First of all, the term “bone broth” is a bit of a misnomer. Broths, whether it be chicken, beef or fish, are made primarily from the meat of the animal. Stocks, on the other hand, are primarily made from the bones of the animal, although there is usually some meat still attached to the bones. Now that we got that out of the way, I will continue to call it bone broth since that seems to be the accepted name for it.
So what exactly is bone broth and what’s so special about it? Is it really a “cure all” for every ailment under the sun? Bone broth is the slow cooking of animal bones (typically pasture raised chickens or grass fed beef) in water for anywhere from 8-24 hours, typically with other vegetables like garlic, onion, celery, carrots and various herbs. What makes it different from other stocks and broths is the low and slow method of cooking, which does nothing to enhance flavor, but allows for the extraction and preservation of many different nutrients and minerals. Some of the more significant compounds found in bone broth are collagen, proline, glycine, glutamine, glucosamine, and chondroitin sulfate and minerals like calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, silicon and sulfur.
THE TOP 6 BENEFITS OF BONE BROTH ACCORDING TO THE EXPERTS
- Improved joint health – bone broth is rich in collagen, gelatin and chondroitin sulfate. All three compounds are known to be important ingredients of healthy joints. Critics of bone broth claim the type of collagen found in bone broth is poorly absorbed in the gut, so it shouldn’t make a difference. I would say that is likely true if absorption is already poor in the gut, which leads us to number 2 on the list…
- Improved gut health – the gelatin found in bone broth helps repair the lining of the gut. And bone broth is essentially pre-digested for you, which means that your digestive tract doesn’t have to do any work to get to the nutrients. Due to the rough nature of its job, your gut lining can completely replace itself in just 3 days if given the chance. Normally, healthy foods life leafy greens can be like eating sandpaper for certain digestive conditions. Bone broth can be a way to get your basic nutrients without having to actually digest anything. That is why I recommend using bone broth as meal replacements for people suffering from ulcerative disorders. Bone broth is also shown to improve the amount of healthy bacteria in your gut. This alone will help eliminate high levels of unhealthy microbes that cause inflammation in your digestive tract.
- Improved skin health – studies have shown that incorporating bone broth into your diet can improve skin elasticity, increase moisture and decrease skin roughness.
- Improved immune system – see number 2. Improved gut health leads to improved immune function. However, bone broth can also help thin out mucus, which can be helpful if you’re suffering from a cold or a sinus infection.
- Helps with detoxification – bone broth improves the elimination of waste in your colon, which means waste products leave your body instead of lingering (always a good thing). It also helps your liver break down toxins due to substances like sulfur and glutathione. Glutathione is a Phase II detoxifying agent that greatly reduces oxidative stress in the body. In other words, it is a powerful anti-oxidant like Vitamin C, but better. Also, the broth is loaded with trace minerals (healthy minerals that our bodies need in small amounts) which can act like chelators that stop heavy metals from attaching to receptor sites on our cells.
- Aides in metabolism and anabolism – glutathione regulates DNA and protein synthesis, which means better building blocks for our body. It aides in cell proliferation, which means healthier new cells in our body. Conversely, it plays a part in apoptosis, which means it helps destroy unhealthy cells (think anticancer). It improves signal transduction, which means it improves how your body communicates biochemically (better hormone function). It also improves cytokine production, which leads to better immune function.
The best reason to try bone broth is to improve gut health. If you have been diagnosed with a serious digestive disorder, ask your doctor if you can do a bone broth fast, which means eat nothing but bone broth and water for 3 or more days. For the rest of us, use it as a way to intermittently fast. This means skip breakfast and eat nothing but the broth until dinner for a couple of days. This allows you to rest your gut for nearly 23 hours a day.
The second best reason to try bone broth is to reduce inflammation in your body. Inflammation can manifest itself as dozens of diagnosable conditions. Getting inflammation under control can be life changing, which in my opinion makes it worth trying for just about anybody.
Lastly, I like to use bone broth to improve fat metabolism. Bone broth as a meal replacement can help you minimize insulin release in your body, stabilize blood sugars and train your body to use fat for fuel, which will lead to weight loss.
How do I consume it? I usually warm in up on the stove top (don’t microwave it unless you have no choice) and sip it from a coffee mug whenever I’m doing a bone broth fast. If I just want to get the nutrients from it I like to use it as a base for just about any soup. A couple of our family favorites are pho, ramen, coconut curry, or spicy italian.