"Boost" Your Body Image and Health With Collagen--Part 2
Updated: Apr 15, 2019
Boost Your Body Image and Health With Collagen—Part 2
Hello Tribe! I come to you with Part 2 of my blogs on collagen. In my previous blog (Boost Your Body Image and Health With Collagen—Part 1), I explained how collagen production begins to diminish as we enter midlife, or as I like to say, midstrife. I laid down the groundwork for what is collagen, the various roles collagen has in our health, the major types of collagen and their differences, and uses for collagen supplementation. Now, it’s time to move on and learn what you can do to best boost and maintain optimal levels of collagen in order to minimize those lines, wrinkles, joint pain, and the other unwelcomed symptoms that come with aging, AND get the benefits of its unique properties that have been shown to support digestive, immune, neurologic, and cardiovascular health!
How Can I Get This Collagen Stuff?
Our body makes collagen by combining nutrients (amino acids) we get from eating protein-rich foods like beef, chicken, pork, fish, and eggs. However, as we age, our body’s ability to absorb nutrients well or synthesize them efficiently gradually diminishes. “Aside from aging, the top reason people don’t have enough collagen is poor diet,” says Elizabeth Bradley, MD, Medical Director of Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Functional Medicine. A diet high in refined foods and carbs/sugars interferes with collagen's ability to repair itself. Dr. Bradley says, “Your body can’t make collagen if it doesn’t have the necessary elements. To make sure your body has enough ingredients to make collagen, you may need to change what you eat or take dietary supplements.” In addition to a poor diet, smoking and exposure to too much sunlight reduce collagen production in our body.
Natural Food Sources:
Collagen is found in the connective tissues of animal foods; i.e., it's found in large amounts in chicken and pork skin.
A particularly rich source of collagen is bone broth. Bone broth draws collagen out of beef, pork, turkey, chicken or fish. You can drink its flavorful liquid straight up or use it in other dishes. Most bone broth is made by slowly simmering bones in water and a very small amount of apple cider vinegar (to draw minerals from the bones) for 24 to 48 hours. In addition to collagen, bone broth gives you an array of key nutrients, including glycosaminoglycans (i.e., glucosamine, hyaluronic acid, and chondroitin sulfate) and minerals and electrolytes, to keep you feeling your best.
While most concentrated sources of glycine and proline (amino acids found in collagen) are derived from animals—especially bone broth, collagen protein powder, and gelatin—there are some plant-based sources to consider if you eat a vegan or vegetarian diet. Glycine plant sources include: spinach, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, pumpkin, cucumber, kiwi fruit, banana, and beans. Proline plant sources include: white mustard seeds, alfalfa sprouts, beans, cucumber, cabbage, asparagus, buckwheat, chives, tempeh, and watercress.
Consuming adequate protein in general is essential for overall health as well as collagen synthesis. Lysine is an amino acid that is important for collagen synthesis and is least abundant in plant foods. Dr. KellyAnn Petrucci, creator of “The Bone Broth Revolution,” recommends the following plant foods, especially for vegans, that are relatively high in lysine: pumpkin seeds, tempeh, lima beans, pistachios, potatoes, quinoa, lentils, black beans, and kidney beans.
Collagen-Friendly Antioxidant-Rich Foods:
While bone broth, animal skins and collagen supplements are excellent collagen-boosting sources, they can’t do all the work—they need help from a variety of other nutrients. It’s important to eat a nutrient-rich diet based on vegetables, fruits, grass-fed meats, and wild fish. These foods are anti-inflammatory and contain powerful antioxidants that not only stimulate collagen production but also protect stored collagen.
Below are some specific nutrients and foods recommended by Dr. KellyAnn that play a role in the synthesis of collagen as well as its protection:
· Vitamin C: This vitamin is vital for the synthesis of collagen. It’s a limiting factor, meaning that if you don’t have enough, your collagen production line shuts down. Since humans are unable to produce vitamin C, you must obtain an adequate supply from your food. Thus, it’s important to consume many foods rich in vitamin C, including tomatoes, citrus fruits, kiwis, papayas, bell peppers, strawberries, and broccoli.
Dark leafy green veggies: Spinach and kale have antioxidants that protect you against free radicals, which are out to destroy your precious collagen.
Red veggies: Beets, tomatoes, and red peppers are full of lycopene, which boosts collagen and protects your skin from sun damage.
Orange veggies: Carrots, sweet potatoes, and pumpkins are loaded with vitamin A, which restores collagen that’s been damaged.
Sulfur: This mineral is a major player in collagen production. Eggs, broccoli, cauliflower, bok choy, onions, shallots, leeks, and cabbage are all rich in sulfur.
Copper: This mineral activates an enzyme that plays a critical role in collagen production. It’s also an antioxidant that helps protect your collagen once it forms. Foods high in copper include nuts, shellfish, and grass-fed red meat.
White tea: This tea packs a big punch when it comes to fighting lines and wrinkles. Research shows it helps thwart the activities of enzymes that break down collagen and another skin protein known as elastin.
Berries: Blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, and raspberries…they’re all loaded with antioxidants that fight free radicals while boosting collagen.
Garlic: This powerful herb offers lipoic acid and taurine, which both help rebuild damaged collagen. Plus, it contains sulfur!
If you’re eating a healthy diet and feeding your body all the nutrients it needs to make collagen, you probably don’t need a collagen supplement, but there’s nothing wrong with taking one. Two popular types of collagen supplements are hydrolyzed collagen powder and gelatin. Hydrolyzed collagen (aka collagen peptide) usually has no flavor and dissolves easily in beverages, smoothies, soups and sauces. Gelatin is created when collagen is cooked. Both types have broken down the large protein thereby making the nutrients more easily absorbed into the bloodstream for use.
Does Quality Matter?
In my opinion, it’s CRUCIAL to know where your sources come from and how they are produced—I’m talking organic plants, healthy animals, such as animals that are grass-fed and/or pastured-raised, and wild-caught fish from remote unpolluted waters are A MUST! My opinion is backed up by health experts like Nick Bitz, MD, a licensed, board-certified naturopathic doctor and collagen expert, who believes if it’s from China, buyers beware: “Collagen sourced from China is really cheap and just not up to the standards of higher quality stuff,” and Dr. Elizabeth Bradley, “I recommend buying only organic bone broth, or cooking broth from the bones of only organically raised animals. You don’t want the residue of pesticides, antibiotics and other contaminants in your broth.”
So How Much Collagen Should I Take?
Dr. KellyAnn recommends a minimum of 5 grams of hydrolyzed collagen per day to increase the levels of glycine and proline circulating in your bloodstream; and at least 10-15 grams up to 30 grams daily if:
Your skin, hair, and nails could use a boost
You’re an athlete or exercise regularly
You have joint pain
You’re having trouble losing weight
You have digestive symptoms or disease
If you are active, do high intensity exercises, and/or are looking to build muscle, 30 grams daily will help you meet your goals.
Unfortunately, the standard American diet (SAD) pretty much assures we’ll fill our bodies with processed, sugary items that perpetuates inflammation and accelerates aging. Collagen powder, bone broth powders and collagen protein bars are convenient and excellent sources to get that added boost you might need to meet your body’s optimal collagen levels. Also, studies with collagen supplementation show that if you want to see results, you have to be consistent—one dose here and there won’t cut it! While supplementation of any kind can help prevent nutrient deficiencies, your best plan of action is to have a healthy diet in a variety of rich nutrient-dense foods, derived from chemical-free plants and humanely-raised animals from their natural environments. Remember to always seek your doctor’s advice before making changes to your health program. I am a big fan of collagen and take it in some form daily. On the PrimalPrescribed Shop page, you can find collagen products that I personally use and recommend. If you’re looking to take charge of your health and life, please check out my Reset-21 Program—it’s a fun and intuitive approach that applies sustainable healthy behaviors to make true habit and lifestyle changes so that you look and feel awesome!
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I’d love to hear from you! Feel free to respond to this blog with your comments, or contact me with questions or feedback. Until next Sunday, be well and live awesome!
:Your health partner, Tressa
All of the information in this writing is for educational and informational purposes only. We are passionate about leading a healthy lifestyle and aim to share that passion with you through coaching, blogs, readings, chats, social media, etc. Primary sources to ensure accurate and current content, including studies, scientific references, and statistics, are found below:
Cleveland Clinic (May 15, 2018) Health Essentials, The Best Way You Can Get More Collagen
Dr. Josh Axe (2016) Axe Wellness LLC, Bone Broth Breakthrough
Dr. KellyAnn (2018) Dr. KellyAnn, How can you increase collagen synthesis?
Emily Laurence (Oct 24, 2017) Well+Good LLC, Everything You Need To Know About The Different Types Of Collagen
Dr. KellyAnn (2018) Dr. KellyAnn, How much collagen should you take daily?