossed me out way more than the raw chicken—when I strained the end product and had to pick the bones and icky parts off the actual meat!

  23. I wish I had learned about the baby food topic a long time ago, before I took care of my nephew when he was a baby—I had no idea at the time (and didn’t look it up or ask questions), and just fed him the rice cereal… It’s not that it ruined him or anything, but I like the thought of giving a baby the very best food for development and brain health!
    Looking forward to hearing how your broth turns out and what you think of the process!

  24. My entire family was fed rice cereal too as well as my nieces and nephews so don’t feel bad. 🙂

  25. That is one reason (because of the increased absorption of nutrients), and the other one has to do with the gelatin content from the bones/joints (which is what makes it hydrophilic). There are even cases where they are pretty sure it helped cure the flu and other serious things like typhoid fever‹there are both experiential accounts and scientific studies on the benefits of gelatin in the diet (even the processed kind, although a person has to be careful they aren’t sensitive to the additives in that). Its hydrophilic nature causes so many benefits! In addition to my clients who are consuming it for GI problems/damage, I’m trying to get people (including myself) to test its immune protecting properties…

  26. So, I know a sweet little doggie that has been taking glucosamine supplements for arthritis… and it’s wreaked havoc on her digestive system.  We’re going to try making some stock this weekend (for us! and) for pouring over dry doggie food and seeing what the result might be… 

  27. I am having the toughest time right now battling my desire to hibernate! I got so spoiled with the hot summer here that the idea of running outside in pants and a jacket seems like way more trouble than it’s worth, haha.

    I’ve been trying to make up for it by cleaning up my diet but it’s been taking me longer than I’d hoped… I can’t wait to hear more about these recipes that you’ve been experimenting with because I know they’ll give me some great ideas!

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