7 Benefits of a Bone Broth Fast: Stronger Gut, Skin + More

November 21, 2017
Bone broth fast - Dr. Axe

By now you might be familiar with bone broth and all this time-honored, traditional food has to offer — collagen, amino acids and numerous trace minerals, just for starters. Maybe you’re now looking to take things to the next level and try a bone broth fast but aren’t quite sure how to safely go about this. As you’ll learn, bone broth is one of the most nutrient-dense, healing foods for the digestive system and therefore a great way to kick off a healthier way of eating or help resolve symptoms related to poor digestion and other health concerns.

Although it’s been consumed around the world in one form or another for thousands of years, bone broth is made from animal parts that in modern times are normally discarded. These include bones and marrow, skin and feet, tendons and ligaments, all of which aren’t edible on their own but make nutrient-packed additions to slow-simmering stock. Bone broth is boiled slowly over several days — normally with veggies, an acid and fresh herbs in addition to animal parts — allowing all of the ingredients to release their stored nutrients.

The benefits of consuming bone broth include:

  • stronger immunity against common illnesses or allergies
  • reduced symptoms related to digestive disorders like leaky gut syndrome, IBS or IBD
  • generally enhanced digestion with fewer cases of bloating, diarrhea, gas, acid reflux and constipation
  • healthier joints, ligaments and tendons
  • more youthful-looking skin thanks to collagen
  • stronger bones
  • higher intake of importance minerals like calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, potassium and more

What Is a Bone Broth Fast?

A bone broth fast means you consume bone broth several times per day but not much other solid food. Fasts are not for everyone, and sometimes certain kinds can pose risks since they involve consuming little nutrients due to greatly reducing calorie intake. However, if you make a good candidate, consuming bone broth is ideal for a fast because it’s chock-full of important macronutrients and micronutrients, including amino acids (which form proteins) like glycine, arginine and proline; vitamins and minerals; collagen; electrolytes; and even antioxidants like glucosamine. (1)

Most people do best fasting for a period between three to four days, during this time consuming several quarts of bone broth daily and eliminating many problematic foods. One of the things that makes a bone broth fast stand apart from other types of fasts is that it’s an ideal way to obtain more collagen, a type of protein needed to create healthy tissue found throughout the body. Collagen is found inside the lining of the digestive tract, within bones in bone marrow, in skin, and in the tissues that form joints, tendons, ligaments and cartilage. (2) Within collagen are other special nutrients, including amino acids like proline and glycine, plus gelatin — which all have widespread benefits.


Benefits of the Bone Broth Fast

Before we dive into the advantages of consuming bone broth, let’s first talk about the many benefits of fasting. Fasting, when done right and by the right people, has been shown to promote better health by:

  • improving weight loss and helping with weight maintenance (3)
  • reducing fasting insulin levels  and normalizing blood sugar activity
  • decreasing cholesterol
  • promoting the secretion of human growth hormone, which is important for burning fat
  • having positive effects on body mass and health markers in professional athletes
  • reducing risk for diseases like diabetes, cancer and heart complications
  • normalizing appetite by controlling hunger hormones like ghrelin
  • lowering triglyceride levels
  • even slowing down the aging process and increasing someone’s lifespan (4)

Now on to how a bone broth fast specifically can benefit you:

1. Improves Digestive Functions

Bone broth is one of the best natural sources of collagen, a type of protein that’s needed to form tissue that makes up the lining of the GI tract. Collagen protects and soothes the lining of the digestive tract and can aid in healing leaky gut syndrome, IBS symptoms, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis and acid reflux. It’s been shown that patients with IBD produce less collagen in their digestive systems. (5) Increased intakes are capable of helping strengthen and normalize mucus membranes in the GI lining, closing tiny junctures and stopping indigested food particles and chemicals from leaking out of the gut into the bloodstream.

When collagen breaks down, gelatin is formed, which is known to help people dealing with food allergies and sensitivities to foods, such as cows’ milk and gluten. Gelatin in bone broths contains “conditional” amino acids called arginine, glycine, glutamine and proline, which have certain anti-aging effects. (6) Gelatin and these amino acids found in collagen promote probiotic balance and growth, help break down proteins, decrease leaky gut syndrome and symptoms of autoimmune disorders, and much more.

2. Makes Your Skin Glow

Collagen helps form tissues found in skin that give it strength, smoothness, elasticity and youthful appearance. In fact, studies have found that higher intakes of collagen are associated with improvements in skin barrier functions, increased hydration and reductions in signs of aging  on the skin, including wrinkles, fine lines and sagging. (7)

And although you likely won’t notice any improvements within just a few short days, higher collagen intake is also known to decrease the appearance of cellulite. Cellulite develops due to lack of connective tissue, which is made from collagen.

3. Supplies Important Minerals

Some fasts fail to provide some of the most important trace minerals that we need for ongoing energy, immunity, digestion and more. Because bone broth is made from animal bones and parts that are concentrated sources of numerous minerals, it provides essential nutrients, minerals and electrolytes, including calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, sodium, potassium, sulfate and fluoride. This can help prevent an electrolyte imbalance, dehydration that can occur during a fast, fatigue, brain fog, moodiness, and muscle spasms or weakness.

 

Bone broth fast benefits - Dr. Axe

 

4. Helps Prevent Muscle Wasting

It’s possible during a fast to wind up losing some weight, which can really be due to muscle (and therefore strength) loss. Luckily during a bone broth fast, you still obtain amino acids, such as glycine and proline, that help prevent the breakdown of valuable protein tissue found in muscles. In fact, a bone broth fast might even help you with muscle recovery, reduce joint pain (since collagen is known to fight symptoms of arthritis) and even relax tense muscles naturally. (8)

Glycine is an important amino acid for actually building muscle strength, ushering nutrients into cells to be used for energy, controlling blood sugar levels and even synthesizing human growth hormone. Because glycine plays a role in the process of gluconeogenesis, which takes place in the liver, it can provide cells with an energy source even when little calories or carbohydrates are being consumed. This, in turn, can help prevent sarcopenia, muscle wasting as we age.

5. Helps Detoxify the Liver and Digestive System

Consuming bone broth is an effective way to boost your supply of the antioxidant glutathione, one of the body’s most powerful detoxifying agents. Glycine is a precursor needed for the production of glutathione, which helps the liver flush out excess chemicals, stored hormones and other waste. (9) Other minerals, acids and electrolytes can also boost detoxification processes, including acetic acid (found in apple cider vinegar, which is often added to bone broth recipes), magnesium and sulfate.

6. Boosts Immunity

Bone broth fasts can increase beneficial bacteria living in the gut, which are highly correlated with stronger immunity (not to mention many other aspects of health, like hormonal balance and weight regulation). Good bacteria in the gut (often called probiotics) can actually turn on certain genes that help regulate inflammation and turn down numerous types of unwanted symptoms. Consuming bone broth along with fermented foods is one of the most ancient ways known to improve health overall.

7. Can Improve Sleep, Memory & Cognition

The amino acids found in bone broth act like inhibitory neurotransmitters for the production of chemicals and hormones that help us sleep, think clearly, stay motivated, remember information and make decisions. Higher intake of glycine, for example, has been found to help people who can’t sleep get better rest, lower symptoms of anxiety, improve mental performance and even enhance memory.

Bone broth is also a great way to obtain important electrolytes, including potassium, magnesium and sodium. These help sustain energy and are important for muscle, nerve, digestive and cognitive functions. Magnesium, for example, is known to help decrease headaches, restlessness, muscle spasms during sleep, muscle pains and digestive discomfort.


Who Are Best Candidates for a Bone Broth Fast?

How do you know if a bone broth fast is right for you? The people who can benefit most from fasting with bone broth include:

  • those with digestive disorders (like leaky gut syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease or IBS)
  • anyone struggling with food allergies and sensitives
  • people prone to frequent digestive symptoms, like bloated stomach, gas and constipation
  • anyone with signs of low immune function, including frequently getting sick, or having asthma and reccuring respiratory systems
  • those dealing with autoimmune disorder symptoms, fatigue, sluggishness and problems sleeping well
  • people reacting to negatively to medications
  • those with joint pains or arthritis
  • anyone looking to gain more energy, improve the appearance of their skin and feel more clear-headed

Many people who have had success with other types of fasts or protocols, including the GAPS diet or specific carbohydrate diet, will likely also benefit from trying a bone broth fast. These are just two examples of diet elimination protocols that offer serious benefits for people struggling with compromised digestive and immune systems. Bone broth is a popular addition to a healing diet because it’s very easy to metabolize, free from common allergen ingredients and a rich source of nutrients that are easy to miss out on when eliminating certain foods.

Protocols such as a FODMAP diet or SCD diet work by eliminating most troublesome carbohydrates and common food allergies, while including specific types of carbs that are easy for most to digest and metabolize, along with plenty of nutrient-dense vegetables, healthy fats, clean proteins, fresh herbs and broths/stocks. (10) A bone broth fast can actually be a great way to kick off another type of diet that helps control inflammatory bowel disease symptoms, such as those caused by Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, irritable bowel syndrome and SIBO symptoms.

Bone broth can be included in basically any healing dietary program as an effective way to help heal the digestive system, reduce fermentation in the gut, lower gas accumulation, and prevent gut permeability and inflammation. In fact, during the GAPS diet it’s recommended to drink a cup of bone broth with every meal, and the intro phase (usually the most limited part) consists of eating mostly homemade bone broth (up to a whole quart a day) with non-starchy vegetables, meats, fish and homemade fermented foods.


How to Do a Bone Broth Fast, Plus Different Kinds of Fasts

Bone broth fasts are simple to follow, inexpensive and customizable to fit your needs and goals. They don’t require buying lots of expensive supplements, going for very long periods without eating “normally,” or much risk and investment. Here are several ways you can try a bone broth fast safely:

  • Plan to fast for a period of three to four days. This amount of time is best for helping kill off harmful bacteria in the gut, repair the GI tract and repopulate the gut with probiotics. Longer than this might be tolerable for some, but it also raises the risk for more problems, fatigue and deficiencies in certain groups of people. If you plan on doing intermittent fasting, a longer duration up to 90 days might be beneficial.
  • Each day you ideally should consume between three to four quarts of bone broth. Making the broth yourself is the best way to ensure it’s high-quality and doesn’t cost you too much.
  • It’s ideal to eliminate all problematic and inflammatory foods during a bone broth fast, including grains, packaged/processed snacks, added sugar, FODMAP foods/complex carbohydrates, sweetened drinks, dairy and refined vegetable oils. You can include as much healthy fats, clean proteins, fruits and veggies as you choose.
  • Plan to make your broth one to two times in a large batch and refrigerate/freeze small portions to keep them fresh throughout the fast. Drink broth throughout the day as you’d like, adding ingredients like salt, pepper, vinegar and seasoning for extra taste. You can reheat cooled or frozen stock on the stovetop, whisking it and skimming off the fatty/oily surface if you’d like to (although this is nutrient-dense and should be kept for cooking later on).
  • During the fast you can also practice “intermittent fasting” by going without any food for 12–15 hours of the day (usually through the night and morning), although this isn’t necessary for everyone.

If you’re wondering how much bone broth to drink, about 12 ounces is the proper serving. You should consume this 12-ounce serving about five times a day — 7 a.m., 10 a.m., 1 p.m., 4 p.m. and 7 p.m., for example.

Types of BB fasts:

  • You might choose to utilize a combination of different stocks (chicken, beef and fish stock, for example) or stick with exclusively beef stock if you have a very sensitive system since this seems to be most well-tolerated.
  • Try a bone broth fast as part of the GAPS Diet protocol, eliminating problematic foods to test your response. Or include bone broth in a FODMAP diet or SCD if you know certain carbohydrates cause your symptoms to worsen.
  • It’s also a good idea to consume probiotics/fermented foods during the fast and afterward to boost intake of healthy bacteria.
  • Even if you aren’t looking to do a formal fast but still want to take advantage of bone broth’s benefits, you can start by consuming eight ounces of broth once or twice daily as a soup, a plain beverage or within other recipes.

What About Maintenance Following a Bone Broth Fast?

Once you’ve completed a bone broth fast, you’ll be in better shape to start a healthier way of eating that eliminates certain foods you might have realized caused you discomfort. Plus, you’ll be on your way to rebuilding a stronger digestive and immune system. After the three to four days of fasting are over, it’s best to consume at least one to two cups of broth daily and also keep fermented foods/probiotic supplements in your diet to prolong the results.

In some ways, a bone broth fast can act like an elimination diet, helping to pinpoint which foods might trigger symptoms like bloating, low energy or diarrhea. For example, because bone broth fasts eliminate FODMAP foods (such as certain grains and fruits) and common allergens like gluten and dairy, you might experience improvements in your energy, have less brain fog and experience better digestion — all of which let you know that it’s a good idea to keep these foods out of your diet for good. Of course, it’s not sustainable to fast on bone broth for long periods of time, but you can follow a bone broth fast several times per year if you find it helpful to kick-start your digestive system and resolve any unwanted symptoms.


Precautions About Fasting

While fasting has many advantages, certain people are not good candidates for a bone broth fast (or any other fast for that matter). People who should avoid doing a bone broth fast include:

  • anyone with hypoglycemia
  • women who are pregnant or breast-feeding
  • anyone who is underweight or recovering from a serious illness involving malnourishment (such as an eating disorder or digestive disorder)
  • anyone with diabetes (without talking with a doctor first at least)
  • people who rely on taking medications daily should also get clearance from their doctors, since some medications require eating solid foods

Remember fasting is different for every person, and there’s no concrete way to do one. Try to use common sense, and follow these tips to yourself safe:

  • Eat if you’re feeling weak or very hungry.
  • Try to get enough sleep and rest.
  • Don’t overexert yourself or exercise vigorously (it’s a good time to take it easy).
  • Simply listen to your body!

Bone Broth Fast Takeaways

A bone broth fast means you consume bone broth several times per day but not much other solid food. Most people do best fasting for a period between three to four days, during this time consuming several quarts of bone broth daily and eliminating many problematic foods. One of the things that makes a bone broth fast stand apart from other types of fasts is that it’s an ideal way to obtain more collagen, a type of protein needed to create healthy tissue found throughout the body.

Just as there are many benefits of fasting in general, there are lots of benefits of a bone broth fast, including improving digestion, making your skin glow, supplying important minerals, preventing muscle wasting, detoxifying the liver and digestive system, boosting immunity, and improving sleep, memory and cognition.

How do you know if a bone broth fast is right for you? The people who can benefit most from fasting with bone broth include:

  • those with digestive disorders (like leaky gut syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease or IBS)
  • anyone struggling with food allergies and sensitives
  • people prone to frequent digestive symptoms, like bloated stomach, gas and constipation
  • anyone with signs of low immune function, including frequently getting sick, or having asthma and reccuring respiratory systems
  • those dealing with autoimmune disorder symptoms, fatigue, sluggishness and problems sleeping well
  • people reacting to negatively to medications
  • those with joint pains or arthritis
  • anyone looking to gain more energy, improve the appearance of their skin and feel more clear-headed

People who should avoid a bone broth fast include:

  • anyone with hypoglycemia
  • women who are pregnant or breast-feeding
  • anyone who is underweight or recovering from a serious illness involving malnourishment (such as an eating disorder or digestive disorder)
  • anyone with diabetes (without talking with a doctor first at least)
  • people who rely on taking medications daily should also get clearance from their doctors, since some medications require eating solid foods

Of course, remember to listen to your body, and if a bone broth fast is a good fit, it’s safe to do a few times a year. Just make sure not to fast for more than three to four days.

Read Next: Bone Broth Benefits for Digestion, Arthritis and Cellulite


From the sound of it, you might think leaky gut only affects the digestive system, but in reality it can affect more. Because Leaky Gut is so common, and such an enigma, I’m offering a free webinar on all things leaky gut. Click here to learn more about the webinar.

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