Today we are talking about our newest love affair: collagen. No, not stick a needle in your lips collagen, but the stuff that’s actually found within us, that’s part of our bodes and that we can consume. As we get older we lose collagen – it can be a play a huge role in how we age: skin, hair, nails, joint pain and more. But let’s back up a bit – what exactly is collagen? Well, don’t get all grossed out, but it’s a protein found in animal’s (humans too!) connective tissue, bones, hooves, hides…and yes, I’m about to tell you to eat it. Relax, I promise it’s okay.
As many health nuts have heard, making bone broth may just be one of the most nourishing things you can add to your diet. Why? Bone broth is made from bones, bones are filled with collagen, and collagen is the precursor to gelatin. Dietary sources of gelatin have all but disappeared from the modern diet, but not so long ago us humans used to eat a ton of gelatin rich broths, soups and less appetizing things like headcheese and calves feet. Collagen and gelatin are made from amino acids – the building blocks of proteins – but they are different than the amino acids we get from protein of the muscle meat we are so used to eating: chicken, beef, turkey, etc. We evolved eating the WHOLE animal, not just the muscle meat, and overtime it can be inflammatory. Dr. Ray Peat, a researcher in the field of nutrition, describes why excess consumption of muscle meats when consumed without the amino acids present in organ meats, bones, etc. can increase stress hormones and aging (yikes):
“Gelatin is a protein which contains no tryptophan, and only small amounts of cysteine, methionine, and histidine. Using gelatin as a major dietary protein is an easy way to restrict the amino acids that are associated with many of the problems of aging.[…] When only the muscle meats are eaten, the amino acid balance entering our blood stream is the same as that produced by extreme stress, when cortisol excess causes our muscles to be broken down to provide energy and material for repair…” (Read more)
But today I’m not here to tell you to eat head cheese or even to go out and make bone broth (but you should make bone broth, it’s so healthy and delish, but I digress…). Today, as promised, I’m talking about something easy that yields real results. As you now know we produce collagen in our bodies just like animals, but after the age of 25 that level of collagen starts to plummet. Side effects? Well, wrinkles for one…do I have your attention now? I was introduced to the stuff by our very own Anna Decker and we’ve both been taking it for over a month now and well, we’re sold. Let me tell you what this glorious collagen is famous for supporting, and why we want to support levels for the long haul:
- Strong, healthy bones
- Specifically nourishing for troubled digestive systems
- Healthy hair – even promotes nice full eyebrows if you have thin ones
- Strong, rapidly growing nails
- Reduced joint pain and inflammation
- Hormonal support and balancing
- Skin, skin, skin: adds luminosity and plumpness to the skin, decreases fine lines, helps tighten loose skin, rumored to reduce cellulite (and we feel it’s true) – booya. Ladies – this stuff works.
We’re fans of collagen hydrolysate (just remember the green can) in particular because it’s much more easily dissolved in liquids than gelatin (the orange can), and has also been known to be more easily digestible and assimilated, particularly good for those with any digestive issues. Here’s a very helpful article on the difference between collagen hydrolysate and gelatin. Both collagen and gelatin are absolutely wonderful additions to the diet so do a little research and see which works best for you. You can also always create gelatin snacks, check out Wellness Mama’s great post on that very topic.
How do we take it? I take a heaping tablespoon of the collagen hydrolysate in my morning coffee or tea, and then aim to take another one later at night. Great Lakes recommends taking two heaping tablespoons of collagen hydrolysate per day. Here’s to feeling luminous.