Is it an elixir for younger-looking skin?
After learning she could no longer consume gluten or dairy, Shari Regan overhauled her diet. While searching for healthy recipes, she discovered bone broth.
Although the concept of bone broth is nothing new—its origins can be traced back to prehistoric times—it’s garnering renewed attention thanks to the popular Paleo diet, which mandates eating only foods that were available when early humans hunted and gathered.
Regan began making bone broth regularly, drinking it straight and adding it to recipes. When her husband felt like skipping breakfast, she’d convince him to drink some too. Then he started requesting it, saying it kept him satiated until lunchtime.
Although they were drinking bone broth primarily for the boost of protein, vitamins, minerals, and essential fatty acids, Regan soon noticed an unexpected, but welcome, side effect. Her 62-year-old husband, who had spent most of his life working outdoors in all kinds of Ohio weather, suddenly looked younger.
“His skin had always looked very weathered,” she says. “But in just a few months of drinking bone broth, it was smoother, with fewer wrinkles.”
Bone broth benefits
The name “bone broth” is a little confusing. Because it’s made primarily from animal bones, it’s technically a stock, not a broth, the latter being made with actual meat.
But those who embrace the bone broth movement aren’t confused one bit about the benefits they say they’re getting: improved immunity and metabolism, stronger bones, protected joints, reduced inflammation, and better skin.
Those benefits, they maintain, are thanks to bone broth’s high levels of collagen (a special protein containing lots of the amino acids glycine, proline, and hydroxyproline), as well as essential minerals (like calcium, magnesium, potassium, and phosphorous) that are present in bone broth.
Devotees attribute bone broth’s skin-smoothing powers mainly to the collagen, a protein that works like a “glue,” holding our bones and muscles together, protecting our joints and organs, and helping to preserve our gut lining.
Although our bodies make collagen naturally, production decreases as we age. We make 1 percent less every year starting around our mid-20s, and women lose even more after menopause.
Other factors, like smoking or sun damage, also hamper collagen production. With less collagen, skin loses its elasticity and becomes wrinkled.
How is bone broth made?
To make bone broth, animal bones, cartilage, tendons, and connective tissue are simmered in water for several hours, and sometimes up to 48 hours. The long cooking process draws out the nutrients. A small amount of acid, like apple cider vinegar, is added to further help extract these nutrients, which are more plentiful in the bones than in boneless meat.
To develop more flavor, some recipes suggest roasting the bones first and/or adding pepper, onion, garlic, and spices to the simmering broth. The solid particles are then strained out. Bone broth can be sipped as is or added to other dishes.
Does it really work?
Research on how dietary collagen behaves in the body, while promising, is still in its infancy. And a comprehensive study of bone broth’s benefits doesn’t exist and would be difficult to achieve. (After all, no two batches of bone broth are identical, due to the infinite combinations of animal parts used, the acid and spices added, and even differences in the water it all simmers in.)
But that doesn’t sway bone broth fans like Donna Branch of Chicago. The rich, warm liquid soothes her on cold days, fills her up so she doesn’t overeat, and makes her happy when she looks in the mirror.
“I’ve gotten compliments lately that my skin is glowing,” she says. “I just know it’s the bone broth, and I’ll keep drinking it every day.”
If you want to make bone broth …..
- Use bones from animals raised organically to avoid possible pesticide or antibiotic residue.
- Stockpile bones and other scraps in the freezer until ready to use, then thaw at room temperature for an hour.
- Try simmering bones and scraps in a reusable muslin brew bag to eliminate the straining process.
- Make your bone broth in a heavy stockpot, slow cooker, pressure cooker, or Instant Pot.
- Avoid adding salt to the bone broth while it simmers; season when your broth is used in another recipe or served as a drink.
The body’s own collagen-making process requires
that amino acids from protein-rich foods work together with vitamins and minerals like vitamin C, zinc, and copper. To stimulate the production of collagen, it’s important to choose foods that contain a variety of these vitamins and minerals. You may also want to consider a collagen builder supplement.
For vitamin C: citrus fruits; kiwis; red, yellow, and green peppers
For zinc: pumpkin seeds, chickpeas, kidney beans, wheat germ
For copper: sesame seeds, potatoes, shiitake mushrooms
For calcium: tofu, kale, spinach, tahini
For magnesium: pumpkin seeds, almonds, edamame, legumes
For glycine: seaweed (spirulina), spinach, cauliflower