What is Collagen?
According to Bluebird Provisions’ website:
“Collagen makes up about a third of the protein in your body. It is mostly found in your tendons, ligaments, bone, cartilage and skin (1).
Think of collagen as a hard, fibrous protein which holds our bodies together and gives our skin a natural elasticity. How hard do you ask? Type 1 collagen is stronger than steel when stretched (2). In fact, the majority of your connective tissue is made of collagen.
Our body’s ability to naturally produce collagen slows as we age. Collagen production is further disrupted by sun exposure, environmental pollutants, alcohol, smoking and stress (the usual) (5). This led researchers to start looking at how consuming collagen may help.
The blend of amino acids found in collagen is unique because they are deficient in our western diet. Unless you consume a lot of animal skin, small bones (think sardines or anchovies) or bone broth, it is difficult to get collagen in your diet.“
This article by Dr. Axe also provides a good summary on what Collagen is, good sources of collagen, and the benefits of collagen.
Benefits of Collagen
Have you been hearing about the new trend of using collagen supplements, but aren’t really sure what collagen is or why it’s used? Collagen is naturally produced by your body and is essential for strong joints, a healthy gut, and smooth/glowing skin. As you get older, your body naturally produces less and less collagen, so using a collagen supplement or drinking bone broth is an easy way to repair damage and protect your body as you age. There are three main areas reported to improve with regular use of collagen: joints, gut health, and skin/hair/nails.
Bluebird Provisions outlines some of the benefits of taking a collagen substitute in this article, including:
Studies are demonstrating that collagen hydrolysate shows an improvement in joint pain in athletes (14). This particular study showed reduced joint pain throughout daily life, at rest and during heavy activity such as exercise, sports or weight lifting. The effective dose was 10g of collagen per day. This works out to one standard serving of bone broth, a collagen or gelatin supplement.
More recent research is showing that collagen or gelatin taken with vitamin C assists in tendon repair and injury prevention.
Collagen is a protein made up of a bunch of individual amino acids. The single most dominant amino acid in collagen is glycine. Think of glycine as a saviour to your gut. Glycine is the master at regulating inflammation in your stomach, small intestine and GI tract (10).
Inflammation is caused in your gut when harmful toxins are able to pass through your digestive tract into your gut. These toxins, in the form of food particles, now have free reign to pass into your bloodstream, kicking off all sorts of inflammatory issues in your body.
Glycine helps reduce inflammation by forming connective tissue which protects the mucosal barrier of your gut. This helps tighten the tiny junctions in those suffering from leaky gut syndrome.
We know that glycine builds up the tissues that line your gut, colon and intestinal tract. It follows that supplementing with collagen or glycine can help with a plethora of gut issues.
Skin, Nails & Hair
As we age, our natural collagen production decreases, leading to a gradual deterioration of our hair, skin, teeth and nails. You see this visibly in wrinkled skin or osteoporosis.
Collagen got its fame as a nonsurgical remedy in the beauty and health scene for combating wrinkles. It is thought to do this by forming fibroblasts (or specialized cell clusters on your dermis) which facilitate the growth of new cells (6). This helps replace dead skin with new youthful skin.
There’s a growing stack of research showing an increase in skin elasticity from collagen supplementation after eight weeks (8).
Check out the article for more information on why collagen may also have benefits in the following areas:
- Life expectancy
- Improving sleep and mood
- Boosting brain health
- Restoring antioxidants and improving Asthma
Make sure you are using a collagen supplement made from wild-caught fish or grass-fed cows.
Our favourite collagen supplements are by Sproos – they have a Marine Collagen made from the skin of wild-caught North Atlantic fish and a Grass-Fed Collagen made from the skin of grass-fed, pasture-raised North American cattle. They also have blends that combine those pure collagens with amino acids, herbs and minerals for specific purposes such as healing/improving your gut, joints, and skin & hair.
Bone broth is a delicious way to get your daily dose of collagen. It’s been around for hundreds of years, but lately the trend of drinking bone broth has caught on with those looking for the same benefits a collagen supplement will provide, as well as vital minerals.
What to look for in a bone broth
The company should disclose where the animals are coming from that are used to make the broth. If possible, drink broth from animals that are Organic and either Grass-Fed (beef) or Pasture-Raised (chickens).
Collagen for Vegans/Vegetarians
If you’re following a Vegan or Vegetarian diet and are looking for sources of collagen, check out these articles. They list specific foods to eat or supplements to incorporate into your diet to help you get the amino acids your body needs to create collagen (primarily glycine and proline) as well as other vitamins that help support collagen production:
If you’re on Manitoulin Island, stop by The Island Jar in Little Current to pick up some Collagen and incorporate it into your daily routine!