It seems all you hear about on all the leading health sites these days is bone broth and collagen. Celebrities and athletes are endorsing it and bone broth cafes are becoming part of coffee shops in major cities. Dr. Oz, Dr. Axe, Dr. Mercola are all on the bandwagon. Of course, those of us who are members of the Weston Price Foundation have known about all the benefits of bone broth for years!
Let’s start with bone broth. Quite simply it is made from simmering bones for 12-24 hours. Predominantly beef, chicken, and fish are used. Bone broth is rich in nutrients which are typically not a major part of modern diets including key minerals, collagen, gelatin, glucosamine and chondroitin. Thus, it supports a wide range of the body systems including the digestive system; the immune system; joints and muscles; skin, hair, and nails; and our overall metabolism.
Among these nutrients are the glycosaminoglycans (aka GAGs) which include glucosamine, hyaluronic acid, and chondroitin sulfate. Glucosamine supports the integrity of our cartilage providing joint health, flexibility, and comfort. Hyaluronic acid is found in our connective, skin, and neural tissues. This supports healthy aging, cell rejuvenation, and skin firmness. Chondroitin is found in cartilage. It supports joint health and comfort and is needed for a healthy inflammation response. The key minerals found in bone broth include calcium, magnesium, potassium, and phosphorus. These support a variety of functions including circulation, bone density, nerve signaling, heart health, and digestive health.
And then there’s collagen! Collagen is the main structural protein found in our bodies. It forms connective tissue, protects our mucosal lining and acts as a sealant to the gastrointestinal tract. There are 19 amino acids in collagen. It is important to understand that for full digestion of collagen the stomach must be able to reach proper acidity! This is critical to understand! If you are taking acid reflux medications or other acid reducing over the counter products your stomach is not reaching the proper pH to digest proteins and specifically collagen!
The four main amino acids in collagen are: proline, glutamine, glycine, and arginine. Proline supports the integrity of the skin, hair, nails, and gut lining. It is used for tissue repair in the joints and arteries.
Glutamine maintains muscle tissue and supports the gastrointestinal tract lining. It is essential for gut repair. It also plays a role in the methylation process in supporting the synthesis of glutathione.
Glycine is one third of the protein found in collagen. It helps form muscle tissue and is found in the muscles, skin, and other tissue. One of its key roles is to convert glucose into usable energy. It also promotes detoxification and cleansing.
Arginine breaks down nitric oxide which is important for cardiovascular and arterial health. It improves vasodilation – the widening of arteries and the relaxation of muscle cells and blood vessels for better circulation. It helps to repair muscles, heal wounds, and supports proper growth and development.
There are at least 16 types of collagen in the human body. 80-90% of it is Types 1, 2, and 3. Type 1 is the most abundant and strongest in our bodies. It is found in tendons, ligaments, bones, skin, and various organs. It is used to form bones and support wound healing. The best source of Type 1 collagen is beef.
Type 2 collagen is the cartilage within our joints. It is the main collagen of our connective tissues. It supports gut healing and the immune system as well. The best sources of Type 2 collagen are chicken and turkey.
Type 3 collagen is in the extracellular matrix that comprises organs and skin. It provides the elasticity and firmness to the skin, and forms blood vessels and tissue within the heart. The best source of Type 3 collagen is beef.
While collagen is one of the ingredients in bone broth, we are also seeing many companies market collagen separate from bone broth. These are often called collagen peptides. These come from the hide of the cow, the scales of the fish, or the skin and beaks of chicken and turkey.
We are seeing bone broth available in liquid form and powder (dehydrated form) as well. Collagen peptides are only in a powder form. All the powders can be added to a variety of liquids to consume. We are also seeing some companies combine protein powder (generally whey) with collagen or a bone broth protein powder combined with collagen.
It is becoming quite confusing with the vast array of products available in the market. My main piece of advice would be to make sure the products you are consuming come from organic, pastured and grass-fed animals or wild raised fish. Like the meat of the animals, if the animals are not clean neither will their bones or skin and you will be consuming the traces of antibiotics, hormones, pesticides, and fungicides that are toxic to your body.
I am recommending my clients use a mixture of chicken, beef, and fish collagen so they can obtain a nice variety of collagen.
Bernard Rosen, PhD is a Nutrition Consultant and Educator. He works with individuals, groups, and at corporations to create individualized nutrition and wellness programs. His office is in Mequon, WI. To learn more or to schedule an appointment, e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, call (262) 389-9907 or go to www.brwellness.com.