Bone Broth 101
The Ultimate Guide to Bone Broth Benefits
Part of the magic of bone broth lies in that it’s a culinary tradition known all over the world to both indigenous cultures and classic cuisines alike. You see, although your Grannie and Julia Child may have differed vastly in their kitchen skills, they were both keenly aware of bone broth benefits, well before we had the scientific research to prove it.
There was even a time (before the 1930’s) when Chicken Soup for the Soul was more than just the title of a best-selling book filled with heartfelt short stories. Before the 1930’s, Doctors used to recommend bone broth consumption for stomach ailments to both adult and infant patients alike! As you can see, bone broth is not a new phenomenon.
But alas times have changed and the age-old knowledge of bone broth benefits has gotten lost in our modern day cultural craving for instant gratification from a “magic pill” solution.
Nowadays, when it comes to our health, the front line of defense passes clear over diet and lifestyle changes, and instead, dives headfirst into pharmaceuticals. There’s no denying the importance of drugs and medication. After all, if it weren’t for them, where would be in emergency situations (thank you oxygen tanks and morphine!)?!
The problem is that their enormous presence often allows us to slack on the personal responsibility we institute around applying preventative healing strategies toward lifestyle related health issues (blood sugar imbalances, obesity, type two diabetes, leaky gut syndrome…) which have become accepted as completely “normal” in our culture. That “magic pill” mentality combined with easy and overly encouraged access to pharmaceuticals cancels out the emphasis we ought to be putting towards incorporating real foods, like bone broth, for their sustainable, powerful health altering and healing properties.
That is what’s not ok.
Which is why it’s so important that holistically minded Doctors like Kellyann Petrucci, author of The Bone Broth Diet and supporters of the ancestral health movement (like us!) are working so diligently to bring bone broth benefits back into everyday health and healing consciousness.
Let’s Clear One Thing Up
When we say bone broth, we’re not talking about bouillon cubes, liquid meat extracts and artificial broth powders that line your average grocery store shelf. Yuck! That is not the stuff that contains the many bone broth benefits we’ll be sharing all throughout this post. They might look like broth but they contain ZERO nutritional value, are often filled with questionable ingredients (like MSG and artificial flavors) and, in fact, usually exacerbate the very issues (like leaky gut syndrome) a true, pure bone broth can repair.
When we say bone broth, we’re talking about the marrow-filled, collagen packed, gelatin-rich, mineral dense magic liquid the likes of which we make over here 😉 That is what we mean when we refer to bone broth benefits.
So What Can This Powerful Brew Actually Do?
I’m so glad you asked.
It can strengthen and improve:
- Liver detoxification
- Joints & cartilage
- Bones and teeth
- Hair, skin & nails
All of that in a bowl of soup?! Yes.
Let’s Start with Bone Broth Benefits & Digestion + Immunity
As with any food, be it vegetable or animal, it’s nutrient content will depend heavily on its provenance. Meaning, if you want the digestive and immune boosting benefits bone broth can provide you HAVE to be drinking bone broth made from a healthy animal (i.e. grass-fed, pasture-raised or wild caught). Hence, the reason we take sooo much care with our product to use marrow bones from pasture-raised, grass-fed cows and organic veggies. Happy, healthy animals produce nutritious meat, bones and connective tissue which produces nutritious collagen which breaks down into nutritious gelatin which contains an abundance of the many important healing nutrients we’re about to discuss. Capiche? Otherwise, you’re not doing much more than getting hydrated.
Once you’ve got that very important piece in place, that’s when we can transition into a conversation about bone broth, digestion and immunity. Let’s start with “leaky gut syndrome”. Ever heard of it?
Here’s the quick 101:
Leaky gut syndrome, sometimes referred to as “leaky gut”, refers to a separation between the tight junctions of your gut (intestinal) lining which basically creates holes that allow your body to reabsorb potentially harmful substances and waste that’s supposed to be eliminated in your stool. Not a good thing, especially because it weakens your immune system, causes food intolerances and cravings, hormonal imbalances (acne, PMS, PCOS…) and can even lead to autoimmune disease (like Hashimoto’s).
What Causes Leaky Gut Syndrome + The Bone Broth Benefits Towards Healing It
A variety of things, like:
- GI infections
- Poor diet
- Consuming foods to which you’re sensitive or allergic
I hate to be the bearer of bad news but especially in today’s 24/7, stress-induced world, leaky gut is pretty common. Even so, there is good news: you can close up those holes and rebuild your gut lining.
“The first step to repair a leaky gut and reach optimal digestive health with REAL food is to eliminate the foods that are contributing to your symptoms. The second step is to nourish your intestines and body to allow your health to reach its full potential…specific nutrients (glutamine, zinc, vitamin A) can all help your intestines regain their natural integrity.”
That’s right, she said glutamine! And, bone broth is chalk full of it!
Glutamine helps to repair those very same holes in the gut lining brought about by the seven causes listed above. Over time your gut lining can once again become impermeable which not only enhances digestion but also fortifies your immune system.
This is the very reason why so many specialized diets like The GAPS Diet (The Gut & Psychology Syndrome Diet) and The SCD Diet (The Specific Carbohydrate Diet) make it an essential part of their gut healing dietary protocol. And definitely, why Mary, The Paleo Chef swears by it as a tool to keep her immune system high and hair, skin and nails gorgeous + glowing.
Glycine is another very special nutrient found in bone broth. It’s known for helping to normalize stomach acid production. I know you’ve probably heard from doctors and friends that the “cause” of your digestive issues is from “too much acidity” and, usually, antacids are prescribed as a solution. But studies are finding that a lack of hydrochloric acid (i.e. stomach acid) production is, in fact, at the root cause of many digestive ailments. Here’s a nice breakdown on that very subject from Clinical Nutritionist, Christa Orecchio.
In addition to upping stomach acid production, glycine is also an important component of bile production. Bile is a digestive juice that helps to break down most types of fats (which is extremely important when consuming an ancestral style diet full of both plant and animal-based fats).
Bone Broth Benefits & Liver Detoxification
Most nutrients that enter the body fulfill more than one purpose. The same is true for glycine. As you’ve seen thus far, it’s a star when it comes to improving digestion and immunity. But it also lends a serious hand to your body’s main organ of detoxification, the liver.
Often times the idea of “detoxing” goes hand-in-hand with consuming antioxidant-rich fruits (like the ones that you see in all sorts of juice detoxes). While those are certainly necessary to a certain degree, two of the antioxidants that are most critical for liver detoxification, glutathione and uric acid, are actually produced internally (i.e. you don’t get them from food because your body makes them). The glycine found in bone broth helps to synthesize (i.e. make) these two all important antioxidants in order to detoxify the liver.
Finally, the glycine found in bone broth can potentially decrease the need for vitamin B supplementation (so commonly recommended these days) by helping the liver clear out excess methionine and homocysteine, two essential amino acids. If their concentrations in the body rise excessively, which can happen with excess meat and egg consumption, then the need for vitamin B supplementation will increase as well. In other words, drink more bone broth, reduce the number of supplements you take (and dollars you spend on them!). If that’s not a stellar bone broth benefit, then by golly, I don’t know what is!
Bone Broth Benefits + Joints, Cartilage, Bones, Teeth, Hair, Skin & Nails (say that one three times fast!)
When it comes to joint and connective tissue health, both the proteins and carbohydrates found in bone broth are king. I’d like to highlight a few of them here in this section (bear in mind that there are many more than the ones mentioned here).
Glycine (yet again!) and proline, two non-essential amino acids released from the gelatin found in bone broth, are the raw materials your body needs to rebuild tendons, ligaments, and other connective tissues (like skin!). So whether you’re a desk-jockey or an athlete (especially a heavy lifter) bone broth needs to be a crucial piece of your long-term, preventative musculoskeletal care routine.
Another plus? This study found that the above-mentioned proteins found in bone broth significantly improved painful, rheumatoid arthritis related symptoms in 60 patients. Nice!
Speaking of decreasing pain and inflammation, it’s time to cover GAGS (glycosaminoglycans). GAGs are a tight-knit group of carbohydrates of whom the superstars (in this scenario) are hyaluronic acid, glucosamine, and chondroitin sulfate. According to Dr. Cate Shanahan, these GAGs stimulate the production of fibroblasts (connective tissue cells) which fortify your tendons, ligaments, and connective tissues via collagen creation making bone broth consumption a wonderful drug-free therapy for those with osteoporosis and joint inflammation.
How to Drink Bone Broth
Back in the 1990’s Reeses peanut butter cup came out with the “There’s no wrong way to eat a Reese’s” slogan. While that’s definitely not true for Reese’s (you can totally OD on these…I would know…I didnt it when I was a kid…), I would say that it’s nearly true for bone broth.
One of our favorite ways to enjoy a warm mug of bone broth is simply seasoned with a dash of salt + pepper and a splash of lemon juice. There are plenty of other herbs and spices that you could mix to your liking. We came up with an awesome guide just for you right here including 10 different delicious ways to drink your bone broth and thoroughly enjoy it 😉
Aside from drinking it straight up out of a mug (as we described above), bone broth can easily be mixed into other soups, stews or sauces. We especially like to use it to morph the delicious, caramelized pan drippings from a fresh roast into an Au Jus sauce (a light gravy made from cooked meat juices).
Bone Broth Benefits Recap
By now you know that bone broth isn’t just a boring ol’, golden-brown colored stock. Because of beneficial proteins like glycine and protein, as well as, GAGs like hyaluronic acid, chondroitin sulfate and glucosamine, bone broth has the capacity to create real, true healing within, especially where digestion + immunity, liver detoxification and connective tissues (like tendons, ligaments and skin) are concerned. Let’s raise a bone broth filled glass and pay homage to both the primal wisdom of our ancestors and the modern scientific research community for openly passing along this whole food supplement as a form of medicine accessible to anyone with a leftover bone in their kitchen.
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.