Yet again, what was once old, is new again in the world of health foods. Bone broth, something deeply embedded in traditional diets around the world, has become a new fad on menus, in grocery stores, and at home. Unlike many food trends, the health benefits of bone broth are not to be simply brushed off as a passing health food craze; instead they have been backed up through scientific study. The many advantages to bone broth that our ancestors unknowingly benefited from, are now being ‘discovered’ by nutritionists and scientists alike. There really was something positively potent about that simmering pot of chicken broth that eventually found its way into a cold and flu blasting chicken noodle soup.
Before it was forgotten, broth was an excellent way for people to get every last molecule of vitamins and minerals out of the leftover, mainly inedible parts of an animal. This included tough body parts like ligaments, bones and other chewy unappetizing bits. Once boiled for an extended period of time, the bones, organs and leftover pieces of meat begin to release all available nutrients in a format that is easily absorbed by the human digestive tract. Another reason why bone broth was a part of many diets around the world was because it prolonged the relatively short storage life of meat products. By keeping a pot of broth simmering on your wood stove, you were able to have a constantly available source of essential nutrients that did not risk going bad. It provided nourishment to even the poorest families, who maybe couldn’t afford to purchase meat but who could afford to purchase the leftover bones.
What are the Nutritional Elements in Bone Broth
Bone broth is extremely easy to make, and as mentioned above, is a great way to use every last bit of the animal, leaving no waste. Basically, the leftover bones and scraps of meat (including inedible ones like gristle) are combined with water, an acid such as vinegar, and optional herbs and vegetables. Many people recommend roasting the bones first to enhance the flavor. The key process is a very extended simmer, between 24-28 hours if possible, for flavor development and nutrient extraction.
This lengthy process is able to pull a host of powerful nutrients out of the bones, many of which are difficult to source through other foods. Even for health food nuts, who actively educate themselves on nutrition, many of the nutrients below might prove to be relatively unknown. This is because they are primarily only available through bone broth.
Glucosamine: Essential to protecting cartilage health, which is the gristly bit found between joints. This joint cushion naturally deteriorates with age, and glucosamine is often prescribed as a supplement in order to slow this process down.
Collagen: This nutrient has many functions, but it principally tends to focus around smoothing out internal processes, and strengthening the connections of tissues. One important role that collagen plays is creating a protective coating inside the digestive tract. Another role is the gel like coating it creates over and around our bones which keeps them securely connected and keeps our movements smooth and fluid.
Electrolytes: Bone broth is chock-full of vitamins and minerals, including potassium, calcium and magnesium. When consumed in a bone broth, these electrolytes are easily digestible and absorbed by the digestive system.
Hyaluronic Acid: Essential to the basic operation of cells, hyaluronic acid is definitely not as well known as it should be. Responsible for the proliferation, functionality and differentiation of cells, hyaluronic acid is a building block to life. It is also key to maintaining skin elasticity, and firmness.
What are the Benefits of Bone Broth
Although unknown to our forefathers, the benefits of bone broth are powerful. Bone broth is an easy ingredient to add to many dishes, can be frozen for easy storage and is an economically delicious way to reap the benefits of leftover bones. Although different animals (fish, poultry, pork and beef) will all emphasize different benefits over one another, some of the main health benefits of bone broth are listed below.
1. Chock-Full of Amino Acids
Bone broth is an excellent source of difficult-to-find amino acids. These include glycine,
which promotes muscle repair, human growth hormone secretion, and is essential to DNA and RNA synthesis. Bone broth isn’t finished there, as it also contains glutamate, whose role supports gut health and reduces the effects of various skin irritations. Another important amino acid is arginine, which specifically supports the health and well being of the kidney (including kidney wound repair).
2. Joint Health
Thanks to the collagen, glucosamine and other glycosaminoglycans found in bone broth,
it is a great way to protect and extend the life of your joints. These benefits of bone broth reduce friction between bones in joints, and protect the natural cartilage cushion that exists in the joints to soften the impact of movements. Some of the amino acids found within broth also boost collagen production, something that also prevents the deterioration of joint health.
3. Digestive Health
Gelatin, which is found in bones, has been proven through rigorous study to offer
effective protection against some food sensitivities, and digestive issues. Many studies cite the effectiveness of bone broth to reduce to symptoms of leaky gut syndrome because the minerals found within bone broth support healthy cell and tissue connectedness in the stomach and intestines.
4. Boosts Immune System
Because bone broth is such a powerful tool to combat gastrointestinal disorders like leaky gut syndrome, it has a secondary impact on boosting the immune system. If your gut is healthy, it will directly impact the strength of your immune system. Bone broth also indirectly reduces inflammation, which also influences the strength of your immunity.