Bone broth: If you believed what the internet tells you, it’ll cure anything from the common cold to cancer. You can make your own or buy it just about anywhere these days (at a tidy price), but is it really the magical elixir we’re lead to believe? We thought it was time for a bit of WFY myth-busting.
Firstly, we just want to clarify what bone broth actually is. Quite simply, it’s the flavoured water made from boiling the bones and connective tissue of animals. But what’s the difference between good old fashioned stock and ‘healing’ bone broth anyway? The answer is that while stock may use similar ingredients, the cooking time is much shorter (around 45 minutes). Bone broth is simmered for longer (up to 24 hours) to encourage bone breakdown and gelatin release into the water. The nutrient content of the final product will vary greatly, depending on cooking time and ingredients used.
Bone broth is commonly touted as a good source of protein, but such claims don’t always stack up. According to nutrition analysis of commercial bone broths, you can expect anywhere from 3 – 13g protein per cup, depending on the batch. Bone broth will also contain electrolytes such as sodium (bones naturally contain sodium), potassium and magnesium, so it’s a great fluid for rehydration when you’ve had a bout of dreaded gastro or food poisoning.
One of the main health claims made about bone broth is that it’s high in collagen – a major protein that makes up around 75% of our connective tissue in joints, muscles, ligaments and our skin. Sounds great right? But here’s the clincher: before being absorbed, collagen (whether from bone broth or expensive collagen supplements) needs to be broken down to its constituent amino acids. That’s right - our bodies can’t absorb collagen through the digestive system, but they can (and do) manufacture it using amino acids found in everyday protein rich foods.Finally, are there any scientific studies to support the use of bone broth in healing and inflammation? The answer here is quite simply – no. Our final thoughts on the subject? Bone broth can be soothing and hydrating, and it does provide some nutritional value, but it doesn’t live up to its reputation as a magic elixir for your skin, hair, gut or immune system. Myth. Busted.