Health Benefits of Bone Broth

Exploring the Health Wonders of Bone Broth
Bone Broth

Introduction to Bone Broth

Bone broth is nutritious. It is made by simmering bones (often with meat remnants, skin, and connective tissues) for an extended period (up to 24 hours).

The process usually includes a culinary acid, such as vinegar or lemon juice. This aids the breaking down of the bone and connective tissue, releasing the nutrients more readily. It also provides a tasty, nutritious liquid that can be consumed alone or used as a base in soups, casseroles and sauces.

This process extracts minerals, collagen, amino acids, and compounds like glucosamine and chondroitin.  

What’s best, Chicken, Beef, Fish or Other Bone Broth?

While bone broth can be made with chicken, beef, lamb or fish bones, bone broth made from poultry has some advantages. Let’s explore them. 

Beef And LAMB Bone Broth

Bone broth made from beef and lamb is rich in collagen and has a high mineral content. The bones contain a high amount of bone marrow, which is nutrient-rich, including iron, selenium, zinc, and manganese. It is also a source of vitamins A and K and fatty acids. It also has minerals such as calcium and phosphorus making it excellent for bone and joint health. However, beef bones are very dense, meaning longer cooking times are needed. Additionally, many people prefer not to consume food made from such large animals.

Fish Bone Broth

Broth, made from carcasses of ocean fish, is rich in  iodine, an important mineral for thyroid health. Be aware that the iodine will vapourise with cooking, so it’s important to keep the lid on. If made from fatty fish, there may be omega-3 fatty acids, but caution is advised as these are easily damaged by heat. Making broth from fish bones can impart a strong fishy odour, that many people find unpleasant.

Chicken Bone Broth

There are several reasons why  bone broth made from chicken might be considered more preferable than others. 

  1. Digestibility

Chicken bone broth is often touted for its digestibility. It’s generally lighter than beef broth, making it a preferred option for people with sensitive digestive systems or for those who are ill and require a gentle, easily digestible form of nutrition.

2. Amino Acid Profile

The collagen that is naturally in bone broths contains a number of amino acids, including arginine, glycine, glutamine and proline – all non-essential, but are likely to be depleted if you are unwell. All contribute to the healing properties of broths.

While all bone broths are rich in amino acids, the specific profile of amino acids can vary. Chicken bone broth is particularly high in glycine and proline.

Glycine is an important building block for glutathione, an important antioxidant. Glycine is also used in a detoxification process called glycination. It is also an important component of bile salts (needed for normal fat management in the gut). Glycine may also support sleep continuity and improve cognitive function [ref].

Proline helps repair a damaged gut lining and as it supports skin health by aiding the production of collagen, it may even make your skin more smooth and supple.

Glutamine is an important fuel for the cells lining the intestine and helps protect the gut lining.

Arginine is needed for normal immune system function and wound healing and helps regenerate damaged liver cells. Arginine is also a growth factor for a group of bacteria called “eubacteria”. These are important in the gut for proper management of fats and bile acids and production of a substance called butyrate – which is an important energy source for the gut lining.

Note: cooking collagen turns it to gelatine, which provides the body with amino acids, the building blocks of proteins. Chicken tends to yield a broth with higher gelatine content. From this gelatine, the body can build new collagen.

3. Collagen FOR JOINT health

As we age, joints become more affected by “wear and tear” and loss of collagen at joint surfaces creates excessive friction, leading to the deterioration seen in osteoarthritis. 

Cartilage and bones contain collagen. Once made into a broth, the compounds present support joint health, including in those affected by osteoarthritis. Collagen can improve knee joint symptoms, such as pain, stiffness, and impaired physical function, in people with osteoarthritis. This study found that supplemental type 2 collagen (i.e., collagen in it’s biologically active form) from chicken was beneficial for symptoms associated with knee osteoarthritis.

Supplementation of collagen to athletes for 6 months resulted in significant improvements in joint comfort and a decrease in factors that negatively impacted performance.

In another study, while 12 weeks of exercise therapy showed improvements in pain, strength and function in recreational sports-people with early osteoarthritic changes, the addition of collagen accentuated these effects on clinical improvements, particularly in reduction of pain. 

4. Bone Broth FOR GUT HEALTH

Individuals with digestive imbalances often have lower levels of collagen and supplementing with collagen may support healthy digestive function.

Poultry bone broth is also popular because it contains higher levels of l-glutamine. L-glutamine enhances cell regeneration, glutathione production, and promotes gut health [ref].

Gelatine effectively supports intestinal health and integrity by helping to strengthen the gut lining and support the growth of probiotics (good bacteria). 

A healthy intestinal barrier keeps the contents of the gut inside the intestines until they are ready to be absorbed. This process is regulated by diet and gut bacterial. When this is compromised, intestinal hyper-permeability – in the past referred to as leaky gut – occurs. It can also occur due to inflammation in the gut lining, effectively reducing the ability of the cells to stay bunched up nice and tight. This can occur even with low levels of inflammation.

When this happens particles of food that are not fully digested (and therefore not ready for absorption) sneak through breaches in the gut lining and get into the bloodstream. This activates the immune system, increasing inflammation and can contribute to several problems in the body. Traditionally made bone broths are believed to support healthy inflammatory response and normal immune system function. 

5. SUPPORT YOUTHFUL SKIN

Collagen helps form compounds in the skin that are needed for a firm, youthful tone, elasticity, texture and appearance. The breakdown of collagen in the skin is associated with wrinkles, puffiness and other signs of aging. 

Extra collagen intake has been shown to improve skin elasticity, moisture, reduce water loss (dryness) and skin roughness. It may also decrease signs of accelerated aging, without significant – all within just four weeks!

6. Nutrient DensE

Chicken bone broth is rich in nutrients such as calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium. It also contains chondroitin sulfate and glucosamine, which are beneficial for joint health. While other broths also contain these nutrients, chicken (after turkey) is higher in almost every amino acid [ref]. Additionally, the ease of digestibility and the gentle taste of chicken broth may make these nutrients more accessible for some individuals.

7. VersatilE and TastY

Chicken bone broth has a milder flavour that is more versatile in a wide range of dishes, from soups and stews to sauces and gravies. This mild taste means it can be consumed as a simple broth and also makes it more palatable to a wider audience, including children and those with sensitive palates.

8. AID Weight management

Bone broth tends to be very low in calories but can still help you feel full. This may be due to its high protein content, which can promote satiety, or fullness. [ref]

9. ConvenienT

Chicken bones are often more readily available and less expensive than beef bones. Chickens also require less cooking time to yield a nutrient-rich broth, making chicken bone broth a more convenient option to make at home. Buy having a supply of fresh-frozen broth in the freezer, you’ve got the makings of a quick, delicious and nutritious meal right at your fingertips.

10. Cultural and Comfort Food Factor

Chicken soup is traditional remedy for colds and ‘flu in many cultures and while this has given chicken broth a reputation as both a comfort and healing food, chicken is an excellent source cysteine. Cysteine has been shown to help thin mucous and thus may be helpful for cold and flu symptoms. Adding herbs and spices such as pepper and garlic, can enhance this effect, and the fluids and electrolytes in the broth may also help the body fight infections.

Fresh vs. Powdered?

Bone broth powders are often seen as a convenient alternative to the fresh version. But are they better?

Nutritional Value

Fresh bone broth tends to retain more nutrients compared to its dehydrated or powdered counterparts, as the process of dehydration can reduce the levels of certain nutrients.

FlavoUr and Aroma

Fresh broth offers a superior taste and aroma, enhancing your culinary experience. Dehydrated or powdered broths might also contain additives or preservatives that can alter the natural flavour, and potentially reduce the goodness.

Absence of Additives

Fresh bone broth is less likely to contain added colours, flavours, or preservatives that are often found in store-bought powdered broths to increase shelf life. 

These factors contribute to the general consensus that fresh bone broth is preferable for those looking to enjoy the natural flavours and maximise the health benefits.

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