Editor’s note: This post was originally published in March 2016. It has been updated and republished in February 2019.
Bone broth is an amazing nutritious substance that while certainly not new, is steadily gaining in popularity with a whole new generation of cooks and health & fitness enthusiasts. Even celebrities are speaking out about the benefits of bone broth nutrition. Basketball star Kobe Bryant and actresses Gwyneth Paltrow and Salma Hayak are just a few of the celebs who have publicly proclaimed the numerous health benefits of this ancient savory recipe.
In fact, many people are calling bone broth “nature’s multivitamin” as it contains multiple minerals and other chemical compounds that most people are lacking in their diet. For example, bone broth is packed with:
- Over 19 easy-to-absorb, essential and non-essential amino acids (the building blocks of proteins)
- Collagen/gelatin which helps form connective tissue and promotes strong hair and nails
- Nutrients that support your immune system, good digestion, and brain health
How to Make Bone Broth
As the name implies, bone broth is made by simmering animal bones for several hours to release the nutrients found in the bones, cartilage, and marrow. Vegetables, herbs, and spices are often added for flavor, along with a dash of vinegar to help draw the nutrients from the bones. The resulting broth can be consumed alone, used as a soup base, or added to sauces and other dishes.
Bone broth can be made from any type of animal bones, either cooked or raw. These include chicken & other types of poultry, beef, lamb, wild game, and fish. The only real difference in preparing different types of bone broth is the amount of time that the bones need to be simmered. A broth made with fish bones, for example, only needs to simmer for a few hours, while beef bones need to simmer for 48 hours or more to draw the maximum nutrients from the bones.
The most important consideration when making bone broth is the quality of the ingredients used. Bones from factory farmed animals that have been given hormones and antibiotics are not a good choice. Look for the highest quality, organic sources available for all of your bone broth ingredients.
6 Beneficial Nutrients Found in Bone Broth
- Glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) – support collagen and elastin production which is good for the structure of the body, skin, hair, and nails. GAGs also aid in digestive health by helping to restore the intestinal lining. Important GAGs found in bone broth include glucosamine, hyaluronic acid, and chondroitin sulfate.
- Glucosamine (hydrochloride and sulfate) – Supports joint strength and mobility by helping to maintain the integrity of cartilage (the rubbery substance within joints that acts as a natural cushion to keep bones from rubbing together). Bone broth can be a delicious and easy alternative to expensive glucosamine supplements for supporting joint health.
- Hyaluronic Acid – supports healthy tissues, including cell rejuvenation and skin firmness. Hyaluronic acid is a common ingredient in anti-aging skin care products. Bone broth provides the benefits from the inside out!
- Chondroitin Sulfate – Often used along with glucosamine to support joint health. Studies have shown that supplementing with chondroitin supports healthy inflammation response as well as cardiovascular health, bone health, skin health, and healthy cholesterol levels
- Minerals and Electrolytes – Essential minerals, including electrolytes, found in bone broth include calcium, magnesium, and potassium, as well as many other minerals such as phosphorus. These minerals are important for supporting healthy circulation, bone density, nerve signaling functions, heart health, and digestive health.
- Collagen – Quality bone broth is a good source of collagen which has a number of important functions in the body. These include helping to form connective tissue (allowing for easier movement) and protecting and sealing the lining of the gastrointestinal tract. Collagen is a complex protein that is a rich source of 19 amino acids, many of which must be obtained from diet.
Bone Broth Nutrition for Cancer Patients
Bone broth is very high in both protein and nutrients and may be exceptionally beneficial for people with cancer.
Cancer patients who undergo conventional cancer treatments (surgery, chemo, and radiation) often experience a range of issues that impact eating. These can include: nausea, vomiting, headache, tiredness, sore mouth and/or throat, dry mouth, difficulty swallowing, loss of appetite, and changes in taste and smell of food.
After surgery, for example, the body requires extra calories and protein for wound healing and recovery. However, this is also when most cancer patients have pain and feel tired and often don’t feel up to eating. Bone broth is a great solution because it provides maximum nutrition in an easy-to-swallow form that is easily digested. This is in contrast to many other foods (especially solids) which can be difficult to fully break down.
The broth can be sipped alone, or turned into a base for soup to which you can add other cancer-fighting ingredients (i.e. organic vegetables, turmeric root, ginger, etc). For cancer patients who are experiencing a change in taste (or have lost their sense of taste) due to chemotherapy or radiation, herbs and spices can be easily added to enhance the flavor of the bone broth and make it more palatable.
Conversely, in The Truth About Cancer: A Global Quest, Dr. Russell Blaylock addressed the topics of L-glutamine and glutamate in relation to cancer. L-glutamine is an amino acid found in abundance in both plant and animal protein and is converted to glutamate (glutamic acid) as needed by the body. This conversion is performed by an enzyme in your cells called “glutaminase” and its function is to convert glutamine into glutamate.
According to Dr. Blaylock, the idea is to cut down on your glutamine intake. His premise is that eating a lot of sugar and glutamine can stimulate the growth of cancer cells.
However, new studies are challenging this. We don’t believe that bone broth should be avoided any more than we believe organic fruits (with natural sugar) should be avoided, because both are foods that God made for our health. And there is a big difference between synthetic, man-made chemical glutamate (like MSG or monosodium glutamate) and natural glutamine.
Bone Broth Supports a Healthy Immune System
One of the most remarkable benefits of bone broth is its ability to support the gut. This provides a holistic effect on the body which even supports healthy immune system function.
Leaky gut occurs when undigested particles from foods seep through tiny openings in the weakened intestinal lining and enter the bloodstream. The immune system detects these particles and becomes hyperactive which in turn increases inflammation. As the immune system releases high levels of antibodies, it causes an autoimmune-like response and attacks healthy tissue.
The collagen/gelatin and the amino acids proline, glutamine, and arginine in traditionally-made bone broths help seal these openings in the gut lining and promote gut integrity.
By restoring gut health, bone broth aids in supporting immune system function and healthy inflammation response. As an added bonus, bone broth can even promote healthy sleep, boost energy during the day, and support a healthy mood… all critical elements when healing from cancer.
Contains multiple minerals and other chemical compounds that most people are lacking in their diet.
Bone broth is made by simmering animal bones for several hours to release the nutrients found in the bones, cartilage, and marrow.
Look for the highest quality, organic sources available for all of your bone broth ingredients.
6 Beneficial Nutrients Found in Bone Broth
- Glycosaminoglycans (GAGs)
- Glucosamine (hydrochloride and sulfate)
- Hyaluronic Acid
- Chondroitin Sulfate
- Minerals and Electrolytes
One of the most remarkable benefits of bone broth is its ability to support the gut.