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Bone Broth 101, Gut Health

4 Amazing Ways Collagen and Bone Broth Heal Your Gut

bone broth gut health

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 you’re vaguely aware of how beneficial drinking bone broth is for gut health, 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.

Bone broth gut health: Jars of broth

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 want to 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, metabolism-boosting, gut-health-promoting amino acids (the building blocks of protein) like proline, glycine, arginine, and glutamine.

So what exactly do these amino acids do?

1. Proline

  • Supports supple, healthy skin and reduces cellulite (especially when paired with vitamin C) (1)
  • Regenerates cartilage and growth tissue, and is vital to joint health (2)

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.

Bone broth gut health: Collagen

It’s also what prevents joint pain and 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 (mmm…) (3)
  • Stimulates stomach acid production (4)
  • Aids in the process of liver detoxification (5)

Bone broth is key to reversing digestive issues such as acid reflux or GERD, in large part due to glycine content (6). 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 (7).

The truth? Antacids often further aggravate the above 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:

  1. Inadequate stomach acid production leaves undigested food sitting around uncomfortably (think of a cat trying to unsuccessfully cough up a hairball) in your stomach.
  2. The undigested food that’s left sitting around builds up and creates pressure.
  3. That pressure pushes acid upward and into the esophagus.
  4. 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 multiple complications including liver congestion. Oh wait! Glycine helps out with that too (8).

3. Arginine

  • Promotes human growth hormone (9)
  • Boosts metabolism (10)
  • Assists in restoring proper kidney function and wound repair (11)

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 (12)
  • Enhances your immune system (13)
  • Generates glutathione (14)
  • May curb sugar cravings because it gets converted to glucose so fast, but more evidence is needed to support this claim
  • May help in reversing insulin resistance

Leaky Gut Syndrome is what happens when the tight junctions of your gut lining separate, which compromises the integrity of your intestinal wall. You can think of those separations 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, hormonal imbalances (PMS or PCOS), and even autoimmune disease (like Hashimoto’s).

Bone broth gut health

Glutamine helps to rebuild the intestinal junctions that have come loose, making your intestinal lining strong, functional, and, most notably, impermeable. This all helps fortify your immune system.

As you can see, I wasn’t kidding when I referred to bone broth as a magnificent elixir for your health. While proline, glycine, arginine, and glutamine have overlapping health benefits, there’s more to it than just that.

This exact combination of amino acids, which form gelatin (the cooked version of collagen), create these healing properties and ultimately provide the optimal health we’re all so passionate about achieving.

Add Bone Broth to Your Diet

Now that you’re aware of all the bone broth benefits, and how collagen, gelatin, and gut health are all connected, you’ll likely want to start incorporating it into your diet. There are a number of easy ways to do this.

You can make bone broth at home using grass-fed beef bones or chicken bones (here’s a great recipe for slow cooker beef broth). Many keto and paleo diet friendly meal plans incorporate bone broth recipes.

You can also purchase bone broth, which is a convenient option for many people. But note that not all bone broths are created equal, and nothing beats the real deal! Be sure to read this article about the differences between bone broth protein powder, bone broth concentrate, and traditional liquid bone broth.

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