What’s the Deal with Collagen?
I’m sure you’ve been hearing a lot about the wonders of collagen, especially in regards to skin health. It seems like collagen is suggested as a beautifying aid everywhere these days. But what exactly is it and do you really need it? I’m going to discuss my experience, what collagen is, how you use it and how it can benefit our bodies both inside and out.
What is Collagen?
Collagen is the most abundant protein in your body. It is composed of the individual amino acids Glycine, Proline, Hydroxyproline and Arginine.
It’s found in muscles, bones, skin, blood vessels, digestive system and tendons. It is what is responsible for giving skin elasticity, hair its strength, and connective tissue its ability to hold everything in place. In fact, the collagen protein makes up 30% of the total protein in the body, and 70% of the protein in the skin! It’s what helps give our skin strength and elasticity, along with replacing dead skin cells.
What are some of the health benefits?
Improves digestion: The biggest digestive benefit of consuming more collagen is that it helps form connective tissue and therefore “seals and heals” the protective lining of the gastrointestinal tract. Collagen soothes and heals the digestive tract and helps repair the mucous lining. It also helps break down the protein and fat from foods, making them easier for the body to digest
Improves Health of Skin and Hair: As we age, collagen production declines. Increasing collagen levels can help your skin look firmer, increase smoothness, and help your skin cells keep renewing and repairing normally
Reduces Joint Pains and Degeneration: Taking collagen helps improve joint comfort and kick unpleasant symptoms like pain and stiffness. This is great for runners, athletes and those who work out intensely.
The benefits of collagen for your hormones
Collagen can be very helpful when it comes to regulating hormones. According to Alisa Vitti (Author of the best selling book Women Code )
Collagen is a great source of amino acids (arginine, glutamine, glycine and proline). We need amino acids to produce healthy levels of hormones.
The amino acid glycine is liver-supportive, helping your liver function to process and eliminate pesticides, xenoestrogens, and other avoidable and unavoidable toxins from the environment, food, and products we use.
Collagen supports healthy thyroid function and offsets cortisol (stress hormone) imbalance.
As someone who has suffered from digestive issues most of my adult life, I have found that consuming collagen (almost everyday) for the past year has improved my digestion significantly. I have also found my nails and hair to be much stronger.
How do you use collagen?
Hydrolyzed Collagen powder
Collagen Powder comes in either a dissolves easily both in cold drinks and hot drinks. You can add it to soups, oatmeal, baked goods, smoothies, coffee, teas or water. Everyday I add it to my coffee or tea usually with a healthy fat. I have found that it dissolves best in hot liquids but it also blends very well into smoothies. Collagen adds about 20 grams of protein and is tasteless. Find my matcha recipe here
Everyone is different and what works for one person may not work for another. If you choose to buy a collagen protein powder, I would recommend looking for grass-fed, organic, hormone-free beef collagen. If bovine collagen doesn’t sound appealing and for those with dietary restrictions, marine collagen might be for you.
Bone broth is made by simmering bones to help extract the flavor and beneficial nutrients. Not only is it an excellent source of collagen, but it’s also tasty and easy to add to your diet by using it to make soups and stews. Perfect for these upcoming colder months. You can make bone broth at home or save time by purchasing it in powder form. This can be intimidating to some (I was a little freakout at first) In this case collagen powder might be best for you.
What if I’m Vegetarian?
Unfortunately for my vegan and vegetarian friends collagen supplements and bone broth are animal based. However, there are many plant-based sources of collagen boosting amino acids glycine and proline.
Sources of glycine:
Sources of proline:
Here is a great article regarding Vegan and Vegetarian Alternatives to Collagen Supplements
Brands That I recommend: