Bone broth has become very popular recently, especially among health-conscious individuals. This is because it’s believed to have many health benefits.
Although there is no published research on bone broth itself, there’s plenty of evidence that suggests drinking it may be very beneficial.
This article takes a closer look at bone broth, how to make it and its potential benefits.
What Is Bone Broth?
Bone broth is made by simmering the bones and connective tissue of animals.
This highly nutritious stock is commonly used in soups, sauces and gravies. It has also recently gained popularity as a health drink.
Bone broth dates back to prehistoric times, when hunter-gatherers turned otherwise inedible animal parts like bones, hooves and knuckles into a broth they could drink.
You can make bone broth using bones from just about any animal — pork, beef, veal, turkey, lamb, bison, buffalo, venison, chicken or fish.
Marrow and connective tissues like feet, hooves, beaks, gizzards or fins can be used.
In general, bone broth is very nutritious.
However, the nutrient content does depend on the ingredients you use, as each brings something different to the table.
Animal bones are rich in calcium, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus and other trace minerals — the same minerals needed to build and strengthen your own bones.
Fish bones also contain iodine, which is essential for healthy thyroid function and metabolism.
Connective tissue gives you glucosamine and chondroitin, natural compounds found in cartilage that are known to support joint health.
Marrow provides vitamin A, vitamin K2, minerals like zinc, iron, boron, manganese and selenium, as well as omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.
All of these animal parts also contain the protein collagen, which turns into gelatin when cooked and yields several important amino acids.
As the ingredients simmer, their nutrients are released into the water in a form your body can easily absorb.
Many people don’t get enough of these nutrients in their diet, so drinking bone broth is a good way to get more.
Unfortunately, it’s impossible to know the exact amount of each nutrient contained in the broth because every batch of bones is so different.
Scientists have discovered that your overall health depends heavily on the health of your intestinal tract.
Not only is bone broth easy to digest, it may also aid in the digestion of other foods.
The gelatin found in bone broth naturally attracts and holds liquids. This is why properly prepared broth congeals in the fridge.
Gelatin can also bind to water in your digestive tract, which helps foods move through your gut more easily.
It has also been shown to protect and heal the mucosal lining of the digestive tract in rats. It is thought to have the same effect in humans, but more research needs to be done to show its effectiveness (1Trusted Source).
An amino acid in gelatin called glutamine helps maintain the function of the intestinal wall, and has been known to prevent and heal a condition known as “leaky gut” (2Trusted Source).
Leaky gut, which is associated with several chronic diseases, is when the barrier between your gut and the bloodstream is impaired.
Substances that your body doesn’t normally allow through leak into your bloodstream, which leads to inflammation and other problems.
For all of these reasons, drinking bone broth may be beneficial for individuals with leaky gut, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or irritable bowel disease (IBD), such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease.
The amino acids found in bone broth, including glycine and arginine, have strong anti-inflammatory effects (3Trusted Source).Arginine, in particular, may help fight the inflammation associated with obesity.
One study shows higher levels of arginine in the blood are associated with decreased inflammation in obese women (4Trusted Source).
Another study in rats suggests that supplementing with arginine could help fight inflammation in obese individuals, but more research needs to be done in humans to support these results (5Trusted Source).
While some inflammation is necessary, chronic inflammation may lead to a number of serious diseases.
These include heart disease, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, Alzheimer’s disease, arthritis and many types of cancer.
Because of this, it’s important to eat plenty of anti-inflammatory foods.
Collagen is the main protein found in bones, tendons and ligaments.
During the cooking process, collagen from bones and connective tissue is broken down into another protein called gelatin.
Gelatin contains important amino acids that support joint health.
It contains proline and glycine, which your body uses to build its own connective tissue. This includes tendons, which connect muscles to bones, and ligaments, which connect bones to each other.
Bone broth also contains glucosamine and chondroitin, which are natural compounds found in cartilage.
The proteins in bone broth have also proven beneficial for those with rheumatoid arthritis, which is a chronic autoimmune disease that causes painful damage to the tendons and ligaments.
In one study, 60 people with rheumatoid arthritis consumed chicken collagen for three months. Symptoms improved significantly in all 60 participants, with four showing complete remission of the disease (10Trusted Source).
Bone broth is typically very low in calories, but can still satisfy hunger.
What’s more, bone broth contains gelatin, which has specifically been shown to promote feelings of fullness (13Trusted Source).
One study found that gelatin was more effective at reducing hunger than the protein casein, which is found in dairy products (14Trusted Source).
Another study in 53 men found that, when combined with resistance training, collagen helped increase muscle mass and decrease body fat (15Trusted Source).
One study found that taking 3 grams of glycine before bed significantly improved the quality of sleep in individuals who have difficulty sleeping (16).
Taking glycine before bed helped participants fall asleep faster, maintain a deeper sleep and wake up fewer times throughout the night. This study also found that glycine reduced daytime sleepiness and improved mental function and memory.
Therefore, drinking bone broth could have similar benefits.
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