What if I told you there’s a deliciously hydrating bone broth that can give you healthier skin, improved digestion and may help you lose weight? Read below (check the infographic) for the health benefits of bone broth that no one is talking about. They will change your perspective as they have mine.
Not only are bone broths incredibly healthy, they taste delicious and serve as one of the most versatile ingredients in your kitchen.
But what is bone broth and what is bone broth good for?
Read on for a full breakdown of the health benefits of bone broth.
What is Bone Broth?
Bone broth is a superfood gelatinous broth made from simmering bones with adhering meat, herbs and vegetables for a long time. I’m talking 12-48 hours long.
Bone broth is nothing like traditional bouillon cubes or store bought stock or broth (which can be laden with salt and preservatives).
The amino acids in bone broth are lacking in our typical western diet. Bone broth works because it gives you rare but incredibly beneficial amino acids into your diet.
You can find bone broth made from beef, chicken, duck, turkey, lamb, bison, pork or fish -- just about any animal.
Bone Broth History
Bone broth consumption dates back to prehistoric times. There’s evidence that just about every hunter-gatherer ancient civilization made some form of bone broth.
German and Danish cultures reserved specific hens for making chicken bone soup. East Asian cultures combined bone soups with miso. Ancient Greeks combined eggs and lemon with bone broth as a healing remedy.
These ancient cultures could not afford to waste and food, so typical inedible animal parts were tossed into a cauldron with water to make bone soup.
These cultures quickly realized that nose to tail eating provided the most nutritional benefit.
Skin, cartilage, gelatinous cuts of meat and tendons give us amino acids that we need but lack on a western diet.
Bone broth is simple to make. Heck, you can make it in your instant pot.
Nowadays, athletes and celebrities have taken to drinking bone broth for it's many benefits. Salma Hayek credits bone broth for helping her avoid botox.
“It’s full of gelatin and fat and has bone marrow and I think it is very good to keep yourself young.”
You should consider drinking bone broth. Here’s a few health benefits of bone broth that explain why.
1. Can Help You Lose Weight
Bone broth is beneficial for losing weight because it is low in calories, high in protein and keeps you full. It can satisfy your hunger due to the gelatin protein content. Concentrated bone broth which ‘gels’ in your fridge is 90-100% gelatin.
Yes, the same gelatin found in your favourite childhood snack. Gelatinous bone broth is produced from simmering meaty bones for a long time.
Studies show that gelatin rich foods like bone broth helps you feel full while on a calorie controlled diet. This helps adherence to diets and can help you lose weight (1).
The proteins in bone broth also help to restore proper hormone function in your gut. These hormones send signals to your brain when you’re hungry or full (2).
The premise being that if you can restore healthy gut function, your digestive system is better equipped to handle food in an efficient manner.
Finally, consuming gelatin combined with resistance training showed an increase in muscle mass and a decrease in body fat (5).
2. Nutrients for Healthy Skin, Hair, Teeth and Nails
Bone broth is the ultimate whole food source of collagen. If you are unaware, collagen is a protein found in every single piece of flesh and connective tissue in your body.
Collagen is what holds your skin together. But as we age, our natural collagen production decreases, leading to a gradual deterioration of our hair, skin, teeth and nails.
Bone broth is rich in collagen due to the lengthy simmering process which gently extracts the collagen out of the bones.
When you consume bone broth, it’s like reversing your skin’s aging process. You develop an abundance of connective tissue, making your skin more smooth and supple. It also may help make your hair and nails fuller (6, 7).
Plus, it’s a cost effective alternative to botox. Learn about other superfood for glowing skin.
3. Improve Your Digestion
A healthy gut is the cornerstone of health and longevity. One well known health benefit of bone broth is digestion and gut health.
Bone broth promotes increased digestion and allows for the proper absorption of nutrients into your stomach lining.
You have probably dealt with stomach aches, bloating, constipation or diarrhea at some point in your life. Me too.
You may also be “lucky” enough to have food sensitivities or autoimmune issues on top of that.
Your gut has an impossible task of keeping foreign pathogens from seeping into your bloodstream.
If you feel like strapping your propeller hat on, this study sums up the tough job your gut is tasked with just to keep you functioning day to day.
Properly made bone broth is full of an amino acid called glycine. Think of glycine as your guts best friend.
Glycine is a potent anti-inflammatory for your stomach, small intestine and GI tract (8).
Inflammation happens when tiny food particles seep through your digestive system. Simply put: they leak through your gut into your bloodstream and cause a ruckus in your body.
This kicks off major inflammation in our bodies, causing long-term damage like ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s or inflammatory bowel disease.
Gelatinous bone broth is made up of approximately 1/3rd glycine. Glycine fights inflammation by building new connective tissue in our gut. This new tissue ensures that no foreign toxins or food particles can leak through our gut.
Glycine is so potent that doctors are using it to manage Crohn's Disease, ulcerative colitis and IBD (9).
Gelatin in bone broth also directly aids in digestion by attracting digestive juices to food in the gut where it helps break down fat and protein.
Here’s more foods for your digestive health.
4. Nutrients to Improve Joint and Tendon Health
Bone broth contains collagen, hyaluronic acid, glucosamine and chondroitin. These are heavily researched, potent compounds (usually sold in nutritional supplements) for managing arthritis, inflammation and joint pain.
Glucosamine is most commonly found in our bones and the exoskeleton of shellfish. The research is mixed as to whether it does anything on it’s own, but when combined with Chondroitin there are some significant effects worth noting.
Chondroitin is found in cartilage. Consuming it helps your cartilage stay more elastic by drawing more water to the tissue. Combining Chondroitin with Glucosamine stimulates cartilage production in your joints. This cocktail has garnered tons of positive research suggesting it can stop the process of cartilage breakdown that causes joint pain (10).
Bone broth also contains hyaluronic acid which is shown to improve symptoms of osteoarthritis (11).
What about collagen in bone broth? Bone broth has a very similar amino acid (95%) profile to collagen and gelatin. It follows that bone broth will share many health benefits with collagen.
Taking collagen improves joint pain in athletes both during exercise and at rest (12). The equivalent amount of bone broth is one cup per day.
Collagen combined with vitamin C also assists in tendon repair and injury prevention (13).
However, you must follow a specific exercise protocol in conjunction with drinking bone broth and vitamin C for the tendon health benefits.
Basically you perform rehab exercises for that tendon 1 hour after ingesting collagen + vitamin C.
For more detail on how to optimize collagen in your tendons and joints, read item #3 here.
Side note: this exercise protocol helped me heal a plantar fascia rupture. This is why I started Bluebird Provisions Organic Bone Broth. You can read the full story of our beginnings here.
Take Home Message:
Bone broth provides a cost-effective and more bioavailable (fancy word for absorbable) source of these precious nutrients compared to ingesting them in supplement form.
Bone broth is a powerful smorgasbord of joints and tendon building ingredients in one delicious beverage.
5. Strengthen Your Immune System
Let’s briefly talk about four unique amino acids found in bone broth: proline, arginine, glutamine and our friend from earlier, glycine. Each amino acid plays a key role in supporting our immune system, nervous system, digestion, gut health and muscle repair.
What’s troubling is that we don’t get enough of these amino acids from regular meat sources.
Research shows that glycine and proline reduce inflammation in our respiratory system and improve digestion, thus boosting our immune systems (14).
Arginine is a vasodilator and the main precursor to nitric oxide, meaning it dilates your blood vessels. This allows for a more efficient delivery of nutrients to your muscles.
Arginine boosts the immune system through a host of different mechanisms (15). Fun fact: arginine also decreases anxiety, helps wounds heal better and increases sexual performance (16, 17, 18). Score!
While Glutamine’s joint healing capabilities are spotty, it has other impressive applications. Glutamine is used as a supplement to treat critically ill patients in ICU (19).
One last fun fact for you: Glutamine molecules are what gives bone broth health benefits and it's savoury, satisfying umami-like flavour.
6. Sleep, Improved Mood and Energy
One fascinating benefit of bone broth is as a potent mood relaxer, sleep promotor and productivity booster.
Why? Back to our friend Glycine. Taking 3 grams of glycine (found in 1 cup of bone broth) before bed improves the quality of your sleep (22).
You might be wondering: how does glycine help me sleep? Does it knock you out like other sleep pills? No.
Glycine helps you get into REM sleep by inhibiting muscle activity and lowering your body temperature. REM sleep is the restorative sleep phase.
What I find interesting about glycine is the positive mood altering benefits. This gives us more insight into how bone broth helps with sleep.
We’ve recently found out that glycine is an inhibitory neurotransmitter, much like GABA.
It naturally increases serotonin without increasing dopamine in our bodies (23). That also contributes to maintaining healthy and regular sleep cycles.
If you want more pep in your step or natural sustained energy throughout the day, try using bone broth.
Bone broth is good for helping you fall asleep at night. Try one cup approximately one hour before bed for sleep benefits of bone broth.
7. Blood Sugar Control and Heart Health
About 8% of Canadians have diagnosed diabetes and 90% of that is type 2. Type 2 diabetes is attributed to environmental and lifestyle factors (26).
Studies show that glycine (found in bone broth) taken with meals can help control insulin and blood sugar (27).
What’s interesting is that glycine levels in our bodies have a negative correlation with obesity and insulin resistance (28).
Glycine also helps you and I manage our blood sugar. Drinking one mug of bone broth in the morning (3-5 g of glycine) stabilizes blood sugar (29).
Glycine seems to help our bodies use glucose more efficiently. How? It helps release a gut hormone to help digest glucose more efficiently.
Also, glycine helps to balance out methionine intake. Muscle meats like steak and chicken breast are high in methionine. Too much methionine causes unwanted inflammation in our bodies and expedites aging (30).
Glycine helps to buffer out the negative effects of methionine (31). If you eat a lot of animal protein, one benefit of bone broth is to help balance out the methionine in your diet.
For more on controlling blood sugar, read about apple cider vinegar.
8. Brain Health
We should applaud anything that helps us sleep more. That being said, the sleep benefits of bone broth extend further to brain health.
Many components in bone broth help keep our brains healthy. Beef bone broth is full of marrow, which provides the building blocks for our brain.
Glycine in bone broth has many positive impacts on brain health. It plays a pivotal role in brain development in the womb and throughout the first few months of life (32). Glycine also protects the brain following a stroke and from neurodegenerative disease like Alzheimer’s and Huntington’s (33).
Glycine is also used to treat many mood disorders like schizophrenia and depression (34).
The brain boosting effects of glycine extend to healthy people as well. Normal people taking glycine have better verbal memory and sustained attention than controls (35).
So if you’re in situations where your performance may be affected by poor sleep, jet lag or shift work, glycine rich bone broth may be worth trying.
Lastly, chondroitin in bone broth helps with learning and memory because of it’s beneficial role in neuroplasticity (36).
9. Helps Your Liver and Kidneys
Your liver takes a beating. Between drinking alcohol and our daily exposure to stress and consumption of heavy metals, the poor thing doesn't stand a chance.
Our livers are constantly bombarded by toxins from today’s society, so it never gets a chance to look after itself.
The cool thing is that your liver is designed to naturally detoxify itself. I know what you’re thinking. No, juice cleanses have nothing to do with it. Save your money and your bowel.
The liver’s ability to detoxify chemicals and toxins efficiently is limited to your body's availability of glycine. Yes, I keep blabbering on about glycine, but it’s important.
Glycine is a potent detoxifier manufactured by your liver which literally pumps chemicals out of your body. It also plays an important role in producing hormones responsible for a bulletproof immune system and the neurotransmitters in your brain that help with memory and cognition (37).
The protein in bone broth is the highest source of glycine available. In a perfect world, you’d have a glycine IV connected to your liver; since this isn’t that practical, drinking bone broth is a good substitute.
That being said, bone broth can’t undo last night’s bender, but it may help your overworked liver play catch-up.
How to Make Bone Broth
Making bone broth is quite simple in practise, but difficult to perfect. To get the health benefits of bone broth, you must make it correctly.
Basically, you grab some bones or spare animal parts, toss them into a pot full of water and simmer it for a long time. Low and slow is the key to a great tasting bone broth.
You’ll want to add in aromatics, herbs and spices to impart a delicious flavour to your bone broth.
To get you started, here is an easy recipe below. Or learn the secrets of our specific bone broth recipe.
- 1.5 kg bones (3.3 pounds)
- 3 L water
- Salt to taste
- Place ingredients in a large pot or slow cooker.
- Bring to a boil.
- Reduce to a simmer and cook for 12–24 hours. Longer the better.
- Remove from heat.
- Strain it into jars for use and discard the solids.
You do not have to remove the fat from bone broth before you drink it. It is a matter of personal preference. Some people like the fat for flavour and fat-soluble vitamins. If you are on a diet or trying to lose weight, it may be better to remove the fat.
It is common practise to add herbs and vegetables to your bone broth. I would recommend adding these for the last 3 hours of your total cook time. This way your broth gets the flavour from the vegetables without getting too starchy.
You want the flavour from the vegetables, not the carbs.
How to Source Bone Broth
Simply put: not all bone broth is created equal. The quality of your bones has the greatest effect on the quality of a ready-to-drink broth.
For example, grass fed beef has more Omega-3 Fatty Acids, Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) and Vitamin E than their grain fed companions (38). Vitamin E acts as an antioxidant, which protects your cells from free radicals.
CLA is thought to reduce body fat deposits, improve immune function and is frequently used to treat everything from cancer to obesity to atherosclerosis.
Moreover, pasture raised cows and chickens live less stressful lives than their cage-ridden friends. This can greatly affect the quality of the meat and bones.
Sourcing your bones properly ensures that you make the highest quality bone broth. A nutrient dense, highly absorbable powerhouse in one soothing liquid.
Buy Organic and Pasture Raised Bone Broth
Buying bone broth that is organic and pasture raised ensures you get the maximum health benefits. This also ensures you do not get bone broth full of heavy metals or sourced from animals who live stressful lives in factory farms.
Bluebird Provisions is a good option for organic bone broth in Canada. We are the only certified organic bone broth available Canada wide. Our bone broth is keto, paleo and allergen friendly. Natural source of collagen protein with no carbs or fat.
When to Drink Bone Broth
You can drink bone broth anytime of day. If you have digestive issues then you should drink bone broth first thing in the morning on an empty stomach and before your meals.
For joint, tendon or ligament pain the best time to drink bone broth is approximately 1 hour before you exercise for best results (be sure to include 50 mg of vitamin c). The timing is crucial as your exercise activity helps to shuttle collagen peptides into your tendons and joints
For restful sleep, you should drink bone broth before bed for improved sleep quality.
To help control blood sugar, you should drink one cup of bone broth before your meals. This will provide the 3-5 g of glycine necessary to help control your blood sugar response.
Is it Ok to Drink Bone Broth Every Day?
It is ok to drink bone broth every day as there is no limit to how much bone broth you can drink. Start by drinking one cup of one broth per day. See how you look and feel then go up from there.
So there you have it, all of the health benefits of bone broth in our place. If you’re considering giving bone broth a try, checkout my company, BLUEBIRD PROVISIONS.
What do you have to lose?
Disclaimer: this information is for educational purposes only and has not been evaluated by the FDA or CFIA. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Please consult your primary care physician for advice on any of this.