Meat stock vs. bone broth. What is the difference?

No doubt you’ve heard about the healing and wonderfully nourishing properties of bone broth.  It’s in so many news articles now days it’s almost hard to get away from.  You may have also heard the term meat stock, especially if you’re following a gut healing diet such as the GAPS plan, and you may be wondering what’s different between the two and which is better for gut healing and gut health?  Let me break them down for you.


Meat stock

Meat stock (or sometimes called meat broth) is made by simmering meat along with bones for several hours rendering a hearty and delicious base to both soups and sauces. Think of boiling a few chicken legs, thighs or breasts with the bones in. During the long cooking time, gelatin is ultimately created from the collagen being released from connective tissues.  Gelatin is a protein that provides us with vital amino acids that, along with other health benefits, helps to strengthen the mucosal lining of the gut.  A strong mucosal gut lining is one of your bodies most important lines of immune defense.  Also, the glycine from gelatin can help aid your stomach in digestion.  Have acid reflux or indigestion?  Drinking meat stock can help heal your stomach lining and it can even help your body absorb water.  That’s a huge benefit for anyone suffering from bloating or constipation.

Bone broth

Bone broth is truly an ancient practice.  Our ancestors made bone broth as a way to utilize absolutely every aspect of an animal.  It is made in a similar manner to meat stock but with only bones and it is cooked for a much longer period of time (typically 24-36 hours).  Many of the same beneficial amino acids in meat stock are present in bone broth but in higher amounts. Bone broth is also higher in glutamic acid and contains higher levels of minerals.

Which to choose?

As you can see they are very similar in their beneficial properties.  Both have gelatin and amino acids and it may seem like bone broth is the no brainer winner.  More is better right?

Not so fast.

Because bone broth contains higher levels of glutamic acid and glutamate it can prove to be very problematic for some people especially those with leaky gut, autoimmune diseases, ADD/ADHD and Autism spectrum disorder.  Some people can even have seizures because their brains cannot handle the high glutamate levels.  Other symptoms such as brain fog and migraines have also been reported.  As I presented in my Thai Coconut Curry Soup recipe we all react differently to different foods and meat stock and bone broth are no different.

That doesn’t mean bone broth should get a bad rap though.  It is incredibly nutritious and beneficial to your body if you do not react to it.  If you find that you cannot tolerate bone broth you can still reap all of the wonderful benefits from gelatin and amino acid without overloading your body with too much glutamic acid by consuming meat stock.  And it’s just as delicious!

I hope this helps settle any questions you may have the difference between meat stock and bone broth.  Which one do you prefer?