Everything You Need To Know About Bone Broth

From Dr. Josh Axe, DNM, DC, CNS.

Bone broth, a traditional stock made primarily from the bones and connective tissue of animals such as chicken, cattle or fish, has been enjoying its spotlight on the superfood stage for some time now, and it appears as though its fifteen minutes of fame isn’t over quite yet. That’s because this magical elixir isn’t just the perfect base for a hearty pot of soup, it’s also a legitimate health food.

Thanks to a powerful combination of collagen, amino acids, electrolytes and trace minerals, benefits attributed to bone broth include improved digestion, healthier skin, better quality sleep, less aches and pains, and higher energy levels. And even though bone broth is a good addition to any diet any time of year, those benefits are especially important as the temperatures drop and the seasons shift to fall and winter.

Here are five reasons why we can all benefit from having more bone broth during cooler months:

1. Boosts nutrient intake

Raw fruits and veggies are a great source of many vitamins and minerals, but since cold salads and smoothies don’t sound very appetizing as the thermostat dips, bone broth is a great way to fill in those nutrient gaps. It supplies over a dozen minerals and antioxidants, including glucosamine, calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, sodium, potassium, sulfate and fluoride. Your body uses these nutrients to augment or support various physiological functions, like keeping your bones strong and supporting detoxification. Bone broth also supplies collagen and gelatin, which are necessary components for the rebuilding and repairing of connective tissues throughout the body.

2. Eases digestion during the “comfort food” season

As casseroles and baked treats abound during fall and winter, bone broth can help to offset the negative effects of all those heavy, sugar-laden dishes. That’s because gelatin, as well as glycine, arginine and proline (the amino acids found in collagen) are capable of repairing damage to your gut lining by strengthening and normalizing mucus membranes. This can help to “seal” the protective lining of the GI tract and decrease the risk for problems such as leaky gut syndrome.

Additionally, consuming bone broth may help promote microbiota balance and probiotic growth, which has far-reaching benefits including decreasing inflammation. The electrolytes found in bone broth are also beneficial for keeping you “regular” and decreasing bloating because of their ability to regulate fluid balance, nerve signaling and muscle contractions. Finally, because it can be filling and may help regulate blood sugar, sipping on bone broth can control your appetite and lead to less over-indulging.

3. Helps keep skin soft and supple during harsh, drying weather

Our bodies produce collagen on their own, but age and other factors can impede this process, making it a good idea to supplement when possible. And when it comes to repairing skin cells and maintaining a supple, youthful appearance even in the freezing winter, bone broth is a must-have.

As the most abundant type of protein found in the human body, collagen is an essential “building material” that helps to retain skin’s youthful elasticity and texture. Some research suggests that consuming higher amounts of collagen from supplements and/or food sources can improve skin’s moisture and decrease signs of aging including wrinkles, fine lines and sagging.

4. Helps you recover from workouts

It’s easy for exercise to fall by the wayside when your schedule becomes packed with holiday parties and errands. But even short bursts of exercise can have big payoffs. Yet some people aren’t aware that high-quality protein sources are needed to support an active lifestyle. The amino acids and minerals provided by bone broth support muscle growth, prevent muscle wasting, help repair connective tissue including joints, and may help fortify your bones—all important aspects of workout recovery.

And don’t forget that, in addition to keeping your waistline in check as you navigate numerous holiday parties, exercise also many stress-relieving benefits (especially when done outdoors, even if it’s cold). Exercise can help you get better quality sleep during this hectic time of year, so try sneaking in a walk, run or HIIT session however you can.

5. Enhances immunity against colds and the flu

Bone broth’s immune-enhancing effects are due to compounds including chondroitin sulfate, glutathione and glucosamine, which all help to decrease inflammation, pain, and susceptibility to illnesses or allergies.

In fact, certain studies have found that consuming more of these compounds can help maintain the body’s defense system, support detoxification and assist the liver in removing toxins and waste from the body. Calcium, magnesium and potassium can also boost your ability to get good sleep and manage aches and pains, while also supporting circulation and cellular health.

So now that you know how important it is to increase your bone broth consumption in the coming months, let’s look at some practical ways to do just that:

  • If you’ve got the time, consider making your own bone broth at home using a combination of bones, connective tissue, fat, meat, vegetables, an acid such as apple cider vinegar, herbs and water. You can freeze any extra for later, then reheat cooled or frozen stock on the stovetop. Use it as the base for soup or stew, or to boil rice or quinoa.
  • Sip on stock made from a powdered bone broth, which comes together quickly when combined with hot water. Try swapping out one cup of coffee or tea for a cup of bone broth each day.
  • Use flavored bone broth protein powders in shakes and smoothies, or try adding a scoop to your favorite muffin or quick bread recipe to add a protein punch to your baked goods.
  • Following the holidays, or periodically throughout the year, try a 3-day bone broth fast to reset your body and your digestion.

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