What do wrinkles, sagging skin, weak bones, achy joints all have in common? They can all be attributed to loss of collagen due to aging. Collagen is the most abundant type of protein in the body consisting of amino acids glycine, proline, hydroxyproline and alanine. It makes up our connective tissue, providing the structure for skin, tendons, joint cartilage, organs, and other parts.
Collagen And It’s Many Uses In The Body
Collagen forms cartilage, the protective tissue that cushions and eliminates friction in your joints, including the knees and space between each vertebra that protects the spinal cord. Breakdown of cartilage causes friction, swelling and pain in the joint space, eventually leading to osteoarthritis.
Skin and Hair
Collagen keeps skin firm and supple. Due to aging and UV damage to the skin, collagen breaks down and results in loose skin, wrinkles and loss of elasticity. Our bodies produce collagen in the underlying layer of skin, the dermis. Think of it as a mattress and our outer skin, the epidermis, as bed sheets. When collagen starts to break down, we end up with an old, saggy “mattress” that wrinkles the sheets which lay above it. For hair, collagen provides the building block for healthy, strong hair strands that resist falling out.
Healthy Bones and Bloods Vessels
Collagen provides the framework from which minerals like calcium can adhere to in order to form bone structure. Proline, the main amino acid found in collagen improves cardiovascular health by preventing arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) since it helps the arteries stay clear of dangerous plaque buildup.
A condition whereby the lining of the small intestines becomes damaged and porous, thus allowing large, undigested molecules to pass through. This triggers an immune reaction which is linked to conditions such as ADHD, food allergies, eczema and rheumatoid arthritis. Glutamine in collagen heals damaged cell walls, reversing Leaky Gut Syndrome.
Fights Fatigue And Promotes Restful Sleep
Glycine, one of the amino acids found in collagen, not only has a calming effect, but it also improves sleep quality and make you feel more rested even on the same amount of sleep.
Probably the most convenient way to benefit from collagen is to take a supplement which comes in capsules or powder form. In its natural state, collagen is composed of large molecules. In supplement form, the collagen is “hydrolyzed” –broken down into short chain amino acids, called peptides, for better absorption. Studies have shown that collagen peptides are well absorbed in the digestive system and make their way to targeted tissues, where they act as building blocks for our body’s own production of collagen.
Collagen supplements from organic, pasture-raised beef or sustainable, wild-caught marine sources are especially popular. Many collagen blends supply enough protein to be used in place of your regular protein powder. I recommend these brands of quality collagen supplements: Naka Pro Collagen Extra Strength (with vitamin C and Hyaluronic acid), Lorna Vanderhaeghe Active Collagen, Organika Enhanced Collagen, Genuine Health Clean Collagen.
Although the origin of collagen from animal skin, bones and cartilage sounds unappetizing, the collagen powder blends are surprisingly easy to swallow. They usually come in either capsule forms (which you don’t taste at all) or in an odourless and tasteless quick-dissolve powder. Some powders are flavoured naturally with fruit flavour, raspberry, for example.
Collagen Type 1 & 3, Collagen Type 2
Collagen types contain different proteins which serve separate purposes within the body. Types 1 & 3 can be taken together and may support skin, muscles, bone health, and hair and nail growth and maintenance. Type 2 collagen supplements makes up the fluids and function in the cartilage and joints, and so can be beneficial for osteoarthritis.
How To Use Collagen Powder
- Simply add to water and drink it!
- Add to chicken soup for an instant “bone broth”.
- Add to baking dishes, muffins, bars or pancakes to increase protein intake.
- Get skin-glowing benefits from your Bullet Proof Coffee by adding a tbsp. of unflavoured collagen powder.
- Repair skin damage and reverse aging by combining 1tbsp. collagen powder with antioxidant rich fruits such as ½ cup cherries , ½ cup pomegranate seeds or ¼ cup POM Juice with your blender protein powder smoothie.
– Take several tbsps. of collagen powder pre- and post-workout.
- Create a chia coconut collagen pudding – blend 2 cups coconut milk with 1 scoop of collagen powder in a blender for 1 minute. Stir in a pinch of cinnamon, then add ½ cup chia seeds and let soak for at least 30 minutes to overnight. Add sweetener, a dash of maple syrup or honey, and fresh fruits if desired.
Many cultures of the world have their own version of bone broth – a collagen and mineral-rich pot of liquid nutrition made by slowly simmering bones from cow, fish or chicken for hours until the bones literally dissolve and release their nutrients into the savoury liquid.
Two major drawbacks of experiencing the benefits of bone broth is the time to make it at home and the expense to buy it prepackaged.
Luckily, bone broth powder (made from dehydrated bone broth) is available at the health food store.
Organika Bone Broth Protein Powder made from chicken bones, packs gut-friendly and Paleo-diet friendly protein, collagen, glucosamine, hyaluronic acid and key electrolyte minerals to support the health of your gut, joints, muscles, skin and healthy detoxification. With 15 g of protein, it is an ideal protein source for those sensitive to dairy, grains, eggs, beef, nuts and legumes.
Mix bone broth powder into hot water and drink it on it’s own or use as a base for soups, stews and sauces.
Although available at a premium cost, for your convenience, you can also buy freshly made bone broth in jars at Impact Kitchen, or frozen in McEwan, Pusateris, or Whole Foods. In the Toronto downtown PATH, Soup Nutsy serves freshly-made bone broth in ready-to-serve cups or in mason jars for take away.
Nourish your skin from within with a diet rich in beauty-supportive nutrients:
Some of the best skinfood nutrients:
Pomegranates are rich in polyphenol antioxidants and ellagic acid, both of which can help prevent free radical damage from sun exposure and aging. Other good sources are strawberries, raspberries, black berries, walnuts and pecans.
Pumpkin seeds are high in copper, a mineral that helps develop collagen and elastin to keep skin strong, supple and firm. Copper also promotes production of hyaluronic acid, a fluid that makes skin look fuller and plumper.
Green tea contains a compound called epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), a powerful antioxidant that protects the skin from aging and skin cancers and may repair existing damage, especially if applied topically.
Seaweed is rich in compounds called fucoxanthins, which protect the skin from cellular damage and wrinkle formation, and may prevent sun-induced skin cancer. Seaweed is rich in minerals that encourage hair growth.
Almonds are a rich source of biotin, a B-complex vitamin that helps prevent hair loss and keeps hair shiny and strong. Sweet potatoes, eggs, onions, oats, and tomatoes are good sources of biotin.