The bone broth revival: Is this nature’s most potent muscle builder?

Bone broth feature image

Every now and again some element of the Paleo diet seems to gain mainstream traction.

In the past it has helped to popularise nuts, organic dairy, and leafy greens, and it’s now brought about bone broth’s revival.

For as long as our palaeolithic ancestors have been able to hunt and make fire, they’ve been broiling the leftover bones and connective tissues of the animals they caught into what’s commonly referred to today as a broth or stock.

No wasting

By simmering the bones and connective tissue from beef, game, chicken, turkey, fish and other animals, you can access a smorgasbord of previously untapped, and often ‘turfed’ nutritional value.

By cooking the leftovers and ‘scraps’ from your family braai or Sunday roast in this manner (think bones and marrow, skin and cartilage, tendons and ligaments), often for between 24-48 hours, you’re able to tap into a wealth of highly bioavailable minerals and nutrients, such as gelatin, calcium, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, silicon, vitamins C and B6, sulphur and other trace minerals.

Health benefits

The nutrient-density of natural bone broths – store-bought convenience options are usually made using artificial stock cubes, flavouring systems and mixes – are what purportedly improve healing and recovery by boosting the immune system and improving gut health by reducing gut permeability due to the gelatin content.

Bone broths are also considered a powerful detoxifier as they aid the digestive system to expel waste and promotes the liver’s ability to remove toxins.

Bone broth stock also supports both cellular and liver detoxification by supplying sulfur and glutathione, which is a phase II detoxification agent that lowers oxidative stress.

Broths can also improve the body’s use of antioxidants. What’s more is that the substances derived from a rich and flavoursome bone broth also help to reduce systemic inflammation, and these have additional benefits for the condition of hair and nails.

More muscle

You’ll also get prolific amounts of muscle and connective tissue-supporting compounds, such as collagen, hyaluronic acid, chondroitin sulfate, and glucosamine, and over 19 highly bioavailable essential and non-essential amino acids, including proline, glycine, arginine and glutamine.

The collagen helps to form and repair connective tissue, while gelatin improves joint health by cushioning bones and reducing friction.

Gelatin is also an essential building block needed to form strong bones and maintain bone mineral density. Glucosamine also helps maintain the integrity of cartilage, which is the rubbery substance within joints that acts like a natural cushion.

The amino acids found in bone broth help to build and repair muscle tissue, while also boosting nutrient absorption and synthesis, and maintaining muscle and connective tissue health.

The glycine found within collagen helps to form muscle tissue by converting glucose into useable energy. It also helps to slow age-related cartilage, tissue and muscle loss by improving the body’s use of antioxidants.

Arginine helps to increase nitric oxide (NO) production, which can boost workout performance and recovery through its effects on vasodilation, and can also improve endurance. Arginine has also been shown in studies to aid in increasing lean body mass by decrease total fat mass.

Proline is an important amino acid for muscle protein synthesis, so a deficiency in this substance may lead to a decrease in muscle mass. It is also a precursor to hydroxyproline, which the body uses to make collagen and cartilage. It, therefore, aids in maintaining joint health.

Bone broth benefits include:

  • Boosts the immune system;
  • Improves joint health;
  • Treats leaky gut syndrome;
  • Aids in the management and correction of food intolerances and allergies.

Author: Pedro van Gaalen

When he’s not writing about sport or health and fitness, Pedro is probably out training for his next marathon or ultra-marathon. He’s worked as a fitness professional and as a marketing and comms expert. He now combines his passions in his role as managing editor at Fitness magazine.

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