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"From Collagen to Calcium: Discover the Surprising Benefits of Bone Broth for Your Body!"

Health Benefits of Bone Broth

Bone broth has gained traction in recent years as a nutrient-dense addition to your diet. Bone broth is packed with vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and more, providing an array of health benefits. This article will discuss the advantages of bone broth and how to incorporate it into your diet.

What is bone broth?

Bone broth is a liquid that has been used for thousands of years by humans due to its health benefits and therapeutic properties. Bone broth is formulated by boiling the bone and tissues of animals, releasing several components packed with nutritional value. These include proteins, vitamins, minerals, and amino acids.

Bone broth use dates back to prehistoric times, where individuals would boil bones, connective tissue, and meat from animals, providing potent nutritional benefits. There are many ways to consume bone broth, be it on its own or incorporated into a delicious recipe.

What is in bone broth?

Protein and amino acids

Amino acids are the building blocks that make up proteins. Links of several different amino acids create a protein, and proteins serve hundreds of functions throughout the human body. These include their role as hormones as well as their role in tissue healing, creation of antibodies, balancing fluids and acid-base concentrations, and providing energy. Thus, it is important to get sufficient amounts of protein and amino acids in via your diet.

Bone broth contains several key amino acids, including lysine, leucine, glycine, hydroxyproline, proline, and hydroxylysine. The types and amounts of amino acids in different bone broth formulations will vary, however, there are typically less amino acids in commercially made bone broths versus ones that are made at home (1).

Vitamins and minerals

In addition to things like protein and amino acids, bone broth also contains important vitamins and minerals. Bone broth acts as a dietary source of important elements like calcium, iron, zinc, and magnesium. Calcium is particularly important in certain individuals that cannot tolerate milk products or choose not to have dairy. It is also important to note that creation of bone broth may also result in extraction of harmful metals, such as lead and cadmium.

If cooking bone broth at home, studies show that longer cooking times increase concentrations of certain vitamins and minerals. For example, increased cooking times greater than eight hours are associated with increased magnesium and calcium extraction (2).

Gelatin and collagen

Collagen is a structural protein found throughout the body. Collagen is contained within structures such as the bone, skin, cartilage, connective tissues, and tendons. Collagen can be found in the bovine bone, meaning that bone broth may be an important source of collagen. Likewise, bone broth may help with conditions such as skin aging (3).

Health Benefits of Bone Broth

Given the components of bone broth, including vitamins, minerals, proteins, and more, it is no wonder that bone broth can be a nutritious addition to anyone’s diet. Below, we discuss the potential health benefits of incorporating bone broth into your everyday meals.

Improved digestion

Certain nutrient deficiencies can lead to conditions affecting the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, including ulcerative colitis. Additionally, ulcerative colitis involves inflammation within the digestive tract, characterized by pro-inflammatory cytokines such as TNF-a, IL-1-B, IL-6, and INF-y. One study aimed to evaluate how bone broth affects ulcerative colitis, particularly with regards to inflammation.

The study found that in mice, bone broth administration lowered concentrations of pro-inflammatory cytokines. Likewise, bone broth induced anti-inflammatory effects, resulting in decreased ulcerative colitis symptoms. Given its efficacy in improving GI conditions preclinically, bone broth may be an advantageous addition to your diet to improve digestion (4).

Joint health and pain reduction

While bone broth was shown to have efficacy in ulcerative colitis symptoms, it also showed a reduction in inflammation at a biological level. If bone broth has the potential to reduce pro-inflammatory cytokines (4), it likely will have positive effects on other inflammatory conditions. For example, joint conditions and pain are the result of inflammation, and thus may be mitigated with ingestion of bone broth.

Skin health and appearance

As aforementioned, bone broth is a potent source of collagen proteins (3). Collagen is an essential structural protein found within the skin. Collagen creation decreases with age, causing visible changes to our skin as we get older. Decreased collagen production manifests as things like wrinkles, fine lines, and sagging. Thus, implementing collagen-rich foods such as bone broth may help prevent or reverse signs of aging.

One study aimed to evaluate these effects, assessing how bone broth administration influenced skin measures in mice. Bone broth was associated with increased skin laxity, healing of collagen fibers, and increased collagen production.

Bone health and density

Bone broth contains several vitamins and minerals, including calcium and phosphorus. These two minerals are particularly important when it comes to bone health. Calcium and phosphorous help to build and heal bone tissue, contributing to bone density. Bone density is important to maintain, because lower bone density is associated with increased risk of osteoporosis and bone fractures. Consuming bone broth can help to maintain sufficient levels of these minerals (5).

How do I add bone broth to my diet?

Where to get bone broth

There are several ways to create bone broth at home. The easiest way to create bone broth is by adding animal bones and water to a crockpot and simmering on low heat for eight to 24 hours, depending on your desired broth concentration. If you want to add additional flavor, you can add vegetables, spices, and herbs of your choice. For example, you may consider adding onions or carrots to your broth mixture. After cooking is finished, you can strain out the bones and vegetables and store the liquid in the fridge or freezer.

Bone broth is also commercially available in ready-to-use forms at most grocery stores.

Ways to use bone broth in cooking

There are so many ways to incorporate bone broth into your diet. Perhaps the simplest way is to drink it from a mug the same way you would a cup of tea or coffee. To prepare, simply heat your bone broth on the stove or in the microwave and enjoy.

You can also add bone broth as the base to any soup or stew, such as with chicken noodle soup. You may also try cooking grains like quinoa or rice in bone broth instead of water.

References

  1. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29893587/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5707681/
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5707681/
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8618064/
  5. https://spinehealth.org/article/benefits-bone-broth-healthy-bones/#:~:text=Bone%20broth%20is%20also%20rich,chicken%2C%20beef%2C%20and%20fish.
Author
David Bauder David J. Bauder, PA-C David Bauder, PA-C, is a certified physician assistant and the assistant medical director at Weight Loss and Vitality in Manassas and Alexandria, Virginia, Washington, DC; and Gaithersburg, MD. He enjoys helping patients optimize their physical and mental health to improve their overall well-being. He earned his physician assistant degree from the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. Afterward, he gained admission into the reputable graduate program for physician assistant studies at the University of Nebraska Health Science Center in Omaha. David has over 26 years of experience working as a physician assistant. He’s practiced in podiatry, family medicine, emergency medicine, general surgery, urgent care, and functional medicine.

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