From a healthy gut to radiant skin and a boosted immune system, learn which health benefits of bone broth are worth the buzz, and find ways to eat and cook with this new trendy food.
This fall, there's a new trendy hot beverage filling mugs across America, and experts are already singing its health praises. So what is this magical elixir? Bone broth. There's even an entire shop devoted to bone broth in New York City, called Brodo, where you can get to-go cups of broth when you're on the go—think Starbucks, but savory.
As a bone broth devotee, I couldn't be more excited that the word is getting out about this "magic" drink. (DYK that bone broth is one of the top 50 winter foods for weight loss?) Magic is what one nutritionist called bone broth when I first heard about the emerging food trend. We were discussing leaky gut syndrome, a condition that bone broth is said to help, and the food pro told me that her clients who drink bone broth have reported vast improvements with gut issues. Sounds pretty magical to me.
How to Make Bone Broth
So I headed off to my local supermarket only to find they had no bones. The local butcher was able to help me out some, but then he recommended I try the Asian food market. I found out that the best way to make bone broth is with the boniest bones you can find, like beef knuckles, chicken necks, oxtails, soup bones and, of course, tiny, creepy feet. Once you get the bones, making a basic broth is simple: Cram them all into a crockpot with whatever vegetables and herbs you have lying around, add water to the top, and boil on low for 24 to 72 hours. It will smell wonderful and you'll end up with a nutritious drink—or if all else fails, a delicious soup base. (In fact, these nine bone broth–based soup recipes are a great place to start.)
8 Things Bone Broth Can Do for Your Body
1. Heal and seal your gut. A cup of bone broth a day works miracles for leaky gut syndrome, but it's also good for protecting non-leaky guts, according to Jill Grunewald, a holistic nutrition coach and founder of Healthful Elements. The gelatin in the bones typically used for making broth (such as knuckles, feet, and other joints) is said to help seal up holes in intestines. (People who have leaky gut syndrome have porous intestinal lining.) This "patching" can help ease chronic diarrhea, constipation, and even some food intolerances.
2. Protect your joints. Taking glucosamine supplements has long been used as a first line of treatment for people with joint pain, but it turns out that bone broth has glucosamine, too. Unlike pills, the broth offers other nutritional and health benefits that can help reduce pain. Chondroitin sulfate, which is found in the cartilage that protects joints, for example, has been shown to help prevent osteoarthritis.
3. Look younger. Bone broth is a rich source of collagen, which is also naturally occurring in the body as a joint protector and stabilizer. Experts are torn on whether the skin-firming, joint-strengthening benefits of ingesting collagen are there, but studies have shown an improvement in skin's elasticity and fine lines from collagen supplements. (Learn more about whether you should be adding collagen to your diet.)
4. Sleep better. Research has shown that glycine, found in bone broth, may help improve sleep and ward off fatigue.
5. Support healthy immune system. Because of bone broth's high concentration of minerals, Mark Sisson, author of The Primal Blueprint, goes as far as to call bone broth a "superfood" that can strengthen your immune system. (Maybe your grandma was right about feeding you endless bowls of chicken soup when you got sick.)
6. Increase bone strength. The phosphorus, magnesium, and calcium in the bones seep out into the broth, leaving you to sip all those essential nutrients for your own healthy bones.
7. Supplement your diet. While bone broth cannot (and should not) be your means for essential nutrients like amino acids, if you don't regularly eat meat, it can help supply amino acids from animal protein via bones. Amino acids are important for muscle recovery and energy—two key pieces of your fitness performance.
8. Eat healthier. While the bone broth trend might have started with drinkable broth in a cup, there are many other ways you can eat and cook with bone broth. Check out some of the smart ideas, here:
How to Eat Bone Broth
- Drink it straight up. Pour it into a thermos and take it on your commute.
- Use it to make grains. When cooking your favorite ancient grain, such as quinoa or farro, use bone broth instead of water.
- Freeze for later use. Pour bone broth into ice cube trays and freeze. You'll have individually portioned broth at the ready.
- Make soup. This is a tried-and-true way to use bone broth. Start from scratch (when possible) or use store-bought bone broth as the base for any soup or stew.