Also known as “stock,” bone broth has been garnering attention due to claims that consuming it enhances the body’s ability to build collagen.
Collagen is a key protein in connective tissue, and is part of bones, tendons, ligaments, blood vessels, and the inner and outer linings of most tissues.
Specific peptides in bone broth as well as other nutrients are often highlighted and single out to magnify the healing power of bone broth.
Since bones, cartilage, and other connective tissues are rich in collagen, then consuming the broth made from these same elements will enhance our own collagen levels.
This would result in stronger bones and joints and lower our susceptibility to infection (damaged lining leaves us susceptible, healthy lining does not).
Metabolism is too complex for it to be this simple. When digested, the broth would be broken down to its amino acid components and become part of an amino acid pool (a sort of “depot”).
When the body (cells) needs to build new protein for tissue, amino acids are taken from this pool to do so.
There is no guarantee that the body will use the exact amino acids from the bone broth to build more collagen. These same amino acids may be used to build proteins other than collagen.
When collagen is built, the amino acids used may also have originated for other sources. In fact, many vegetables, grains, and legumes are rich in the amino acids (the building blocks) needed to build collagen.
A post by Cedars-Sinai mentions that one of their clinical dietitians found no evidence that bone broth is better than other broths (Beswick, 2020).
Plenty of common food sources also provide many of the singled-out amino acids and nutrients used to hype up bone broth.
Furthermore, protein synthesis is quite complex. Vitamin C, for example, has been found to play an important role in collagen formation for stability and structure.
So, as long as a person consumes adequate amounts of the essential amino acids and has a well-balanced diet, they should be just fine. If consuming bone broth does it for you, then go for it, it can be quite tasty in soups, stews and ramen!
The bottom line:
Bone broth may be healthy, but many claims must be studied further to make a definite statement when it comes to the direct upregulation of collagen.
Broth may help individuals when they are sick or recovering because it is rich in fluid, which helps them stay hydrated.
Considering how broth is often made — boiling bones, meats, vegetables, and condiments (like salt) — it is rich in electrolytes, water-soluble, and fat-soluble nutrients; many of which were extracted into the broth via the heating process.
This means that broths are healthy in general, and are good to have. It is always better to emphasize a variety of whole foods, however, rather than a single component when it comes to a healthy diet.
Is Bone Broth or Just Broth Good for Athletic Recovery?
After a workout, the body uses amino acids to build protein for muscle and other connective tissues. Consuming bone broth may contribute to maintaining a positive nitrogen balance.
Positive nitrogen balance means that one is consuming more nitrogen (found in protein/amino acids) than is leaving the body through urine (the nitrogenous waste).
In other words, we are retaining nitrogen because the amino acids that have it are being used to build muscle (or hypertrophy) (Mazzeo, n.d.). Electrolytes present in broth could also aid recovery.
If the broth was made with vegetables, then there is a whole host of benefits that the broth could be providing. Plant foods are known to have phytochemicals (“phyto” meaning “plant”), many of which often have antioxidant properties.
Again, these same goals could be met with actual foods instead of just the broth. If one actually eats the vegetables used to make the broth, for example, then one is getting plenty of fiber and is feeding good gut microbes.
Furthermore, many phytochemicals found in plant foods are more effective when they are consumed in their original complex — the food itself.
Santa Cruz CORE offers a functional integrative approach to Nutrition. CORE nutritional counseling can help one go beyond just one important ingredient. The right nutritional counselor can help find the variety that the human body needs.
- Beswick, K. (2020, February 3). Bone Broth: Is It Good for You? Retrieved from https://www.cedars-sinai.org/blog/bone-broth.html
- Mazzeo, R., Ph. D. (n.d.). 8. Protein Metabolism During Exercise – The Energetics of Exercise. Retrieved from https://www.coursera.org/lecture/science-exercise/8-protein-metabolism-during-exercise-V8gK3