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Your autoimmune health is highly dependent on the gut microbiome — about 70% of the immune cells in your body are found in your gut. A gut that’s out of balance can’t effectively regulate the immune system, which may result in leaky gut syndrome — a weakened intestinal barrier that may be a precursor to some autoimmune diseases. Mindfully reducing stress and eating wholesome foods are important lifestyle choices for restoring balance to your gut and supporting immune health. Certain foods, such as bone broth, can give you a leg up on balancing and healing the gut. (Source, Source, Source)
How does bone broth heal the gut? It does so through the key nutrients it provides — and the healing doesn’t stop there. You may gain other benefits along the way by consuming this powerful food, such as more elastic skin and mobile joints. Let’s discuss 7 of the true, evidence-based benefits of consuming bone broth.
How Does Bone Broth Heal the Gut?
Before we dig into the benefits, it’s necessary to note that bone broth is not a heavily studied subject in scientific research. A few of the studies that exist specifically researching bone broth analyze the amounts of amino acids in commercially available broth, and describe the potential of bone broth reducing ulcerative colitis inflammation . . . in mice. (Source, Source)
Fortunately, these limitations don’t keep us from presenting you with reliable, evidence-based facts about the healing powers of bone broth. The research we’ve pulled from looks at the different components of bone broth (collagen, amino acids, and GAGs — more on this soon!) and how they can truly heal and boost your gut health. So without further ado, here are 7 benefits of bone broth.
1. Bone Broth Is Nutrient Dense
Look at any pre-made bone broth nutrition label and you’ll see that the main nutrient is protein in the form of collagen, which bones release and make available as they break down from cooking. Collagen is your body’s most abundant protein, used to make connective tissues and give structure to bones, skin, muscles, and cartilage. (Source)
Other healing ingredients in bone broth include amino acids such as glycine and glutamine, and glycosaminoglycans, or GAGs. Glycosaminoglycans are complex carbohydrates that include chondroitin and hyaluronic acid, which function in your body as immune modulators along with keeping your cells hydrated. (Source, Source)
2. Bone Broth Can Soothe Gut Inflammation & Irritation
The collagen, glycine, and glutamine found in bone broth have been implicated in scientific research for their healing and repairing powers in the gastrointestinal tract and throughout the body. Because of their ability to rebuild cell structure, promote cell growth, and synthesize protein, these bone broth elements can help heal your gut, starting with the intestinal lining. All 3 of these nutrients are naturally found in animal proteins including bone broth, making it an easy go-to food choice to promote healing in your gut. (Source, Source, Source)
3. Bone Broth Is Part of an Anti-Inflammatory Diet
If you’re here doing your research on bone broth, chances are you might also be interested in other healthy food choices. Bone broth is an excellent addition to many eating plans, but it’s not a cure-all. Your body’s innate healing power can increase when combined with other anti-inflammatory drinks and gut healing foods such as yogurt, kimchi, papaya, and herbal tea. Bone broth is a wonderful place to start as you slowly incorporate more nutrient dense and anti-inflammatory foods into your daily routine.
4. Bone Broth May Help Digestion
As we’ve discussed, bone broth is a rich source of collagen. Research suggests daily collagen supplementation may help reduce digestive symptoms such as bloating, stomach pain, and constipation. Other research describes how amino acids, such as the glycine and glutamine found in bone broth, protect and maintain the intestinal barrier. Glutamine, the most abundant amino acid in your blood, is used by your intestine at high rates — about 30% of your total glutamine is used solely by the intestine! (Source, Source, Source)
Clearly, the gut needs these vital components to function optimally, and bone broth provides you with the nutrients your digestive system craves.
5. Bone Broth Has Ancient Origins
Though it seems like bone broth is just now having its moment in the sun, it’s actually a food that’s stood the test of time. Prehistorically, making bone broth was a way to use all parts of an animal so that nothing went to waste. There are also records of bone broth being made and used thousands of years ago in ancient Greece and as an element of traditional Chinese medicine. A “rediscovery” of bone broth and its healing benefits may be a more appropriate term to better appreciate the long history of this powerful food. (Source)
6. Bone Broth Supports Whole-Body Health
Beyond the gut healing benefits, bone broth can benefit your overall health. The middle layer of your skin, called the dermis, is composed mainly of collagen. Consuming collagen-rich foods, such as bone broth, will support your body where collagen is needed and may improve skin elasticity. (Source, Source)
Your bones, joints, and connective tissues may also benefit from bone broth. Research points to collagen and GAGs being effective in reducing pain and improving joint health and mobility for people with osteoarthritis, a form of arthritis caused by wear and tear on joints. Can you see by now how the overall effect of bone broth is greater than the sum of its parts? It’s a nourishing food that is now more widely available than ever, with many high quality options to choose from. (Source)
7. Bone Broth Is Easily Incorporated Into Your Daily Life
Replacing water with bone broth for cooking grains, sipping on it in place of tea or coffee, or using it as an alternative to stock are only 3 of the many ways you can easily incorporate bone broth into your everyday life. It’s readily available at the grocery store with many different brands to choose from, so you can find your favorite and keep coming back to it. Look out for these brands that use clean, high quality ingredients:
But if you’re looking for a more hands-on approach, check out the recipe below to make your own!
How to Make Your Own Bone Broth
Because bone broth requires a long cooking time to extract the most nutrients from the bones, many homemade bone broth recipes recommend using a slow cooker so that your stove isn’t left on for hours (or days!). This recipe uses a crockpot and requires only a few minutes of hands-on prep in the kitchen.
Chicken back bones, which this recipe calls for, can be found in the butcher department of your local grocery store. Beef bones also work well in this recipe and if you can find them, bones from grass fed animals will help you cook up the most nutritious broth. The acid from lemon juice and apple cider vinegar combined with a flexible variety of vegetables makes for a delicious, soothing pot of gut-healing bone broth.
Ingredients: Chicken back bones or beef bones, lemons, garlic, fresh parsley, fresh cilantro, onions, carrots, celery, leeks, filtered water, apple cider vinegar
The Bottom Line on Healing Your Gut With Bone Broth
Bone broth is one element of a healthy diet and a healthy gut. The collagen and amino acids found in bone broth can contribute to a well-functioning body, from skin and joints to your intestinal wall. Bone broth is not a cure-all for your autoimmune health, and should be consumed alongside other nutrient dense food choices and in conjunction with a well balanced lifestyle. Whether it’s on the topic of bone broth or the root causes triggering your autoimmunity, WellTheory is always here to collaborate with you as you navigate towards your optimal autoimmune health.