This article originally appeared on Live in the Now.
You’ve likely heard that chicken soup is good for the soul, but the latest health trend is taking this concept to a new level.
Bone broth is gaining popularity, and for good reason. It’s loaded with hard-to-get nutrients such as collagen, hyaluronic acid, gelatin, amino acids and minerals in forms easiest for your body to absorb.
As the name would imply, it’s made from boiling bones for a period of several hours — possibly even days — until a broth is formed. During this process, the bones and ligaments release nutrient powerhouses that have been known to improve digestion, reduce inflammation, relieve joint discomfort and even reduce the appearance of cellulite.
Here are six reasons to hop on the bone broth bandwagon.
Bone Broth Improves Gut Health
One of the most commonly cited benefits of bone broth is that it helps gut function. Among the ways in which it can help, treating leaky gut syndrome is one of its most profound, as the gelatin in the both broth tends to help “seal” holes in intestines. Along with that benefit, bone broth has been shown to help cure chronic diarrhea, constipation and may even be able to reverse some food intolerances and allergies.
Moreover, bone broth promotes the growth of probiotics in the gut and even reduces inflammation within the digestive tract, thanks to the gelatin content. A study published in the Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology found that gelatin helped reduce intestinal inflammation by inhibiting certain molecules associated with inflammatory disorders.
Bone Broth Gives the Immune System a Boost
There’s a reason doctors have always urged a little chicken soup when someone is feeling under the weather: The amino acids in chicken soup (which is essentially a bone broth with added ingredients for flavor) help reduce inflammation of the respiratory system and allow the body to tackle foreign invaders (viruses).
Via the same mechanism through which it boosts gut function, bone broth is also able to improve and support healthy inflammatory response in the digestive tract. This also helps decrease the release of antibodies that may attack healthy tissue. In some instances, bone broth has even been found to reduce or eliminate the symptoms people with auto-immune disorders experience.
Bone Broth Improves Joint Function
Some of the ingredients found in bone broth, such as glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate, have been taken as supplements to help with joint pain and joint function for years. Glucosamine is easily absorbed from bone broth and supports the maintenance of healthy cartilage around our joints, thereby boosting overall joint health, flexibility and general comfort.
The gelatin and collagen in bone broth are heroes for your joints as well. The breakdown of collagen and the loss of gelatin in and around our joints are what eventually result in inflammation and joint discomfort. As bone broth simmers, these valuable nutrients are leached from the bones, adding a healthy dose of joint-friendly nutrients otherwise hard to obtain from food.
Bone Broth Promotes Healthier Skin
Hyaluronic acid is known for its ability to support supple, plump and youthful looking skin, but when coupled with collagen, as it’s found in bone broth, the two play a big role in skin transformations. Collagen promotes the formation of elastic and other elements of the skin that help increase your skin’s strength, making it less susceptible to the wear and tear that results in dull, tired looking skin.
In fact, one study found that supplementing with collagen for four weeks resulted in “a statistically significantly higher skin elasticity level was determined in elderly women” compared to those taking the placebo.
Bone Broth Boosts Metabolism and Energy
One of the commonly cited benefits that people describe when drinking bone broth is an energy boost, potentially from the high concentrations of minerals and amino acids in the mixture. One such amino acid, glycine, is particularly valuable, as it helps convert glucose into energy and prevent muscle loss. Another is argenine, which not only improves circulation but helps send nutrients into cells.
Bone Broth Is Cleansing and Detoxifying
The glycine found in bone broth also plays a role in helping to remove toxins and detoxify the liver, but the real hero is glutathione, which is an incredibly powerful antioxidant that’s known for its detoxification powers. Often called the Universal Antioxidant, glutathione is a phase II detoxification that helps eliminate various fat-soluble toxins that tend to build up in our system. You can learn more about the phases of a detox and the right way to cleanse your system here: 4 Simple Steps to a Truly Effective Detox
A final compelling reason to give bone broth a try is that it makes sense from a practical and economic standpoint. Rather than throwing out unused bone parts and leftover vegetables and spices as waste, by making bone broth you can salvage all of these byproducts for their full value. In addition, a large batch of bone broth can be kept handy and spread out over the course of a few weeks for convenience, as it can be frozen in ice cube trays or other containers for future use.
There are many different recipes and recommendations about how to make the best possible batch of bone broth online, so take a look at all of the creative options that exist. With all of the health benefits of bone broth, on top of the economic and practical benefits, there’s really no reason not to give it a try.
How to Make Bone Broth
Bone broth is actually pretty easy to make. Essentially, any type of particularly boney animal parts are worthwhile bases for the broth. Beef knuckles, chicken feet, chicken necks, oxtails, and more or less any other boney animal food product you can obtain — which are often most easily found in Asian and other foreign food markets — are worthwhile bases for the soup. The bones, marrow, skin, feet, tendons, ligaments, and whatever else may be in the mixture (adding whatever vegetables and/or spices you have handy will help with the flavor) are then boiled down over a day or two at low heat in a crockpot.
Common byproducts, such as collagen, proline, glycine, and glutamine are all powerful health boosters, and contain a variety of minerals, such as calcium, magnesium, silicon, phosphorous, sulpher and many others. And becuase these compounds and minerals have been boiled into a broth form, they are particularly easy for the body to absorb. As a result, bone broth offers a number of valuable health benefits, and its popularity is rapidly climbing.
For some quick tips on making the perfect bone broth, check out the Bon Appetit article, Bone Broth: You’e Doing It Wrong (Well, if You Make These Common Mistakes). And if you’d like to try the recipe, you can find it here.