What do beautiful skin, thick hair, strong bones, and flexible joints all have in common? The answer is collagen, the most abundant protein in the human body. Pound for pound collagen is stronger than steel, yet it remains flexible and stretchable.
Starting at 21 years of age, collagen production declines at a rate of up to 1 percent per year, and signs of aging can appear on our skin as fine wrinkles starting as young as our late twenties. It is at this point we start looking for supplements to firm up our skin again, and while collagen-boosting protein powders are all the rage right now, there is growing concern over what’s actually in these bone broth powders and whether they’re doing more harm than good.
Collagen is found in the connective tissues of our skin, teeth, hair, nails, organs, joints, bones, muscles, blood vessels, and digestive system. Collagen is made up of the amino acids Glycine, Arginine, Proline, and Hydroxyproline. Our bodies can make collagen from these building blocks plus other supporting nutrients, but collagen is rich in the animal proteins we eat, and our bodies can use this bioavailable collagen as well.
Choose Your Animal Proteins Carefully
The least desirable cuts of meat and bones for soup are some of the most collagen-rich foods available. The gristle that runs through grassfed beef is full of collagen, and the gelatin that comes from cooking bones for an extended period of time is essentially cooked collagen, which our bodies thrive on. Homemade bone broths cooked low and slow for several hours are a superfood for collagen production. However, when it comes to storebought bone broth or bone broth supplement powders, not all have been created equally.
The quality of the meat we eat is important; animals raised in confined feeding operations (CAFOs) contribute to antibiotic resistance and contain antibiotic residues in their meat, and these animals are exposed to poor living conditions while contributing to environmental pollution. In addition, the bones of these animals have been found to contain heavy metals including lead, pesticides, fluoride, and even radiation. Basically, whatever these animals have been fed and exposed to in their environment gets stored in their tissues, especially bone.
Buyer Beware: The Bitter Truth About Bone Broth Powders
When you buy bone broth, unless it’s organic then it’s likely been sourced from animals raised on factory farms. Remember, bone broths are cooked for extended periods of time, so the bones break down and release their nutrients in to the broth – and their contaminants. Bone broth powders are bone broths that are cooked even longer then dehydrated, which concentrates their toxins even more.
The FDA allows shockingly high levels of chemicals and toxins in non-organic products, and recent lab testing done by the non-profit Consumer Wellness Center confirms this. Several bone broth products were tested in their independent laboratory, and the results were alarming. So alarming, in fact, that they were removed from their website and the following statements had to be issued in place of their findings:
“After reviewing consumer feedback about the lab tests, Consumer Wellness Center has learned that many people are misinterpreting these results, and some are taking them out of context… To clarify, these tests were conducted on non-organic products derived from animals, and in that category almost every product on the shelf will likely show trace amounts of antibiotics, insecticides and certain pharmacological drugs…
Although this was stated in the CWC video, at no point did the CWC assert that the products tested were acutely dangerous or running afoul of FDA regulations. The FDA allows astonishing levels of many chemicals in non-organic products, and this is frequently reflected and affirmed in scientific lab testing results.”
If you must buy your bone broth, choose one with at least 95 percent organic ingredients, and when it comes to beef bone broth, make sure it’s grassfed.
Preventing Collagen Loss
If all the concerns around commercial bone broth products leave a bad taste in your mouth, then consider removing the anti-nutrients that damage your collagen, and supplementing with nutrients that strengthen collagen and promote its production.
Lower Your Sugar Intake. Advanced Glycation End Products (AGEs) are formed from blood sugars attaching to proteins, which target collagen, making it, dry, brittle, and weak. The hallmark of this process is dry, crepe-like, sagging skin, which is especially noticeable when hanging down from the upper arms. A high sugar diet speeds up this process, causing the look of premature aging. The best defense is a low carb diet, with only minimal amounts of fruit to limit sugar intake.
Quit smoking. Nicotine constricts the blood vessels in the skin, causing reduced blood flow and delivery of nutrients and oxygen, which damages delicate tissue. Even the chemicals present in secondhand smoke damage both the collagen and elastin proteins in the skin, causing skin to thin, wrinkle, and age.
The Top 5 Collagen-Boosting Nutrients
Beauty is an inside job, and lacking key nutrients for collagen production will make us look older than we really are. Choose restorative nutrients in your diet and nutritional supplements and turn back the clock on aging, both inside and out.
- Grassfed Whey Protein Powder: this sulfur-rich anti-aging protein is one of nature’s most effective foods for boosting collagen production. Not only is this perfect protein necessary for healthy skin, but our non-GMO Fat Flush Whey Protein doesn’t contain the chemicals, antibiotics, pesticides, or heavy metals found in conventional bone broth supplements.
- Vitamin C: in combination with Lysine, Proline, and EGCG (green tea extract) makes your cells like an impenetrable fortress and strengthens the collagen matrix so no intruders – like free radicals – can get through and cause damage. Linus Pauling and Matthias Rath, MD, have researched this powerful combination of nutrients and found it to be effective even in stopping the spread of cancer.
- L-Arginine: as one of the building blocks of collagen, this amino acid is essential for protein synthesis, skin damage repair, and wound healing. In addition to collagen and elastin production, L-Arginine is commonly included in nutritional supplements for increasing nitric oxide production to promote healthy cardiovascular function.
- TMG (trimethylglycine): this heart-healthy, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, potent detoxifier is also a rich source of glycine, one of the main building blocks of collagen. TMG is best known for its energy-boosting effects, but also promotes healthy brain balance and good digestion, and is commonly recommended for those with an MTHFR genetic defect.
- Niacin (Vitamin B3): not only does niacin promote healthy collagen production, it also decreases protein glycation, which is the process that forms AGEs from a high sugar diet. In addition, niacin protects the skin form harmful sunlight radiation and promotes cardiovascular health.
There’s no need to expose ourselves to products like bone broth powders to build healthy collagen, which can increase our toxic load over time. Using homemade bone broths and supplementing with collagen-building nutrients, while avoiding collagen anti-nutrients, we can provide the optimal conditions for the collagen our bodies need to keep connective tissues healthy and strong.