Bone broth has been consumed for centuries in many cultures around the world, but it recently made its way back into mainstream consciousness thanks to Goop founder Gwyneth Paltrow. Discussing her wellness practices on The Art of Being Well podcast, the 50-year-old told host Dr Will Cole that a typical
The comment sparked criticism online, particularly around consuming bone broth as a meal on its own (and a general lack of chewable food) but Gwyneth has since come out defending the conversation, explaining that it wasn’t meant to be taken as advice, nor is this a daily occurrence.
“This is not to say I eat this way all day, every day. And by the way, I eat far more than bone broth and vegetables,” the actor posted on Instagram. “I eat full meals, and I also have a lot of days of eating whatever I want. You know, eating French fries and whatever. My baseline has been to try to be healthy and eat foods that will really calm the system down.”
While anyone looking to adopt a diet like Gwyneth’s should explore the idea under the supervision of a nutritional expert, what this conversation has highlighted are the nutritional benefits of incorporating bone broth into a well-rounded diet — and that this nutrient-dense elixir is more than just a health fad.
If you experience gut issues, live with inflammatory bowel disease, find yourself prone to bouts of ill health or have a suppressed appetite, bone broth is an accessible way to increase your intake of essential nutrients.
So, what exactly is bone broth?
Bone broth is a nutrient-rich liquid derived from simmering bones, connective tissues, apple cider vinegar and aromatics for an extended period.
“It’s a really good way of extracting all the nutrients from the parts of the animal which we can’t usually get by chewing on it,” explains Lisa Baker, research nutritionist for Nutra Organics, an Australian company with an extensive range of pure, organic wholefood formulations, including bone broth powders and concentrates.
“The long, slow cook is able to release a lot of amino acids and vitamins and minerals that are in the bone reservoir, so it makes it really easily digestible. It’s also a great way to use what would otherwise be waste products.”
Essential minerals extracted during the cooking process include calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium, which are vital for maintaining healthy bones, teeth, and overall bodily function. Additionally, bone broth is an excellent source of collagen, a protein that promotes healthy skin, hair, nails, and joints.
Bone broth and gut health
The gut plays a crucial role in our overall wellbeing, and bone broth is known for its positive impact on gut health. It contains gelatin, which aids in maintaining the integrity of the gut lining and preventing inflammation. Gelatin also supports the growth of beneficial gut bacteria, promoting a healthy digestive system.
Lisa explains that glutamine (the amino acid from gelatin) is a wonderful food for the parasites that cover the gut lining, helping them to reproduce and proliferate.
“If you’re someone with an inflamed gut lining, it’s able to feed them really well and improve the structure of the gut,” she says. “So much of human health in general starts in the gut. When you have a really healthy gut, you’re able to grow a nice healthy microbiome, you’re able to absorb nutrients better. A lot of your immune system starts in the gut as well, so feeding those parasites is really important.”
Immune systems go
A strong gut lining can help prevent the entry of harmful substances into the bloodstream, and minerals such as vitamin C and zinc from bone broth can help support the immune system’s ability to fight off infections and reduce the duration of cold and flu symptoms.
Taking your bone broth hot — whether that be simply drinking it straight or cooking it into a meal — is good for the immune system too, says Lisa.
“It helps boost that core body temperature,” she explains. “One of the many reasons we become more susceptible to illness in winter is because the cold air and being cold means that our mouths, throat and nasal passages are colder. Most viruses and bacteria can’t survive at 40 degrees, at our core body temperature, but they can when it gets slightly cooler. Also, any nutrient that’s really easily digestible just gives you that much more energy and nutrients to help fight off disease.”
Adding bone broth to your diet
Whether you make your own broth at home, or you’re consuming a high-quality store-bought powder or concentrate, there are plenty of ways to incorporate bone broth into your existing diet.
Where a recipe calls for chicken, beef or vegetable stock, replace this with your bone broth. If you’re making a pasta sauce, add in some bone broth concentrate to up the nutrient value and add to the richness of flavour. If you’re a tea or coffee drinker, switch one of your daily cuppas for a mug of hot bone broth.
Unless you have been professionally advised, following in the footsteps of Gwyneth and using bone broth as a meal replacement does not make a well-balanced diet.
“I think the problem comes when people start thinking, wonderful, I can stop giving myself food and just drink broth and take my vitamins intravenously, like that’s a healthy thing to do. It’s really not,” says Lisa.
“If we stop eating food, and we try to replace it with only easily digested things and intravenous vitamins, the body’s ability to break down and extract nutrients for itself is impaired. So for people who need that help, that’s a wonderful benefit. For people who don’t, it’s a wonderful thing to add into the diet, but don’t replace real food with it.”
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