What Can Collagen Do For You?
Author: Lia Pellizzeri
The fact that Collagen is the most abundant protein found in the human body may not mean a lot to you from a health perspective, until you understand that it is literally the glue that not only holds the bodies structures together, but is also responsible for the maintenance of healthy tissue from the gut lining, to cartilage, and smooth, youthful-looking skin!
Most unfortunately, we begin to slow down our collagen production as we age, and the tell-tale signs of deterioration due to getting older such as loss of joint mobility, thinning hair, and wrinkles can typically be attributed to a significant reduction in collagen stores. But whilst supplementing may not exactly mean attaining the eternal fountain of youth, research has shown the amino acid composition of supplemental hydrolyzed collagen can help form new collagen, and therefore provide some therapeutic benefit.
Due to it being so ubiquitous, its uses are incredibly varied and as such, can play an important role in helping the ageing process on many levels.
Where does Supplemental or Hydrolyzed collagen come from?
Good quality hydrolyzed collagen is typically sourced from grass-fed bovine bone and cartilage, and undergoes a series of processes to yield an isolated product of amino acids, in a similar manner to Gelatine. You may also wonder what the difference is between the two, and the simple answer is Gelatine is formed from Collagen and is often termed ‘cooked collagen’. Both are wonderful for your health in many ways which we will examine further, however collagen hydrolysate is the more absorbable of the two.
Top to Toe and Everything In-Between
Hair Skin & Nails
There appears to be an essential relationship between extra cellular matrix and hair follicle regeneration, this would mean that the health of this matrix which forms much of our skin structure is vital in producing healthy hair and nails, and that a deficiency would naturally lead to peeling/splitting nails and stunted hair growth.
Due to this theoretical basis, studies have suggested that collagen could be used as a therapeutic agent in targeting hair loss and skin conditions, in fact a recent double-blind placebo controlled study found that supplementation with collagen hydrolysate significantly improved skin elasticity and moisture compared to placebo.
Joints are basically made of articular cartilage, a complex network of collagen, proteoglycans, and various accessory proteins. Not only may supplementing with collagen exert anabolic action on cartilage tissue, it has also been shown to be absorbed by the intestine and distributed easily into joint tissues where it has analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects. In this way, improvement in joint mobility and pain as a result of increased collagen consumption can be associated with the repair process in existing cartilage tissue, which helps maintain joint structure and function.
Collagen is extremely high in the amino acid glycine, which helps improve digestive health by taming inflammation, protecting the mucosal barrier and improving the cells within the intestinal lining. Not only great for healing inflamed tissue and intestinal permeability by helping close the tight junctions located in the small intestine, collagen may also be beneficial for the entire microbiome where it acts as a prebiotic – food for good gut bacteria.
Lean Muscle Mass
Despite this protein source having a low amount of Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAA’s) and lysine, its amino acid content has actually been shown to be superior to whey protein in maintaining body weight in a low protein diet. This makes it a perfectly gentle way of adding quality protein to our diets, especially as we age – finding we not only naturally decrease our protein intake but absorb less as well, making us more prone to losing vital muscle mass.
Collagen through Diet
Getting collagen in your diet is easy and incredibly therapeutic, the best way to do this is to make your own bone broths from either chicken or beef bones. The longer you simmer, the richer your broth will be in collagen, and it makes for a winter warming staple that helps heal you from within.
Making a bone broth is very straight forward. You can add lots of different veg in it to create marvellous soups, or freeze it and add it to stews and sauces – forget the stock cubes and go for the real thing, your body will love you for it and so will your taste buds!
Delicious Gut Healing Chicken Soup
- 1 Whole Chicken (Free Range if you can get it)
- 1 Tablespoon Apple Cider Vinegar
- 1 Medium onion, peeled and halved
- 3 Celery Stalks, quartered
- 3 Carrots, peeled and quartered
- 1 knob of ginger, peeled and sliced thickly
- Handful of Parsley (washed and including stalks)
- 1 tsp salt
- Place chicken and rest of ingredients in a stock pot, covering with enough cold water so that the chicken is completely immersed.
- Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer with a few gentle bubbles going. At this point, you may notice some impurities floating to the top, just skim these off with a spoon and continue simmering.
- Cover with a lid once the impurities have been skimmed off, and let simmer for the next 3-4 hours (you can really simmer as long as you like, depending on how concentrated you would like your broth.)
- Uncover for the last hour of cooking.
- Take out your chicken and strain your broth through a colander or sieve into a large bowl or another pot. The nutrients from the veg would have enrichened the stock, and now you have the most incredibly tender chicken to pull off and add back to your soup, or to snack on over the next few days.
- Collagen Heaven…
|Written by Lia Pellizzeri|
Lia is a qualified Naturopath who believes in the power of nature to heal many of today’s acute and chronic conditions. She’s not only passionate about living a healthy lifestyle, but about educating people on nutrition and the amazing benefits of herbs and supplements in addressing symptoms and their underlying issues.
Lia loves to cook, bake and read… when she isn’t busy telling people to enjoy their egg yolks and other healthy fats, she can most likely be found on the lounge with a latte and a tattered copy of Lord of the Rings.