Bone Broth: Magic Elixir or Hype?
Bone broth rose to popularity this fall and seems to be filling mugs all across America. While it may be a centuries old food, bone broth has become quite a trendy food. There are even take out restaurants in some cities that sell only bone broth. People swear by it’s abilities to repair their leaky guts, protect joints, help them look younger and healthier, and boost energy levels. Sounds ideal for many gastric sleeve and gastric bypass patients. But, does bone broth really live up to the hype?
Made by simmering animal bones, knuckles, and tendons (using your choice of chicken, beef, pork, turkey, fish, duck, etc), vegetables on hand, and herbs for 8 to 48 hours, the broth becomes a savory, nutrient filled liquid. After straining the broth of bones, vegetables, and herbs, you can sip the broth in a mug or eat it as a bowl of soup. The long cooking time helps extract minerals, amino acids, collagen, and gelatin from the bones, making it more gelatinous and somewhat different from traditional broths or stocks.
Bone broth aficionados swear by it to help with a number of health issues including gastrointestinal issues, joint problems, improving their looks, and boost energy levels. Some people claim bone broth helps repair leaky gut syndrome, diarrhea, constipation, and even food intolerances. The long simmering time helps release collagen into the broth. This collagen they claim helps keeps joints healthy and pain free, and improves their skin, hair, and nails. Bone broth drinkers also report a boost in their energy levels after drinking it. All this in less than 100 calories per serving, depending on how you made your broth.
A broth made from items you likely have in your refrigerator already that will cure many ails, cost you only pennies, and helps promote weight loss due to its low caloric content: it sounds perfect and magical. And therein lies the problem. While people claim bone broth has these benefits, scientists and experts on human digestion can not find evidence to support these claims.
Experts claim that just because a food contains collagen does not mean it is used as collagen in the body. The gastrointestinal tract breaks down foods into their component parts as they travel from the stomach to the small intestine to the large intestine. Once the collagen is broken down, it is no longer collagen that will migrate to your hair and make it shinier or slip in between your joints to provide support. The collagen is broken down into amino acids and used wherever they are needed in the body. While experts do not disagree that bone broth has both essential and nonessential amino acids, they argue that you could get more of both from drinking milk or eating an egg.
While experts argue that most health claims for bone broth are anecdotal and based loosely on science, they are not calling it unhealthy. If you make it yourself at home, you can be sure of the ingredients you use. Homemade foods can be much better for you than prepackaged foods with unknown ingredients. If your afternoon snack is something that you probably shouldn’t be eating, substituting for homemade bone broth could be a positive change. Bone broth is warm, comforting, and tasty. If it can satisfy your hunger better and boost your energy more than chips, sweets, calorie laden coffees, or other snack foods, then it’s great to switch. But, you may be doing your health a disservice if you make bone broth your de facto snack. Variety is always key to a good diet as it raises the likelihood you are getting the nutrients you need.
The above is offered by Dr. Shillingford, M.D., P.A., a board certified surgeon specializing in obesity surgery including gastric sleeve, gastric bypass, and lap band surgeries. Dr. Shillingford’s bariatric weight loss practice is located in Boca Raton, Florida and serves patients from all over South Florida including Coral Springs, Delray Beach, Miami, Wellington, Orlando, and Fort Lauderdale. Dr. Shillingford’s bariatric patients often ask about foods to incorporate into their bariatric diet.