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  • Writer's pictureMary Shackelton, MPH, ND


Why Bone Broth may not be great for you

We have become protein heroes. I hear people boasting about eating so much protein, especially the weight lifters and the no-carb dieters, who avoid carbs but have heavy doses of protein. While I believe protein is important for healing and detoxification, I have also seen the downsides to so much protein consumption.

On some of my patients’ routine lab work, I have seen red flags on kidney function with excess protein consumption. Our kidneys must filter the numerous amino acids that come from protein digestion. Adding in lots of extra protein beyond what is required for normal tissue repair, immune function, and cell turnover adds extra stress on the kidneys. In other cases, I have seen an increase in overall inflammatory symptoms that could show up in the form of:

• joint pain

• osteopenia/osteoporosis

• acidity

Bone broth is a high protein supplement that is currently a star in the “Diet Fad Department.”

Adding bone broth to our diets has been touted as being capable of healing leaky gut, supporting your immune system, and providing extra strength to your connective tissues, such as bone, teeth, ligaments, skin, hair, and nails. Bone broth is made from bones. The protein collagen is hydrolyzed or broken down for optimal absorption across the gut lining assuming that you cannot absorb protein otherwise.

For certain people, bone broth makes sense:

• those who have leaky gut or malabsorption (believe me not everyone has this is as lead to believe)

• those with immune dysfunction, but it would also be great to figure out why someone has this in the first place and address that issue.

• vegetarians who cannot meet minimum requirements for protein intake in their diets

Bone broth taken infrequently is a good idea, but daily use in addition to eating a high protein diet should be reconsidered.

An additional concern about bone broth is that lead has high affinity binding to bones, if animals are exposed to lead (and we are all exposed to some degree) then it concentrates in their bones, the very material used to make bone broth. This is something to consider, I have never seen anyone test their product for safety in this regard for fresh bone broth but I have seen powdered products that are tested for heavy metals. Make your best choice in this regard.

I recommend a vegetable broth to alkalinize and support your system rather than require more of your metabolism, digestion, and kidney function. Ideally, we should have time to make something like this:

Alkaline Broth

2 liters of water

4 celery stalks chopped into 1 inch pieces

4 carrots chopped into 1 inch pieces

1 bunch of parsley chopped coarsely

1 leek chopped coarsely

6-8 potatoes, cut into quarters

1 bunch of spinach (approx 2 cups)

2 cloves of garlic

1 onion, chopped (optional)

salt and pepper


• Put all ingredients in a stock pot.

• Cover with water and cook for 1 hour.

• Strain and enjoy warm or cool as a tea.

• Can be stored in the fridge for 1 week.

• Consume 2-3 cups per day, mid-morning or mid-afternoon

**You can add to or delete any of the above ingredients to make it your favorite flavors. Adding fresh herbs, such as rosemary, tarragon, or basil for the last 2 minutes will infuse with flavor and add incredible nutritional value.

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