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The Ultimate Bone Broth, Gelatin, and Collagen Protein Guide 2018 (+Reviews)

Mar 17, 2018

Bone broth, collagen, and gelatin, when considered as foods, contain very distinguished proteins. 

You cannot get the benefits of these proteins by consuming any other foods.

In other words, it's impossible to get the benefits of bone broth protein, gelatin, or collagen, by eating fish, eggs, meat, grains, beans, legumes, shellfish, and other foodstuffs.

If you're thinking: "so I've been missing out all these years!?" then you're correct.

Don't worry.

By including some bone broth, collagen, or gelatin in your diet your life will only get better.

We've all made mistakes in managing our health in the past. I have made many mistakes in the past as well. It's not making mistakes that's bad, but it's not correcting the mistakes that should worry you.

The bright side is that including some bone broth, collagen, or gelatin is extremely easy.

You can have life-changing health benefits while saving money.

Really?

Yes...

Here's why...

THE ULTIMATE BONE BROTH, GELATIN, AND COLLAGEN PROTEIN GUIDE (WHY FISH, SHELLFISH, MEAT, AND EGGS ARE INSUFFICIENT FOR YOUR PROTEIN NEEDS)



*Post can contain affiliate links. Read my affiliate, medical, and privacy disclosure for more information.

Author: Bart Wolbers. Bart finished degrees in Physical Therapy (B), Philosophy (BA and MA), Philosophy of Science and Technology (MSc - Cum Laude), and Clinical Health Science (MSc).



Take a look at these people:

They are the Maasai tribe in Africa.

When they kill one of their domesticated animals, or a wild animal, what will they do? 

Will they limit themselves to eating the meat - made of the muscles (and organs) of the animal?

No. 

They use the entire animal. Using the entire animal means using the skin, bones, marrow, cartilage, joints, organs - and more. Not a single useful ingredient is discarded.

Many cultures are the same in using the entire animal. It doesn't matter whether you look at the Maasai in Africa, the native Americans in the US, or Eskimos in Canada. Looking from a historical perspective, all these cultures use(d) the entire animal after the kill, 

In fact, their very survival depended on using the entire animal after a kill.

Why?

Almost all parts of an animal can be used towards some purpose. So if you blatantly discard the bones, skin, and other connective tissue such as tendons, you're throwing away very useful parts. Throwing away useful parts makes survival more difficult.

Animal skin, for example, can be used for clothing, or as a blanket.

But what about the other parts?

You might not know that animals' connective tissues, bones, and joints can be used as food.

This blog post shows you exactly how and why such "leftovers" can be considered food.

In this sense, these traditional cultures are different than our society. These cultures treat connective tissues, bones, and joints very differently.

Our modern society undervalues - and therefore literally discards - many useful parts of animals.

Why?

Most people in modern societies are used to buying chicken fillets, pre-packaged fish, and ground beef in supermarkets.

Modern people only eat muscle meats (and very seldom organ meats).

And to make my claim even stronger: the few food choices probably occurred because people demand simple foods. In turn, most modern supermarket foods you can buy - even animal foods - require minimal preparation.

What's the downside?

Pre-packaged also makes you lose touch with your food.

Therefore, most people don't know that many other parts of animals have health benefits - such as the connective tissue or bones - because they are  disconnected from their food.

They are consequently missing an important dietary ingredient from the animal kingdom.

In this post, I'll explain why you need to consume these foods.

Yes, you need to include bone broth, gelatin, or collagen into your diet. At least: if you want optimal health.

Why?

As much as 25-50% of all total proteins found in animals can be sourced from the connective tissues, joints, skin, and bones.[128; 129] The same is true for you. In your body, the same proteins make up up about 90% of the of your tendons and ligaments, and 60-70% of your skin. 

Eating that specific part of an animal can yield health benefits for the corresponding parts in your own body.

For example, the consumption of non-meat animal proteins can improve your skin, joints, and bones.

People living in modern society are missing out on these benefits.

How can you avoid missing out?

Integrate bone bone broth, gelatin, or collagen into your diet. Which option you choose is of less import. What matters is that you include at least one option.

Because this article is long, I've included a summary at the beginning of this article.

If you just want to understand the basics regarding bone broth, gelatin, and collagen protein, read the summary section. If you want to understand the ins and outs, read the entire article.

In the remainder of the article, I'll explain what bone broth, gelatin, and collagen are, and tell you about their differences. 

You'll get to understand the benefits of consuming this food group, how to use this food group in your diet, and how to make bone broth yourself. I'll also give you tips on how to buy the highest-quality broth, gelatin, and collagen products.

Note: this blog post - like my previous blog posts - contains some nerd sections. These nerd sections contain more advanced explanations. You can skip these nerd sections if you just want to understand the basics about bone broth, gelatin, and collagen.

Ready?

Here we go. The ultimate bone broth, gelatin, and collagen guide...

Table of Contents

1. SUMMARY: BONE BROTH, GELATIN, COLLAGEN

Note: by reading the summary, you'll only understand the bone broth, gelatin, and collagen basics.

Bone broth, gelatin, and collagen are three different - but related - foods. In a sense, these foods together make up their own very unique food group.

Let's first consider how these foods are made:

  • Bone broth is made by simmering animal bones for 2-48 hours, for example, in a pan, slow cooker, or pressure cooker.
  • Gelatin is extracted from the tendons, skin, bones, and ligaments of animals, after a treatment process.
  • Collagen can be seen as a purified extract of gelatin.

The reason you need to consume bone broth, gelatin, and collagen, is because they contain specific "amino acids" that are not found in large quantities in other foods.

You might ask: "what are amino acids?" Amino acids are the basic building blocks of proteins. 

The proteins that you get from bone broth, gelatin, and collagen, are thus very different than the proteins in fish, shellfish, meat, eggs, and dairy. The reason for this difference is that bone broth, gelatin, and collagen contain other amino acids than your regular high-protein foods.

The main the benefits of consuming bone broth, gelatin, and collagen are:

  • improved skin, hair, nail, and bone health
  • better gut health and digestion
  • a stronger immune system
  • may help you cope with many diseases, such as autoimmune disease and obesity
  • deeper sleep and faster recovery from training sessions
  • improved joint functioning and flexibility

If you have to choose between bone broth, gelatin, and collagen, opt for bone broth. 

Bone broth has additional advantages over the other two options. Examples of these benefits are additional benefits for your joints and skin.

This infographic shows you the most important action points:

There it is - a quick summary. 

If you want to know more about these foods, continue reading the full article.

If you just want to know how to make your own bone broth, scroll to section eight of this article. To see what gelatin and collagen products I recommend, go to section nine.

2. INTRODUCTION: WHY YOU NEED BONE BROTH, GELATIN, OR COLLAGEN

What's my story with these foods?

I had been strength training about 10 years. I consumed fatty fish, and my eggs on almost a daily basis.

I ate my vegetables, some fruits, added healthy fats, and had meat.

Little did I know that I was missing a very important protein category in my diet: bone broth, gelatin, or collagen.

As stated in the introduction, this food group makes up as much as 50% of the proteins found in animals.

So, if you're eating meals like this:

And this:

Then you're missing out on an entire important food group...

Don't worry...

I was missing out too.

I needed to add bone broth, gelatin, or collagen to my diet for optimal health.

As you will learn, bone broth, gelatin, and collagen, are really important for improving your gut health, skin quality, joints, and overall well-being.

But let's be real here.

Bone broth, or a gelatin supplement, are never going to make you fundamentally healthy, if more important health-fundamentals are not in order.

Why?

  • Well, if you're not getting exposed to any sunlight during the day, then exposing your eyes and skin to the sun should get you your top priority, instead of adding bone broth to your diet.

  • Alternatively, let's say you're ruining your sleep at night because you're around artificial light from televisions and smartphones. In that case, mitigating the damage of artificial light should assume your priority.

Let's say you're not exposing yourself to the sun, or still getting artificial light into your eyes after sunset. In that case, stop reading this article, and read the linked articles in the paragraphs above first.

Really.

The other articles give you information that is more important for your health.

Let me repeat: adding bone broth, gelatin, or collagen, can never compensate for making more fundamental mistakes in the management of your health.

So, let's return to my story...

What did I notice, after adding the food group treated in this article to my diet?

I mainly noticed improvements in the look of my skin, my flexibility, and general relaxation:

  • In terms of skin quality, I can really see and feel my skin quality become poorer when I run out of this food group. I'm thus always making sure to have some protein from this food group in stock.

  • The improvements in flexibility were really easy to measure for me, as I've been strength training for 15 years. Because of my experience, I notice even small differences in my movement capacity. Adding gelatin to my diet made me more flexible within 1 or 2 weeks.

  • Whenever I drink bone broth, the food really calms me down. Bone broth has now become one of my favorite foods to consume after dinner.

Now that you've heard my story, let's see how you can distinguish between bone broth, gelatin, and collagen.

3. DIFFERENCES BETWEEN BONE BROTH, GELATIN, AND COLLAGEN

The first food, bone broth, is the easiest to understand.

Bone broth is made by simmering animal bones for several hours in a liquid:

What liquid?

Most people use tap water or spring water - while adding some vinegar - to simmer the bones.

You can use different types of animal bones: beef, fish, fowl, pig, and even game. The simmering period takes between two and 48 hours.

But why the big difference in hours?

The simmering period depends mostly on two things. First, the animal type, and secondly, the type of bone that you use. For example, very large cow bones need to simmer much longer than bones from small fish.

What to do when the broth is finished? Drink the broth. 

Or use bone broth within a recipe:

For example, bone broth can act as the basis for soups, or you can use bone broth in a stew.

So: bon appetit.

Secondly, there's gelatin. You might know gelatin as a key ingredient of pudding:

Gelatin is made by a "hydrolyzation" process of animal body parts that are high in certain proteins.[114] These proteins are found in their skin, bones, tendons and joints. Hydrolization simply means that proteins are broken down over time.

Take the example of an animal hide. When producing gelatin, that animal hide is broken down through a chemical process. While that process takes time, eventually you will be able to extract the proteins from that hide.

(before you ask: no, these chemicals do not end up on in your food)

These resulting proteins are "gelatinous", meaning jelly-like or gel-like - which becomes our final product: gelatin.

Nowadays, gelatin is often seen as a mere by-product of leather products and meat. That reputation is unwarranted, however, as gelatin is highly nutritious.

Here you can see how modern society can be problematic: most people don't even know that gelatin exists, or that it is good for them.

Now that you understand how gelatin is created, let's see how gelatin is used as a basis for collagen.

Collagen: the third and last food.

You might have seen collagen as an ingredient on the labels of your beauty products. That's the kind of material I'm talking about here as well. Instead of using collagen on your skin, however, I'm treating collagen as an ingestible food.

Most collagen that's on the market today, is made out of an additional "hydrolization process" of gelatin. In other words, collagen is actually processed gelatin, or gelatin that is broken down further.

That broken down gelatin is often called "hydrolized collagen". To avoid confusion. I will refer to "hydrolized collagen" as "collagen" in the remainder of this article.

Overall, we thus end up with three sources within this protein food group:

  1. Bone broth, made by simmering bones for several hours.
  2. Gelatin, which is broken down from skin, connective tissue, joints, and bones.
  3. Collagen, which is (further) processed gelatin.

There's no hard distinction to be made between gelatin and collagen. In general, however, collagen is seen as a more refined version of gelatin.

Gelatin is often more "rough", granulated, and unrefined, while collagen is more powdery, and pure.

Now that you understand the difference between these foods, let's look at what makes them special.

4. AMINO ACIDS IN BONE BROTH, GELATIN, AND COLLAGEN

Bone broth, gelatin, and collagen, are exceptional because of the proteins that they contain. 

Why?

Because of the specific "amino acids" found in these foods. You can see amino acids as the "building blocks" of proteins. All proteins are made up of different amino acids. 

The reason bone broth, gelatin, and collagen are special, is that they contain amino acids that cannot be found in fish, meat, shellfish, dairy or eggs - at least, not in great quantities.

Your body can form the amino acids found in bone broth, gelatin, and collagen on its own. But the process by which your body produces these amino acids is very "expensive". In other words, converting your body's existing amino acids into the amino acids found in bone broth, gelatin, and collagen, costs a lot of energy.

That conversion is inefficient for your metabolism. As a result, you're better off when your body does not have to produce the amino acids contained in bone broth, gelatin, and collagen in the first place.

Besides costing energy for your metabolism, why should you consume these foods?

Because your body contains a lot of tissues that rely on their amino acids. About 20-40% of your body consists in amino acids that are found in bone broth, gelatin, and collagen.[84-86].

In fact, the amino acids found in bone broth, gelatin, and collagen, are the most abundant in the human body.

If you do not consume enough of these foods, you'll be more likely to be deficient.

Actually, lots of people in modern society are deficient.[47]

But the problem gets worse: if you're diseased, it's even harder for your body to produce the amino acids from this food group.

Many people thus consume too little bone broth, gelatin, and collagen, even though they needs these foods - especially when diseased.



(Nerd section: The most important amino acids - which are contained in large quantities in bone broth, gelatin, and collagen - are:[123]

  1. glycine - makes up the greatest proportion of bone broth, gelatin, and collagen; important for your immune system, and cell stability[122].
  2. proline - takes up the second greatest proportion of bone broth, gelatin, and collagen. Important for your blood vessels, wound healing, antioxidant functions, and joint health.[82]
  3. hydroxyproline - keeps collagen stable.[82]

Some people might consider glutamine a quintessential amino acids within bone broth, gelatin, and collagen. That conclusion is unwarranted, however, as other foods such as eggs and fish contain greater glutamine levels than bone broth, gelatin, and collagen. While glutamine is very important for gut function, I do not think glutamine is responsible for improving gut function within bone broth consumption.[130-136] Other substances, such as glucosamine or gelatin, might be the reason bone broth benefits gut function. 

In the remainder of this article, these amino acids will be treated as the core constituents of bone broth, gelatin, and collagen. I will not treat these amino acids separately).



The bottom line is that you need bone broth, gelatin, and collagen, for the specific proteins they contain.

Why?

Let's explore the benefits of these foods further.

5. SHARED BENEFITS OF BONE BROTH, GELATIN, AND COLLAGEN

Bone broth, collagen, and gelatin have lots of commonalities - in fact, they almost have the same benefits. 

In this section, I'll give you the benefits that bone broth, collagen, and gelatin have in common. In the following section, we'll look at the specific benefits of bone broth, collagen, and gelatin products.

Why consume these foods?

The first benefit of this food group is that they improve gut function.

People who have gut issues also tend to be low on the proteins that are contained in bone broth, gelatin, and collagen.[10; 41; 81; 82] 

Why is that important?

Well, lots of people in modern society have trouble processing the food they eat. Lots of people also have gut problems. Gut issues:

  • Affect 3 to 25% of the world's population[2-5] That's 210 million to 1.75 billion people.
  • Are strongly associated with having poorer overall health[6].
  • Have been connected to autoimmune disease.[155-157]
  • Are tied to obesity.[158-159]
  • Connect to cognitive functioning, mental-well being and cognitive disease.[163]
  • Can compromise your immune system, and may even contribute to cancer formation.[160-162]

Fortunately, the consumption of bone broth, gelatin, and collagen, may help you repair your gut, if you have issues.[75-79]

Let's be very clear here. I'm not saying that bone broth, gelatin, or collagen, will cure your gut issues once and for all.

What I'm saying is that they might be an amazing strategy to aid in the healing of your gut issues. Out of these three foods, most people report that bone broth is the easiest on their stomachs. If you have gut problems, you should try bone broth first.

Let's now look at other benefits that these foods have.

Bone broth, gelatin, and collagen greatly improve your skin condition.[11; 61-72; 80] 

Remember that the proteins found in bone broth, gelatin, and collagen, are found almost everywhere in your body. These proteins are what keep your skin elastic, and your joints supple. 

These proteins become less available during aging, which is one reason why your skin quality goes down over time.[164] These foods can slow or even reverse that process.

Why?

Bone broth, gelatin, and collagen can improve your skin elasticity, reduce wrinkles, enhance hydration, lead to quicker wound healing, and improve the overall look of your skin.

However, the list of benefits of these foods grows much longer.

Bone broth, gelatin, and collagen:

  • decrease inflammation.[14-17; 26; 31] Inflammation lies at the basis of many modern diseases, such as autoimmune disease, heart disease, and problems in your gut.
  • may help treat heart disease.[22; 33-34; 48] For example, these foods may lower high blood pressure levels.
  • improve your immune system.[19-20; 86].
  • help you detox and improve antioxidant levels in your body.[21-24; 28-30].
  • may enhance your liver function.[18; 29-30; 41-43].
  • aid your weight loss.[25; 27; 127].
  • regulate your blood sugar levels.[14; 22; 35-39; 108]. Regulating your blood sugar will not only help you if you have diabetes--as an athlete, for example, regulating blood sugar will help you lose more fat and build more muscle.
  • help you perform under stress.[32] Bone broth, gelatin, and collagen, might even offset some of the effects of sleep deprivation.
  • protect bone density[13], and keep your teeth healthy.[46]
  • this food group might even slow your intoxication on alcohol.[45]
  • make you feel better, combating, for example, feelings of depression.[49-58] 
  • even helps your sleep quality.[59-63]
  • lowers stress hormones.[126]
  • and, finally, protect against sunburn.[74]

As you can conclude, bone broth, gelatin, and collagen, affect many areas of your health.

The long list of benefits should give you an inkling as of why I consider this food group very important.

The list should also tell you why these foods are currently undervalued in our modern society.

Next, let's look at the specific benefits of each of these foods.

6. SPECIFIC BENEFITS OF BONE BROTH, GELATIN, OR COLLAGEN

Instead of considering all the benefits that bone broth, gelatin, and collagen have in common, I'll now tell you about their differences.

Let's first consider bone broth.

Who does not enjoy a cup of bone broth during a cold winter evening?

There's even a saying that bone broth will "resurrect the dead".

Why?

Bone broth is one of the major ways to improve your gut health. 

Remember that if you have issues - such as a leaky gut - then bone broth is your top choice. I've stated before that gut function is very important for preventing disease.

But what other reasons that you have to care about gut health?

You need gut health to absorb the nutrients of the food you consume.[8]

Bone broth can also reduce inflammation.[7] Inflammation lies at the basis of many modern diseases. Inflammation is also a problem in an unhealthy digestive system.

Additionally, bone broth build the stomach lining, and help with bile and acid production. Bone broth is thus great for your digestion. Many people with gut problems report feeling better on bone broth - so can you.



(Nerd section: What are some common gut problems? Bacterial overgrowth in the gut, Celiac disease, Lyme, inflammatory bowel syndrome, or a leaky gut. If you have gut issues, some of the names might sound familiar to you. Try bone broth.



Bone broth also contains other substances that aid your gut health, which are not found in gelatin or collagen.

The first substance is called "glucosamine".

You can forget that difficult name. What's important for you, is that the substance has these benefits:

  1. Help your joints stay supple and healthy, while reducing joint pain.[138-142]
  2. Lower inflammation.[143; 144]
  3. Improves muscle mass gains when you have joint problems.[144]
  4. Builds and protects your cartilage.[145-146]
  5. Makes your skin look great.[147-148]

Next, there's hyaluronic acid, which makes your skin look younger, and may protect your joints.[149-153] 

Ingredients like hyaluronic acid and glucosamine might make the difference between bone broth on the one hand, and gelatin or collagen on the other hand.

Bone broth is thus more of a "whole food" than gelatin or collagen.

You might also begin to see a pattern here: all foods described in this article - and especially bone broth - aid your joints, skin, and overall inflammation levels.

But you might be asking "are there any possible drawbacks to bone broth?" 

Yes:

  1. In theory, bone broth should be the easier on the body - specifically the digestive system - than gelatin and collagen. However, some people report that they tolerate collagen better than bone broth. You have to test what works best for you - bone broth or collagen.
  2. Sometimes, animal bones are contaminated with toxins.[9] Lead and cadmium are examples of such toxins. Make sure to use bones from healthy animals - such as grass-fed cows and pastured chickens - to minimize your risk for ingesting these toxins. The same is true for buying prioritizing organic--if you buy bones that come from cows that eat pesticide-sprayed food, then you'll end up ingesting these pesticides as well.

Any other key insights?

Yes...

Contrary to popular belief, bone broth is not very mineral-rich.[9, 137]

Many people think that bone broth is very rich in phosophorus, calcium or magnesium. However, most minerals in bone broth originate from the vegetables that are added to the broth.



(Nerd section: click here for an excellent detailed analysis of that conclusion.



Overall, bone broth might have possible drawbacks. But if used correctly, the food will have huge advantages for your health.

Let's now look at gelatin's and collagen's specific benefits

Remember from the introduction of this article, that gelatin basically consists in broken down skin, connective tissue, and bone from animals.

However, not much specific scientific research has been carried out on gelatin. We know, for example, that gelatin improves gut function just as bone broth did.[1] 

Fortunately, many of the benefits that are attributable to collagen, can also be conferred upon gelatin.

The reason is that there's a only small difference between gelatin and collagen because collagen is more refined - and thus more "pure" or isolated form of gelatin. What's true of collagen, must therefore also be true for gelatin.

The difference between gelatin and collagen, is that many people are better able to tolerate collagen. 

Depending on your gut health, gelatin is generally harder to digest than collagen.

The upside of gelatin, however, is that it's cheaper than collagen. Because of its affordability - and because I easily digest gelatin - I'm mostly opting for grass-fed gelatin nowadays.

One benefit modern collagen products, however, is that they can be very specifically sourced. 

Remember that bone broth, gelatin, and collagen can be sourced from different parts of the animal. 

There are different collagen types on the market today. Some types of collagen are better for having joint benefits, while other types of collagen yield more skin benefits. More on that later.



(Nerd section: Depending sources distinguish between four and 28 different collagen types[91]. Consider the five most common ones:

  1. Type I; mostly found in the skin, tendons, ligaments, and bones.[90] Supplementing with this collagen form reduces joint pain.[112] Best sources: beef and fish.
  2. Type II; is mainly found in cartilage and joints, as well as the eye.[89] Type II collagen, moreover, has been proven to keep your joints and cartilage healthy.[96-99; 105] This effect is very specific for treating osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. These benefits entail that you will have less joint stiffness, less pain, and perhaps even reduce swelling levels. Chicken bones are especially rich in type II collagen.[116-118]
  3. Type III; located in internal organs, skin, and around bone.[92;93] Found mostly in beef
  4. Type IV; primarily exists in the skin and gut, the eye lens, and around your cells.[94;95] This collagen type may specifically reduce gut problems.[10] Examples of gut issues are inflammatory bowel disease and a leaky gut. Type IV collagen is also beneficial for skin healing.[114]
  5. Type V; supports types I an III; spread throughout the body.[88; 119-120] 

Type I collagen is the most abundant in the human body. You can supplement with different types of collagen - all which seem to have different effects - although more research is needed).



So, what specific benefits does collagen have?

The use of collagen has been scientifically validated for improving skin function.[64-73; 100; 101]

Collagen can also improve your hair quality, increasing hair growth and making your hair less thin.[103; 104] The same is true for nails: brittle nails are reduced, and nail growth is stimulated.

Collagen is thus an excellent overall beauty product - improving your skin, hair, and nail quality.

The best way to use collagen for beauty purposes is to ingest collagen.

Again: do not rely on putting collagen on your skin, if you want optimal results. Collagen is poorly absorbed through your skin. Instead, ingest your collagen.

Does collagen have other benefits besides beauty?

Yes!

Collagen benefits for your bones - specifically increasing bone density, and combating osteoporosis [106; 107; 110; 115]. The food also slows the decline in muscle mass loss when you age.[109]

Keep in mind, however, that you'll need the right nutrients in your diet to optimally use collagen.

Adequate amounts of vitamin C are necessary to create collagen.[125]

An overall diet where you consume high-quality shellfish, fatty fish, red and wild meat, healthy fats (e.g. butter; coconut oil), vegetables and fruits (in season) should give you the means to optimally use collagen.

Now that you've learned everything you need to know about the benefits of these foods, let's look at how you can use them in your diet.

7. HOW TO USE BONE BROTH, GELATIN, AND COLLAGEN

In this section, I'll explain how you can use bone broth, gelatin, and collagen. I'll provide some easy to use recipes so that you can integrate these very essential proteins into your life.

I'm already warning you, however: I'm a terrible cook.

Continue reading to find out why...

If you absolutely do not want to consume bone broth, gelatin, or collagen, then there are some alternatives. Certain meat cuts, such as ox tail, bone marrow, or chicken skins, are higher in the amino acids we're aiming for:

Chicken skin--not a perfect replacement. 

Nevertheless, foods like chicken skin are not processed. Collagen, or bone broth, are processed, and therefore have much higher absorption rates.

Simply put, bone broth, gelatin, and collagen work better because they have been "broken down". Being broken down, they are easily digestible.

How to use bone broth, gelatin, and collagen?

Well, for the best results, simply consume one of these products every day.

If you have any gut issues, remember that bone broth is probably your best option. In that instance, begin consuming one cup of bone broth each day. Work your way up to two or three cups a day, if you tolerate bone broth well.

There are no hard guidelines to bone broth consumption - you have to experiment. 

In general, I would aim to let 20-25% of the protein you ingest on a daily basis come from the bone broth, gelatin, and collagen food group.

To keep my recommendation very simple, let's assume that you're getting most of your protein from eggs, fish, shellfish, and red meat.

In that case, aim to include 1 cup of bone broth, or 1 tablespoon of gelatin or collagen, for every 6 ounces of eggs, fish, shellfish or red meat you consume.

It's that simple...

Let's now take a look at how you can make your own inexpensive (but world-class quality)  bone broth. 

8. MAKE YOUR OWN BONE BROTH

You don't have to be a chef to make your own bone broth. 

Making your own bone broth just slightly more difficult than frying an egg.

Even I can do it. And I'm a terrible cook.

You should thus be able to make bone broth as well. To make bone broth, go through these ten steps:

  1. Get a stainless steel pot, slow cooker, or pressure cooker. 
  2. Put the bones into the container, with water (preferably spring water). Make sure the water fully covers the bones.
  3. Add vinegar to the water (which helps break up the bones). Wait one hour.
  4. Boil the mixture of bones and water.
  5. After the water cooks, lower the heat, and simmer for 2-48 hours. Simmering is the key here. If you cook the bones for long, your broth will be ruined...
  6. Add water - if needed - to keep covering the bones.
  7. When the simmer period is over, allow the bone broth to cool down.
  8. Stain the broth, into a container.
  9. Re-use the bones with the next batch. Bones can be used for 2-3 batches of broth.
  10. Serve!

An optional step is to roast your bones in the oven before starting with step one on 230 degrees Celsius (450F). Roasting the bones for 20-30 minutes will make your bones more flavorful. This step is especially useful in the case of beef bones.

You might be asking: "why let the broth simmer this long?"

Well, there have been studies investigating a shorter versus longer extraction process.

A longer cooking time will make sure that you extract more nutrients, such as gelatin and glucosamine from your broth[9; 154]. There are some guidelines for different animal bones have to simmer:

  • Beef bones: up to 48 hours
  • Chicken bones: up to 24 hours
  • Fish bones: up to 2 hours.

If possible, opt for bones that come from animals that are as young as possible. What's true of you and me, is true of animals as well--the younger you are, the more "gelatinous" proteins our bodies contain.

Sockeye salmon - not only perfect for
nutrition, but their bones produce
the finest broth in the world.

You can guess my favorite option: fish broth. That broth is quick and easy.

Instead of just using the spine and fins of the fish, I often use fish heads as well. By adding the fish heads, you'll extract lots of healthy (omega 3) fatty acids into your broth as well.

When making fish broth, I usually combine all the bones in their body to make broth, while removing their gills.

The fish I buy, already has their guts and liver removed.

(To see how to prepare an entire fish for bone broth, click this link. Once you've removed the meat, the spine, fins, and head should be the only leftovers)

But let's say you're choosing beef or chicken. With these animals, there are two basic types of bones:

  1. Bones coming from the joints. Examples are chicken feet, wings, or tights, or cow knuckles, feet, joints. You can even use cow ears! These bones contain a lot of gelatin.
  2. Bones that have meat attached to them. In beef, they can be ribs, oxtail, shank, or marrow. In chicken, you can include the full skeleton. These bones are less prone to "gel", because they contain less gelatin. If there's meat on the bones, you can leave the meat attached during the simmering process. The meat adds flavor.

Of course, you can use lamb, fowl, or pig bones as well. These animals contains the same basic types of bones.

Combining the two types of bones will give the best effects. If you do not include a lot of bones from joints, your bone broth might not gel.

Gelling mans that the bone broth becomes a gelatinous "pudding" like substance. Without gelling, your broth will remain watery.

What to do when you have completed a large batch of broth?

Well, of course, first drink a cup. You can then refrigerate or freeze the remaining broth. In the refrigerator, broth should stay fresh a couple of days. 

When you remove broth from your fridge after a couple of days, make sure to let the broth cook for a minute or two. Cooking the broth - that remained in your fridge - makes sure that any bacteria or  pathogens are killed.

Then serve.

Instead of just using bones, you may add vegetables to your broth:

What type of vegetables you add, depend a bit on the animal that you're using.

When I was doing my fish broths - from skrei or wild cod - I often used onions, carrots, garlic, and celery. These vegetables are really a "classical" combination.

That combination is great to add to beef broth too.

Make sure you do not buy bone broth in your supermarket. Most store-bought bone broth is of sub-par quality. For example, store bought broth often contains harmful additives. 

However, there are three other reasons to make your own bone broth:

  • First of all, making your own bone broth is very cheap, if you get bones at the butcher.

  • Secondly, you can make large quantities of bone broth in just one sitting - a few liters of broth can last you for weeks. There's no excuse not to include broth into your diet, as you can often get bones for free.

  • Thirdly, making your own broth will lower your overall food costs The more broth you thus consume, the less you'll need other more expensive protein sources (e.g. beef; fish).

By the way, grab my 10 free tips on creating bone broth below:

Next, let me give you a few basic recipes for bone broth, gelatin, and collagen.

(Don't say I didn't warn you: my recipe sectio is underwhelming!)

First, gelatin...

Additive-Free Gelatin Gummy Bear Recipe

Lightly heat orange juice in a pan, and stir a few tablespoons of gelatin into the orange juice. When the gelatin has dissolved, pour the mixture into a mold. 

Store the molds in the freezer for some time. Enjoy!

Beef Ribs With Onions And Bone Broth

Allow 2 pounds of beef ribs to assume room temperature:

Cut the beef into 1,5 inch cubes. Combine the beef with coriander, ginger, pepper, clove, paprika, nutmeg, and high-quality salt:

Heat coconut oil in a pan, and wait until the coconut oil becomes very hot. Then, brown the beef in the pan, until all sides of the beef cubes are seared:

Add beef bone broth, and 2 pounds of quartered onions.

Next, simmer for two hours. Done:

Collagen Coffee:

Is coffee too stimulating for you? Simply add one or two tablespoons of collagen to your coffee, to reduce the stimulatory effect.

The collagen will make sure the coffee is digested more slowly, so that you do not end up with that "jittery" feeling.

Yes, I admit:

This part of the ultimate guide is not so ultimate.

Sometimes, you can't have it all in life. Fortunately, there are great other sources that will aid your imagination for creating recipes:

These options should give you much more leeway.

9. HIGH-QUALITY BONE BROTH, GELATIN, AND COLLAGEN PRODUCTS

Let's say you really can't make your own bone broth. For example, you might be working 70-80 hours a week. In that case, this section is for you. Here, I'll review several bone broth, gelatin, and collagen products.

Gone are the days in 2010, when there were a few bone broth, gelatin and collagen offerings. There are now hundreds of offerings on the market. For that reason, this review section was included - saving you the time to go through hundreds of products.

I've rated bone broth, gelatin, and collagen products.

Regarding each food, I've distinguished between a first-rate product, and a best "bang for your buck" products. Phrased differently, the first is a premium product, and the second is an economy product.

What criteria did I use?

For me, these products should accord to the following criteria:

  1. Organic--or have minimized pesticide use. 
  2. be as fresh as possible, in the case of bone broth.
  3. Sourced from grass-fed or pasture raised animals. So, beef should be 100% grass-fed - chicken should be 100% pasture raised. A lot of companies call their products "grass-fed", when the animal only eats grass during part of their lives. That's why I opt for 100% grass-fed products. In the case of fish, moreover, the product should be sourced from a low-toxin. Fish should also not be farmed.
  4. Be bio-available. For example, collagen should be hydrolyzed.
  5. Additional ingredients should be minimized - and if possible, absent.
  6. Animals should not be fed genetically modified organisms. So, the product should be non-GMO.
  7. Antibiotics and hormone use should be minimized. Antibiotics only to be applied when animals are sick.
  8. No preservatives, gluten, soy, dairy, nuts, wheat, peanuts, or any other additives. While I'm not against dairy, I know dairy is not for everyone. The product recommendation should be applicable for everyone, so dairy is out.
  9. The container should be plastic-free, and especially BPA-free. BPA is a toxin found in many plastics.

I've applied these nine criteria to individual products on the basis of two information sources:

First, I've applied the criteria to the actual product descriptions. Secondly, I've included companies' answers to customers' questions. Sometimes these answers provided new important information.

My methodology is not perfect however.

I made some assumptions.

For example, my methodology does not take into account the fact that product manufacturers could be lying about their production processes. Moreover, I did not lab test any products included in the review.

Nevertheless, the final outcomes were surprising. 

Organic products were not always available. In addition, some very expensive products barely fared better than their inexpensive counterparts. Many companies stated that their products were grass fed, but very few companies offered 100% grass fed products.

In the category of collagen, moreover, multiple companies included more exotic types of collagen, such as type IV or X. But companies never disclosed how much of each specific collagen type was included.

The actual type IV or X makeup of the product might be as low a 1% of their weight.

I therefore decided not include any of the more expensive type IV or X products in my suggestions. 

So, here's the outcome:

Best Bone Broth Product:

Au Bon Pure Bone Broth (16 pounds)

Animal source: you can choose from chicken or beef, which have different collagen types. Opt for chicken if you drink bone broth for joint-care reasons.

Upside: fresh bone broth. Delivered frozen. Organic. No additives. Amazing quality.

Downside: very expensive, especially since you can make your own bone broth inexpensively. The price is $259.00 for one month of broth. No statement as of whether the beef product is 100% grass-fed.

Best "Back For Your Buck" Bone Broth Product:

Bare Bones Beef Bone Broth (2 pounds)

Animal source: beef  (type I and III collagen).

Upside: Organic. 100% grass-fed. Affordable price at $23.54 per pound.

Downside: Non-fresh bone broth. Shelf stable. Plastic container.

Best Gelatin And Best "Back For Your Buck" Gelatin Product:

Aspen Naturals Grass Fed Beef Gelatin Powder
(1,5 pounds)

 

Animal source: beef (type I and III collagen).

Upside: Affordable at $15,25 per pound. 100% grass-fed statement on the package. No additives.

Downside: Non-organic. Plastic container.

(Note: I could not find any high quality organic gelatin products, that function as the best gelatin product).

Best Collagen Product:

Antler Farms Collagen Protein
(1 pound)

Animal source: beef (type I and III collagen).

Upside: the only collagen product which explicitly advertised no chemicals or pesticides use. 100% grass fed.

Downside: Plastic container. High price at $39.99 per pound.

Bang For Your Buck" Collagen Product:

Perfotek Collagen Peptides
(1 pound)

Animal source: beef (type I and III collagen).

Upsides: No fillers. Non-GMO. Very affordable price of $18,99 per pound. 

Downside: not organic. Not explicitly 100% grass fed. Plastic container.

You might be asking: "Bart, do I have to buy bone broth, gelatin, or collagen on the internet?

No.

If possible, you should not even want to buy these foods on the internet.

Getting healthy bones from your butcher is always preferred.

Lastly, how do I personally get these foods?

First, I've got a great butcher here in the Netherlands, who sells bone broth in glass containers for a very affordable price. 

Secondly, there's a great inexpensive gelatin offering here in the Netherlands. The gelatin is sourced from 100% grass fed cows (but not organic). My advantage is that I don't necessarily need collagen, as I do not have gut issues. I'm thus not willing to pay more for collagen, when a more affordable gelatin product does the job for me.

That's it. Those are the two options I use.

So, look around. The best bone broth, gelatin, or collagen options might be sourced from the area you live in.

10. CONCLUSION: YOU NEED EITHER BONE BROTH, GELATIN, OR COLLAGEN

Why should you consume bone broth, gelatin, and collagen?

First of all, you should consume products from this food group because they are great for your health.

Secondly, consuming the entire animal is great for the environment. You'll even save money on other more expensive proteins, such as red meat and fish.

Bone broth, gelatin, and collagen have all-round health benefits. The benefits range from improving your skin, to healing your gut, helping you lose fat, and increasing your energy levels.

Don't miss out on this food group. Include them in your diet.

I don't want to go as far as saying that these foods will change your life. What I will say, is that these foods are another great tool to get you close to optimal health.

Learn to make your own bone broth. 



*Post can contain affiliate links. Read my affiliate, medical, and privacy disclosure for more information.

Author: Bart Wolbers. Bart finished degrees in Physical Therapy (B), Philosophy (BA and MA), Philosophy of Science and Technology (MSc - Cum Laude), and Clinical Health Science (MSc).



For other articles, see:

Cold Thermogenesis: Cold Showers and Ice Baths For Fat-Loss, Energy, Mental Well-Being and Performance

Vitamin K: Why You're Deficient (And What To Do About It)

Why Vitamin D Supplements Are A Poor Choice: Why You Need Sunlight Exposure Instead

The Ultimate Blue Light Filtering Glasses Guide

Mitochondria: Why Your Cells' Functioning - And Not Genetics - Determine Disease

11. FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Can I get my daily proteins needs met with bone broth, gelatin, and collagen?

No.

Why?

Remember that we talked about amino acids in this article. Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins.

Bone broth, gelatin, and collagen, do not contain all the amino acids that you need on a daily basis.

Therefore, you cannot rely on bone broth, gelatin, and collagen, to get your daily protein needs met. You need other high quality food sources - such as fish, shellfish, meat, eggs, or dairy - as well, to get your needs met.

How do bone broth, gelatin, and collagen taste?

Bone broth has a taste that is very close to the animal that the bones were sourced from.

Gelatin has much less of a taste.

For most people, collagen does not have any taste at all - because the end-product is the most pure. So if taste is an important consideration for you, opt for collagen.

Are there any vegetarian or vegan substitutes of bone broth, gelatin, or collagen?

No.

Agar is often claimed to come close to gelatin or collagen, but its protein content is really low (3-5% of dry weight). 

I hear people talking about stock and broth. What are the differences?

These two names are used somewhat interchangeably.

Stock usually refers to simmering bones for 3-4 hours, and broth usually refers to simmering bone for a much longer period (24-48 hours).

Why should I not take whey protein or casein protein instead of bone broth, gelatin, or collagen?

In my article I've talked about amino acids. Whey protein and casein protein contain very different amino acids than bone broth, gelatin, and collagen.

You will thus not get the benefits of bone broth, gelatin, and collagen, by consuming whey and casein powder.

You should literally see these proteins as different food groups. An analogy would be the distinction between fruits and vegetables - these food groups have different properties as well, even though they both stem from the plant kingdom.

Whey and casein on the one hand--and bone broth, gelatin, and collagen on the other hand-- are all protein sources, but foods that nevertheless have very different properties.

 

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