Perhaps the most straightforward description of how bone broth boosts immunity is to examine its effect on gut health. The link between gut health and immunity may seem incredibly complex and scientific to understand, but it boils down to something called the “gut microbiome” – a powerhouse of beneficial bacteria present in the digestive system that helps the body promote good health and fight disease.
This beneficial (“probiotic”) bacteria combats harmful substances in the body by assisting in the elimination of these materials and aiding in detoxification. They also produce acids that regulate the pH of the large intestine and restrict the growth of harmful bacteria that flourish in when our body’s homeostasis (and thus its pH) is off.
How the gut affects immunity
When the gut microbiome is unhealthy, due to stress, poor diet, or an imbalance in the body’s pH, it can lead to small holes developing in the intestines, which allow toxins and other materials that are meant to stay in your intestines to pass through your gut and permeate your bloodstream. Once in the bloodstream, these unwelcome substances are seen as invaders and attacked by your body, often triggering allergies and autoimmune responses along with an inflammatory response. This condition is called “leaky gut”, and it can wreak havoc on your body. In addition to the inflammatory and autoimmune response that can occur when toxic materials permeate your intestinal wall, leaky gut can also leave you feeling bloated, fatigued, and in severe cases, can cause chronic discomfort and digestive upsets which affect your daily life. At the same time your body’s ability to absorb nutrients is weakened by the permeability of your intestines, and you can become deficient in key vitamins and minerals, since your body isn’t able to digest and absorb them properly.
So? You may still be wondering what on earth your gut has to do with your immunity – after all, this still sounds like a digestive issue. The key lies in our discussion of the inflammatory response caused by an imbalance in your gut. While inflammation is our body’s way of healing itself (such as a fever fighting an infection, or swelling after injury), when inflammation gets out of control, it can run rampant and hidden in the body, causing a host of problems. According to Dr. Mark Hyman, hidden inflammation in the body is at the root of chronic illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes, depression, and even cancer.
The beneficial effect of bone broth on your gut
The benefit that bone broth offers to your immunity is directly tied to its effect on your gut health. Bone broth is made by simmering the bones and connective tissues of animals for extended periods of time, allowing the release of collagen, along with a host of vitamins, minerals, and amino acids.
Collagen is an important protein – it provides the foundation for connective tissue, ligaments, skin, and bones – and the amino acids in collagen can literally repair (or “heal and seal”) your gut. Whether you suffer from leaky gut, or just could use a bit of gut maintenance, the collagen found in bone broth is vital to healing and restoring your gut microbiome. Not only does it keep toxins and harmful bacteria from permeating the intestinal wall, but it helps to seal nutrients in the gut so that they can be properly digested and absorbed by the body. Gelatin, which is the cooked form of collagen (and hence the form that is present in bone broth), binds to the liquid in the gut, aiding the digestive process by allowing food to move through it more easily. When the beneficial bacteria is allowed to flourish in your gut, the harmful bacteria is kept from permeating your bloodstream, and your body is able to absorb nutrients, it has an amazing effect on your immune system.
How to heal your gut and boost immunity with bone broth
Bone broth is incredibly versatile – it can be used in place of water or broth in virtually any recipe, to add an extra boost of nutrients and gut-healing collagen. When used medicinally, it helps to drink it often – in fact, when you’re using bone broth as a restorative tonic or to heal digestive issues, for example, the more broth the better!
A wonderful way to experience just how healing bone broth can be is to take part in a bone broth cleanse. Unlike a regular cleanse, a bone broth cleanse is all about nourishing and healing your body. Consumption of at least 32 ounces of bone broth per day allows you to reap the benefits of bone broth, which include:
In addition to consuming lots of bone broth, your other calories should come from pastured meats, organic vegetables, and healthy fats such as avocado, coconut oil, and ghee. Because of their inflammation-causing principles, dairy, grains and added sugar should be avoided, but most whole foods are fair game! A bone broth cleanse is not about limiting how much you eat, just about changing what you eat, and centering your diet around the consumption of nutrient dense and delicious bone broth.
If you need any more reason to give bone broth a try for it’s nutrition and immune-boosting properties, how about this – bone broth can help activate your vagus nerve response, which is basically responsible for telling your body to RELAX. Did you know that reducing stress in itself can actually boost your immune system? Add that to the fact that bone broth has been known to result in a more restful sleep, and it’s not difficult to see why this amazing superfood can be such a powerhouse for immunity. There aren’t many foods that can heal your gut, detoxify your body, reduce inflammation, improve your sleep, and relax you all at the same time. There’s a reason that bone broth has been consumed and revered for centuries.