The Numerous Health Benefits of Bone Broth

Written by Suresh Nair, PhD

Reading Time: 8 minutes

There’s a common Latin American saying that sums up the powerful health benefits of good, old-fashioned broth… “Good broth resurrects the dead.” That may be a slight exaggeration, but bone broth does have a centuries-old history of use in traditional cultures. And it is well-known for being a soothing dish that is nourishing for body, mind, and soul.

Physicians as far back as Hippocrates of Kos – revered as the “Father of Modern Medicine” – have recommended the bone broth diet as being beneficial for health.

Fast forward to the present day and to the late Los Angeles Lakers basketball star Kobe Bryant. During an eight-month stretch in 2013, he ruptured an Achilles tendon and then fractured his knee, both potentially career-ending injuries. And yet in 2015, at the age of 36, Bryant not only returned to the harsh rigors of pro basketball, he actually thrived.

What was his secret?

Interestingly, Bryant and his handlers credited at least some of his recovery and longevity to a particular chicken and vegetable soup – specifically, bone broth.

What Is Bone Broth?

close up of bone broth, bones, vegetablesBone broth, regular broth, and stock all have the same basic ingredients – water, meat or bones (or both), vegetables, and seasoning. Regular broth is made with meat and may contain some bones. It is typically simmered for a short time, is very light in flavor, and rich in protein.

Stock is made mainly with bones, along with a little meat. Often the bones are roasted before simmering to improve the flavor. Stock is typically simmered for 3-4 hours and is a good source of gelatin.

Bone broth is also made with bones and may also contain a small amount of meat adhering to the bones. As with stock, bones may be roasted first to improve the flavor. The main difference is that bone broths are simmered for very long periods of time, usually more than 24 hours – so that not only gelatin, but also healthful minerals are released into the broth.

Bone broths are very rich in protein, especially the amino acids glycine and proline, and are a rich source of minerals as well. Glycine supports detoxification and is also used to make hemoglobin, bile salts, and other natural chemicals in the body.

Proline supports skin health, especially in combination with vitamin C. Gelatin also supports skin health and tone.

Quite simply, bone broth is a nourishing concoction that is known to contain many essential and non-essential amino acids, gelatin which together help to form connective tissue, as well as essential nutrients that support the immune system, gut healing, and brain health.

No wonder the bone broth diet is known as “nature’s multi-vitamin”! Let’s take a closer look at some of its many health benefits.

Chicken Soup Soothes the Sick

Boy sick in bed being fed brothStatistics show that when Americans are sick, more often than not they seek the comfort of a hot bowl of chicken soup.

According to the National Institutes of Health, the idea of hot soup as a flu and cold remedy has been around for centuries – and may in fact help to ease the symptoms.

All liquid broth soups speed up the movement of mucus, because they are hot fluids that dilate blood vessels, increasing blood flow. This allows mucus to flush everything out. including the infecting agents, and alleviate congestion.

Soups are also hydrating in general because they contain both water and salt. Further, some research suggests chicken soup can help to better manage the high inflammation levels associated with colds and flu, providing further symptomatic relief.

Bone Broth Promotes Gut Healing

In recent years, healthcare researchers have begun to understand that our overall health and wellbeing is intimately connected to our gut. In fact, many modern diseases are now believed to be strongly influenced by a toxic mix of gut bacteria.

The standard American diet (SAD) – high in unhealthy hydrogenated and trans fats as well as processed, refined, and overly sugared foods, while simultaneously being low in complex carbohydrates, plant-based foods, healthful fats, and other needful nutrients – is not supportive of good health.

According to Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride, author of Gut and Psychology Syndrome (GAPS), the bone broth diet is excellent for maintaining gut health. Indeed, it forms an integral part of her patented “GAPS Nutritional Protocol,” as described in her book.

Her protocol relies on the fact that bone broth or stock is easily digestible, helps to maintain the health of the gut lining, and contains many valuable nutrients and minerals which help to balance the immune system.

For instance, “leaky gut syndrome” (aka intestinal permeability) is a common condition in which partially digested food, toxins, viruses, yeast, and bacteria gain access to the bloodstream from the intestine, which is otherwise a barrier that prevents their access.

Leaky gut is believed to be a major factor that perhaps contributes to allergies as well as autoimmune and neurological issues. By sealing the gut and helping to optimize the immune system, the bone broth diet can help lower our risk of getting these conditions.

Can Bone Broth Benefit Children with Autism?

child working on letters with teacherDr. Campbell-McBride is convinced that bone broth can be of benefit in children with autism.

According to her, children with autism are born with perfectly normal brains and sensory organs. However, what they lack from their birth is normal gut bacteria.

Up to 90% of all cells and genetic material in our bodies is represented by our gut bacteria – and we choose to ignore them at our own peril.

Dr. Campbell-McBride has discovered that the digestive systems of children with autism have unusually high levels of harmful or “pathogenic” gut bacteria, which damage the integrity of their gut walls. As a result, toxins and bacteria get into their blood when they are not supposed to and eventually also enter their brains.

According to Dr. Campbell-McBride, these toxins in the brain interfere with the child’s ability to process the flood of sensory information they are exposed to on a daily basis during their development. As a result, they don’t learn how to understand language, how to use it, or how to develop the natural instinctive behaviors and coping behaviors in the way children typically do.

Dr. Campbell-McBride believes that bottle feeding (instead of breastfeeding) is a contributing factor because it doesn’t protect children against abnormal gut bacteria. Indeed, her research shows that a large percentage of the mothers of children with autism were bottle-fed. The increasing incidence of bottle feeding means that with each passing generation, women have developed increasingly abnormal gut bacteria – likely raising the risk of autism in their children according to Dr. Campbell-McBride.

Add to this the modern (SAD) diet of processed, refined, overly sugared, and junk food, and what we have on our hands is a disaster in terms of intestinal health. This type of diet almost exclusively feeds pathogenic gut bacteria, allowing them to proliferate – and in some instances even dominate.


Watch this video now to discover all the unique ways natural bone broth can support your health and healing. 


How does all this relate to bone broth?

Dr. Campbell-McBride’s solution to support children with autism includes easily digestible foods that are dense in nutritional value – which includes bone broth as well as fermented foods.

According to her, with this approach it takes two years to get rid of pathogenic bacteria, re-establish normal beneficial bacteria, restore the health of the damaged gut lining, and bring the gut back to being a source of nourishment instead of a source of toxicity. Additionally, this bone broth-based diet also clears out many toxins from the body on its own.

The proof of the pudding is in the eating. Dr. Campbell-McBride has used her GAPS nutritional approach with her own son who was on the autism spectrum. Reportedly his condition is greatly improved from following this protocol. She currently heads a clinic in Cambridge, England, where she continues to advise children and adults with various health issues on how to recover and maintain their gut health.

Bone Broth Helps to Manage Joint Pain and Inflammation in Osteoarthritis

healthy middle age couple on bicyclesOsteoarthritis is the most common type of degenerative joint disease in the U.S.

It is typically experienced as a progressive loss of cartilage, along with joint pain and inflammation of the connective tissue that makes up the inner surface of joints, especially the knees and hands.

As a result, the bones at the affected joints begin rubbing directly against each other, bone spurs develop and soon result in pain and inflammation.

Bone broth is full of glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate, which have been shown to help support cartilage health.

Bone broth also contains hyaluronic acid, which is an approved oral supplement for osteoarthritis patients and is also standardly injected into knee joints to reduce pain and increase function and mobility. While these treatments are effective, they are also expensive.

It’s a lot easier – and cheaper – to make bone broth at home and avail yourself of all the powerful joint-healing benefits of these nutrients. In fact, bone broth is chockfull of a form of collagen that also contains the amino acids proline and glycine – and both of these have been shown to help rebuild tissues.

The protective action of all of these nutrients in the bone broth diet is believed to happen in two ways. First, as basic components of cartilage and synovial fluid, they help the joint to recover its health. Second, their anti-inflammatory actions are believed to act against many inflammation-induced breakdown processes in joints.

Together, these two mechanisms help to slow the destruction of cartilage in joints and may even help to regenerate joint structure, resulting in less pain and greater mobility of the affected joints.
In summary, all available evidence indicates that bone broth’s many healthful ingredients can benefit cold and flu, help to repair leaky gut and other conditions associated with proliferation of harmful gut bacteria, and successfully support recovery from joint damage and inflammation associated with osteoarthritis.


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Suresh Nair, PhD
Suresh Nair, PhD, is a health writer who has written hundreds of informative blog posts, long articles, and eBooks on alternative health and nutrition since 2010. With a PhD in Molecular Neurobiology from UPenn and having been a laboratory scientist for 17 years, his content is always thoroughly researched and has a sound scientific basis. You can connect with him on Linkedin.

Article Summary

  • Bone broths are made from animal bones simmered for very long periods of time to release nutrients.

  • Broth soups speed up the movement of mucus.

  • Bone broth promotes gut healing.

  • Bone broth can be of benefit in children with autism.

  • Bone broth helps to manage joint pain and inflammation in osteoarthritis.

  • Bone broth contains collagen, which has been shown to help rebuild tissues.

Reader Interactions

Comments

  1. Please read Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride’s book again. She does NOT recommend bone broth for gut healing. It is an advanced food on her protocol. The gut must be healed 1st with meat stock. Bone broth is chock full of minerals but does NOT heal the gut.

  2. Thank you my son has autism nonverbal
    Was reading about bone broth came across your article
    Used it but heard not do good things was very disappointing every time fine good nutrition someone is giving negative feedback so disappointed to kniw hiw negative reviews can affect judgment anyway thank you god bless u will stay connected kind regards

    Sabrina

    • Hi Sabrina, I totally understand. It is important that you always do your own research and consult with your doctor. We are here to support you and provide information so that you can make an informed decision. Everyone may react differently to the product due to various health factors. I wish your son the very best. Thank you for being here and staying connected with us. Have a wonderful day!

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