Celebrities, health gurus, and sportspeople are all over social media talking about collagen, the latest supplement sensation. But what exactly is collagen, and should you try it? Here’s the lowdown on everything you need to know about collagen and how you can benefit from it.
What is Collagen?
Collagen is basically the glue that keeps your body together and in good shape. It’s a type of complex protein that is found in your bones, tendons, muscles, skin, and teeth, that provides structural integrity for all your cells and tissues. Collagen is an essential building block that is especially important for skin elasticity, which is why it’s a prominent ingredient in skincare creams.
Your body naturally produces its own collagen until about the age of twenty-five when production starts to decline. Over time, collagen depletion shows up most noticeably as fine lines, wrinkles and sagging skin and muscles. Eventually, as you age, a lack of collagen in your body will lead to joint pain and muscle shrinkage
Things that speed up collagen depletion include:
- Poor diet—including too much sugar
- Sun exposure
Why is Collagen Right for You?
Including collagen in your diet has been shown to have some significant health benefits.
- Collagen may ease joint pain, particularly pain associated with osteo and rheumatoid arthritis. Studies have shown that participants taking collagen supplements experienced a decrease in arthritis symptoms by up to forty percent, with some participants in the study even experiencing remission of rheumatoid arthritis.
- It may also reverse skin aging. Studies conducted in 2014 showed improvement in skin elasticity and significantly reduced wrinkles in the study group of women aged 35 to 50.
- It can help prevent osteoporosis. Collagen is a major component of bones and cartilage. Research indicates that calcium and collagen supplements strengthen bone density and lower the blood levels of other proteins that promote bone breakdown.
As well as these major benefits, boosting your collagen intake can also:
- Strengthen and stimulate growth in your hair and nails
- Promote heart health by strengthening your arteries
- Boost energy
- Increase your levels of good HDL cholesterol
- Improve skin hydration and elasticity
- Increase circulation
- Help build muscle and burn fat
- Improve sleep
What’s the Best Way to Include Collagen in Your Diet?
It’s easy to increase your collagen intake through your diet or with supplements. We buy ours HERE because they have a very high-quality grass-fed collagen powder that is flavorless. Use coupon code REALFOOD and you save 10% off your order too!
Collagen is found in the connective tissue of all animals, so you can easily add more collagen to your diet by eating more meat from chicken through pork, beef, and fish.
The tastiest way to up your collagen is to try bone broth. It’s easy to make at home, or you can buy it as a powder from your grocery or health food store. To make bone broth simply cover bones of your choice with cold water and any flavorings you choose, like onion, garlic, herbs or apple cider vinegar. Simmer gently for 12-24 hours and allow to cool before straining off the bones. You can keep the bone broth in the fridge for five days or freeze for up to twelve months. You can cook bone broth in a regular saucepan or use your Instant Pot, pressure cooker or slow cooker.
You can eat your bone broth as it comes or add it to soups, braises, and stews. I love to use it for cooking rice and quinoa because it adds a ton of savory flavor.
You can also quickly increase your collagen powdered collagen to your food. It will dissolve in any liquid, so you can simply add a spoonful to soups, stews, and broth or even add it to your keto coffee.
Finally, you can take collagen powder as a supplement. You can take capsules or add the powder to smoothies, baked goods, or hot drinks. As the collagen in supplements has already been broken down, it may be absorbed more efficiently by your body than collagen found in foods.
Is There Anyone Who Shouldn’t Take Collagen?
There are currently no known risks of taking collagen. However, if you’re allergic to fish, shellfish, or eggs, you should avoid collagen supplements and make your own bone broth to avoid exposure.
Some people have reported gastrointestinal side effects from taking collagen supplements such as heartburn, fullness, and indigestion. If you frequently have digestive side effects when you add new supplements to your diet, you may want to gradually work up to the recommended dose.
As collagen is derived from animal tissues, it is not suitable for vegetarians or vegans.
As always, if you are immunocompromised, pregnant, breastfeeding, elderly, or suffer any chronic health condition, you should consult your health practitioner before adding supplements to your diet.
Including protein-rich foods such as meat or bone broth will not harm your toddler or small children, but you should seek medical advice before giving powdered collagen or supplements to your child.
Collagen is associated with a range of health benefits, it’s easy to use, and a safe addition to your regular diet. We buy ours HERE because they have a very high-quality grass-fed collagen powder that is flavorless. Use coupon code REALFOOD and you save 10% off your order too!
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