While bone broth has gained recent popularity as a dietary trend among health enthusiasts, athletes, and celebrities, this much-touted elixir's roots go back to humanity's first days of cooking with fire. Ancient Chinese medicine practitioners used bone broth to treat disorders of the kidneys and digestive system, while the Ancient Greeks used it for digestive cleansing.
Like many health trends, bone broth promises to treat many issues, from leaky gut and arthritis to reversing the natural signs of aging. Can it deliver on these promises? Read more to learn about the science of bone broth and how it might improve your health.
Bone broth is a liquid infused with nutrients from animal bones. Unlike regular meat stocks, bone broth is simmered for an extended time (often over 24 hours), allowing the collagen to break down and infuse more vitamins and minerals into the broth.
Manufacturers of bone broths today typically make their broth with:
Making bone broth at home is relatively straightforward, albeit time-consuming, with a simple list of required ingredients. The quality of your bone broth depends on the ingredients you use. For example, you can purchase organic bones and aromatics for your broth from a butcher or Asian grocery. For the best results, look for bones with the most significant percentage of cartilage and connective tissues, like:
Another option is repurposing bones from a roasted chicken or turkey. Even rotisserie chickens at the grocery store can be picked free of meat and used to make bone broth.
While bone broth is simple to make, not everyone has time for a 24-hour simmering process. Fortunately, bone broth is readily available from store shelves, cafes, and online vendors. Major cities even feature restaurants and delivery services specializing in bone broth, such as Brodo in New York's East Village and Trad Bone Broth in San Francisco. And bone broth is an included component of some health and wellness programs as well, such as three-day cleanses.
You can purchase bone broth in liquid form or dehydrated, single-serve packets. Here are just some of the major bone broth brands that offer high-quality products available in online stores like Amazon and Thrive Market, to name a few.
Whether you buy bone broth or make your own, there's no question that it can improve your health in many ways. A single cup of broth is a nutrient powerhouse, providing between 12 to 68mg of calcium and about 6g of protein per cup. It also delivers:1
No matter what types of bones or aromatics you use in your broth, you can generally expect some or all of the following health benefits.
Bone broth improves your gastrointestinal health in several ways. Because it is rich in amino acids and anti-inflammatory agents, it is a proven effective therapy for patients with ulcerative colitis.2 Bone broth can also reduce symptoms of leaky gut syndrome by eradicating intestinal holes. Drinking one cup of bone broth daily may reduce:
Bone broth is gentle on the digestive system and often appears in liquid diets for pre- and post-operative patients. It can even ease hangovers by reducing inflammation, supplying electrolytes, and helping to settle an upset stomach.
If you suffer from joint pain, arthritis, or associated inflammation, you're likely aware of the benefits of glucosamine supplements. Bone broth is a natural source of glucosamine, which studies have shown improves joint and bone health while reducing inflammation and pain.3 The calcium, phosphorous, and magnesium provided by bone broth support strong and healthy bones, while chondroitin sulfate may prevent osteoarthritis.
The extended time that bone broth simmers allows the connective tissues and bones to break down, infusing the liquid with natural collagen and gelatin that the body can easily absorb.
This collagen, along with hyaluronic acid, provides hydration to the skin, minimizing wrinkles and improving elasticity.4 At the same time, bone broth supplies the necessary building blocks for thicker, stronger, and longer hair and nails.
Bone broth contains glycine, a non-essential amino acid that researchers have shown to improve sleep quality and reduce insomnia.5 6 It achieves this effect by decreasing core body temperature and inhibiting neurotransmitters in the spinal cord and brainstem, triggering REM sleep.
Bone broth is high in vitamins and minerals that support a healthy immune system, including:
Additionally, bone broth provides essential amino acids that further aid immunity, including:
Amino acid supplements and BCAAs (branched-chain amino acids) are popular among athletes and bodybuilders for a reason. Essential amino acids in bone broth support muscle protein synthesis and can even reverse muscle atrophy and improve muscle mass in older people.7 8
The bone broth trend exploded partly based on its relationship to the paleo diet. But even if you aren't eating paleo, you can benefit from weight loss and healthy weight management by consuming bone broth. The natural gelatin in the broth provides feelings of satiety, while its amino acids and nutrients offer the energy needed for a refreshing workout.
You can consume bone broth in various ways and incorporate it into many recipes.
The most obvious and easy method of consuming bone broth is to drink it straight. You can order bone broth at many health food stores and cafes in a steaming hot cup, or you might choose to pack it in a thermos to enjoy at work.
Bone broth can enrich rice and grain dishes, infusing them with a depth of flavor and umami. Simply replace the required water with the bone broth of your choice.
Bone broth is an excellent soup base, bringing more flavor and richness to soups and stews than regular chicken or beef stock. Many Asian dishes, such as pho, feature a base of bone broth with roasted aromatics.
You can find countless recipes online for bone broth smoothies in various flavors. You can also opt to add bone broth to your daily protein shake or collagen powder.
You can easily store bone broth in the freezer for up to 12 months in ice cube trays or personal-sized containers for quick and easy use.
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Cook, D. (2022). Is bone broth healthy? Canadian Digestive Health Foundation. Retrieved on September 14, 2022, from https://cdhf.ca/health-lifestyle/is-bone-broth-healthy/.
Mar-Solis, L., et al. (2021, October 20). Analysis of the anti-inflammatory capacity of bone broth in a murine model of ulcerative colitis. National Library of Medicine, PubMed Central. Retrieved on September 14, 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8618064/.
Zhu, X., et al. (2018, July 6). Effectiveness and safety of glucosamine and chondroitin for the treatment of osteoarthritis: A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. National Library of Medicine, PubMed Central. Retrieved on September 14, 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6035477/.
Proksch, E., et al. (2013, August 14). Oral supplementation of specific collagen peptides has beneficial effects on human skin physiology: A double-blind, placebo-controlled study. National Library of Medicine, PubMed Central. Retrieved on September 14, 2022, from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23949208/.
Bannai, M., et al. (2012, April 18). The effects of glycine on subjective daytime performance in partially sleep-restricted healthy volunteers. National Library of Medicine, PubMed Central. Retrieved on September 14, 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3328957/.
Kawai, N., et al. (2015, January 14). The sleep-promoting and hypothermic effects of glycine are mediated by NMDA receptors in the suprachiasmatic nucleus. National Library of Medicine, PubMed Central. Retrieved on September 14, 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4397399/.
Wolfe, R. (2017, August 22). Branched-chain amino acids and muscle protein synthesis in humans: Myth or reality? National Library of Medicine, PubMed Central. Retrieved on September 14, 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5568273/.
Borsheim, E., et al. (2008, April 27). Effects of amino acid supplementation on muscle mass, strength and physical function in elderly. National Library of Medicine, PubMed Central. Retrieved on September 14, 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2430042/.