Is Bone Broth Good for You?
People have been consuming bone broth for thousands of years, but is bone broth good for you? It is something our grandmothers’ generation swears by for health benefits like strength, vitality, and speedy recovery from illness.
This article highlights some of the basic health benefits of bone broth, as well as benefits especially helpful for those under high levels of stress and those with Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome (AFS).
In previous times, our ancestors economical in their use of animals. They tried to use as many parts of the animal as possible. Organs became delicacies. Joints and connective tissues made glue. Skin and fat enhanced flavor in cooking. Stomachs stored water. Intestinal bacteria helped curdle milk for cheese and yogurt. Leather and fur provided durability and protection from the elements.
And, of course, bones were boiled for broths and stocks. Bone broths and stocks can be made from beef, chicken, lamb or fish, each one having slightly different health benefits, while sharing many of the main benefits.
Why Is Bone Broth Good for You?
The main constituent in animal-based food is protein. However, it’s not that simple. Not all protein is the same, and each part of the animal has different nutritional content. Eating only one part won’t provide a complete amino acid balance for a complete protein.
This balance is not as much about getting the right amount of amino acids as it is about the right combination. Eating a more traditional diet that consists of many different animal parts can provide a more balanced approach.
In fact, not eating in this way can actually cause health issues, precisely because of the imbalance in amino acids being introduced into the bloodstream.
According to Dr. Ray Peat, PhD, in the modern standard diet where only the muscles of the animals are eaten, the amino acid balance entering the system mimics that produced by extreme stress, when cortisol excess causes our muscles to be broken down to provide energy and material for repair.
Extreme and prolonged stress is the main cause of adrenal fatigue. Thus, eating animal protein in the more traditional way can improve the amino acid imbalance in the bloodstream and help repair damage to muscles that were already broken down by excess cortisol.
In an effort to address this amino acid imbalance, bone broth is a more palatable option for those who may find eating fish-heads, chicken-feet, cow-stomachs regularly a little difficult. It is also easy to prepare at home, which is the recommended method, as commercial stocks and broths are often overly processed and contain artificial ingredients.
Is Bone Broth Good for You If You Have AFS?
The adrenal glands are a major part of the NeuroEndoMetabolic (NEM) Stress Response system. Their roles is to produce cortisol to help the body cope with stress. When they are fatigued, cortisol levels drop and the NEM stress response begins to deregulate, causing symptoms such as fatigue, sleep issues, inability to handle stress, weight gain, mild depression, lower libido, lowered immunity, food allergies, dry skin, hair loss, and more.
Though it cannot completely alleviate the root causes of adrenal fatigue, bone broth can be very a helpful addition to an adrenal fatigue nutrition plan. Bone broth is good for you in a general health sense, and it also has specific actions that can help with AFS.
How Bone Broth Is Good for You: Sleep and Stress Problems
Eating more parts of the animal in a traditional way, including consuming the broth made with their bones, does have an effect on stress, in contrast to eating only muscle meat, with amino acids that mimic a high stress situation. This stress is a major culprit in adrenal fatigue.
In AFS, the body has lost its capacity to handle stress effectively. The prolonged exposure to stress has deregulated the adrenal glands and may have triggered disturbances in other systems such as the cardionomic, endocrine, hormonal, neuro-affective, inflammatory and detoxification responses.
In recovering from adrenal fatigue, you need to get as much repair and strength from nutrition as possible. Your source of fuel has to be optimized to give you the best chance at having more energy and vitality to support your recovery. This is a main reason bone broth is good for you. It has high nutritional content that helps repair tissues and give strength.
Amino acids also act as neurotransmitters, causing inhibition or excitation.
Bone broth contains the amino acid glycine, which acts as an inhibitor that protects against stress. It can also help improve the quality of sleep by reducing core body temperature.
Insomnia, difficulty waking up, waking up in the middle of the night and having a hard time falling back asleep, and low quality of sleep are all associated with AFS. Stress and sleep are intricately linked, with stress causing difficulties sleeping and bad sleep causing more stress.
Bone broth can help both the stress and the sleep issues, and each issue can then improve the other. Getting good sleep should be a top priority for those with adrenal fatigue.
How Bone Broth Is Good for You: Immunity and Inflammation
People who suffer from AFS tend to have lowered immune system function and so can catch colds, flus and respiratory infections more easily and more frequently. They also take longer to recover. Lower immune function can expose people to many infections and ailments.
Chicken soup made with bone broth is good for you if you are feeling under the weather, have a cold or flu, or need some warm comforting food. It’s also a good choice for intestinal issues, when you need something nourishing but easy to digest.
Studies are now proving the effectiveness of this age-old food, and adding to its list of benefits things like allergy, arthritis, and asthma relief.
For example, a study from the University of Nebraska Medical Center showed that chicken soup reduced inflammation in the respiratory system and improved digestion, confirming what grandmothers have been saying all along.
The amino acid cysteine may be the reason for chicken soup’s effectiveness in cold, flu and respiratory infections relief. It has been shown to thin the mucus in the lungs which makes it easier to expel from the system.
Because bones are a rich source of minerals and amino acids, bone broth can be a wonderful support for a stronger immune system.
Bone broth is good for you if you suffer from gastrointestinal (GI) tract issues. The GI tract is known to be one of the most influential factors in immune system function. If the gut is not working well, the immune system suffers. There are many side effects of this problem, such as chronic inflammation and autoimmune disorders.
For example, those who suffer from Leaky Gut Syndrome, a condition where the lining of the intestines has weakened to the point of allowing particles of food into the bloodstream, tend to also suffer from autoimmunity issues. The immune system sees the food particles that enter the bloodstream as a threat and mounts an attack. But because this happens continuously at each meal, this immune system defense turns into a chronic inflammation. This then becomes an autoimmune issue as the hyperactive immune system begins to attack healthy tissues as well.
Bone broth is good for you because it contains collagen, which when cooked turns into gelatin. This gelatin can actually seal up these leakage points and bring back integrity to intestinal lining, putting an end to leaky gut.
This can reduce the inflammation and autoimmune responses, as well as reduce food sensitivities (another symptom of AFS).
How Bone Broth Is Good for You: Weight Loss and Detoxification
One common issue for people with AFS is that they gain weight quickly and easily, but they have difficulty shedding that weight.
Bone broth is good for those who are having trouble losing weight because it’s very satisfying and nutrient-dense, while having very few calories. If you make your bone broth at home and add vegetables, you’ll increase the nutritional value, yet still end up with an easy to digest, clear liquid that you can sip all day.
This works wonders to keep you satiated without adding many calories. Its savory taste will also satisfy the craving for salty foods that people with AFS tend to experience.
Chronic inflammation also aggravates, and sometimes triggers, weight gain. Bone broth is a food that can help reduce some kinds of inflammation.
Detoxification is not just beneficial for health and wellness. It is also very helpful for weight loss. Bone broth is good for you if you need to detox because it helps support liver and kidney function.
The glycine, sulfur, glutathione, and potassium in the broth support cell and liver detoxification and protect against oxidative stress. Glutathione helps with getting rid of fat-soluble heavy metals and aids in the absorption of nutrients and minerals that also support detoxification.
A body free of toxicity works optimally and has better metabolism, improving the body’s ability to naturally shed extra weight. Adding bone broth to a healthy nutritional plan will make weight loss and detoxification easier.
How Bone Broth Is Good for You: Hair and Skin
Bone broth is known to be good for hair, skin, and nails.
People who suffer from AFS sometimes experience hair loss and dry, thin skin. The adrenal glands produce the hormone aldosterone, which is what balances hydration in the body. When the adrenals are weakened, the output of aldosterone also weakens, dehydrating the body and causing dry skin.
With adrenal fatigue, thyroid function can also be negatively affected, which also leads to dry skin.
Bone broth is a rich source of collagen, which is the material that skin and joints need in order to be healthy. Though the body does produce collagen on its own, this production is reduced with age, which shows up as aging skin and stiffer joints. Adding collagen to the diet can reduce the effects of the aging process.
Because bone broth also contains hyaluronic acid, which has been shown to aid in water retention in cells, it keeps the skin hydrated and reduces dryness and wrinkles.
And due to the high mineral content of magnesium, phosphorus and calcium in bone broth, consuming it repairs and helps produce new hair, skin, and nail cells. This can help mitigate the unexplainable hair loss that can come with adrenal exhaustion.
Other Reasons Bone Broth Is Good for You
Whether you have AFS or not, there are many benefits to adding bone broth to your daily menu. It has a wide range of health supporting actions, so it can help with many different issues at once. Here are some other reasons bone broth is good for you:
- Its collagen/gelatin content helps form and repair connective tissues in joints.
- Its glucosamine content maintains the integrity of the cartilage within the joints, improving flexibility.
- Rich in calcium and magnesium, it helps with maintaining and forming healthy and strong bones and teeth.
- It contains electrolytes that help rejuvenation after exercise, without the sugar and artificial flavors in energy drinks.
- It helps build muscles due to its rich protein content.
- By improving gut health, it has an effect on mood and brain function as the two are closely linked.
- It helps neutralize stomach acid, giving relief to those who have ulcers, celiac disease and ulcerative colitis.
- Its collagen/gelatin content improves skin elasticity.
- It helps with faster wound healing and regulates bleeding.
Bone broth is most beneficial when prepared at home using high quality ingredients. Buying ready-made stocks and broths will not provide anywhere near the same benefits as homemade.
Start with the simplest recipe, cook and freeze it in batches, and drink the broth daily. You can drink it warm or cold, or add it to soups or as a base for other meals. Some people drink it first thing in the morning to get the energy and nutrients they need for the day.
For those with AFS, consider adding bone broth to your overall diet. Those in advanced stages may benefit the most. At the same time, they may not be able to tolerate such broth if there is associated gastric slowdown or shutdown, evidenced by bloating, constipation, excessive gas, and food sensitivities. Professional care should be sought under these circumstances.
Overall, bone broth is a very beneficial food, and an excellent part of a healthy diet.
© Copyright 2017 Michael Lam, M.D. All Rights Reserved.