The Benefits of Bone Broth

Bone broth.
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Popular among paleo dieters, bone broth is one of the latest liquids to spark a nationwide health craze. This gelatin-rich stock is made by cooking up the bones and connective tissue of certain animals. In making bone broth, many people opt for collagen-packed ingredients like beef knuckles and marrow.

Sipping bone broth is said to boost your health in a number of ways, such as by curbing chronic inflammation, stimulating digestion, and revving up your immune system.

The broth is also touted as a top source of minerals, amino acids, and collagen, which is a protein found in connective tissues throughout your body.

While many recipes call for beef bones (as well as beef cartilage, tendons, and ligaments), you can also use lamb, pork, chicken, and veal to make bone broth. With more and more home cooks experimenting with bone broth recipes, the broth has begun turning up on menus in cafes and restaurants across the U.S.

The Benefits of Bone Broth

In extolling the wonders of bone broth, enthusiasts often point to the broth’s content of collagen. It’s said that drinking bone broth on a regular basis—and, in turn, increasing your collagen consumption—can have an anti-aging effect on your skin, restore radiance to your hair, and improve your nails. Despite these claims, however, there’s no evidence that consuming collagen by way of bone broth can have any impact on your health or appearance.

Similarly, bone broth is thought to contain glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate (two substances known to promote cartilage repair and enhance joint health). But while research shows that taking glucosamine and/or chondroitin sulfate in dietary supplement form may ease the symptoms of osteoarthritis, there’s no proof that drinking bone broth can benefit arthritis patients.

In addition, bone broth is said to aid in the treatment and/or prevention of the following health problems:

Furthermore, bone broth is sometimes used to promote weight loss, sharpen memory, strengthen bones, lift energy levels, build muscle mass, and improve mood. Some proponents also suggest that bone broth can fight cancer.

The Science Behind Bone Broth

So far, there’s very little scientific support for the claims that bone broth can benefit your health. Still, there’s some evidence that chicken soup (a type of bone broth) may help treat upper respiratory tract infections (such as the common cold and sinusitis).

In a preliminary study published in the journal Chest in 2000, for instance, scientists observed that several compounds in chicken soup may have anti-inflammatory activity. According to the study’s authors, this anti-inflammatory effect may be helpful in alleviating the symptoms of upper respiratory tract infections.

Although bone broth shows promise as a natural means of reducing inflammation and staving off sickness, more research is needed before bone broth can be recommended in the treatment or prevention of any health condition.

Precautions

Bone broth is generally considered safe, but there’s some concern that it could raise your risk of lead contamination. To that end, a study published in Medical Hypotheses in 2013 found that three different types of organic chicken broth contained several times the lead concentration of the water with which the broth was made. In the study’s conclusion, the authors recommend that doctors and nutritionists consider the risk of lead contamination when advising patients about bone broth diets.

Tips for Making Bone Broth

Many fans of bone broth recommend getting your bones from a butcher or at Asian grocery stores, then using a crockpot to slow-cook the bones in water for as long as 72 hours.

Including onions and aromatic herbs (such as garlic) can help add more flavor to your bone broth.

For a bone broth that’s even more flavorful, try roasting your bones prior to the slow-cooking process. In addition, blanching your bones just before roasting may make for an extra-tasty bone broth.

Sources:

Leeb BF, Schweitzer H, Montag K, Smolen JS. A metaanalysis of chondroitin sulfate in the treatment of osteoarthritis. J Rheumatol. 2000 Jan;27(1):205-11.

Monro JA, Leon R, Puri BK. The risk of lead contamination in bone broth diets. Med Hypotheses. 2013 Apr;80(4):389-90.

Rennard BO, Ertl RF, Gossman GL, Robbins RA, Rennard SI. Chicken soup inhibits neutrophil chemotaxis in vitro. Chest. 2000 Oct;118(4):1150-7.

Towheed TE, Maxwell L, Anastassiades TP, Shea B, Houpt J, Robinson V, Hochberg MC, Wells G. Glucosamine therapy for treating osteoarthritis. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2005 Apr 18;(2):CD002946.

Disclaimer: The information contained on this site is intended for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for advice, diagnosis or treatment by a licensed physician. It is not meant to cover all possible precautions, drug interactions, circumstances or adverse effects. You should seek prompt medical care for any health issues and consult your doctor before using alternative medicine or making a change to your regimen.

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