Bone broth is a liquid obtained after simmering the bones, joints, and connective tissue of animals for a long time. Vegetables, herbs, spices, and apple cider vinegar are often given. Very nutritious, bone broth is often used as part of the GAPS or Paleo diet.
The popularity of bone broth has grown in recent years due to its multiple health benefits. However, it has been around since prehistoric times. In fact, hunter-gatherers would prepare inedible parts of animals, such as bones, feet, or hocks, into a broth they used to drink.
Bone broths can be made with different types of bones: chicken, beef, pork, turkey, lamb, fish, etc. However, like anything else, the quality will also depend on how the animals have been raised, whether they have been grass-fed and raised on pasture or intensively.
Nutritional Value of Bone Broth
- Rich in essential and non-essential amino acids that the body needs for muscle mass and bone building and repair (glutamine, glycine, proline). People with high protein needs particularly appreciate it (athletes, bodybuilders, pregnant and lactating women, convalescents).
- A notable presence of vitamin C.
- A significant amount of vitamin B such as niacin and riboflavin.
- Rich in glucosamine and chondroitin.
- Rich minerals such as calcium, magnesium, silicon, sulfur, and phosphorus. Indeed, by cooking for a long time, the bone demineralizes and thus releases all these minerals in the broth. This effect is accentuated by adding vinegar during cooking.
All of these nutrients have significant bioavailability. Indeed, they are highly assimilable and digestible.
Bone Broth Benefits
Rich in glutamine
Glutamine (or L-glutamine) is part of the family of amino acids that go into the composition of proteins. It falls under the category of non-essential amino acids because our body is able to synthesize them, from glutamic acid in particular, according to its needs. It is the most abundant amino acid in the blood and the muscles.
It plays an important role in protein synthesis, maintaining the integrity of the intestinal wall, helping to repair intestinal permeability, and is therefore linked to our immunity.
In addition, it also helps the acid-base balance of our body. Note that regular and moderate physical activity helps increase the level of glutamine in the blood. On the other hand, intense stress can lower this rate significantly.
Rich in glycine
Glycine is a non-essential amino acid, which comes from gelatin. It has an important function as a neurotransmitter. Indeed, it has a soothing effect (it is, therefore, useful in the event of a little depression), promotes sleep, and helps regulate the circadian rhythm.
It also has anti-inflammatory properties and supports our immune system. It is also a major constituent of collagen, and it enables the formation of glutathione, an important antioxidant that helps fight the effects of free radicals. It also allows the detoxification of our cells.
In addition, glycine can help the secretion of stomach acid, thus helping to decrease gastric reflux and indigestion. Moreover, it helps to break down fats during digestion.
Rich in proline
Proline is a non-essential amino acid. It contributes to the health of the joints, integuments, and tendons. It also makes it possible for the body to synthesize collagen.
In addition, it promotes good healing and helps tissue renewal through the production of collagen. It also has antioxidant action and anti-inflammatory properties.
Rich in glucosamine
Glucosamine is made up of glucose and glutamine. It is produced naturally by our bodies. However, its production decreases with age, causing a slowdown in the regeneration of cartilage. This can then lead to joint pain and osteoarthritis.
Bone broth is rich in glucosamine as well as chondroitin, with which it is often combined. Glucosamine maintains the integrity of cartilage and joints, increasing the lubricating action of synovial fluid. It is effective in cases of osteoarthritis of the knee.
In addition, it helps reduce joint pain and improve mobility.
Rich in collagen
A bone broth is a bit gelatinous; this is due to the collagen from the connective tissue of the meat, ligaments, and bones it contains. Collagen makes up about 30% of all the protein in the body.
Besides being a structural protein, collagen allows our tissues to develop and regulate themselves. In addition, it gives elasticity to the skin and nourishes our hair and nails.
Furthermore, collagen helps the lining of the stomach to be healthy, with the secretion of gastric acid in good quantities, thus helping digestion.
It is known to help people with joint problems such as arthritis or osteoarthritis or tendon conditions.
Learn more about the benefits of collagen here.
Rich in B vitamins
Bone broth also contains group B vitamins such as niacin (vitamin B3) and riboflavin (vitamin B2). They are involved in metabolism, helping the body break down carbohydrates, proteins, and fats for energy.
Protects the intestinal barrier
Optimal health depends on the health of our intestines. A healthy colon contains tight junctions of epithelial cells, a thick layer of mucus, and a diverse collection of bacteria. In the event of imbalance (dysbiosis) and thinning of the mucus layer, the integrity of the epithelial barrier is threatened.
As a result, bacteria and proteins from food can enter the bloodstream. This then causes an inflammatory reaction of the immune system via the lipopolysaccharides.
Bone broth helps regenerate the digestive system thanks to the presence of gelatin. This absorbs water and helps maintain the thick layer of mucus that keeps bacteria away from the intestinal barrier.
This is why bone broth is indicated in cases of intestinal porosity (or permeability). Research has shown that gelatin is effective in cases of intestinal permeability. Indeed, it has been shown to protect and heal the lining of the digestive tract in mice. Researchers believe it has the same effect in humans, but more research is needed to demonstrate its effectiveness.
Glutamine also helps maintain the function of the intestinal wall and is known to prevent and heal intestinal porosity. In fact, a glutamine deficiency causes atrophy of the villi in our intestines.
With intestinal porosity, particles of undigested food, as well as toxins and bacteria, abnormally enter the blood. This causes inflammation and diseases like Leaky Bowel Syndrome, Crohn’s Disease and other autoimmune conditions, ulcerative colitis, irritable bowel syndrome, etc.
Fights against celiac disease and autoimmune diseases
Another point among the health benefits of bone broth relates to autoimmune diseases.
Indeed, the intestinal permeability that we have just mentioned is the cause of autoimmune diseases. Indeed, when the intestinal wall is damaged and food particles, toxins, and bacteria pass into the blood, the body considers them as foreign bodies and reacts via an attack of the immune system which turns against its own cells.
This is when an autoimmune disease develops, such as celiac disease and many others. Chronic symptoms may be seen, such as constipation, diarrhea, bloating, gas, rash, etc.
Bone broth is very interesting here thanks to the glutamine. It helps prevent food toxins from entering the bloodstream. It can thus repair the damaged intestinal wall. Regular consumption of bone broth is therefore highly recommended for people with autoimmune diseases.
Great for pregnant women
Bone broth, thanks to its great richness in nutrients, is very important for the expectant mother (before conception, during pregnancy, and after childbirth) and the baby.
Indeed, it will help regenerate the body of the young mother and allow her to regain strength thanks to its richness in minerals and its warming power.
In addition, collagen will help repair tissue damaged during childbirth (in case of cesarean section, episiotomy, or tear) and will support the joints. The glycine in bone broth will allow the muscles to recover well and also acts as a soothing neurotransmitter useful in the case of baby blues.
Note that pregnancy is an extremely acidifying phenomenon that increases intestinal permeability, hence the benefit of drinking bone broth.
After birth, if the new mother eats well and consumes bone broth, her intestines will assimilate nutrients better. This will then have an impact on the quality and quantity of breast milk, which will be more nutritious for the baby.
Good for digestion
First of all, bone broth is easy to digest. Long cooking destroys complex proteins and fat molecules, making elements very easy to digest.
The glycine it contains stimulates the secretion of hydrochloric acid which promotes good digestion. Glycine is also a compound of bile acid, which is secreted in the small intestine for fat digestion.
In addition, gelatin activates digestive juices, making cooked foods easier to digest. This improves intestinal motility, promoting healthy stools.
Finally, glycine also stimulates the appetite and allows better assimilation of nutrients.
Detoxify the liver
Glycine participates in the proper functioning of the liver: it helps in the formation of bile acids which break down fats.
It, therefore, increases the detoxifying capacity of the liver. Once again, no need to spend exorbitant sums on “trendy” products, a bone broth cure will be ideal as part of a detox.
Glycine and arginine, amino acids found in bone broth, have important anti-inflammatory properties.
Arginine is particularly useful in cases of chronic inflammation that can cause cardiovascular disease, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, Alzheimer’s disease, certain cancers, etc.
The consumption of broth can thus help protect against these diseases.
Strengthens joints and bones
The various nutrients that make up bone broth improve joint health, in particular, thanks to collagen but also to proline and glycine, which your body uses to build its own connective tissue (bones, skin, cartilage, and Blood vessels).
In addition, collagen makes up a large part of bones. Aging, diabetes, or insulin resistance have negative effects on the production of collagen. That’s why as we age our bones weaken and become more fragile.
In addition, there are also glucosamine and chondroitin in bone broth, which are natural compounds present in the cartilage. In particular, glucosamine is recommended for joint problems and chondroitin for osteoarthritis.
Consuming bone broth regularly will keep your bones healthier, stronger, and more resistant to fractures.
Improves sleep and brain function
Bone broth also improves sleep and brain function. This is due to glutamine which can give you relaxation and induce sleep, also improving its quality, reducing fatigue, and increase cheerfulness.
This amino acid also helps lower body temperature and inhibits muscle activity.
Gives you beautiful skin and hair
Collagen and keratin, which are also found in bone broth, help to take care of our skin, hair, and nails. The hair is thicker, the nails less brittle. The elasticity and hydration of the skin are also improved.
Protects against anemia
Anemia is a major health problem. According to the WHO, it affects nearly 25% of the population. Children are also very prone to anemia. Iron supplementation is often prescribed. However, the intestines assimilate it less well.
Bone broth, thanks to its richness in minerals, is also indicated in cases of anemia. This is because red blood cells are formed in the bone marrow. Bone broth thus provides them with the necessary nutrients for sufficient production and good transport of oxygen in the blood.
Protects against muscle cramps
Some people experience muscle cramps whether they are athletic or not. They can occur after exercise or during the night while sleeping. One of the causes of muscle cramps is a deficiency of minerals (potassium, calcium, magnesium).
Bone broth is rich in these minerals and can thus help to relieve muscle cramps. Athletes will appreciate consuming bone broth to replenish the electrolytes lost with perspiration.
And since it also protects against oxidative stress, top athletes can drink it as well. A bowl before or after a session or before bed will bring relief.
While it may not look like, bone broth is one of the most nutritious food you can consume. It provides a wide range of health benefits and is relatively cheap and easy to make. By consuming bone broth, you will improve your gut health, improve your physical performance, promote cardiovascular health, and even keep your skin and hair beautiful. Get yourself a bowl and stay healthy.
Mandell is currently working towards a medical degree from the University of Central Florida. His main passions include kayaking, playing soccer and tasting good food. He covers mostly science, health and environmental stories for the Scientific Origin.