Getting beautiful skin and keeping it that way is all about nourishing and fortifying the fibres in your skin that give it its “bounce” – its tautness and its spring. These fibres are elastin and collagen. Providing nutrients and hydration that pamper and feed these fibres is crucial for skin health. Bone broth, made from gelatinous bones and good, purified water, is a wonderful way to give your skin all the amino acids, electrolytes, proteins, and other healthy, hydrating compounds it needs in one, delicious, steaming, comforting soup-beverage that’s easy to make, easy to freeze, and guarantees you glorious skin.
Let’s talk about how bone broth can help you get the younger looking, healthier-looking skin you crave.
Bone broth: a nutrition powerhouse for skin
The first thing about broth that makes it so healthy for the skin and the entire body is that it is gut-healing and gut-sealing. The gelatine in bone broth helps heal leaky gut syndrome, which is important because gut issues like leaky gut can cause severe issues with nutrient absorption. As Jordan Reasoner notes, “leaky gut can also cause malabsorption and improper digestion, both of which are going to leave you with nutritional deficiencies.”1 Nutritional deficiencies can lead to decreased collagen levels in the skin and, thus, premature ageing.
Several studies have determined that individuals with intestinal and digestive disorders such as leaky gut, Crohn’s, and IBS often have depleted collagen levels.2 Without proper nutrition, we cannot fortify our skin with healthy foods and hydration. So bone broth will help you fully extract all the nutrition out of everything you ingest.
Because it both aids in nutrient absorption and supports your system with a long list of fortifying nutrients that benefit the derma, hair, and nails, bone broth is a food that delivers quick results in giving you strong glossy nails and hair and youthful, dewy, bouncy skin as well.
But beyond just healing the gut, bone broth is full of a rich array of nutrients such as collagen, proline, glycine, and other amino acids that are important for healthy skin.
Collagen and our skin
Today, drugstore aisles have whole sections of “collagen fortifying” vitamins and just about every moisturiser sold today contains collagen as well. But what is this compound, really, and why is it so important for skin?
Collagen is everywhere in the body in the form of tissues. It makes up the tissues of your skin, muscles, blood vessels, your joints, tendons, the lining of your gut, and the membranes that surround your organs. It’s a very important compound and ingesting foods that are rich in collagen/gelatine then, is very good for all our tissues, within and without.
Collagen is the compound that gives our skin its elasticity and also aids in the replacement of old skin cells with new ones. Collagen is like the “gluten” of our skin. Like dough that is kneaded until it forms those elastic, gluey fibres called gluten, our skin is full of fibres called elastin, and collagen strengthens these fibres giving our skin bounce, strength, fullness, and volume. It keeps us from getting jowly, saggy, and from developing hollows in the skin that often accompany ageing.
The problem is that we begin losing collagen as we age and from environmental damage or behavioural factors that damage the skin. Sun exposure, exposure to pollutants and chemicals, a high-sugar diet, smoking—all of these kinds of factors can wreak havoc on collagen production and deplete the levels of collagen in our bodies as well.
Collagen is a compound in the bones of animals. When we heat bones in liquid, this collagen melts out of the bones into what we call “gelatine.” Chefs count on this transformative process for making stocks and gellées that form the basis of different sauces, soups, gravies, bisques, to give grains and pasta flavour as they cook—and you can use bone broth this way too.
Studies have found that supplementing with collagen is associated with improvements in skin barrier functions, increased hydration and reductions in signs of ageing on the skin, including wrinkles, fine lines, and sagging.3
So bone broth is an even healthier way to fully absorb this nourishing compound naturally and without synthetic supplements, that are never absorbed as well as natural food compounds. Bone broth also provides the amino acids needed for collagen production. Getting more collagen/gelatine into the diet is a way we can keep skin firm and full of youth and vitality, then.
Collagen: what the research says
One way we know that collagen is so vital for the health of the skin is because it is so effective and necessary for wound healing. If a supplement can hasten wound healing, then you know it is healing for all the skin by promoting the replacement of old, dead skin cells with new ones. Today, aware of how much collagen aids in wound healing, physicians are packing wound dressings with collagen and collagen fibres to accelerate wound healing and prevent scarring.4
There have been many studies on the benefits of collagen and/or gelatine supplementation for improving both the strength of skin and to help repair skin from sun damage as well.
In one study, one group of mice was exposed to sunlight and another group was exposed to sunlight but received a gelatine supplement. And the study result showed that “mice exposed to the light without the gelatine had a 53% average decrease in the collagen content of their skin, compared to the mice that received no ultraviolet light exposure at all. 5
What’s really amazing is that the mice that received the gelatine supplement were not only completely protected from any sun damage, experiencing no decrease in collagen at all—the mice were given gelatine also experienced the benefit of an “average collagen increase of 17%.”
In a 2008 study of 15 Korean women, aged 40-55 years old, supplementation of 2 grams of collagen flour for 12 weeks led to increased serum collagen in the body and a significant reduction in skin “crack” (wrinkling and lines in the skin).6
And in a much more recent 2014 study, researchers found:
“Supplementation with 50 mL of . . . [c]ollagen on a daily basis for 60 days led to a noticeable reduction in skin dryness, wrinkles, and nasolabial fold depth. In addition, a significant increase in collagen density and skin firmness was observed after 12 weeks. The data from this study suggests that [collagen supplementation] can counteract signs of natural aging.”7
So drinking bone broth is wonderful for getting more collagen into the diet naturally in the form of gelatine.
Any time we can get a compound like collagen/gelatine into the diet naturally, as opposed to synthetically, it is much more easily and readily absorbed by the body and much more effective at conveying its benefits for health.
Bone broth’s powers do not only stop with gelatine. Bone broth is also rich in other compounds essential for collagen production, strengthening and nourishing elastin fibres, and giving us plump beautiful skin in the form of amino acids called proline, glycine, and arginine.
Bone broth: rich in anti-ageing amino acids
In addition to collagen-promoting gelatine, bone broth contains a rich content of three amino acids that are crucial for collagen production and maintaining the integrity of elastin fibres in the skin: proline, glycine, and arginine. Let us tell you how crucial these amino acids are for youthful, healthy skin.
Glycine: we had no idea how important it is to eat more of this – till now
In the past 20 years, we have learned that we need glycine in the diet—daily in fact—if we want to have youthful skin. We did not know this until recently and learned this from studies like this 2009 study “A Weak Link in Metabolism: The Metabolic Capacity for Glycine Biosynthesis Does Not Satisfy the Need for Collagen Synthesis,” which found that glycine supplementation is essential not only for a healthy metabolism but also, for collagen production as well.8
Doug Cook, R.D., explains that at one time we had no idea of dietary glycine’s importance to keeping our skin youthful because:
“…renewal of collagen (and all the tissues it’s found in) was not seen as a cause for concern for two reasons:
collagen turnover/renewal was assumed to happen at a VERY slow rate
glycine was always seen as a non-essential amino acid with the assumption that the body could make all that it needs
With better clinical research over the past 20 years it’s now understood that the body cannot make all of the glycines it needs from serine and that in a perfect world, dietary sources would make up the slack.”9
What’s crucial to understand about the necessity of glycine in the diet is that this can directly lead to ageing of not just the skin, but also the tendons and muscles as well. As Cook continues,
“If the body doesn’t get enough glycine from the diet and/or if the diet is low in total protein, it compensates by slowing down the rate of collagen turnover. This is a problem because collagen, and the tissues rich in collagen, get damaged to some degree (oxidation, advanced glycation end products) over time and if the collagen isn’t getting repaired/rebuilt, the damaged proteins build up in the tissues such as skin, bone, ligaments, blood vessels . . . which can lead to many of the signs and symptoms of ageing; to stay youthful, these tissues need new collagen to be made daily.”
- Doug Cook R.D. -
Bone broth, rich in glycine, can be a healthy way to boost the youthful appearance of the skin, prevent ageing, and promote constant collagen production to fight the signs of ageing.
Proline: another collagen-promoting amino acid in bone broth
L-Proline is crucial for the production and synthesis of collagen – in fact, without proline, we cannot even make collagen! As researchers note,
“L-proline is a non-essential amino acid manufactured mainly from ornithine, glutamine, and glutamate in the liver. Proline is one of the principal amino acids that are needed by the body to build collagen. This is a structural protein required to make elastic fibres found in the skin, bones, ligaments and tendons. Together with lysine and vitamin C, proline is converted into hydroxylysine and hydroxyproline to help form collagen”10
In a recent 2012 study, Murakami et. al. found that supplementation with proline, combined with other amino acids, can elevate collagen production. They found that proline combined with branched chained amino acids (BACCs) and glutamine enhanced collagen synthesis [collagen formation and growth] in animals.11
Proline has been proven to increase collagen synthesis in human fibroblast cells together with its precursors, glutamate, and pyrroline-5-carboxylate2. As researchers note, “by increasing the availability of l-proline it may be possible to slow down the ageing process and enhance skin health.”12
Arginine is also crucial for collagen production.
This amino acid combines with carnitine in the body to form creatine, which stimulates our cells to produce both more collagen and elastin.
Furthermore, creatine can protect the cells from harmful substances by surrounding them with a film of water. This allows the skin to replenish lost moisture.
The importance of arginine for the formation of collagen, then, is important. In their article “Amino Acids and Their Significance for Anti-Ageing” researchers note that by enhancing the production of creatine, arginine “stimulates endogenous collagen production” and helps the skin retain “more moisture, become thicker and have a smooth, fresh and wrinkle-free appearance.” 13
As you can see, bone broth is a treasure trove of all kinds of essentials for maintaining youthful skin. Rich in amino acids, gelatine, collagen, and other collagen and elastin-promoting compounds, bone broth is an essential food source to integrate into any diet for individuals wanting beautiful, youthful skin.
Why not take a look at our delicious recipe for a nourishing buckwheat and bone broth soup for radiant skin.
References and Sources
- Reasoner, J. “Leaky gut syndrome in plain English – and how to fix it. SCD Lifestyle. [blog].http://scdlifestyle.com/2010/03/the-scd-diet-and-leaky-gut-syndrome/
- Koutroubakis, I.E., et. al. (2003). Serum laminin and collagen IV in inflammatory bowel disease. Journal of clinical Pathology. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14600124
- Asserin, J., et. al. (2015). The effect of oral collagen peptide supplementation on skin moisture and the dermal collagen network: evidence from an ex vivo model and randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trials. Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology. 14(4):291-301. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26362110
- Advanced Tissue. (2014). Advantages of using collagen in wound care. https://www.advancedtissue.com/advantages-using-collagen-wound-care/
- Pyun, Hee-Bong, et. al. (2012). Effects of collagen tripeptide supplement on photoageing and epidermal skin barrier in uvb-exposed hairless mice. Preventative Nutritional Food Science. 17(4): 245–253. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3866733/
- Han, C. H., and S. M. Kang. (2008). The effect of collagen supplementation from pork skin on serum collagen, serum sex steroid hormone, serum lipid and skin crack in korean middle-aged women. Korean Journal of Community Nutrition. 13(6): 912-921 https://koreamed.org/SearchBasic.php?RID=0106KJCN/2008.13.6.912&DT=1
- Borumand, M. and S. Sibilla. (2014). Daily consumption of the collagen supplement pure gold collagen® reduces visible signs of ageing. Clinical Intervention on Ageing. 9: 1747–1758. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4206255/
- Meléndez-Hevia, E. et. al. A weak link in metabolism: the metabolic capacity for glycine biosynthesis does not satisfy the need for collagen synthesis. Journal of Bioscience. 34(6):853-72. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20093739
- Cook, D., R.D. Glycine. ‘anti-ageing’ clout from this humble amino acid? https://www.dougcookrd.com/2016/01/glycine-anti-ageing-clout-from-this-humble-amino-acid/
- Aminoacids.org. L-proline. http://aminoacidstudies.org/l-proline/
- Murakami, H. (2012). Importance of amino acid composition to improve skin collagen protein synthesis rates in UV-irradiated mice. Amino Acids. 42(6): 2481–2489. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3351609/
- Aminoacidsstudies.com. Amino acids and their significance for anti-ageing. http://www.aminoacid-studies.com/areas-of-use/anti-ageing.html