Kim is an RN and author of the book "360 Health: Your Guide to Cancer Prevention, Healing Foods, & Total Body Wellness."
Who doesn't want to turn back the clock when it comes to aging? Looking and feeling younger is something we all strive for and desire. What if one simple (yet so complex) beverage could ease ailments while making us more youthful inside and out? I don't know about you, but sign me up!
Bone broth is truly one of the world's "super foods." Its nourishing properties extend way beyond its warmth and ability to stave off the common cold. Bone broth's combination of amino acids and rich nutrient supply makes it one of the most healing foods of all time, rivaling ordinary chicken soup any day.
Bone broth is made by simmering bones (preferably grass-fed or organic) in purified water for long periods of time ... think 18-24 hours. During this process, minerals, amino acids, and collagen from the bones and connective tissue are released into the broth. It is precisely because of these components that bone broth can literally reverse the aging process.
Improves Joint Health
As we age, our joint cartilage experiences the effects of wear and tear, and sometimes even leads to arthritis. For some of us, antibodies can also attack the joints; think rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune condition. Bone broth is rich in the compounds glucosamine and chondroitin. Sure, you can purchase these in a stand alone supplement, but the compounds found naturally in bone broth are extremely bioavailable, and more easily absorbed. Glucosamine and chondroitin work to keep cartilage healthy and joint pain at bay.
Bone broth also contains collagen in great quantities. When you make bone broth, a layer of gelatin forms at the top after the broth is cooled. The gelatin is actually collagen from the animal. Collagen is rich in amino acids. Your body uses collagen to make cartilage, thus helping to keep joints cushioned.
Increases Bone Density
Now this next bit of information blows my mind! I always suspected that bone broth was good for our bones because of the calcium that is leached out during the process of cooking it. Turns out, it's the collagen that is most beneficial for strengthening bones.
Bone broth is full of the amino acids proline and glycine. Our bodies use these amino acids to make make our own collagen. The Healthy Home Economist says,
To build good bone, we need collagen above all. The basic building blocks of bone are collagen fibrils that form a latticework for deposition of calcium phosphate and other minerals. The collagen cross-links are more important for whole bone strength and fracture resistance than mineral levels and patterns. Indeed, some people have bones thick with calcium and other minerals that are weak and crack under tension like unreinforced concrete.
Isn't that fascinating?! So, maybe all this calcium we're eating and supplementing with isn't as important as once thought. Sure, we need some calcium for strong bones (along with vitamins D and K2), but we MUST have collagen first! Bone broth helps to ensure we're getting adequate collagen.
Maintains Muscle Mass
You've probably heard that, as we age, our muscles break down, and it becomes harder and harder to maintain strength. Sarcopenia, or age-related muscle loss, typically begins in one's 40s. With each decade, a person can expect to lose 3-5% of their total muscle mass unless measures are taken.
Weight bearing exercises (lifting weights and resistance training) can certainly help to offset muscle wasting. Intake of protein is also essential as our muscles need protein for growth and repair. Unfortunately, with age, we tend to want to eat less protein. On average, elderly people consume 12-24% less protein. This may be because protein is more difficult to digest. Hydrochloric acid secretion tends to decrease with age as well, adding to the problem with digestion.
Enter bone broth. Bone broth is so easy on the GI tract. In addition, it is chock full of amino acids that replenish the protein in muscles, aiding in muscle retention. One amino acid, glutamine, is responsible for building muscle. Another, called proline, is known to prevent muscle mass atrophy.
Rejuvenates Skin, Hair, and Nails
Collagen gives our skin elasticity. As we age, our own collagen supplies degrade. However, when we regularly consume bone broth, we can begin to see fewer wrinkles, especially those crows feet around our eyes. Wrinkles occur when our collagen begins to break down. Getting the essential amino acids from bone broth helps to stimulate our own collagen production which, in turn, fills in those tiny wrinkles. Collagen rivals Botox any day, and it's free!
Collagen can also help with the appearance of cellulite and stretch marks. Bone broth increases the suppleness of skin. Cellulite arises when our connective tissue breaks down or becomes looser. Collagen intake reverses that breakdown.
Along with the skin, our nails and hair can also be strengthened and grow to new lengths. Collagen is the building block for those, too. It's not uncommon for people to experience thicker and stronger hair and nails. Personally, my hair became thicker with this addition of collagen, and the waviness of my childhood hair returned.
Heals the Digestive Tract
Gelatin and collagen are soothing for the digestive tract. Common digestive issues like bloating, constipation, and reflux can be helped when one incorporates bone broth into their diet. The gelatin can helps to repair a "leaky gut." This is when particles from food enter into the blood stream instead of staying inside the gut. Leaky gut is a result of insults to the GI tract from harmful, inflammatory foods or infections. Unfortunately, this can lead to food allergies and autoimmune conditions since the body doesn't recognize these substances in the blood and begins to "attack" them.
The amino acids in bone broth can help to repair the digestive tract, and the gelatin mends the mucosal layer. Even people with severe conditions like colitis or Crohn's disease can experience amazing reparative results with the addition of frequent bone broth consumption.
Boosts the Immune System
By decreasing inflammation and giving us valuable and often missing key nutrients, bone broth fosters immune system functioning. The amino acids glycine, proline, and arginine are powerful anti-inflammatory agents. This is good news because we know that inflammation is at the heart of many diseases and illnesses.
Bone broth is rich in several minerals as well, notably calcium, magnesium, zinc, and phosphorous. They are also bioavailable and quite easily absorbed and assimilated into our bodies. Magnesium, especially, is one mineral that most folks are deficient in and it plays a large role in overall health. Zinc is also of utmost importance in proper immune system functioning and has been studied in its role against cancer formation.
Detoxifies the Body
Bone broth is ideal for fasting, whether that's an all day liquid fast or an intermittent fast. Broth is very low in calories, but it provides ideal nourishment and hydration. Fasting is one way to detoxify the body by giving it a break from processing and digesting food. The broth also assists the intestines in elimination of waste.
Another bonus is that bone broth helps the liver with detoxification processes. The amino acid glycine in the broth is a precursor to glutathione, the master antioxidant in our bodies. Glutathione also helps to remove heavy metals in the body like lead or mercury, furthering assisting the body's detoxification of unwanted toxins. The amino acid proline assists in apoptosis (turnover of old and damaged cells), ridding the body of potentially cancerous cells and making room for newer, healthier cells.
Bone Broth Recipe
Bone broth is super simple to make. You just need a few ingredients and some patience! One caveat ... be sure to use grass-fed bones (beef) or pastured, organic bones (chicken) to ensure that there are no antibiotics or pesticides and that the animal was raised in the healthiest, most natural way. (We don't want to consume broth from sick or contaminated sources.)
"Bone Broth Benefits for Digestion, Arthritis, and Cellulite," 2017, Dr. Axe, https://draxe.com/the-healing-power-of-bone-broth-for-digestion-arthritis-and-cellulite/. (No longer accessible.)
Petrucci, Kellyann. "The Benefits of Bone Broth, and Why You Should Consume This Superfood Daily," 2016, https://www.drkellyann.com/blog/the-benefits-of-bone-broth-and-why-you-should-consume-this-superfood-daily.
"Bone Broth Benefits for Health," 6 September 2017, Wellness Mama, https://wellnessmama.com/23777/bone-broth-benefits/
Daniel, Kaayla. "Surprise! Research Reveals Little Calcium in Bone Broth," 8 July 2017, https://www.thehealthyhomeeconomist.com/bone-broth-calcium/
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
Miebakagh Fiberesima from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA. on July 21, 2020:
Kim, this is an interesting treat. My mum before she pass away weekly make fish bone broth. As teenagers, we could not understand. But as a person with scientific back ground, I ensure beef meat is cut along with the bone and it is well simmer with water for steaming. Your articl has teach me to make stock of dried fish and beef into a broth. Many thanks.
Kim Maravich (author) from Indiana on October 10, 2018:
Ziyena, Thank you for giving your feedback and sharing your story about bone broth. It truly can be rejuvenating!
ziyena from the Somewhere Out There on October 09, 2018:
I can definitely attest to the use of bone broth ... started a routine every day and my complexion cleared up. fine lines diminished and even noticed a plumpness to my skin that hadn't been there for a long time. BTW ... there's a reason why Asian women have such beautiful skin. Great article and highly suggest