Written by Jayelah Bush, BScN
Medically reviewed by Dr. Natacha Montpellier, ND, B.Sc.
Article Courtesy of Fullscript
Bone broth (stock) is a liquid made from simmering bones in water over a period of time. Drinking bone broth on its own, or using it as a base for soups and other dishes, is a great way to get its health benefits. Bone broth contains many important nutrients, including amino acids, collagen, and protein. (11) Scientific evidence suggests that the nutrients in bone broth may support digestive health, joint health, a healthy immune system, and more.
Keep reading below to learn about bone broth benefits, and how to make your own bone broth at home.
Amino acids, the building blocks of proteins in our cells and tissues, are one of the main components of bone broth. Proteins are used within the body to perform many bodily functions as well as repair, build, and grow bodily tissues. (7)(15) Research indicates that the components of bone broth can benefit the body from head to toe, from mental health to skin health.
Bone broth is a good source of the amino acid glycine, which plays a key role as a neurotransmitter (messenger between nerves and cells), influencing brain development, motor skills, and behavior. (4)(11)(18) Glycine also has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Research demonstrates that glycine can decrease neurological (brain and spinal cord) damage related to oxidative stress in mice. (22) Cellular damage related to oxidative stress can negatively affect the nervous system, potentially playing a role in the development of neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. (19)
Beef bone broth is rich in the amino acid glutamine, the most abundant and widely used amino acid in the body. (7)(11) About 30% of total body glutamine is used by the digestive tract to support intestinal health. Its functions include supporting a healthy inflammatory response, maintaining the intestinal barrier, and regulating intestinal cell death. (10) In gut health conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease, glutamine levels are significantly lower than healthy individuals. (8) Regularly drinking bone broth may help increase glutamine levels to support digestive health. (11)
Not only is glutamine a key nutrient for a healthy gut but also a healthy immune system. Leukocytes (white blood cells) require glutamine for proper function. During illness or injury, glutamine is used by the immune system just as much, if not more, than glucose (sugar), the main source of energy for the human body. Glutamine can be created within the body, but levels are often insufficient during times of illness. Research indicates that supplementing with glutamine before or after a major health event, such as bone marrow transplantation, radiation treatment, or surgery, may be beneficial for immune health. (7)
Joint pain related to osteoarthritis (joint damage) is one of the most common causes of chronic pain, affecting millions of North Americans. (6)(17) Osteoarthritis occurs when joint cartilage (tough, flexible tissue) degrades, causing bones to scrape against each other as the joint moves. This can eventually cause pain and negatively impact all areas of connective tissue, including bone, cartilage, ligaments, and tendons. (5)(13) Collagen is the main structural protein found in skin and other connective tissues, such as cartilage. Collagen can be synthesized in the body using amino acids, or obtained from dietary or supplement sources. (23) Consuming more collagen and collagen-building amino acids and nutrients may be one way to promote bone and joint health. (2)(17)
Bone broth is a good dietary source of collagen and collagen-building amino acids. (11) Clinical and animal research has demonstrated that supplementing with collagen extract derived from chicken bones, like that from chicken bone broth, may be effective for decreasing joint pain. (12)(20)
Skin, the body’s largest organ, contains up to 70% of collagen, which plays an important role in maintaining skin structure and elasticity. (3)(21) Aging reduces collagen production within the body, which can weaken skin elasticity and strength, causing the skin to become thin, dry, and wrinkled. (3) Research suggests that collagen is a major component in the “anti-aging” of skin. (21) Bone broth collagen may be just what your skin needs for a youthful glow.
Bone marrow is the fatty, soft, spongey tissue found in the center of most bones. Marrow bones (e.g., femur) are good choices for bone broth as they contain high amounts of collagen and amino acids. As a fatty tissue, bone marrow is also a rich source of vitamin D, which is stored in fat. One reported case has noted that regularly drinking high volumes of bone broth, notably beef bone broth, may lead to hypervitaminosis D (excess vitamin D). (16) Hypervitaminosis D can lead to hypercalcemia (excess blood calcium) which can cause serious health complications, including fragile bones, fatigue, and vomiting. (14)
In addition to the important amino acids and key nutrients found in animal bones, there may also be trace amounts of heavy metals, such as lead. However, research indicates that the levels of heavy metals present in bone broths are not considered dangerous, falling within the Maximim Residue Limits (MRLs) established by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. (9)
Making bone broth at home on the stovetop or in a slow cooker is the best way to get its amazing health benefits. A study reported that store-bought bone broth was found to be lower in all amino acids than the self-prepared varieties. (1) While it may sound daunting, making your own bone broth is actually fairly simple.
Simple bone broth
Prep time: 15 minutes Cook time: 18-24 hours
Total time:~24 hours
Servings: 4 servings
Notes: Although not necessary, roasting your bones before simmering can improve the flavor of the broth.
Limit toxin exposure by using bones from organic, sustainable, grass-fed, pasture- raised, and/or free-range sources.
Add vegetables, herbs, and spices to enhance flavor and nutrients.
2-4 lbs (1-2 kg) chicken or beef bones
1 gal (4 L) water
2 tbsp (30 mL) apple cider vinegar
The health benefits of bone broth come from its rich nutrient content, including the protein collagen and its related amino acids. Consuming bone broth may support a variety of health facets, including mental health and joint health. Bone broth is mostly considered safe, but may contain trace amounts of heavy metals and can lead to vitamin D toxicity if consumed in excess. Sourcing high-quality animal bones and making bone broth at home is one way to limit toxin exposure and increase the nutrient content. If you’re a patient, consult with your integrative healthcare provider before making any major changes to your diet.
There are so many aspects of our health that can spiral out of control when we have an unhealthy gut. Over the past couple of decades, studies have linked the gut microbiome to nearly every biological function carried out in the human body. An unhealthy gut can affect our mood, quality of sleep, mental health, immune system, skin, hormone levels, and absorption of nutrients.
Although there are many fad diets and designer supplements geared towards improving gut health, as well as conflicting advice abound on the internet, there are quite a few ways to naturally improve your gut microbiome that can easily be incorporated into your every day routine:
Sugar, artificial sweeteners, preservatives, and other additives can contribute to unhealthy bacteria in the gut.
Making sure you drink plenty of water throughout the day benefits the mucosal lining of the intestines and also helps to promote the balance of good bacteria in the gut.
Visit the farmer’s market and take a hard pass on gut damaging pesticides (or better yet, get your own garden growing!). Beneficial microbes from the soil they are grown in is an added bonus. For those of you who are local, check out Hardin County Farmers Market - Farmers Market, Vegetables. Opening day this year is Apr 2, 2022.
Often the best way to get to the root of a problem is to be backed with information. Vibrant Wellness, for instance, provides a thorough and highly accurate analysis of your gut microbiome and includes dietary and supplement recommendations based on your own specific needs. For more information, visit Gut Zoomer – Vibrant Wellness (vibrant-wellness.com). These tests are available through Raja Wellness.
Bone broth has a wide array of health benefits for the body, especially the gut. It contains minerals and nutrients in a highly available form that is easily absorbed by the body which are building blocks for the cells of the gut lining, and also helps to reduce inflammation of the gut. Check out our Spring Chicken Bone Broth recipe here!
Fermented foods provide probiotics that are beneficial to digestive health and add to the healthy bacteria in your gut.
Exercise is a great way to reduce stress and improve sleep quality which also affects gut health in their own capacities. Exercise has also been shown to positively impact gut microbial composition. If you need a little assistance and are looking for a low-impact and friendly routine, consider joining one of our yoga classes with Nikki at Raja Wellness!
Acupuncture releases endorphins that trigger the body’s unique healing capabilities. Not only can acupuncture help reduce inflammation, stimulate the central nervous system, and reduce pain and stress—it also has a positive effect on the functioning of your organs and can help to restore balance to the gut.
Aside from gut health affecting how you feel overall, it affects how your body functions as well. Upgrade your microbiome by incorporating these tips into your daily routine and notice a positive difference in your overall well-being. For more assistance, book an appointment at Raja Wellness by exploring www.rajawellness.com, emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call our office at 270-506-3853.