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5 Healthy Benefits of Bone Broth (plus Collagen Peptides & Gelatin)

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by Angela Gallardo in Articles

BONE BROTH: MODERN FAD OR AGE-OLD REMEDY?

Even if you are newer to the paleo/primal community, I’m guessing you’ve seen some mention of bone broth.  Talk about the best bones to use, whether or not it jiggles, drinking it for breakfast…to a newbie, it can seem like a lot of hype.  But the reason that bone broth is gaining traction is not because it’s a new hot thing, but because the paleo movement has gone mainstream and many are now learning the benefits of this stuff firsthand.  So because I’m not a fan of broad-sweeping claims or blanket cure-all promises, I am hoping to share some basics on the what and why of bone broth.

Feeling sick? Drink some chicken noodle soup!  Most of us grew up being told this, particularly if our moms were a little crunchy and didn’t rush us off to the doctor with every illness.  Whenever I had the flu as a child, my mom would insist on my drinking broth made from those little bouillon cubes.  While those broth cubes and pastes yield very little healing power, the foundation for the recommendation is sound.  The use of soup for nourishment and healing goes back as far as the Stone Age with “stone soup,” where hot stones were added to the abdominal cavities of animal carcasses to make use of the bones, fat, and offal.  Often shells, vegetables, and tubers were added, as well.  In the 12th century, Jewish physician Moses Maimonides deemed his chicken soup recipe “Jewish Penicillin.”  And more recently, formal studies dating back over 40 years confirm that glycine and peptides, both found in broth made from bones, aid in digestive health (1), which in turn will boost immune function (AKA kick that flu to the curb!).

In a world of endless searching for the next new “superfood,” bones have been here since the beginning of time, a true superfood hiding in plain sight.  As with many traditional foods (cultured foods like kraut and kombucha, for example), there’s a reason they have been consumed for years and that our ancestors exhibited greater health as a result.  Bone broth and it’s constituents (amino acids like arginine, glycine, proline, glutamine, etc) play a key role in many of our bodies functions.  Many of these amino acids are not considered essential amino acids (ESAs) because our bodies can produce them.  But factors of a modern, stress-filled lifestyle like years of SAD dieting, chronic inflammation, or illness can cause our bodies to produce an insufficient amount.  So my opinion is that they could be considered ESAs, conditional to a person’s health and circumstances.  Insufficient production of these amino acids results in poor GI health, low-grade malnutrition, and common “aging signs” like sagging, worn, or dull skin.

WHAT TO DO IF YOU CAN’T MAKE YOUR OWN BONE BROTH

Making homemade bone broth from the bones of free-ranging animals is the best way to derive these amino acids, but that solution is not for everyone.  Luckily, due to technology available in our modern era, you can now get the amino acids in the form of collagen proteins (AKA gelatin) or collagen peptides.  Just like with sourcing the bones for broth, you want to take care with which brand collagens you purchase.  The bones (and therefore the collagen derived from them) will vary greatly from a factory farmed animal to a free-range animal.  For starters, the factory-farmed animals are typically fed GMO-heavy diets, given growth hormones and antibiotics, and kept in small, unsanitary living conditions.

These factors obviously translate to the poor health of the animal.  And what that really means is lower nutrient content, poor fatty acid profile, and toxic components to the products derived from the animal.  Free-range animals will provide the very opposite from a health standpoint.  Healthy levels of omega-3 and saturated fatty acids, higher levels of vitamins, minerals, and amino acids, and no toxic by-products floating around.

WHICH GELATIN IS BEST?

So unless the brand says specifically that it’s made from pastured animals, it is definitely made from factory-farmed animals (hint: Knox does not make the cut).  My present favorite is made by Vital Proteins.  They are transparent in their processes and offer both Collagen Proteins (traditional “gelling” gelatin) or Collagen Peptides (easily soluble hydrolysate granules).  They both contain a wide array of amino acids in very high amounts, including those you will get by making your own bone broth.  So when choosing between these two options, consider your preferred use and also the state of your gut.

Collagen Proteins: behave like traditional gelatin, causing mixes to “gel” when chilled; only dissolves in hot liquid (great for recipes like thisor this)

Collagen Peptides: dissolves easily in any liquid, cold or hot; made via hydrolysis, a higher heat process, making it easier to digest than Collagen Proteins (great for recipes like this or this)

5 HEALTH BENEFITS OF CONSUMING BONE BROTH (OR COLLAGEN PROTEINS/PEPTIDES)

Heal & seal the gut:  the amino acid glutamine is proven to heal the lining of the intestinal tract by strengthening the villi, while glycine can increase gastric acid secretion and aid in better digesting food (1) and can actually heal ulcers

Boost immune function:  chronic oxidative stress from diet and lifestyle results in a weakened immune system; supplementation of glycine can improve oxidative stress, therefore boosting immune function; also, the amino acid arginine will boost T-cells and other immune system markers

Better joint health:  the amino acid proline is a precursor to collagen formation and when taken as dietary supplementation will increase levels in the bloodstream; collagen makes up the fibrous connective tissue in our bodies so fortifying our diet with the amino acids in collagen will improve the structural integrity of these tissues; it has also been shown to improve pain and overall condition of those with osteoarthritis

Improved sleep:  the amino acid glycine is associated with better sleep patterns as well as sharper daytime cognitive function; this is why I use collagen proteins or broth before bed each night

Brighter, healthier skin:  just like our joints, collagen makes up the foundation of our skin, a decline in amino acid production in the body will result in reduced collagen production and saggy, wrinkled skin; collagen peptides (and related amino acids) can improve skin elasticity and decrease roughness and dryness

STAY TUNED:  I’LL HAVE MY OWN EASY BONE BROTH RECIPE UP ON THE BLOG SOON! (UPDATE:  CLICK HERE FOR THE RECIPE.)

Common Sense Disclaimer:  I am not a doctor and the claims made here, while well-researched, are not diagnostic in nature.  Recommendations will always be made with the expectation that an ancestral diet must be in place for true healing and wellness to occur in the body.  It’s foolish to expect measurable results from any natural remedy/approach when a person’s diet is pro-inflammatory.  In other words, don’t pair your bone broth soup with noodles and saltine crackers.  

1. Stimulation of gastric acid secretion by glycine and related oligopeptides in humans, American Journal of Physiology: Wald, A, 1982

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