Arbonne

After an overwhelming amount of requests to review Arbonne, I’ve finally done it. I wanted to like Arbonne, which is why I think it took me so long to look at the ingredients. Their branding lends to the idea that they truly are “all natural” – a term that has all but lost its meaning. And it’s just that – branding. Not reality. It isn’t the truth and it’s not very transparent.

I want people who are using or selling these products to truly know what’s in them. I want them to know about the less than healthy ingredients. Most people who are introduced to these things just aren’t aware. They don’t know that pea protein is a subpar protein source, they don’t know that rice syrup contains arsenic, they don’t know that sunflower oil is highly inflammatory. I do these reviews because I want to educate people on what they’re putting into their bodies. It may be marketed as healthy, but let’s take a look at the ingredients so you can actually get an unbiased review of Arbonne.

Vanilla Protein Shake Ingredients:

Arbonne Protein Matrix Blend (pea protein isolate, cranberry protein, rice protein), sugar cane, sunflower oil, natural vanilla flavor, corn starch, inulin, xanthan gum, flax seed, stevia leaf extract, gum acacia, guar gum.

Chocolate Protein Shake Ingredients:

Arbonne Protein Matrix Blend (pea protein isolate, cranberry protein, rice protein), sugar cane, cocoa powder, natural chocolate flavor, sunflower oil, corn starch, inulin, xanthan gum, stevia leaf extract, flax seed, gum acacia, guar gum.

Chocolate Nutrition Bar Ingredients:

brown rice syrup, brown rice protein, pumpkin seeds, water, crisp rice (rice flour, sugar, salt, calcium carbonate), pea protein isolate, alkalized cocoa, chicory fiber, oats, dates, cocoa butter, glycerin, natural flavors, quinoa, sunflower lecithin, sea salt.

Chocolate Protein Ready To Drink Shake:

water, Arbonne Protein Matrix (pea protein isolate, cranberry protein, rice protein), sugar cane, natural chocolate avor, sunflower oil, cocoa powder, corn starch, inulin, cellulose gum and gel, locust bean gum, calcium carbonate, sodium chloride, potassium citrate, sodium citrate, magnesium oxide, ax seed, stevia extract, ascorbic acid, coenzyme Q10, alfalfa, kelp, ginseng, d-alpha tocopherol acetate, sodium selenate, biotin, niacinamide, retinyl palmitate, d-calcium pantothenate, potassium iodide, zinc oxide, copper gluconate, manganese sulfate, folic acid, ergocalciferol, pyridoxine hydrochloride, ribo avin, thiamine hydrochloride, sodium molybdate, cyanocobalamin (vitamin B12), chromium chloride.

GMOs

I just got off the phone with Arbonne customer service. It took quite a while to get an actual human on the phone.

“Hi! Are Arbonne products certified GMO free?”

The woman, who was very nice, clearly had no idea what I was talking about. She asked which products I was looking at at. I told her I was wondering if all of them were GMO free.

“Are you looking at the 30 day supply?”

“No, I just want to know if all of the products are certified GMO free. Like the ready to drink chocolate shake. It has corn in it. Is the corn GMO free?”

It tuns out she was pulling up the page to that particular product.

“It’s vegan, soy-free, gluten-free and all natural.”

I waited. After it was clear she wasn’t going to say anything else, I asked again. Is it GMO free?

At this point I was put on hold for a bit.

She came back and said “Our products are GMO free.”

To which I asked “Great! Are they certified GMO free?”

“I don’t know.”

So in short, I’m not buying that these products are actually genetically modified free. If they were, this information would be readily available on their website. This is something they would actively promote, because it’s a huge selling point. I couldn’t find the GMO free certification anywhere on their website. And if customer service doesn’t even know what I’m talking about when I ask that question…that’s not a good sign.

Folic Acid

Folic acid is the synthetic form of folate that is naturally found in food. This is a huge problem. Folate is a naturally occurring water soluble B vitamin. Folic acid, however, is a synthesized form of folate that the body is unable to properly absorb or utilize.

In fact, folic acid supplementation has even been linked to cancer.

“…in the Journal of the American Medical Association — suggesting that all the extra folic acid might increase your odds of developing cancer. “The more we learn about folic acid, the more it’s clear that giving it to everyone has very real risks,” says folic acid researcher David Smith, PhD, a professor of pharmacology at the University of Oxford in England.”

Another study out of Chile linked folic acid supplementation with an increased risk of colon cancer.

And yet another study out of Norway linked folic acid supplementation with a 21% increase in lung caner.

“Folic acid and B12 supplementation was associated with a 21% increased risk for cancer, a 38% increased risk for dying from the disease, and an 18% increase in deaths from all causes.”

While folate is a necessary part of a balanced diet, folic acid has actually been linked to increased rates of cancer (another source for ya).

Pea Protein and Rice Protein

First, let’s consider how protein rich peas and rice are…or aren’t. 100 grams of peas contains 5.4 grams of protein. 100 grams of rice contains 2.8 grams of protein.  100 grams of whey contains 78.13 grams of protein. Of course, we’re talking average here. This isn’t exact. But even so, whey is clearly the higher source of protein.

Not only that, but pea protein is lacking in amino acids, namely cysteine and methionine. This makes it a poor protein source. Rice in general (but specifically as a protein source) is difficult to digest, particularly brown rice. It’s also high in phytic acid, which prevents the absorption of minerals like zinc, iron, magnesium, etc.

Natural Vanilla Flavor

I take issue with anything listed as “natural flavors.” Because chances are, it’s not all that natural. Hell, even monosodium glutamate (MSG) can be masquerading as a natural flavor. The labeling is loosely regulated. In Food Rules: A Doctor’s Guide To Healthy Eating, Dr. Shanahan discusses a study in which 95% of ingredients listed as “natural flavor” contained MSG.

As for “natural” vanilla flavor, it could even be secretions from a beaver’s butt. Beavers secrete castoreum, which smells and tastes remarkably similar to vanilla.

Castoreum is a chemical compound that mostly comes from a beaver’s castor sacs, which are located between the pelvis and the base of the tail. Because of its close proximity to the anal glands, castoreum is often a combination of castor gland secretions, anal gland secretions, and urine…Still concerned you’re chowing down on beaver-bum goop? Because of its FDA label, in some cases, manufacturers don’t have to list castoreum on the ingredient list and may instead refer to it as “natural flavoring.” Yum. Source

I’m not saying Arbonne definitely uses beaver butts in their products, but without transparency and truth in labeling, we can’t be entirely sure.

Corn Starch

Corn starch is a processed food additive usually derived from genetically modified corn. Corn starch is a highly processed carbohydrate, it contains no nutritional value and packs roughly 7 grams of carbohydrate per tablespoon.

It can also be aggravating to the digestive tract, particularly if you’re consuming corn starch on a regular basis. Overall, I’m most concerned with the possibility that the corn is genetically modified. Read more about the detriments of genetically modified corn here and here.

Brown Rice Syrup

When consuming sweeteners, I prefer to opt for healthy versions with nutritional benefits, like raw honey. Brown rice syrup, however, has no nutritional benefits. It’s also high on the glycemic index, meaning it can raise your blood sugar rapidly.

One study even found that products sweetened with rice syrup had twenty to thirty times the amount of arsenic than those not sweetened with rice syrup.

Sunflower Oil

While not as bad as corn, canola or soy oils, sunflower oil still isn’t my favorite. Consumed once in a while is fine, but daily in a protein shake or snack bar? That’s when this seemingly innocuous oil becomes an issue. Sunflower oil is extremely inflammatory. We know that there needs to be a proper balance of omega-3 to omega-6 fats. An abundance of omega-6 fats lead to inflammation (which has been linked to everything from cancer to heart disease).

It’s difficult to determine what kind of sunflower oil Arbonne is using exactly, but let’s assume it’s similar to this. The omega-3 content would be around 27mg and the omega-6 content 5374mg per tablespoon! That’s an incredibly inflammatory oil.

And quickly, I want to address Arbonne’s Green Balance product. Is it a healthy product? Yes. It has some great ingredients, excluding the quinoa which has naturally occurring phytates, which bind to minerals and prevent them from being absorbed. What I can’t stand is the $50 price tag for one month’s supply. Who can afford that? And why should they? There are even healthier options for cheaper. For example, I use the Garden of Life raw + organic green superfood powder, which is about the same price for two months!

In conclusion, I’ve definitely seen worse products. But I’ve also seen a lot better. The reason I do these reviews is because I want people to know what they’re buying and eating. I want them to know the science behind the ingredients. I want to help people. I want them to know what they’re spending their hard earned money on.

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19 responses on “An Unbiased Review of Arbonne

    1. dani stout Post author

      Please reference the studies I cited. Also the WHO has recently labeled glyphosate and a probable carcinogen.

  1. Brieanne

    I have so many issues with this… but my greatest issue is how much of this is based on assumptions and opinions. I’m not sure how you can call that “unbiased”, especially when you compare specific products against the ones you use, that you already believe are superior. You addressed pea protein and basically called it subpar, comparing it to whey protein and noting a lack of amino acids. The thing is that you didn’t even give the cranberry protein a nod, which has a full amino acid profile and is combined with the pea powder. Also, you compared it to whey protein, which is a common allergen, not to mention has a full array of digestive issues associated with it from bloating to nausea and everything in between, whereas the proteins used in the Arbonne nutrition products are not.

    Arbonne products have to pass the standards for the EU, as their ingredients are not modified from one country to another, so whatever is banned there, is not permitted to be used in Arbonne products here, either, and that would include anything GMO.

    As for associating the flavoring with Beaver gland secretions, especially without any facts to back it up, definitely doesn’t show an unbiased opinion or a responsible review. Just saying.

    1. dani stout Post author

      I linked to several studies and different publications.

      Cranberries have an even worse amino acid profile than peas. If someone has an allergy to whey, they can consume a variety of different proteins that actually contain complete amino acids – eggs, chicken, beef, etc.

      Then shouldn’t their products be certified GMO-free? Wouldn’t that be a selling point?

      Can you prove or definitively say that the “natural flavors” are not beaver butt secretions? Or that they don’t contain MSG? Because like the book I linked to says, roughly 95% of ingredients listed as natural flavors contain MSG. That’s not something I, or anyone, should gamble with.

  2. shirley

    OMG, this is so freaking dumb. You are biased completely here. Whey protein better than Pea and Rice, wow. Arbonne is Certified Vegan and use no animal products or by-products or do animal testing. Someone slap her.

    1. dani stout Post author

      Did I say they aren’t vegan or that they do animal testing? Was that ever one of my points? No. Just because something is vegan, doesn’t mean it’s healthy. Whey protein is a much better protein than pea and rice, as I stated, because pea and rice lack specific amino acids. Someone get a clue.

  3. BI

    “As for “natural” vanilla flavor, it could even be secretions from a beaver’s butt. Beavers secrete castoreum, which smells and tastes remarkably similar to vanilla.”
    Considering that Arbonne just received Kosher certification and beavers are not Kosher, this does not seem to be an “unbiased” idea.

  4. M

    Funny how all the people who have responded are backing Arbonne!! Saying Dani is biased yet they are as well!! Go Dani finally someone with some intelligence reviews rubbish products like Arbonne.

  5. Trudy K

    I think you really did an excellent job on this. I used to sell Arbonne. I can tell you, it can be like a religion. I did it for three years, been to the conventions and all. They are true believers. Don’t confuse them with the fact. 😉

    I appreciate your links to science and research. NON GMO , Certified IS a big deal. You are exactly correct. Were it to be certified GMO believe Arbonne marketing is saavy enough to jump all over that and tout it.

    I think their beauty products are…meh….as well, except for the day/night creme which really did help a friend’s ecema and rosacea on her face, did clear it. Everything else is overpriced and not natural.

  6. healedgirl

    I am not biased, have never tried their products. A coworker gave me some of their vegan protein powder to try b/c the one I am using is chalky. After reading the ingredients I will not be consuming this product. Even I know, (not an expert, just someone trying to heal herself”, “natural flavors” is a red flag. What I am finding is it is hard to find anything pre made & convenient, that is healthy. I would rather add organic, pasture raised raw eggs in my protein shake, than this product. Thanks but no thanks!

  7. Leila

    I enjoyed reading this. I got the Arbonne 30 day kit and once I started the protein shakes I’ve been bloated, gassy, sick to my stomach and realizing I just wasted $375! I’m so mad at myself. I should have just trusted myself to go back to eating real food because a powder in a bag isn’t real food. Some people love it – but you’re allowed to hate it too.

    1. Mary

      Leila, I just wasted my money as well. So wish I had seen this article before. I recently reviewed my 30 kit and my first shake left me gagging to the point I was almost sick and left me nauseous for the entire day. I agree with you powder in a bad isn’t food. I should have just started with healthy meal planning.

  8. Sonja

    Thank you for educating. Many times people need to hear things repeatedly, from several sources and in different ways for awakening to happen. It’s not easy to be a voice of truth and I wanted to home in and say I appreciate you!

  9. Arbonne Consultants Son

    My mother has sold Arbonne for 25+ years. She has yet to reach that level to get the Benz. LOL. Always seems out of her reach but I truly think this is more her laziness. I think being a “consultant” typically fails for most people as it is the same old system of exploiting all of your family and friends in order to build a business. Anyways. I am a 5 year cancer survivor. I used the nutritional products throughout my treatment and healing. Seeing as I was 110% unhealthy prior to this, of course my body responded well. But as My wife and I try to get ever healthier and as I do more and more research I find it increasingly difficult to support this product. Everything is so expensive. I really believed in this product when I was younger and much more naive. Now that I have a clue, I have contacted Arbonne and my mother and HER BOSS even.. and consistently am left without answers. The “sleep well” spray contains Valerian Root, which can trigger episodes for those with P.A.W.S. and who have anxiety issues and have come off a long term regime of benzos. When asking if they would consider making a sleep spray without it, I got a generic reply, automatic even. When asking why they are not certified organic or at least labeling what if anything in their product is organic, again met with an almost scary response.. from my mother, an almost cult like defensiveness, and again, from corporate, nothing but endless automated responses on top of pitiful excuses. I am glad I found your article. After asking why I would by their “digestion plus” over Infowars “Biome Defense” and being ignored, I was already near leaving this product for good. After this article I am sure of it. No one responding will ever dare tackle the very practical question you presented. WHY WOULDN’T A COMPANY LABEL NON-GMO or ORGANIC? Such a selling point. The ONLY answer is that they are NOT. Until this changes, GOODBYE ARBONNE!

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