The term “miracle” is thrown around a lot these days, especially when it comes to how and what we eat. Whether it’s adding turmeric or subtracting gluten, people are always searching for a dietary panacea that will fend off disease and rid our bodies of excess weight.
One of the latest food trends, which doesn’t seem to be going anywhere, is bone broth: a stock made primarily from the bones and connective tissue of animals or fish. (The term “bone broth” is a bit of a misnomer; traditionally, a “broth” is differentiated from a “stock” precisely because it doesn’t include animal bones.)
According to the book Nourishing Broth, which seems to have either launched or turbocharged the current broth brouhaha, “real” animal stock (that is, a stock not made from powders) can quell inflammation, speed healing, calm allergies and combat fatigue. We have a wide range of best chicken bone broth at Bone Broth
It can do all this, the authors write, thanks to its “unique combination of amino acids, minerals, and cartilage compounds.” The authors highlight the benefits of the broth’s collagen and cartilage content which the authors say may help bolster their analogs in the human body, where it’s necessary for healthy bones and skin. Eating it may, then, prevent or relieve osteoarthritis, osteoporosis and other bone- or skin-related diseases, the authors say.
But does it? There isn’t much research on bone broth to support—or refute—these health claims. But several experts on human digestion say the nutrients that supposedly make bone broth special are not, in fact, all that unique.
“The idea that because bone broth or stock contains collagen, it somehow translates to collagen in the human body is nonsensical,” says Dr. William H. Percy, an associate professor and biomedical scientist at the University of South Dakota who has spent more than three decades studying the ways the human gut breaks down and absorbs the food we eat. “Collagen is actually a pretty poor source of amino acids,” he says.
And while two protein compounds are found only in collagen, neither confers any special health benefits, says Dr. D. David Smith, an associate professor of biomedical sciences at Creighton University and an expert in the chemistry of peptides and the biological activity of amino acids.
Just as the dietary fat you swallow doesn’t directly translate to body fat, swallowing collagen doesn’t become collagen in or between your bones. Percy says bone broth may contain both essential and non-essential amino acids, and that your body can use these nutrients to augment or support various parts of your skeleton.
Who Dreamed Up This Concept?
“There is evidence of bones being broken into bits by fire pits throughout the world in prehistoric times,” says Cate Shanahan, MD, author of Food Rules: A Doctor’s Guide to Healthy Eating and Nutrition Director for the Los Angeles Lakers. Yes, it appears that everything old is new again.
Why is it so good for you?
According to the experts, good bone broth is like drinking liquid bone. Why on earth would you want to do that? Many, including Resnick and Dr. Shanahan, say drinking bone broth delivers a range of benefits, from stronger bones and joints to shinier hair and even improved immune function.
The Nutritional Value of Bone Broth
Millions of people have believed in the healing power of soup for a very long time. But there’s surprisingly little scientific research to either support or disprove its therapeutic value.
To find one of the few known studies about it, we have to go all the way back to 1934. That’s when British researchers tried to get to the bottom of a typical broth’s healthfulness when fed to infants. They concluded that it was “not of great nutritional value.”
In 2000, a US study found that “traditional chicken soup” “may contain some substances with beneficial medicinal activity” in cases of upper respiratory tract infection. However, their combined therapeutic impact is mild.
Since then, though, no further scientific studies about soup have been published. And none of the studies that do exist is specifically about bone broth. That’s a key point because bone broth isn’t exactly like an ordinary soup. Why?
Well, during the cooking process for bone broth, the bones release their nutrients into the water. (They also give the broth its rich, mildly salty taste.) Then you consume that nutrient-dense water. Unlike a basic soup — a meat-based broth that’s typically cooked for only a few hours — bone broth is simmered for as long as one or two days. That allows plenty of time for the water to draw out larger amounts of collagen and minerals. (Most recipes suggest adding a small amount of an acidic liquid to the pot, like wine or apple cider vinegar. This encourages nutrient extraction.) If you use bones from organic, pasture-fed animals and add lots of vegetables, you’ll improve its nutritional profile that much more!
But does even a long-simmer bone broth contain enough additional nutrients to raise it above the ordinary soup you already love? Looking for chicken bone broth ? Look no further! Bone Broth has you covered.
When you make a traditional broth (that is, with meat but not bones), it remains a liquid after it’s allowed to cool. A bone broth, though, becomes gelatin. That’s because of the collagen in the broth.
Collagen is the primary protein in your body’s connective tissue — the tissue that literally holds your body together. (The word collagen comes from “kolla,” the Greek word for glue, and “gen,” which means producing.) Collagen is in your muscles, skin, tendons, blood vessels, digestive tract and, yes, your bones.
Beginning in your 20s, your body’s collagen production starts to slow down at a rate of about 1% per year. This is why all of us eventually start to experience joint pain. Our cartilage (the protective tissue at the ends of long bones and joints) wears away and isn’t replaced.
So, you’re probably starting to see why bone broth is thought to be a valuable weapon in the fight against collagen loss. While a batch of broth boils away on the stove for a day or two, its bones release their collagen into the water. (At room temperature, collagen becomes gelatin, which causes the broth to solidify.) By ingesting the collagen-rich broth, you’re restoring some of the collagen your body may no longer be able to make on its own.
But there’s another reason why your body needs more collagen. Remember the Paleo diet I mentioned earlier? Well, one of the ways the modern diet has changed for the worse is we don’t consume as much collagen as we used to. One of the big reasons for this is that our primitive ancestors didn’t just eat the “muscle meats” that are still popular today — things you’d recognize as ribeye steak or chicken breast. They ate the whole animal, including things like skin, tendons, ligaments and bones. That’s where the collagen is.
So, it’s not just that your body is producing less collagen due to aging. You’re also probably getting less from your daily diet. Bone broth is one way to add it back in. What’s more, bone broth also contains moderate amounts of calcium and magnesium — both of which are among the most important nutrients for achieving optimal bone health.
Now, while there’s no Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for collagen, remember that collagen is a type of protein. So, you can consider bone broth a part of your RDA for protein. Your personal protein needs will be determined by factors like gender, age, weight, and level of activity. This page can help you figure out your daily protein needs. You would need to drink gallons of bone broth in a single day to exceed a typical person’s protein RDA, so feel free to enjoy it!
In addition to bone broth, it’s always a good idea to eat more of the foods that help your body manufacture collagen on its own. Not surprisingly, these are foods that most of us need more of in our diet anyway, and that benefits the entire body in dozens of ways.
Specifically, reach for foods that are high in vitamin C. Adequate vitamin C intake is essential for collagen production, so be sure to enjoy plenty of oranges, kale, broccoli and red peppers. Or take a supplement that offers enough vitamin C to make up for the shortfall in your diet. The recommended daily dosage of AlgaeCal Plus provides not only a clinical amount of vitamin C… It also includes highly absorbable silicon — a nutrient that plays an important role in collagen production — plus calcium and magnesium in the preferred 2:1 ratio, and all the other essential bone-supporting minerals.
In short, bone broth may not be a “miracle food” on its own… but remember, no single food is. It may sound obvious, but you need a diverse diet to experience the full benefits of good nutrition. And bone broth — especially an organic one, enhanced with lots of vegetables — can certainly be a part of that.
Bone broth for joint pain
If you’re over the age of 25 and played any kind of sport growing up, glucosamine — the supplement that’s supposed to help with joint pain — might be on your radar. But, this is just one of the glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) in bone broth. You also get chondroitin, hyaluronic acid, and multiple other GAGs that have been shown to stimulate cells to create new collagen in your joints, tendons, and ligaments, potentially providing some relief for those aching knees.
Bone broth for allergies and autoimmune conditions
Both food allergies and autoimmune conditions have been linked to intestinal permeability, or when microscopic holes in the lining of your gastrointestinal tract allow undigested food particles to pass directly into your bloodstream. But, the gut is constructed almost entirely of cartilage and collagens, says Dr. Shanahan, so the cells that are stimulated by the components in bone broth can also help restore the intestinal barrier. For this reason, bone broth has become a cornerstone of what is known as the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) diet — a real-food diet that has been anecdotally shown to help treat a wide range of autoimmune conditions.
Bone broth for inflammation
According to Resnick, bone broth made from grass-fed beef bones also contains omega-3 fatty acids and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), which have been linked to reducing inflammation in the body and could be helpful for people suffering from an inflammatory condition.
Where’s the proof?
In the past 50 years, almost no clinical research has been done on bone broth, but for Resnick and Dr. Shanahan, personal experience is certainly promising. Dr. Shanahan credits bone broth, along with other elements of her nutrition program, with helping the Lakers deal with chronic joint problems.
How much do I need to drink?
Unfortunately, this isn’t a one-and-done kind of thing. Dr. Shanahan recommends working up to one cup three to four days per week, minimum before you start seeing results. She also notes that it won’t work as effectively in the context of a high-sugar or pro-inflammatory diet; she specifically calls out highly processed ingredients such as vegetable oils, which are in almost all commercially prepared foods and are known to be inflammatory. Bone Broth has a wide range of best chicken bone broth in Melbourne
What about bone marrow?
Bone marrow is a rich source of monounsaturated fats and, like bone broth, also contains anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids and CLA. But, according to Dr. Shanahan, the collagen and glycosaminoglycan molecules we’re after in bone broth come primarily from cartilage and joint tissue. Resnick recommends buying a combination of marrow bones (look for bones with a solid, white centre) and regular bones.
How do you make it?
Although most broth-loving blogs say brewing, this stuff is easier than Easy Mac, in reality, it will take a bit of time and dedication. First, Resnick maintains that you absolutely must get good-quality bones, i.e. bones from animals that were raised in a pasture and allowed to graze on the green grass. She likes beef bones the best for their omega-3 and CLA content. Dr. Shanahan says to look for bones that contain the shiny, white stuff (cartilage) at the ends and lots of connective tissue — skin is a bonus. These could be tricky to find, but Resnick recommends checking your local Whole Foods, farmers’ market, and, if all else fails, Google. You can also buy whole chickens — instead of the skinless, boneless breasts — and save the bones, says Dr. Shanahan.
You’ll need enough bones to fill up a pot or slow cooker about one-third of the way. Then, add just enough water to cover them, plus a pinch of sea salt. Bring your broth to a boil, then turn it down to simmer and leave it for at least four hours — but 24 is ideal, explains Resnick.
Once you’re done brewing, strain your broth through a fine-mesh strainer and stick it in the fridge overnight. Depending on how long you boiled, the broth may turn to gel; that’s the collagen solidifying. But don’t worry if it doesn’t. There will be a layer of fat on top, too, notes Resnick. This fat is not only great to cook with (it’s saturated and highly heat-stable); it’s also chock-full of nutrients. You can scrape it off and save it, or leave it with the broth. The broth can be refrigerated for a week, so Resnick recommends keeping some on hand and freezing the rest, which will last for up to six months. If you’re feeling hardcore, you can warm the broth up and drink it straight. But, if you want to ease into it, Resnick and Dr. Shanahan recommend starting by using it as a cooking liquid with any recipe that calls for broth or stock.
Is Bone Broth Harmful?
We can see there is a lack of research regarding bone broth, and the available research is not groundbreaking. However, bone broth may have some potentially dangerous contents. Bones are known to store heavy metals, particularly lead. When bone broth is prepared, lead may be released. In 2013, UK scientists conducted a small study looking at the lead content of bone broth made from chicken bones. The broth contained over ten times more lead than the water alone. Interestingly, the chicken bones in this study were derived from organic animals, and the skin and cartilage contributed the highest amount of lead. Similar to the 1934 study, a 2017 study published in the journal Food and Nutrition Research reported that bone broth was a poor source of calcium and magnesium. In contrast to the 2013 study, this more recent study also reported that the lead and cadmium content of bone broth was low. However, the nutritional content and the health effect of bone broth would logically be majorly influenced by both the core ingredients as well as the preparation. Therefore, broad claims about all bone broth are likely to be misleading.
In short, the best we can say from the limited research available is that traditional bone broth appears to be a poor source of nutrients and may contain harmful components. A more healthful alternative appears to be made with the addition of vegetables and the subtraction of the bone in other words: vegetable soup!
Research About Bone Broth
Despite its popularity and the numerous medicinal claims, there is very little scientific research regarding bone broth. I searched the scientific literature and could only find a few relevant studies. The earliest study available is from 1934 and published in the journal Archives of Disease in Childhood. Elsie Widdowson conducted the research (British dietitian) and Professor Robert McCance (Northern Irish pediatrician) who together made numerous early, vital contributions to the field of nutrition science. This research analyzed the nutritional composition of either bone broth or bone and vegetable broth. It was found that bone broth was a poor source of many nutrients. Yet, the addition of vegetables increased the content of several important nutrients, including potassium, calcium, magnesium, and iron.
There is a tradition of eating chicken soup, often made using bones, when sick with an infection. Similar to bone broth, there is little research regarding chicken soup and infection. However, a 1978 study found that chicken soup was better than cold or hot water at moving nasal mucus. A subsequent small study conducted by researchers from Nebraska Medical Center and published in a leading medical journal in 2000 (Chest) found that “chicken soup may contain a number of substances with beneficial medicinal activity.” The researchers observed that people eating chicken soup seemed to experience a mild reduction in inflammation that helped reduce symptoms of respiratory infection. However, the actual chicken soup used in this study contained a large proportion of vegetables (onion, sweet potato, parsnip, turnip, carrot, celery, parsley).
As with so many food trends (especially those associated with health claims or a popular diet), it can be easy to be suspicious about bone broth. But not only is there an encouraging amount of evidence about bone broth’s benefits — but there’s also nothing to suggest it’s harmful. Check out our Melbourne chicken bone broth here.
One thing I don’t question is that bone broth really is delicious and comforting. So if you enjoy it, by all means, continue to do so. Just be aware that not all bone broths are created equal. Many commercially prepared broths contain added sodium, sugar, and artificial ingredients. The best bone broth (in terms of both quality and flavour) is homemade — ideally with bones from organically raised animals. If you do buy your broth from the store, though, make sure it’s organic. And check the ingredients list and nutrition panel. If there’s anything in it you wouldn’t add if you were making it at home, take a pass! There are plenty of quality brands to choose from.
And here’s a final key point. In most of the research out there, the most nutrient-dense broths are those that contain the most vegetables. So feel free to add lots (plus fresh herbs, too!), and experiment to find what tastes best to you. You’ll be improving the broth’s nutritional profile, and it’ll taste even better!