Often referred to as "liquid gold," bone broth provides many nutrients that are generally difficult to find from outside sources. As you will learn in this guide, the benefits of bone broth can be powerful.
Bone broth is made up of type 2 collagen, which is only found in animal bones and connective tissue. Type 2 collagen is a protein source that improves the health of the skin, teeth and joints; it could be considered as an anti-aging elixir.
But the benefits of bone broth don't end there.
Health benefits of bone broth
Drinking bone broth can improve your overall health and well-being. Read on to learn more about the top benefits that give bone broth its well-deserved nickname of liquid gold.
Metabolic and cardiovascular health
Glycine is an amino acid that is particularly abundant in bone broth. It plays a role in blood sugar regulation by controlling gluconeogenesis, the production of glucose in the liver, and has even been suggested to counteract some of the negative effects of consuming fructose in the diet.
Glycine has also been shown to reduce the size of heart attacks.
In addition, it balances the intake of methionine. Muscle fiber meats and eggs are rich in methionine, an amino acid that raises homocysteine levels in the blood.
High homocysteine is a significant risk factor for serious illnesses like heart disease, stroke, mental illness, and fractures, and it increases our need for homocysteine-neutralizing nutrients like vitamins B6, B12, folate, and choline.
People who eat a lot of animal protein need an adequate amount of glycine to balance the methionine in meat, and that is obtained from bone broth.
The skin is made up of two layers: the epidermis and the dermis. The epidermis, or top layer, is made of keratinocytes and is largely responsible for the skin's barrier function. Underneath is the dermis, which is a dense matrix of collagen and GAG that provides structural and nutritional support.
Keratin, collagen, and GAGs are abundant in bone broth, particularly if the animal's skin is included in the cooking process.
Multiple studies have shown that collagen and gelatin, found in bone broth, can benefit your skin's health.
In a 2014 randomized controlled trial, consumption of collagen significantly improved skin elasticity and tended to improve skin moisture content. Collagen scaffolds are widely used in medical applications to promote tissue regeneration and heal wounds.
A study in mice found that supplementing the diet with gelatin could even protect against UV-induced skin damage.
GAGs also offer additional benefits for the skin. GAG hyaluronic acid has been shown to promote skin cell proliferation and increase the presence of retinoic acid, which improves skin hydration.
Dermatan sulfate has been shown to aid in cell turnover and wound repair.
Muscles and performance
The glycine in bone broth is also important for the synthesis of hemoglobin and myoglobin, which carry oxygen through blood and muscle tissue, respectively.
Glycine also increases creatine levels, which leads to an increase in the capacity for anaerobic (high intensity) exercise and stimulates the secretion of human growth hormone, which can enhance muscle repair.
Recent evidence suggests that proline may play a role in the regulation of the mTOR cell signaling pathway, which integrates signals from nutrients, growth factors, stress factors, and cellular energy status to affect cell growth and function.
Proline, along with other amino acids, activates mTOR, resulting in improved muscle protein synthesis.
Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) is the chemical form of energy in the body that can be used to get work done. Phosphorus is required for the formation of this compound, and ATP cannot be biologically active unless it is bound to a magnesium ion.
Nutrient deficiencies in phosphorus have been shown to reduce muscle performance. Both phosphorus and magnesium are present in bone broth in modest amounts.
Bones and joints
It should be pretty obvious that the best way to get the nutrients you need to build bone is by eating bone-based foods.
Drinking bone broth provides all the raw materials for building healthy bones, including: Amino Acids, Phosphorus, Calcium, and more.
A deficiency in the raw materials for building bone can lead to a number of different conditions. For example, osteoporosis is associated with reduced levels of collagen and calcium in the bones.
Of course, to keep your bones healthy, you will also need the necessary nutrients to support the building process, such as vitamins D, K2 and C.
When it comes to joint health, GAG lubrication is the key to a full range of motion. GAGs allow part of one bone to slide smoothly and painlessly over part of another.
Sure, you could buy expensive supplements that contain glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate to keep your joints healthy, but why, when these and a host of other beneficial nutrients can be easily obtained from bone broth?
After all, GAGs are not the only component of the broth that improves joint health. Collagen can also benefit the joints.
In one study, researchers found that athletes experienced less joint pain after taking collagen supplements.
Benefits of bone broth for gut health
A healthy colon contains a single, tight layer of epithelial cells, a thick layer of mucus, and a diverse collection of microbes. Microbial dysbiosis and the thinning of this mucus layer can quickly compromise the integrity of the epithelial barrier and cause intestinal leakage.
In people with leaky gut, microbes and dietary proteins can "leak" into the bloodstream and invoke an inflammatory response from the immune system.
Lipopolysaccharide (LPS), a component of bacterial cell walls, stimulates a particularly robust immune response.
Eating bone broth is an effective way to heal the gut. Gelatin absorbs water and helps maintain the mucus layer that keeps gut microbes away from the gut barrier.
In a mouse model, gelatin supplementation reduced the severity of colitis by strengthening the mucus layer and altering the composition of the gut microbiota.
Gelatin and glycine have also been shown to reduce the inflammation caused by LPS.
Glycine has also been shown to protect against gastric ulcers. Glutamine also helps maintain the integrity of the intestinal mucosa and barrier. These are just a few of the reasons almost everyone should eat gelatin, glycine, and glutamine.
Benefits of spindle broth for digestion
Bone broth has many benefits for gut health. Drinking broth with meals is a great way to aid digestion.
Glycine stimulates the production of stomach acid, which is essential for the proper digestion of any food. Low stomach acid (hypochlorhydria) is surprisingly common in developed countries and can lead to a number of health problems, such as heartburn and GERD.
Glycine is also an important component of bile acid, which is released to aid in the digestion of fats in the small intestine. Bile acid is important for maintaining normal cholesterol levels in the blood.
The presence of gelatin in the intestine also draws fluid into the intestine, which improves intestinal motility and supports healthy bowel movements. Low levels of collagen in the blood have been associated with inflammatory bowel disease.
Detoxification, liver function and kidney health
Recently, there has been some concern regarding bone broth and lead toxicity. However, the vitamins and minerals that are abundant in bone broth, and in Paleo diets in general, can protect against the harmful effects of environmental toxins like lead.
Glycine also stimulates the production of glutathione, the body's main antioxidant.
In animal models, glycine has been shown to accelerate recovery from alcohol-induced fatty liver disease, protect liver cells against hypoxia, and improve survival after liver transplantation.
In humans, glycine reduces oxidative stress in people with metabolic syndrome.
Proline plays a role in apoptosis, the process by which the body breaks down old cells, cleans up waste products, and recycles raw materials for use in healthy cells.
Proline can scavenge free radicals, effectively acting as an antioxidant. Glutamine, on the other hand, acts as a non-toxic nitrogen transporter, transporting amine groups safely through the bloodstream to the kidney.
In the kidney, the conversion of glutamine to glutamate regulates the acid-base balance by producing ammonia.
Yes, bone broth can help improve eye health. The cornea consists of three primary layers: an outer epithelial layer, an intermediate layer, and an inner layer.
Hyaluronic acid stimulates the proliferation of the epithelial cells that line the cornea and is commonly used during eye surgery to help replace lost fluids.
The middle, or stromal, layer is made largely of collagen, keratan sulfates, and chondroitin sulfates. Keratan sulfates have been shown to be essential for corneal transparency, while chondroitin sulfate influences the development of neural pathways in the retina.
The amino acid glycine has also been shown to slow the progression of cataracts in a rat model of diabetes.
Many components of bone broth benefit the nervous system. The healthy fats in bone broth, especially if made from bone marrow, provide a source of fuel and raw material for the brain.
After all, more than 60 percent of the human brain is made up of fat.
Glycine has been shown to protect against neuronal death after ischemic stroke and likely plays a relevant role in brain development in utero and during the first months after birth.
Calcium is essential for nerve conduction. When a nerve cell is stimulated, the influx of calcium triggers the release of neurotransmitters, allowing the signal to pass to the next nerve cell. Calcium deficiency affects this transmission and can cause symptoms of: Insomnia, depression, hyperactivity.
Lastly, chondroitin sulfate plays an important role in regeneration and plasticity in the central nervous system, which means that it is essential for learning and memory.
Mood and sleep
For some people, bone broth helps improve mood and sleep. Glycine is an inhibitory neurotransmitter, which means that it can: decrease anxiety, help with sleep, and promote mental calm.
One study found that three grams of glycine given to subjects before bed produced measurable improvements in sleep quality.
Unlike methionine, glycine does not compete with tryptophan for transport across the blood-brain barrier. Tryptophan is the precursor (raw material) of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that contributes to the feeling of well-being.
Serotonin, in turn, is a precursor to melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep-wake cycles. This is why a diet that includes bone broth and fattier cuts of meat can help prevent depression and beat insomnia that some people experience from eating a diet rich in lean meat and methionine-rich eggs.
While ancient folk wisdom suggests that a hot cup of bone broth can help calm sufferers and cure the common cold, modern studies have confirmed that components of bone broth can boost the immune system.
For example, glycine receptors have been identified on the outer surface of several different types of immune cells. The effect is a dampening of the immune response, resulting in reduced inflammatory signaling molecules and oxidative stress that can reduce damage to the lungs and other tissues.
Heparan sulfate GAG has been shown to influence B-cell function, T-cell function, and macrophage activity.
Long story short, there are an incredible amount of bone broth benefits, and this hot beverage has its roots in a long history of human use. It is an excellent addition to any diet and can be used in a multitude of meals.
When it comes to getting it, you can make your own bone broth at home, or you can buy it pre-made. Regardless of how you choose to get this liquid gold, be sure to make bone broth a staple in your diet.
Homemade bone broth is easy to make, and pre-made is also a good option. Just be sure to follow these steps when shopping.
Buy organic, pasture-raised bone broth. Buying broth that is organic and made from grass-raised animals or wild-caught fish will minimize toxins and maximize the nutrients you get from the product.
Don't buy bone broth that comes in cans or other plastic food containers that contain bisphenol A (BPA) or BPA substitutes. BPA is a powerful endocrine disruptor that carries a large number of health risks.
The immune system can be activated by a lot of different things that the body doesn’t recognize as its own. These are called antigens. Examples of antigens include the proteins on the surfaces of bacteria, fungi and viruses. When these antigens attach to special receptors on the immune cells (immune system cells), a whole series of processes are triggered in the body. Once the body has come into contact with a disease-causing germ for the first time, it usually stores information about the germ and how to fight it.