Collagen is this thing many people have heard of that can help keep skin elastic and ward off wrinkles. There was a time this was all I knew about collagen. Little did I know just how important this protein is beyond keeping me looking younger longer. Collagen is one of the most abundant proteins in the body and is found in our skin, hair, nails, muscles, bones, tendons, and even in our organs. It is basically what holds everything together, like glue.
It is made up of non-essential amino acids including proline, glycine, arginine, and glutamine. While our bodies can and do produce these amino acids, as we age our body’s ability to make them as needed slows down. This is why we get wrinkles and aches and pains in our joints as we age. Add in lifestyle factors including a low nutrient, high inflammatory diet, environmental pollution, and stress, this process slows down even quicker. Not good! Luckily we can help our body out and consume collagen from an outside source.
Benefits Of Adding In Collagen
Collagen, in the form of bone broth, is one of the oldest known healing foods, It has been used in traditional medicine for thousands of years! Chicken soup when you’re sick truly does help you feel better faster (when made with bone broth.)
Skin and hair
Collagen makes up around 70% of the protein in our skin. As collagen production slows, our skin will show it first. It will become thinner and lose its elasticity, thus creating wrinkles. Luckily, it appears that consuming gluten can actual reverse this process and decrease wrinkles! A double-blind study saw a 20% reduction in wrinkles after participants collagen in it’s peptide form for 8 weeks. (1)
Just like our skin, our joints will lose moisture, become stiff, less mobile and painful. A double-blind study out of Penn State University performed at 24 week long study to see if adding in collagen hydrolysate would have any effect on joint pain in athletes. They found that those who were treated with the collagen hydrolysate reported less joint pain while at rest, walking, and lifting. (2) It has even been found to be an effective treatment for osteoarthritis and other joint disorders. (3)
It has been found that people who have digestive issues like leaky gut, dysbiosis, or digestive related autoimmune disease, also have lower serum concentrations of collagen in the intestinal lining. Collagen has been found to restore the lining of the intestinal tract and help keep its integrity. (4) Consuming collagen can support a healthy digestive tract.
One amino acid collagen contains is glycine. Glycine is a precursor for glutathione and might improve Phase II detox. Phase II detox is when the liver wants to remove a toxic chemical or drug, and render it less harmful. Glycine is one of the amino acids necessary to help bind to these chemicals, help make it water soluble and then be removed from the body. (5)
How To Get Collagen
Bone broth, collagen protein powder, and collagen peptides are 3 ways to consume this awesome protein.
Bone broth is the most gentle on your digestive tract. I love this form because it is nutrient dense, easy to make, and, again, easiest on the gut. If you have an inflamed intestinal lining, this form will be the least likely to cause stomach upset.
How To Make Bone Broth
- 2 pounds (or more) of bones from a healthy source (either beef, poultry, or fish)
- 2 chicken feet for extra gelatin (optional)
- 1 onion
- 1 entire bulb of garlic, broken apart but cloves do not have to be peeled
- 2 carrots
- 2 stalks of celery
- 2 tablespoons Apple Cider Vinegar
- filtered water
- Optional: 1 bunch of parsley, 1 tablespoon or more of sea salt, 1 teaspoon peppercorns, additional herbs or spices to taste.
- In a large Crockpot or stockpot, place bones in the bottom and cover the bones with filtered water. Add in apple cider vinegar.
- Rough chop vegetables and add to pot. Add in seasonings. Heat on the lowest possible setting for allotted time for the bones you chose:
- Beef broth: 48 hours for crockpot, 12-18 hours for stove top on low
- Chicken or poultry broth: 24 hours for crockpot, 4-8 hours stove top on low
- Fish broth: 8 hours for crockpot, 1-3 hours stove top on low
- Remove all ingredients and toss. Strain broth to remove the stuff floating around and store in glass containers. up to 3 days in the fridge and 3 months in the freezer.
- Drink 1-3 cups per day as a tea and use for cooking.
I highly recommend finding collagen powders that are from humanely raised, pastured sources. Two of my favorite brands are Vital Proteins and Great Lakes. Collagen powder is what is used to make foods like jello. I have also been known to add it to my coffee and soups in the winter. Then there is collagen peptides, which dissolve in cold liquids. I like to add this powder to my green smoothies. The summers in Phoenix are way too hot for broth, so this form is a great option. I use 1 tbsp a day when I use these forms.