It’s hard enough to get some of my patients (in the ER) and clients (health coaching and functional medicine) to eat vegetables. I’m not talking about eating more vegetables. I mean “A” vegetable (other than ketchup or potatoes). Yes, it’s true: some people eat no vegetables. So I know that for the vegetable-averse, my recommendation to start consuming bone broth and collagen might seem as cruel as suggesting they eat broccoli and cauliflower. 

But if you’re committed to reclaiming your health, I’ll explain why you should jump on the bone broth bandwagon. 

Actually, bone broth isn’t really a recent health trend. Our distant ancestors all the way to your grandparents consumed bone broth. But because of the influence of the modern food manufacturing industry, this primordial superfood went out of style for roughly a century. 

These days, virtually every supermarket, even in the heartland where I live (Nebraska) sells bone broth and collagen. So let’s dive in and get to know these superfoods. 

What is Bone Broth? 

Bone broth is a clear soup made from the bones and connective tissue of animals (usually cows or chickens). Herbs and spices, and yes, those dreaded veggies, are usually added to enhance the flavor. It takes several hours of slow cooking to produce true, authentic bone broth. Ain’t nobody got time—or the bones—to make authentic bone broth. Which is why bone broth in the supermarket has surged in popularity. 

Now, what’s the big deal about bone broth? Well, it contains parts of the animal that most people don’t consume. Unlike the breast or rib meat, the connective tissue of chicken bones is rich in a specific kind of protein called collagen. 

Collagen is the most abundant kind of protein in the human body. Out of the tens of thousands of proteins in the human body, collagen comes in first place. It forms virtually every part of your body, including: 

  • Skin
  • Bone 
  • Teeth
  • Hair 
  • Nails
  • Tendons
  • Ligaments
  • Cartilage
  • Muscle tissue
  • Blood vessels
  • Stomach- and intestinal lining
  • The placenta of a fetus

So as you can see, collagen is important in keeping our body strong. The problem is that as we age, we lose our ability to repair and replace collagen. That’s why we start getting wrinkles, thinning hair, weaker muscles and other cruel manifestations of the aging process. 

By consuming bone broth or a collagen powder (which comes in handy when it’s 100 degrees outside and you have no desire to sip scalding bone broth), your body can do a better job of repairing its structural tissues. 

(If only the U.S. government would begin repairing its critical infrastructure! But don’t get me started on that!) 

Bone Broth/Collagen Research

But is bone broth and collagen an overhyped fad? What does the research say? The truth is that some of the research is mixed. Part of the problem is that, just like not all dietary supplements are created equal, some bone broth and collagen products are low quality. However, that being said, there’s plenty of promising research on supplementing with bone broth or collagen powder. 

Bone Broth For Gut Health

In one study published in Medicina, researchers found that bone broth reduced inflammation in mice with ulcerative colitis. In addition, research in the Swiss journal, Polymers, says that the collagen protein in bone broth can reduce gastroesophageal reflux (acid reflux). 

Have you ever heard of the term leaky gut? It’s when the lining of your small intestine weakens and allows undigested protein from the food you eat as well as bacteria and viruses leak into your bloodstream. The good news is that a study in Food & Function suggests that bone broth may prevent the inflammation that causes this condition. 

Bone Broth For Bone Health

It would make sense that if you consume the collagen protein contained in animal bones, it’ll help your own bones. A study published in a peer-reviewed arthritis journal confirms this hypothesis. The study says that “Collagen hydrolysate” (which is basically collagen protein that’s predigested so it’s easier to digest) is of “interest as a therapeutic agent of potential utility in the treatment of osteoarthritis and osteoporosis. Its high level of safety makes it attractive as an agent for long-term use in these chronic disorders.”

And if you’re not a big fan of going to the gym and pumping iron, then I’ve got some more good news for you. A study in the journal, Nutrients says that collagen supplementation was associated “with a favorable shift in bone markers, indicating increased bone formation and reduced bone degradation.”

Bone Broth/Collagen For Brain Health

An animal study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food suggests that bone broth could eliminate the harmful effects of stress that cause damage to the neurons (brain cells), which in turn triggers migraine headaches. 

Bone Broth For Skin Health

Finally, if you’re a refined lady of a certain age, you may be most curious to know whether collagen supplements are a fountain of youth. After all, it’s damaged collagen fibers that cause noticeable skin aging like crow’s feet, fine lines and saggy skin. Is bone broth or collagen supplements an anti-aging miracle? 

I wouldn’t go that far. However, the study from Polymers says that collagen supplements “can improve skin integrity and modulate skin aging. They are effective in wrinkle reduction, skin rejuvenation, and skin aging reversal.”

So I’d say that conclusion is worth giving it a try. 

And if you’re clueless about what else you should eat for optimal health, let me help you. 

Schedule a no-obligation consultation with me here

Until next time, 

Jenna Witt, NP