You may have heard about the health benefits of a good bone broth, but what exactly is the magic behind the broth? And why do Dr. Brighten and I recommend bone broth to nearly all of our autoimmune patients?
How two little amino acids help us heal
Bone broth can be a therapeutic food for gut healing because of the many minerals, vitamins, and easily assimilated amino acids that are leached from the vegetables, herbs, and the bones of healthy, pastured animals.
The common thought behind bone broth for many years was that it was simply high in calcium (among other minerals), which builds and maintains bones and teeth, supports muscle contraction, heart health, hormone production, and nervous system support.(1,2)
We now know that bone broth isn’t as high in calcium as we once suspected, but it does have significant amounts of essential amino acids, most notably glycine and proline. These two aminos are key components of connective tissue, from the cartilage that makes up our joints to the components that hold the cells of our organs and muscles together, among other things.
These and other amino acids are critical components of healing the microscopic damage done to tissues in our bodies over time, which is why so many practitioners tout bone broth as a “healing” tonic.
7 Reasons I Prescribe Bone Broth for Autoimmune Disease
Leaky gut and systemic inflammation are closely associated with autoimmune conditions across the board. And it's well known that protein deficiency suppresses the immune response and increases susceptibility to infection.(4) So, there are a couple of reasons your natural or functional health practitioner might recommend a high quality bone broth.
- High levels of dietary glycine may help with modulating the immune system and reducing inflammation, which helps you to heal from infection and/or disease.(3)
- Glycine plays an important role in digestive health by helping to regulate the synthesis of bile salts and the secretion of gastric acid.(5)
- Glycine is involved in the production of glutathione, one of the body’s most important antioxidants that helps to reduce oxidative stress.(6)
- Glycine promotes better sleep, mental clarity, improves mood, boosts memory, and helps to reduce stress.(7,8)
- Proline helps the body to break down proteins for use in the body.(4)
- Amino acids in bone broth are very easily assimilated by the body, making them perfect for those who may be on a journey of healing their gut.
>>Read What Is Leaky Gut
>>Read about the Thyroid Gut Connection
- Drinking bone broth counts toward your daily liquid consumption and helps you stay hydrated, which is essential for kidney health and helps keep digestion regular.
Simple Bone Broth Recipe
Makes: About 4 quarts
- 1 medium, white onion*
- 2 medium carrots, chopped
- 3-4 stalks celery*
- 1 leek, halved*
- 7 garlic cloves, smashed*
- 5 lb. bones (from pastured, grassfed meat – see “A note on bones” – I use a mixture of chicken bones, feet, and beef knuckles)
- 2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
*Leave out if on the SIBO diet or Low-FODMAP diet. For AIP, the whole recipe is fine!
- 6 sprigs parsley
- 6 sprigs thyme
- 2 bay leaves
- Salt to taste
- 1 tsp. turmeric powder
- Cut onion, carrots, celery and leek into chunks and add to a crockpot with the bones.
- Add smashed garlic and apple cider vinegar.
- Fill the crockpot to the brim with filtered water.
- Cook broth anywhere from 24-48 hours on “low” in the crockpot (If working on a stovetop, you’ll want to keep it on a very low simmer, covered, for the same amount of time. If you don’t feel comfortable leaving the stove on at night, turn it to the very lowest setting, then turn it back up in the morning.)
- When you have about 2 hours left, add herbs/spices and make sure they’re covered with liquid.
- After the allotted time, turn the heat off and let the broth cool down until it’s safe to handle.
- Strain the liquid into a large bowl and discard all solids. From here, you can transfer your broth into smaller containers and fridge or freeze. Keep bone broth for up to one week in the fridge or freeze for up to six months.
How to consume bone broth
Bone broth really appeals to some people simply heated up in a mug in the morning or throughout the day. Me, on the other hand? I like a little bit of spice. Add some spice, chunks of cooked meat, or some chopped veggies for a quick soup and a lot of added flavor.
A note on bones:
You can use beef, lamb, bison, buffalo, pork, goose, turkey, chicken, or fish (including the head) bones to make bone broth, according to your taste. For meat bones, get a variety, asking your local butcher for marrow bones, oxtail, and “soup bones.” However, I highly recommend starting with fowl, as it tends to produce the mildest flavor. Save the bones from a whole pastured chicken or turkey (after you’ve eaten the meat) and add a few chicken feet and necks for extra collagen and nutrients. Always source the highest quality bones from pastured and/or grassfed animals.
We use and recommend Butcher Box for the highest quality of meat. If you're interested in trying Butcher Box, please use our special coupon link to receive $10 off your first order + Free Bacon!
Where to buy bone broth:
I recommend sourcing locally when possible, but hey, also do what you gotta.
For people looking for a convenient way to stock their house with bone broth I recommend Kettle & Fire to my patients and friends. You can use the link here to get $10 off your first order.
Have you tried bone broth before? What is your favorite way to get your 8 oz./day?
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- Judith A. Beto. The Role of Calcium in Human Aging. Clin Nutr Res. 2015. 4(1). 1–8.
- Zhong Z1, Wheeler MD, Li X, Froh M, Schemmer P, Yin M, Bunzendaul H, Bradford B, Lemasters JJ. L-Glycine: a novel antiinflammatory, immunomodulatory, and cytoprotective agent. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2003. 6(2). 229-40.
- Megan R Ruth1 and Catherine J Field. The immune modifying effects of amino acids on gut-associated lymphoid tissue. J Anim Sci Biotechnol. 2013. 4(1). 27.
- Cowen AE, Campbell CB. Bile salt metabolism. I. The physiology of bile salts. Aust N Z J Med. 1977. 7(6). 579-86.
- Ruiz-Ramírez A1, Ortiz-Balderas E, Cardozo-Saldaña G, Diaz-Diaz E, El-Hafidi M. Glycine restores glutathione and protects against oxidative stress in vascular tissue from sucrose-fed rats. Clin Sci (Lond). 2014. 126(1). 19-29.
- File SE1, Fluck E, Fernandes C. Beneficial effects of glycine (bioglycin) on memory and attention in young and middle-aged adults. J Clin Psychopharmacol. 1999. 19(6). 506-12.
- Makoto Bannai,1,* Nobuhiro Kawai,1 Kaori Ono,1 Keiko Nakahara,2 and Noboru Murakami2. The Effects of Glycine on Subjective Daytime Performance in Partially Sleep-Restricted Healthy Volunteers. Front Neurol. 2012. 3. 61.