Bone Broth: Mystical Elixir or Just another Food Fad?
Have you ever noticed how there is always some new food that is being ‘discovered’ for its mystical healing properties? Every year it seems like there is another fad food that people will flock to for a little while before they go back to eating the way they have all their lives.
Please don’t get me wrong, I am always open to learning more about the wonderful, sumptuous food choices we can make which will nourish our bodies and enhance our health, but some of these trendy ‘food of the month’ winners can be just downright silly!
Remember rice cakes? Crunchy yes, but zero nutritional value, and very inflammatory… What about granola bars? Also crunchy, but loaded with sugars and artificial flavors and free radical-inducing cooked polunsaturated vegetable oils…
These days, it’s hard for anyone not to notice the current buzz around bone broth, which must be why I have had a number of people asking me about it lately.
In fact, it seems to have everyone asking questions, and that is always good. I really love to see people taking an active interest in nutrition and its potential to change the way we look at food, so I am always happy to discuss pros and cons with my readers and clients.
That said, maybe it’s time we took a deeper look to see if it is it really the magic elixir that some people are saying it is.
That is indeed what bone broth is at its essence: just good old soup. Yes, it is a longer cooking process than what is typically used for stocks, but it is still nothing new to the culinary world.
Soups in general can be great for us because they do provide nutrition as well as hydration, and we all know how important hydration is to our overall health and beauty.
They can also help replenish sodium that is lost through sweat, though some can be really loaded with salts (back to that in a moment), especially the commercially prepared versions.
Soups that are chock-full of healthy organic vegetables can give us necessary fiber to help keep our GI tracts clean and our digestive processes humming along smoothly while also providing us with those precious nutrients that help us to stay healthy and beautiful. Soups also retain all the minerals that may be leeched out of veggies from cooking- as opposed to boiling veggies and throwing out the water. Of course, soups can also be pretty filling, thereby helping curb unhealthy food cravings in some cases.
Notice I say they “can” be great for us because there are always going to be caveats to a statement like that.
As I mentioned, many soups are overly laden with sodium to bring up the flavor profile or to help mask unpleasant flavors, so we really want to be sure we are keeping our intake to the recommended 1500 mg/day for the average individual, with the uppermost limit around 2300 mg.
When we routinely exceed these limits, we pay the consequences with nasty things like uncomfortable bloating, edema, high blood pressure, even osteoporosis, to only name a few.
Not surprisingly, some soups are also high in animal fats. Of course, we know these have been proven to be a less than optimum source of fats for us because they can lead to all kinds of unhealthy conditions, like congestion in your body, which can lead to issues such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol, which have been linked to heart disease (the number 1 killer in western culture).
Some other negative effects of consuming foods that are high in animal fats include an increased risk of colon cancers, and decreases in both kidney and liver function.
So what’s the advantage to bone broth?
Good question. I have heard all kinds of health claims about bone broth, but have never come across a single study confirming them. Some of these claims include such benefits as:
Improved joint health
Stronger bones and teeth
Improved immune system function
*Coincidentally, these are among the many proven advantages of a diet rich in organic fruits and vegetables, but unlike bone broth, there are innumerable studies and reams of research to back these claims up.
In researching the nutrition claims about bone broths specifically, I must confess I found it next to impossible to find any really concrete facts at all.
Why? This is partially because not all bone broths are created equal. By this I mean that bone broths can be made from many different animals and also from many different parts of animals.
To complicate things further, you really can’t know how healthy the animal was or what type of lifestyle it had to begin with before you purchase the bones. Suffice it to say that things like fat content and mineral density may come down to just which bones were actually used to make the broth.
Many proponents of bone broths maintain that the highest quality ones are the ones that are made from feet, knuckles, and head bones. Head bones? Why?
And now a word about collagen:
Fans of bone broth will tell you that there is more connective tissue in these parts, so the resulting broth will have a higher gelatin content after cooking for extended periods.
While this is true, what comes into question is what the body actually gains from consuming it, and is this really the best way to get to these nutrients?
The claim is that the collagen from the connective tissues will break down under sustained heating, usually for 8 hours or more, leaving behind a somewhat thicker liquid than most stocks we are accustomed to seeing.
It is said that you will know you have cooked it correctly if the liquid actually turns to a jiggly, gelatinous substance when cooled. Yum…?
Now here’s where it all comes a bit off the rails: devotees of bone broth maintain that consuming this substance will infuse your body with additional collagen – that wondrous protein substance that we rely upon to keep our bones strong, our joints healthy, and our skin youthful and elastic.
The problem with that logic is that this is simply not part of our body’s natural process at all. Your body is no more likely to take that collagen you are eating and put it in your bones, joints and skin than it is to grow a head of thick lustrous hair for you if you simply eat a big plate of hair every day!
William Percy, an associate professor from the Sanford School of Medicine (part of the University of South Dakota) had this to say on the subject:
“Since we don’t absorb collagen whole, the idea that eating collagen somehow promotes bone growth is just wishful thinking.”
We know that the body actually uses amino acids to make its own collagen.
So the road to collagen production is through consuming foods rich in the necessary amino acids.
Amino acids like Proline and Threonine are among the building blocks of collagen, but much healthier sources of these would include things like:
Dark green leafy vegetables
Beans and legumes like lentils (soaked overnight)
Quinoa, millet and other gluten-free grains (soaked overnight)
Hemp protein or sprouted raw vegan protein powders
Threonine is also a key player in supporting immune system health as well as healthy cardiovascular function because it helps our muscles stay strong and retain their elasticity in addition to helping build strong bones and teeth.
To intensify the positive effects of these amino acids, we can simply make sure that our diets are also rich in vitamin C.
But the list above doesn’t stop at amino acids. The foods I just listed will also supply you with other healthful and beautifying vitamins, nutrients and antioxidants which would not be found in sufficient quantities for your health in meats or meat broth.
Isn’t less animal protein better for your body?
In a word: yes. As I point out in my Beauty Detox books, there is no nutritional reason for keeping meat in your diet at all. I understand that some people enjoy meat from time to time, and that’s OK, but don’t be fooled into thinking that it is your best source of protein.
In fact, I really advocate for keeping maximum meat consumption down to 3 times a week or less, if possible.
It is actually a pretty common misconception that our main source of protein comes from meats. You may rest assured that a plant-based diet that is providing you with an adequate daily caloric intake for your body will likewise provide you with enough protein.
Furthermore, the consumption of animal proteins is known to produce certain by-products which are difficult for our bodies to process, causing unnecessary strain on key organs, like the kidneys and the liver.
As your body struggles to purify your blood of these toxins, it has a harder time transporting beautifying and healthful nutrients and minerals to your organs and tissues, and can often cause blemishes and even premature signs of aging, among other things.
Remember, consuming animal proteins will force our bodies into a more acidic state. An overly acidic body will absolutely have a negative impact on your overall beauty and health, causing everything from acid indigestion and reflux, to premature lines and wrinkles, and nobody wants that. Sure, a high protein diet may help you lose weight, sure, but it will make you more acidic and you will age faster. Who wants to be “old skinny”? I see it all the time in my work, and it makes me feel sad for those people, because I know it doesn’t have to be that way. You can be lean but healthy too!
Research has shown that diets high in animal proteins will even result in a loss of calcium in the bones. Why? Because when your blood is too acidic, it can result in the leaching of calcium carbonate from your bones in order to neutralize the acid and bring the blood back to its more natural alkaline state.
Keeping your diet more alkaline will help you stay healthy and beautiful while making it easier for you to responsibly control your weight by keeping your body’s pH under control.
The verdict is in!
We all love a satisfying, delicious bowl of soup from time to time, and we really want our food to do more for us than simply taste good.
Fad or not, why compromise and accept some good attributes and some that are actually not that good?
I want you to have the optimum in nutrition for the only body you are ever going to have, I have created the Glowing Green Soup. It is super simple to make, delightfully refreshing, easy to digest, naturally slimming, and chock full of fiber and beautifying nutrients:
Hope this was helpful to you in sorting through some of the confusing bits of information swirling around! Eat fresh, radiant-looking foods (like juicy fruits and veggies) to be more fresh and radiant-looking… as opposed to eating something that looks like this :
After all, you are what you eat and digest!
What will you choose?
In love and health,
Exercise: Try your own twist on this recipe by swapping in alternative greens and veggies; even try adding some garlic or paprika. I would just love to hear your results! If you post on social media, use the hashtag #beautydetoxrecipe and link back to the recipe here.