The Health Benefits of Bone Broth

March 8, 2012 in Categories: , by

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Bone broth is a flavorful liquid made by boiling the bones of just about any vertebrate you can think of (typically poultry, beef, bison, lamb, or fish) in water for an extended period of time (typically anywhere from 4 hours to 40 hours!).  Often vegetables and herbs are added (typically carrots, onion, celery, garlic and I like to add bay leaves too).  The bones from mammals need to be sawed open, whereas fowl and fish bones don’t. The used bones and vegetables are strained from the liquid and typically discarded.  The resulting liquid is called “broth” or “stock” and is rich in numerous vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants (especially calcium, magnesium and phosphorous, which are essential for bone health) .  Most importantly, bone broth is also particularly rich in two very special amino acids:  proline and glycine.

Glycine and proline are two key components of connective tissue, the biological “glue” that holds our bodies together.  There are many types of connective tissue and these two amino acids feature prominently in most of them, from the cartilage that forms our joints to the extracellular matrix that acts as a scaffold for the cells in our individual organs, muscles, arteries etc.  Without these two amino acids, we would literally fall apart.  So, it is no surprise that we need these two amino acids to heal, not only gaping wounds, but also the microscopic damage done to blood vessels and other tissues in our body caused by inflammation and infection. In fact, glycine is known to inhibit the immune system and reduce activation of inflammatory cells in your body.  Whether you are trying to heal from an infection, address an auto-immune disease, or reduce inflammation caused by neolithic foods or Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth, high levels of dietary glycine are critical.

In addition, glycine is required for synthesis of DNA, RNA and many proteins in the body.  As such, it plays extensive roles in digestive health, proper functioning of the nervous system and in wound healing.  Glycine aids digestion by helping to regulate the synthesis and of bile salts and secretion of gastric acid.  It is involved in detoxification and is required for production of glutathione, an important antioxidant.  Glycine helps regulate blood sugar levels by controlling gluconeogenesis (the manufacture of glucose from proteins in the liver).  Glycine also enhances muscle repair/growth by increasing levels of creatine and regulating Human Growth Hormone secretion from the pituitary gland.  This wonderful amino acid is also critical for healthy functioning of the central nervous system.  In the brain, it inhibits excitatory neurotransmitters, thus producing a calming effect.  Glycine is also converted into the neurotransmitter serine, which promotes mental alertness, improves memory, boosts mood, and reduces stress.

Proline has an additional role in reversing atherosclerotic deposits.  It enables the blood vessel walls to release cholesterol buildups into your blood stream, decreasing the size of potential blockages in your heart and the surrounding blood vessels.  Proline also helps your body break down proteins for use in creating new, healthy muscle cells.

Now, let’s be clear:  proline and glycine are not technically essential amino acids.  Your body can actually make them if it needs more than is supplied by your diet.  But building our own amino acids is much less efficient than consuming them from foods, and scientists believe that we probably can’t make proline or glycine efficiently enough to keep up with our body’s demand in the absence of dietary sources.  And while meat of all kinds does supply both of these amino acids, you just can’t beat the quantity or absorbability of proline and glycine in bone broth, hence bone broth’s superfood status.

See my recipe for chicken bone broth.


[…] Broth is also helpful to have on hand when anyone in the family gets sick as it can be a soothing and immune boosting drink during illness, even if the person doesn’t feel like eating. Broth is very high in the amino acids proline and glycine which are vital for healthy connective tissue (ligaments, joints, around organs, etc). The Paleo Mom has a great explanation of the importance of these two amino acids: […]

[…] Without getting into the negatives of the “standard american” shelved broth, lets talk about the positives of homemade bone broth. Bone broth made from healthy animals contains many vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, collagen, gelatin and amino acids such as glycine and proline. If you would like to know more about how glycine and proline interact with the body I would highly recommend visiting The Paleo Mom’s blog post titled “The Health Benefits of Bone Broth” […]

Hi! I’m really hoping you can give me some advice. I’ve been a vegan for 9.5 years (since I was 13!) but I’m giving it up to see if I can focus better in school-I’m a math major, and I’m not retaining information, it’s definitely not efficient. Unfortunately meat really grosses me out simply because of the texture, so I was looking into bone broth. How often do you think I should consume bone broth, and how much per serving? And do you possibly have any other tips?

[…] Paleomom har en god forklaring på hva glysin og prolin gjør i denne bloggposten. (Fritt oversatt): «Glysin er også viktig for syntese av DNA, RNA og proteiner i kroppen og gjør den dermed ekstremt viktig for god og riktig fordøyelse, sårheling og riktige nervefunksjoner. Glysin hjelper fordøyelsen ved å regulere syntesen av gallesalt og sekresjon av magesyre (kommentar av meg: Vi trenger faktisk mer magesyre, ikke mindre! Sure oppstøt eller dårlig forøyelse av mat tyder på at du har for lite magesyre). Det hjelper på både avgiftning i kroppen og er nødvendig for produksjon av glutathione, en viktig anitoksidant. Glysin kan også hjelpe til med å regulere blodsukkernivået og forbedre muskelvekst og muskelreparasjonsevne i hele kroppen. Dette skjer fordi nivåene av kreatin økes og regulerer vekst hormon utskillelsen fra hypofysen. I hjernen blir glysin omgjort til neurotransmitteren serin som gir økt mental klarhet, økt minnefunksjon, bedre humør og reduserer stress. Prolin har også en viktig rolle ved at det kan redusere oppbygging av kolesterol i blodårene og kan dermed hindre blodpropp i blodårer og hjerte. Proline hjelper også kroppen med å bryte ned proteiner som brukes til å lage nye, sunne muskelceller.» […]

[…] What are the benefits of bone broth? When you simmer the bones, you release a lot of nutrition into the broth, including: marrow, collagen, gelatin, glycine, proline, hyaluronic acid, chondroitin sulfate, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, and potassium. There’s a reason many of these items are sold in supplement bottles in the health food store. They’re building blocks for your body, and they’re especially beneficial for reducing inflammation and helping our bodies heal. For details, check out this post from Marks Daily Apple and this one from The Paleo Mom. […]

Hey Sarah,

Thanks for sharing this info. It’s something that I’ve been wondering about. I always tell people that broths are super healthy but I didn’t actually know why…

Broth is also awesome because it is super cheap! It is one of the things that is helping my friend run an ultramarathon in South Africa on a food budget of about ZAR30 (about $3) per day!

I’ll be sure to share this info with him and if you would ever like to hear more about the LCHF scene in South Africa please feel welcome to ask me any questions you might have.


please clarify: do you mean stock? (bones and possible aromatics) broth? (meat and/or veggies) or a combination of the two? (lately come to be called “bone broth” by that NYC restaurant popularizing it.) you say bone broth but you describe stock. I wish whoever came up with this term had called it “stock with meant and veg” because it must logically have the nutritional benefits of stock which broth does not. too confusing.

Hi there,

I’ve been making homemade bone broth with grass-fed beef and chicken bones in a stainless steel stovetop pressure cooker, which results in gelatinous broth in just a few hours. I have also made broth the traditional way on the stove in a stock pot for about 6 hours. I skim the fat off the broth, but I don’t strain it so that I can eat the marrow. However, no matter how I prepare it, I get sick every time I drink it. I have massive food intolerance that bloomed exponentially several years ago, and over the years, I have eliminated more and more food and am now down to just plain meat, poultry, non-shellfish fish and a few safe non-FODMAP vegetables. I have read about glutamate and histamine issues with bone broth. Is bone broth not okay for very food intolerant people? Are you aware of scenarios that would make bone broth not a good idea? For example, there is a lot of literature exhorting people to eat fermented foods, but if you have food sensitivities, fermented food is a nightmare.

Thanks in advance for more information on bone broth and food intolerance/hypersensitivity.


[…] organic sources, and only use bones from pasture-raised animals. You can read more about bone broth HERE. If you want to get really crazy, switch it out with your morning coffee! Vibrant Life Army Wife […]

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