Collagen. Gelatin. Gut Health.
Those are all words you’ve seen joined together by that “magnificent elixir” we’re all so fond of over here, bone broth.
Even if that’s all you know about it, you’re already WAY ahead of most people. But then again, if you’re reading this, you’re pretty savvy especially when it comes to ancestral health. And, that means, you’re the type who’d love to know JUST HOW MUCH nutrient-dense goodness you’re packing in when you slurp this super stock.
So, let’s start from the collagen-rich beginning, shall we?
Animal bones, tendons, ligaments and other flexible connective tissues in the body contain a protein called collagen. Collagen is the main (and most abundant) structural protein in the human body. Good news! We use all of the above in our bone broth making process.
Here’s where the collagen-story gets REALLY interesting.
When collagen is cooked it becomes gelatin, yet another type of protein. That process is known as partial hydrolysis if you wanna get super nerdy with it.
No, it’s not the same stuff that’s found in Jello-O brand gelatin (does anyone really know what’s in there?!). This is the REAL DEAL. It’s what you’ll find in a truly well made bone broth and in kid-friendly gummy recipes like this one by our friends over at PaleoLeap.
Aside from its diverse culinary functions, gelatin is a powerful protein. It’s loaded with antioxidant-rich, gut-health-promoting, metabolism-boosting amino acids (the building blocks of protein) like proline, glycine, arginine and glutamine.
So what exactly do these amino acids do?
1 – PROLINE
- Makes skin supple + reduces cellulite (especially when paired with Vitamin C)
- Regenerates cartilage + is vital to joint health
Skin elasticity and smoothness – two of the best benefits that come from proline. Put down your wrinkle cream and drink some broth already! It’s a heck of a lot cheaper than your average wrinkle cream (running you anywhere from $40-100 bucks a pop) and most importantly… IT WORKS.
It’s also what keeps your knees from creaking with every step and your shoulders from constantly clicking when you reach behind you.
2 – GLYCINE
- Supports the making of bile acid (Mmmm…)
- Stimulates stomach acid production
- Aids in the process of liver detoxification
Bone broth is key to reversing digestive issues such as acid reflux or GERD, in large part due to glycine content (more on that in this study). It’s also probably why it’s part of The GAPS Protocol, a diet used specifically for rehabilitating chronic health related issues like IBS, seasonal allergies and many other GI-related distresses.
With statistics showing that 20-30% of the American population is experiencing GERD related symptoms like acid reflux and heartburn on a weekly basis, it’s no wonder antacid consumption has skyrocketed. In fact, it’s become a gigantic, billion-dollar industry!
THE TRUTH? Antacids often further aggravate the above mentioned conditions.
I know it sounds counter intuitive, but the root cause of these types of conditions often comes from having LOW stomach acid or HCL (hydrochloric acid). Those causes have been nicely outlined in this article by Clinical Nutritionist, Christa Orecchio.
Here’s the abridged version:
- Inadequate stomach acid production leaves undigested food sitting around uncomfortably (think of a cat trying to unsuccessfully cough up a hairball) in your stomach.
- The undigested food that’s left sitting around builds up and creates pressure.
- That pressure pushes acid upward and into the esophagus.
- The result is that torturous burning sensation in your throat (GERD or acid reflux) which most of us have experienced at one point or another.
Bile production is another important process supported by glycine. Simply put, bile helps your body break down fat.
Whether you’ve been following a hunter-gatherer inspired diet for a long time or just recently switched over (ESPECIALLY if you’ve just switched over), you’re no doubt eating a lot of healthy fats which MUST get broken down properly. Otherwise, healthy as they might be, they can cause all manner of complications including liver congestion. Oh wait! Glycine helps out with that too 😉
3 – ARGININE
- Promotes human growth hormone
- Boosts metabolism
- Assists in restoring proper kidney function + wound repair
Because arginine promotes human growth hormone it boosts your metabolism and assists with weight loss. Another plus – it promotes a healthy libido. Bowchickawowow!
4 – GLUTAMINE
- Restores the integrity of your intestinal wall
- Enhances your immune system
- Generates glutathione
- Curbs sugar cravings
“Leaky Gut Syndrome” is what happens when the tight junctions of your gut (intestinal) lining separate (aka it messes with the integrity of your intestinal wall). You can think of those separations (the ones between the tight junctions of your gut) as little “holes”. Those loose junctions, or “holes”, allow food particles to leak through and into your bloodstream. That can wreak havoc on your body causing food intolerances, cravings (PS – glutamine is well known for helping to curb sugar cravings!), hormonal imbalances (PMS or PCOS) and even autoimmune disease (like Hashimoto’s) to name a few.
Glutamine helps to rebuild the intestinal junctions that have come loose, making your intestinal wall strong, functional and, most notably, IMPERMEABLE! All of which also fortifies your immune system.
As you can see, I wasn’t kidding when I referred to bone broth as a “magnificent elixir”. While proline, glycine, arginine and glutamine have overlapping benefits, there’s more to it than just that. It’s also this exact combination of amino acids, which form gelatin (the cooked version of collagen), that create these massive opportunities for healing and ultimately for the optimal health we’re all so passionate about achieving.
And, I have a sneaking suspicion that the next time you see a bone, a tendon or a ligament you’ll feel a strong urge to stock up on your Kettle & Fire bone broth 😉
Delfina is the spirited health coach, recipe developer and alternative health blogger behind Code to Wellness. She believes that REAL FOOD should taste good + do good for the body so that overcoming the struggle with weight, sugar cravings, and hormone imbalance is successful and sustainable. Her recipes are fun, easy, delicious and flippin’ awesome! When she’s not in “kitchen-experimenter” or “food-photographer” mode, she enjoys teaching Yoga Tune Up®, singing at the top of her lungs with the windows rolled down, and going barefoot. You can drop her a line on Facebook and get lots of #eatmovethink inspiration on Instagram + Pinterest. Reach out! She’s super friendly and wants to hear from you!