Nutrition is a science; but it’s a dynamic science. Things are constantly changing as experts learn about new foods, or about how old foods affect the body in ways that we may not have previously known about. As a result of this constantly changing nature of nutrition, it may seem like the spotlight is always pointed on a new “superfood”, and really, it is; but that’s a good thing. It gives us the power to choose foods that support our body and our health and that’s the most important thing you can do. Recently, the spotlight has been on collagen and we’ve been getting a lot of questions on it: What is it? What are the health benefits? How can I incorporate it into my diet?
Like always, we’ve got your back. This week, we’ve broken down the science for you to let you know exactly what collagen is and how it can help you. Next week, we’ll share our favorite way for you to incorporate this “superfood” into your diet.
What is Collagen?
Collagen is the most abundant protein in your body, accounting for almost one-third of your body’s protein. It’s one of the major components in your skin, muscles, tendons, ligaments, GI tract, and bones. Collagen is also part of your teeth, blood vessels, and eyes. The simple way to think of collagen is as the glue that holds everything together. It gives everything structure.
As you age, your body starts to produce less (and lower quality) collagen. This is the reason that you can see the skin start to age. In addition to advancing age, collagen can also be damaged by excessive sun exposure, smoking, and a diet that’s high in sugar and refined carbohydrates (like white bread and pasta).
Benefits of Collagen
It’s true that your body makes collagen, but because of the wide range of benefits, you can (and should) also get the protein from your diet and from supplements, if necessary.
Consumption of collagen can:
- Improve skin elasticity
- Reduce joint pain and degeneration
- Improve gut health
- Boost metabolism
- Increase muscle mass
- Strengthen hair, nails, and teeth
- Protect heart health
- Improve liver function
Sources of Collagen
Collagen comes from four major places: beef, chicken, fish, and eggs. The catch is that most of the collagen found in beef, chicken, and fish is found in their bones, so you have to get creative to figure out how to extract it and get it into your body. Our favorite way to do this is to make a bone broth that we can sip on at any time of the day.
Collagen is also available in supplement form. It’s usually a powder that you can mix into any liquid. Because of the way it’s processed, most collagen supplements are odorless and tasteless and can easily mix into even cold water.