027: Bone Broth: Is This Collagen-Based Health Trend REALLY Healthy?
As many of you already know, Dr. Gundry has a reputation for maintaining healthy skepticism. If you’ve been watching the videos on this channel, you may have seen him debunking certain health myths and fads, from the carnivore diet or wheatgrass shots. But just because it’s a fad, doesn’t mean it’s necessarily bad. And in the case of bone broth, it certainly combines some contradictory (you might even say “paradoxical” elements) for followers of the Plant Paradox. The first hint is in the name… bone broth, after all, is based in animal protein, which should be approached with caution. However, there are some pretty amazing claims (i.e. it heals leaky gut, boosts the immune system and even reduces cellulite??).
But could all these claims be true, or have they been deceptively overhyped by opportunistic marketing companies? Let’s find out! In this video, Dr. Gundry evaluates the major health claims associated with this alleged superfood. So whether you’ve recently considered jumping on the bone broth bandwagon, or even if it’s already a staple in your diet, it never hurts to see the bigger picture.
00:00 Hey there. Welcome to another exciting episode of the Doctor Gundry Podcast, the weekly podcast where I give you the tools you need to support your gut, boost your health, and live your youngest, healthiest life.
00:19 Each week Dr. Steven Gundry, a cardiologist, medical innovator, and author of New York Times best seller, The Plant Paradox and The Plant Paradox Cookbook, shares the latest in cutting edge health information. He’s excited to be a part of your unique health journey, so let’s get started.
00:37 So, before we get into this week’s episode, let’s take a look at our review of the week. LaurieB6137 writes, “Wait each week to hear you. Dear, Dr. G, thank you so much for all you do to teach about health. I quote you so much that my kids think I’m obnoxious, but they are listening. Your show on menopause was super helpful. I have listened to it three times. While I have been following your protocol since October, 2017, and I am much healthier, I still have trouble with migraine headaches. Can you do an episode about migraines?” I think that’s actually a great idea. “Thank you. From your devoted fan, Laurie.” Yeah. Laurie, we’ll do that, because as you know, I suffered from migraine headaches for most of my life, as my father did. Knock on wood, for the last 19 years they are a rare occurrence. I can talk to you about some of the things that I think still tip me off. So, if you want me to read your review, make sure to rate and review the Dr. Gundry Podcast on iTunes.
01:42 Welcome to the Dr. Gundry Podcast. Today, I’m gonna answer one of the most requested questions, bone broth, what do I think about bone broth? Well, as you know, bone broth has been the rage for, gosh, I don’t know, the last five years or so. You know, some people think it is absolutely the miracle cure for whatever ails you. It’s talked about for gut health, for bone health, for joint health. As it’s still cold and flu season, you may be thinking of curling up with a nice cup of chicken soup, which after all is a kind of bone broth. Maybe it will actually make you feel better. In other words, is bone broth good or bad for you, or is it a little of the both?
02:37 So, in today’s episode I’m gonna try to break down some of the pros and cons about bone broth and try to explain where the idea of bone broth came from in the first place. Let’s go for a ride in the bone broth kettle. Claims of bone broth. Bone broth improves your joint function. It heals a leaky gut. I wanna talk a lot about that as we go along, because most of my patients who I see who have been using bone broth use it to heal a leaky gut. Some people believe it’s incredibly important to help overcome food intolerances and allergies. Maybe it boosts the immune system. Does it rebuild bone? Does it rebuild collagen in your joints, in your skin? Does it make your hair grow thicker? Do you get improved nails with it? All of these are claims of bone broth, and interestingly enough, you heard these similar claims back in days before bone broth with gelatin, for instance.
03:57 So, it’s quite a list. Anytime you have that big a list, you want to have some degree of healthy skepticism, because there are now a number of companies, well intentioned companies, well run companies that do want you to think that bone broth is the cure all for everything. Bone broth’s been around a very, very, very long time. One of the things that’s interesting, it seems to span, some version of it, spans many, many, many cultures. The Japanese have tonkotsu, which comes from pork bones that have been cooked forever, and ever, and ever. In Korea, it’s seolleongtang, which is a rich broth made from ox bones. Then of course there’s Jewish Penicillin, chicken soup with matzah balls.
04:56 All of these traditions came about, particularly among the poor, because if you, for instance, ever had true pasture raised beef and pasture grass fed, and grass finished, you’ll notice that a lot of the pieces of beef are quite tough. In fact, one of my patients just yesterday was complaining that he was making stew out of grass fed and grass finished beef, and it was really tough. His wife says, “You idiot. That’s because there isn’t all that marbling from all the corn and soybeans.” So, people would cook all of these meats that were attached to the bones for an extended period of time. The longer you cooked it, the more gelatinous it became, and that gelatinous material is actually where all the collagen and all the good stuff is.
05:56 I grew up in the Midwest, and my mother would make a pot roast once a week, whether we wanted it or not. She would put it on the stove first thing in the morning, and it would cook all day. What started out as a very, very tough piece of meat with lots of gristle, by the time it went on our table at night it was just soft and mushy. Unbeknownst to me, I was having a bone broth concoction at least once a week. She would also do the same thing with spare ribs. She would actually put them in a pot of sauerkraut and cook them all day. By the end of the day there was the sparerib, the pork meat, along with all the collagen and the gristle had fallen off the bones and had mixed in with the sauerkraut. To this day I hate that dish, because I had it once a week, whether I wanted it or not.
06:55 But the point is even as much as a generation ago, for me this was a part of my normal cuisine. My mother’s family was primarily German, and that was traditional, longterm German cooking techniques. So, there’s a long history in bone broths. It’s been described as long ago as the Middle Ages, and it was called restaurer, a kind of restorative broth. Then there was beef tea in Britain, speaking of growing up. Many of you can relate to the fact that consommé, which is basically beef broth, was considered a great soup, and even at fancy restaurants, you would start with a bowl of beef consommé, which was bone broth. If it was a really fancy restaurant, they would chill the beef consommé, and it would be literally a chilled bowl of gelatin with beef flavor. At that time it was considered a delicacy. I can remember when we’d go to a fancy restaurant, having a bowl of consommé was considered the ultimate in fine dining. Fine dining that the poor were having back in the Middle Ages, so amazing how things come around.
08:18 First of all, let’s talk about scientifically backed pros of drinking bone broth. Bone broth is a great source of some amino acids that do make collagen, but let’s get rid of a myth, first of all. You can eat all the collagen you want, but one of the things you have to understand is we do not absorb collagen from our intestinal tract. All protein, no matter what it is, is broken down into individual amino acids. Those amino acids, which are small protein building blocks, are then absorbed through the wall of our gut.
09:05 Now, once they’re absorbed through the wall of our gut, you then reabsorb, then reassemble those amino acids into the proteins that you need. But there’s actually no instruction book that came with the collagen you ate in bone broth to make sure that you take those individual amino acids, and once you absorb them, make them back into collagen. You’ll use those amino acids to make what your body thinks it needs, one of which is collagen, but certainly not all of which is collagen. So, just taking collagen, in whatever form, is not gonna guarantee that you’re gonna make collagen on the other side.
09:56 That’s one of the biggest myths out there, that the more collagen in bone broth, the more collagen you’re gonna manufacture. Now, it’s great to have the building blocks to do that, but remember, you can get those building blocks without using bone broth. That’s the important thing. You can make collagen out of other amino acids. Now, bone broth in general contains an amino acid called glutamine. Now, glutamine is interesting, because we do know that the intestinal cells, that one layer of cell that lines our gut, and that lining is the size of a tennis court, those cells love glutamine. They actually use glutamine to grow and repair themselves. That’s scientifically proven.
10:53 So, the fact that bone broth has glutamine is a very scientifically valid way of feeding gut cells, but I’m always reminded of a professor from Louisiana State University, Russell Blaylock, who was a neurosurgeon. He’s retired now, but he’s written a number of books on what are called neuro-exciter toxins. One of his pet subjects was glutamine becoming a neurotoxin in excess, turning into glutamate, which is in fact a neurotoxin.
11:35 I was so impressed with his research when I first started doing The Plant Paradox that I urged people that if you were going to use glutamine as a supplement or glutamine containing foods, like bone broth, to help heal a leaky gut, that you should probably do this for a limited period of time. I think probably three months is a maximum period. I’m not gonna put words in his mouth, but he would probably say less than that. In any event, I don’t think that you need to have bone broth as a standard part of your diet to keep your gut healthy, but I do think it does play a good role in having glutamine available to cells for reparative process. That’s probably my tip for the number one reason that this is useful.
12:35 Now, number two, a lot of proponents of bone broth say that bone broth, correctly, is high in glycine. Now, we’re gonna take a little trip down Nerdy Road here. There is some very, very fascinating data, particularly in animals, that there are certain amino acids that age us rapidly, that turn on a compound called mTOR or TOR, T-O-R, in our cells, and you’re gonna learn a lot about this in The Longevity Paradox. Long story short, there are certain amino acids called methionine that absolutely, positively activate mTOR, and if mTOR is activated, quite frankly you’re not gonna live as long, and you actually may produce cancer. If mTOR is turned off, then it’s actually compatible with living a very long time, and living well, and not having cancer.
13:40 Okay. So, what does that have to do with bone broth? Well, bone broth does not have a lot of methionine, which is a very, very, very common amino acid in animal protein, but it does have a lot of another amino acid called glycine. So what? Experiments in pigs show that if you put pigs on a methionine restricted diet, they will live about twice as long as their litter mates who eat a normal methionine diet. Same calories in both groups, just by eliminating methionine. Well, that’s pretty cool, except it’s hard to have a methionine restricted diet, with the exception of vegans, because vegans actually … Plant proteins have very little methionine. You’re gonna hear that argument from me again, and again, and again in The Longevity Paradox.
14:45 Back to glycine. You can take pigs, put them on a regular diet, and add glycine to their diet, and glycine appears to act as if the pigs were eating a methionine restricted diet. Ah. Now, because I’m such an incredible nerd, I take glycine tablets twice a day, because I don’t like to hedge my bets, but bone broth has quite a bit of glycine and not much methionine. Of the animal protein products out there, it’s probably a pretty interesting, safe bet. So, those are the pros of bone broth. If you wanna use it to feed your intestinal cells, the enterocytes, for a while, that’s great. If you want to experiment with it as a longevity technique, because of the glycine, that’s okay.
15:56 But it is animal protein, and as you’ll see in The Longevity Paradox and as you learned in The Plant Paradox, in the end animal protein ages us. I wish it didn’t, but it does. Having said that, as you’ve learned in The Plant Paradox, beef, lamb, and pork all have a sugar molecule called Neu5Ac. Sorry. Neu5Gc, that can promote heart disease and cancer in us. Chicken and fish don’t have it, so my personal feeling, if you can find true pastured chicken, you’re probably safer with chicken bone broth than any other thing. In fact, back in the good, old days, a stewing chicken was how we ate chicken. We actually made chicken soup from stewed chicken, because we got all of that collagen from the tough, old bird.
17:05 Okay. Does this stuff go directly into your joints? Well, unfortunately it doesn’t go directly into your joints. Again, you get the building blocks. To me a lot easier to consume things like hyaluronic acid as a supplement, a lot easier to consume chondroitin sulfate, MSM, acetyl-L glutamine temporarily to get the same effect. So, you don’t have to have bone broth, but if you’re gonna have bone broth, I would head towards chicken, rather than beef, pork, or lamb as your best choices.
17:52 Okay. Are there proven studies that bone broth in fact makes your joints better, makes your skin better? In fact, there’s very few studies that have ever substantiated anything about this. In fact, there are some good studies that the collagen in bone broth is not a reliable precursor as a supplemental source of collagen, and this is published data. Unfortunately it’s just not the great panacea that people would like it to be.
18:26 Now, having said that, and I get this from my patients, and I get this on the internet, we have a recipe for bone broth in The Plant Paradox Cookbook. It’s really easy to do. So, it’s in the book, but what you do is you take four pounds of pasture raised animal bones. You take two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar, put in some salt. Please use iodized sea salt. It’s readily available now. Even Mortons makes it. Iodine is a critical component in your diet to make thyroid hormone. Please ditch the pink salt, and ditch the plain sea salt, and get iodine in your diet. I see a mini epidemic of hypothyroidism in this country, and getting some iodized sea salt in people’s diet is miraculous in getting your thyroid back to normal. As an aside, if you’re not gonna do that, buy yourself some spirulina tablets. You can get it at Trader Joe’s. It’s organic. It’s cheap. Take about four a day, and you’ll get plenty of iodine in that one. Sorry for the aside.
19:37 Throw in some onions, some parsley, some garlic. Put it in a pressure cooker, or a slow cooker, or a stock pot. Just like my mother did, just cook it all day. If you’re using a pressure cooker, it’ll take about 90 minutes, 10 hours in a slow cooker. Then just put it in a stock pot if you don’t have either of those, and just cover it, and just put it on simmer for the day. Medium low heat will be fine. When it’s done, you take a strainer. You pour it through the strainer. There you go. You’ve got your own set of bone broth. You can even I think put it in approved ice cube containers, like silicon ice cube containers. Then you’ve got your own little bouillon cubes.
20:28 Freeze it, and then you can use that as your stock when making a lot of my other recipes or your own favorite recipes. You don’t have to just keep it in the refrigerator. So, it’s a great way to make bone broth. You can get the leftover bones whenever. For instance, we had a pastured turkey for both Thanksgiving and Christmas this year, and we saved the bones from both of those birds, and we cooked those bones all day long, actually two days. That’s where we got our bone broth, so we’re set now for several months, because we’re not gonna use it very often, but we’re done and recycled our bird. Okay. That’s my take on bone broth. It is not the miracle cure all of you want it to be, but it’s a great source of glutamine. It’s a very interesting source for glycine, but just remember, it’s still an animal protein. That goes with those provisos.
21:34 I’ve had a few anecdotes from patients who have gone on a bone broth diet, and it’s interesting. Some of them say they absolutely felt better. Others said they didn’t notice any difference, but I can tell you one thing that has interested me in those people who tell me they’re doing a lot of bone broth. As many of you know, for years I’ve measured a surrogate marker for whether mTOR is activated, called insulin-like growth factor-1, IGF-1. I talk a lot about that in Plant Paradox, and I talk even more about it in The Longevity Paradox. Long story short, super, super old people who are thriving in their late 90s and early 100s have, as a general rule, very low insulin-like growth factors, and that makes sense, because again, keeping mTOR suppressed and not activated is probably one of the keys to longevity and health span.
22:55 So, I’ve had several people, and this does not make a series, because I don’t have enough, when they tell me they’ve been on bone broth for a period of time before the test, and most of my people I test every three months, every one of them who’ve gone on daily or using bone broth, their insulin-like growth factors have gone up 50 or 60 points from previous. Everything else that we measure, their sugar intake, their carbohydrate intake, their other animals protein source intakes haven’t changed. All they did was add bone broth. Again, it does not constitute proof, and I’m not claiming that it constitutes proof, but anecdotally what I suspected might happen in those few patients who have gone on bone broth, they’ve definitely increased their insulin-like growth factor.
23:58 Do I think that’s a bad idea? Yeah. We’ll find out when they’re 100 and I’m 100 whether or not it was a bad idea or not. You know, I’m doing everything I can to report back to you at 150. As you know, our saying in the office is 150 is the new 100. So, that’s the anecdotal story. Again, I think it’s great to use as a short term process, but I don’t think it’s a long term solution for much of anything.
24:38 Okay. Question. Gene asked, “I just purchased Plant Paradox Quick and Easy. Do the vegetables have to be organic?” Well, here’s the deal, and I talk about this in the book, and I’ve talked about this in all the books. Do what you can do with what you got, wherever you are. I would love it if you can buy organic. They are coming in more, and more, and more, and more stores. Walmart has a huge organic section. One of the things that’s getting scarier and scarier is not only is it against the law to spray pesticides on organic vegetables, but organic vegetables are not going to have any of the biocides and herbicides, like Roundup, and it’s perfectly legal to weed kill with Roundup around vegetables, around wheat, around soybean, around flax seeds, around canola, and even around wine, grapevines.
25:53 So, organic, you’re going to, number one, make sure you don’t have any pesticides, but more important, you’re not gonna have glyphosate on your vegetables. Glyphosate is really the modern terror that Monsanto did not tell us about. As you’ll see in both The Plant Paradox and The Longevity Paradox, about 95% of people have glyphosate in them, in their urine. 95% of breastfeeding women have glyphosate in their breast milk. Almost all California wines have glyphosate. You go, “Well, so what? It doesn’t hurt anything.” Well, glyphosate … Roundup was patented as an antibiotic, not as a weed killer.
26:53 Now, think about that for a second. What does antibiotic mean? It means it kills living things. Antibiotics kill bacteria, so what nobody knew, because Monsanto didn’t tell anybody, is that Roundup, glyphosate, kills your intestinal bacteria, as if you were swallowing antibiotics. What’s even scarier is MIT researchers have now proven that glyphosate is a direct cause of leaky gut. You’ve heard me say over and over again that I think almost all disease are at their basis from leaky gut.
27:38 So, yes, organic is a little more expensive, but it’s right there next to the other stuff, and in the long run your health and your longterm health may be a whole lot better by spending 50 cents more on that organic vegetable now and not having to take 12 prescription drugs when you’re in your 60s or 70s, like so many Americans are. So, a little investment now is gonna pay off longterm. Having said that, don’t sweat it if you can’t afford it or you’re out someplace and you’re gonna have a meal or you’re at a friend’s house. That’s not the time to make your stand, but do it as often as you can when you’re under control. That’s why to eat organic.
28:32 Okay. Good question, Gene. So, thanks again for joining me on the Dr. Gundry Podcast. Make sure you subscribe to the show on iTunes or your favorite podcast carrier. Keep sending in your questions, because that’s what I’m here for, and I am here, because I’m Dr. Gundry, and I’m always looking out for you. So, for more information about this week’s episode please take a look at my show notes below and on DrGundry.com. In the show notes you’ll also find a survey. I’d love to find out more about you. Please take a few minutes to fill it out, so I can do my best to provide information you’re looking for. Thanks for listening to this week’s episode of the Dr. Gundry Podcast. Check back next week for another exciting episode, and make sure to subscribe, rate, and review to stay up to date with the latest episodes. Head to DrGundry.com for show notes and more information. Until next time, I’m Dr. Gundry, and I’m always looking out for you.