Tonique Cuisine

Why a chicken broth is so comforting?

We all know someone in our family or circle of friends who saves those left-over bones from the Sunday roast and boils them for hours to make rich broths and nourishing soups.  However, it seems that fewer people now remember this age-old practice of traditional cuisine.

To me, bone broth is simple, it’s timeless, and it’s where we can go when we want to get back to the basics. Bone broth is so much easier to make than you might think, and it has surprising health benefits which have been ignored in recent years.

Studies conducted on bone broth have found that it can improve your health in a myriad of ways.  The presence of specific amino acids in bone broth, like arginine, glutamine, and cysteine, have been shown to boost immunity in humans and animals.

Aid the common cold’s symptoms

There are also other reasons for why we reach for chicken soup during the cold and flu season. It was found[1] that chicken soup (bone broth) does indeed aid in alleviating symptoms of the common cold, by clearing mucus, opening respiratory pathways, and providing easily digested nutrition.

In addition, according to medical doctor and UCLA professor Irwin Ziment, chicken soup naturally contains the amino acid cysteine, which chemically resembles the bronchitis drug acetylcysteine.

Many of the amino acids in bone broth (such as cystine, histidine, and glycine) reduce inflammation, and L-glutamine specifically reduces gut inflammation[2]. Additionally, the same Chest article from October 2000 mentioned above concluded that chicken soup’s anti-inflammatory benefits may be one reason it is so helpful with relieving symptoms of the common cold.

Hydrates better than water!

Bone broth, especially when vegetables are included, adds electrolytes (minerals) and carbohydrates (from vegetables) to the diet. Studies have shown that drinking broth can rehydrate better than water alone due to the electrolytes[3][4].

The amino acids in bone broth can help stimulate muscle protein synthesis. Muscle protein synthesis is essential for the ongoing growth, repair, and maintenance of skeletal muscle groups. In a study looking at healthy patients and ovarian-cancer patients, researchers found that ingesting amino acids helped stimulate muscle protein synthesis and reduced inflammation, both in healthy participants and participants undergoing cancer therapy.

According to Dr. Catherine Shanahan[5], author of Deep Nutrition, degenerative and inflammatory diseases which are on the rise in industrialized societies could be corrected by the use of gelatin-rich foods due to the presence of restorative amino acids such as glycine, alanine, proline, and hydroxyproline.

In her book, she cites many studies showing further benefits of gelatin-rich bone broths:

  • Stronger, healthier nails
  • Anti-aging
  • Anti-tumor
  • Arthritis and joint-pain relief
  • Cell-protecting
  • Can alleviate diabetes and lower blood sugar; supports insulin regulation
  • Can improve sleep
  • Helps regulate bleeding from nosebleeds, heavy menstruation, ulcers, hemorrhoids, and bladder hemorrhage
  • Helps normalize stomach acid, which is useful for colitis, celiac disease, ulcers, and other inflammatory gut conditions

Make a homemade broth

A simple way to make vegetable broth is to take peelings, ends and left-over vegetables and cover them with water in a stock pot.  Simmer for 8-24 hours, then discard the vegetables because all of their nutrients are now in the soup broth.  Flavour with some good quality salt, and enjoy.  Try our Traditional Chicken broth recipe, so easy!!

Bone or vegetable broths are a gentle way to get important nutrients into the body. The whole process of making broth is a path back to loving and nourishing yourself.  Traditional bone broth techniques are one of the 6 pillars of our Cuisine Tonique 2.0 workshop we give here at Spa Eastman twice yearly.


[1] In 2000, a study was published in Chest, the official journal of the American College of Chest Physicians

[2] Anti-inflammatory activity of chondroitin sulfate, Ronca F, Osteoarthritis Cartilage, May 6, 1998, suppl. A:14-21.

[3] Hydration and Electrolytes – Impact on Athletic Performance.  Paul B. Bennett, Ph.D. in Pharmacology at the University of Arkansas for Medical Science, medical sciences at the University of Rochester, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine.

[4] McCance RA, Sheldon W, Widdowson EM. Bone and vegetable broth. Arch Dis Child. 1934 Aug;9(52):251-8.

[5] Deep Nutrition – Why your genes need traditional food, Catherine Shanahan M.D., Flatiron Books, 2016.