Bone Broth Benefits - Is It Important to Skim?

About 15 years ago, when I was recovering from depression, bulimia and related health complications, my healing practitioner suggested I start using vegetable broth as an easily digestible source of vitamins and minerals. She gave me a recipe that was so simple — I had no idea that making soup or broth could be that easy.

This became one of the key healing protocols I used to bounce back to great health.

Heal and seal…as Natasha says
As the years progressed, I had to basically rebuild my entire digestive system. Everything was in distress and everything needed healing. As I researched healing diets and health protocols, I began to study the Gut and Psychology Syndrome Diet (GAPS), created by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride. In her work, she learned that autism, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and other mood disorders were largely related to gut health. This was my experience as well. I turned to the GAPS diet as a way to “heal and seal” my gut, as Natasha says.

Since the Paleo diet is getting so much attention these days, you can think of the GAPS diet as a more healing protocol for gut health. If you are following the GAPS diet as part of your healing protocol, you are essentially following the principles of the Paleo diet, with some differences.

Bone Broth

One of the great healing foods on the GAPS diet is bone broth. Bone broth is basically a rich, flavorful broth made of bones and meat scraps…it’s your leftovers! I call it the meal that keeps on giving. For example, you start with a chicken and feed your family. Once all the meat has been consumed, you take the carcass of bones and meat scraps, cover it with water, add some apple cider vinegar, bring to a boil and lower to a simmer,  simmering it for 1.5 hours (for an easier to digest meat stock for people with very compromised digestive health) up to 24 hours (for a much richer bone broth).

Bone Broth has Many Healing Benefits

  • Easy to digest
  • Helps “heal and seal” your gut – this is fantastic for leaky gut or any chronic illness or autoimmune disease, which are often rooted in gut issues
  • Helps boost collagen – this is great for supporting good skin health, including younger looking skin and reduced cellulite
  • Boosts the health of your nails and hair
  • Supports bone health – reduces joint pain and inflammation
  • Full of important minerals that are the spark plugs of energy in your body
Healing benefits aside, bone broth is really quite delicious!

You can use it to flavor stews, grains, meat and sauces. It is the secret to going from a good recipe to a gourmet recipe! You can also drink it on its own, which is something Louise Hay talks about in our new book, Loving Yourself to Great Health: Thoughts & Food – The Ultimate Diet. Louise also shares her favorite bone broth recipe and how she makes it so easy, it’s effortless (she’s so good at things like that!).

To Skim or Not to Skim Bone Broth?

If you are new to cooking, like I was at the time, you might not have cottoned on to some of the tips that get passed down to kids who grow up in families that cook. Apparently, some people learn that skimming is just “what you do” when making broth. Takeout pizza was unfortunately the main dish on the menu when I was growing up, so I never learned this. So what is this skimming all about? When you bring bone broth to a boil, foam rises to the top. This is referred to as “scum.” The scum has some amino acids and impurities, which could include toxins. Chefs and traditional cooks often teach to skim the scum off with a fine mesh strainer, so that the impurities are removed.

However, when I polled some of my friends who are traditional cooks, none of them skimmed the scum. When I went to some of my favorite GAPS diet websites, I found that there was a mix of responses to people who skimmed and people who did not. I must confess that I have taken the easy way out and did not skim, but I wanted to find out whether it was a good practice to have.

So I went to my dear friend, Caroline Barringer. Caroline is a powerhouse nutritionist, teacher of nutritional and healing protocol principles and right hand woman to Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride. She’s studied every aspect of healing and nutritional diets and started her own healing business (including the best cultured vegetables I’ve ever tasted), called Immunitrition.

Here is what Caroline said:

Caroline Barringer“Howdy, Heather! I skim just because I don’t like the scum in there, but if you do leave the scum in there, the fat that floats to the top will quarantine most of it when refrigerated. Some people just remove that fat layer, but I think it is essential nutrition, so taking it off just because the scum is in it, isn’t a good practice. Natasha doesn’t speak much about skimming, but Sally Fallon does. I say if the scum is from quality bones, I think it’s fine to leave it in if doesn’t bother you. If it does, skim away. If using commercial feedlot animal bones, since some of the scum will be from bone marrow, and toxins are held in fatty tissues (adipose and fatty organs like bone marrow), a person really shouldn’t eat marrow and gelatinous meats (organ meats) from a commercial animal. Lots of toxins in those tissues. If you cook a stock with giblets/organ meats from commercial animals, definitely skim off the scum. Although, Dr. Natasha says she has people who can only afford to eat commercial meat who do not skim or remove anything and heal quite well. To skim or not to skim is the question, but I think there’s some bio-individuality that will be a factor in deciding to skim or not to skim.”

Caroline BarringerIf you go to Caroline’s website, you can see a great interview on gut health and probiotics she did with Dr. Joe Mercola. It’s very insightful and worth a listen!

Veggie Broth – For Vegetarians and Vegans

If you are following a vegetarian or vegan diet, you can make a vegetable broth, like I did at the beginning of my healing process. At the time, my body needed to be cleansed of toxins and my digestion was very compromised. Starting with easy to digest vegetable broths and blended vegetable soups were key to my recovery. When it came time to build my health, strength and energy back up again, it was time to add animal protein to my diet. I found that this really helped in my own health journey and I learned that instead of following dietary dogma, I had to listen to the call of my body and answer it’s call, giving it what it needed to heal.

You can make a vegetable broth by taking veggie scraps or whole vegetables and covering them in water, then simmering for 8 – 24 hours. You will then discard the vegetables because all of their nutrients are now in the soup broth.

I used to take this to work in a stainless steel thermos and sip it all day. It was very healing and energizing. Because there is no animal protein, no skimming is required!

Nature Heals

Nature is beautiful. Do you remember how wonderful you feel when you are in nature? Imagine what happens when you bring nature into your body, letting it heal every cell. Bone broth doesn’t have to come from a can. It can come from the leftovers in your kitchen. Instead of throwing meat bones or poultry carcass into the garbage, you could allow the meal to keep on giving. This is how you stretch your healthy food budget. It’s what our ancestors did because they knew that there were important nutrients right down to the bones in food that nature provides.

Try bone broth or veggie broth and see how it can become part of your health and healing routine!


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As a coach, writer and recovered former executive, I understand the challenges of creating a balanced, healthy lifestyle when over-scheduled. In my journey to radiant health, I created a whole health system of eating, exercise, renewal and recharging -- a roadmap toward health & vitality. I empower clients to create their own whole health systems, in their own unique ways. I have seen amazing results in working with my clients!