Plant-Based "Bone Broth": The Easy, Healthier Alternative

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Although consumed for centuries in various cultures around the world, the last few years has seen what is known as "bone broth", become a buzzword and make headlines as a cure-all remedy for everything from gut health, to colds, flu, joint problems and cellulite.

The problem is that whilst the premise of "bone broth" and what it is meant to deliver is very valid, what is overlooked is the unhealthy and potentially harmful, toxic effects that the over consumption of animal-based broths can have.

In addition, with many people making a conscious decision to move away from meat and animal products to more plant-based alternatives, the question is: 

Can animal bones be substituted with vegetables and other plant-based foods to provide better health benefits?

As you’ll read here, we believe that a purely, plant-based "bone broth" version, can not only be extra delicious, but offer a host of additional health advantages too, without the risk of adding unnecessary toxins to your body.

The Truth About Traditional Bone Broth

Common sense might suggest that the slow-simmering of the bones, skin, cartilage, ligaments and tendons of dead animals is not necessarily a great health food, even though many so called gut health "experts" have built a strong case for its benefits.

It could be well argued that the key nutrients and minerals contained within traditional bone broth are actually found in higher quality and more readily assimilated forms in plant sources - with no risk of toxic residue being caught in the gut.  For this reason, we recommend choosing plant-based ingredients as being the safest and healthiest option.

Collagen

Collagen is the primary nutrient that bone broths are meant to provide for its anti-ageing benefits.

However, contrary to the hype and popular belief, eating collagen doesn’t mean you’ll have more collagen.  Just like eating protein doesn't mean you'll build more muscle - because protein is actually built from the amino acids contained in plants.

It is also highly questionable that collagen can even be digested properly!

Our bodies absorb the nutrients needed from food, which it then uses as ‘building blocks’ to produce the collagen it requires.

Plants, especially leafy green vegetables, actually provide better and cleaner ‘foundations’ for collagen production (and in abundant quantities), when compared to the tiny quantities that may also contain toxic residues, of the same nutrient found in dead animal carcasses.

Gut Health

Similar to collagen, a lot of fuss is also made about the stomach-healing properties of Gelatin for restoring the health of the gut.

The problem is that gelatin is also a potential source of toxicity because of the way that animal varieties are sourced, but the good news is that there are some fantastic and safer plant sources of gelatin you can count on instead.

Among the richest sources are fermented foods and ‘good’ fats from plant oils, as well as seaweed and turmeric.

Vitamins & Minerals

Any and all of the essential vitamins and minerals claimed to be in traditional bone broth are just as plentiful, if not more so, in plant-based versions.  These include:

  • Calcium
  • Iron
  • Magnesium
  • Potassium
  • Sodium
  • Vitamins A, B, C & K

Potential Health Concerns of Animal-Based Bone Broth

Alarmingly, there are two main concerns with the regular consumption of animal-based bone broth:

1) High Glutamate content

The problem with too much glutamate is that it's classified as an ‘excito-toxin’, which means that it’ll bind to certain brain and body receptors and damage neurons.

This can lead to symptoms and contribute to issues such as:

  • Anxiety
  • Inability to focus (ADHD)
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Neurological disorders
  • Restlessness

2) Heavy metals

Although not all animals are contaminated with heavy metals like lead, it's tough to know which ones might be in varying degrees.  That's why, if you are going to stick with animal-based bone broth, it's vital to choose ingredients from animals that have been pasture raised and without hormones.

Just like in humans, animals will ‘store’ certain heavy metals in their skeletons as a way to conceal toxicity, in order to limit damage to other more sensitive body systems.

This means that there is a risk when preparing traditional bone-broth, which is typically stewed and simmered for days at a time, for there to be ample opportunity for any toxic compounds stored in the bones and cartilage to seep out into the broth, potentially harming your health.

Healthier Plant-Based Versions

So if you get the benefits of "bone broth", but want a healthier, safer, easy alternative made from plant-based ingredients, we want to share our recipe with you here.

Right up front, here's the good news...

You don’t need to stew or simmer the ingredients for hours and days on end, as this can actually reduce the nutritional value.

 

Base Ingredients

When sourcing your plant-based ingredients, do your best to get your hands on locally sourced, organic produce where possible, or at the very be sure to remove any toxic residue (pesticides or herbicides) from the produce, by first soaking in a mix of water and Apple Cider Vinegar.

Seaweed

Sea vegetables are not only great sources of vitamins and minerals, iodine, fibre and polysaccharides that support your gut, but certain types like 'wakame' are also high in essential Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Good For Inflammation, Brain & Heart Health.  

Mushrooms

In addition to their flavour, adding both fresh and dried mushrooms, such as 'Shitake' together into your broth is not only a good way to add in lots of protein and amino acids, but also an infusion of selenium to support your joints and immune function.

An extra benefit is that they're one of the few food sources of Vitamin D - important for your bones!

Plant Oils 

'Good' healthy fats found in many plant oils can not only lower your cholesterol levels and reduce your risk of heart dis-ease.

Some of the best choices are:

Dark Leafy Greens

Including either Spinach, Kale or a mixture of both will boost your broth with antioxidants, Vitamin K, iron, magnesium and calcium - all essential to the optimal performance of your body's systems and functions.

Turmeric 

Aside from its beautiful flavour, adding this spice as an ingredient will not only naturally colour your broth yellow, but also add strong anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting properties.

Celery

Not only an excellent source of beneficial enzymes and antioxidants, true to their 'sign-of-nature', the body part which they resemble, they're also one of the best ingredients you can eat to support the health and strength of your bones.

Carrot

As their orange colour indicates, carrots are high in beta-carotene which along with improving immune function also protect the skin and can keep your vision healthy.

Onion

Full of fibre, folic acid and organic sulphur compounds, as well as providing a flavourful contribution, will also add to the curative powers of your culinary creation.

Parsley

Famous as a garnish and well-known for its detoxifying qualities, this popular herb is also highly nutritious and delicious!

Natural Flavour Enhancers & Optional Extras

In addition to the base ingredients above, there's really no limit to what other vegetables and herbs you add to your broth.

It really comes down to your personal flavour preferences and what's available seasonally. Some other suggested additions include:

  • Bay Leaves
  • Beetroot
  • Coriander
  • Fennel
  • Garlic
  • Ginger
  • Leek
  • Oregano
  • Potato
  • Soy Sauce

Suggested Recipe

  • 1/4 Cup of Seaweed
  • 1/2 Cup of Shitake Mushrooms
  • 1/2 Cup of Fresh Mushrooms
  • 4 Cups of Dark Leafy Greens
  • Small Chunk of Turmeric
  • 2 Cups of Celery
  • 1 Carrot
  • 1 Whole Onion
  • 1/4 Cup of Parsley
  • 2-3 Garlic Cloves (optional) 

Directions

  1. Finely chop all base ingredients;
  2. In a large stock pot, sauté the celery, onion, garlic and turmeric using a few tablespoons of your plant oil of choice;
  3. Once tender, add 12 cups of filtered or spring water, a pinch of nature-made salt and slowly bring to boil;
  4. Add all other ingredients, reduce the heat and leave to simmer with the lid on for about 45 minutes;
  5. Enjoy hot or leave to cool - the broth will last refrigerated for up to a week. Store it in airtight glass jars and reheat either in a saucepan, or by placing the jar into a container of boiling water for 5-10 minutes to warm.

The Main Takeaway

Whilst the principle of "bone broth" for supporting gut health and other benefits is sound, the over consumption of animal-based bone broth can put your body at risk of toxicity that you don't need.

Instead, you can make your own plant-based version at home, by using locally sourced vegetables, herbs and other natural ingredients as we've described here, and you'll be getting the benefits of bone broth without the potential harmful effects.

We hope you enjoy experimenting and putting together your very own signature, plant-based bone broth!

Tolman Self Care Team.

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