Hey there, friends! Get comfy for today’s post because it is a long, but very informative one! I get a lot of questions about collagen! Questions about my favorite brand, the benefits of collagen, how to use collagen, and why it’s so powerful! And I am so excited to finally lay out all of the health and science-based info for you! So let’s dive in quickly!
Table of Contents:
- What are Amino Acids?
- What is Collagen?
- Why Do We Need Collagen, and What are the Benefits?
- Where Do We Get Collagen From, and How is Each One Different?
- How Can I Add Collagen into my Daily Routine? + Recipes!
How To Use Collagen and Why It’s So Powerful
The advertising of collagen powders has been very popular in recent years in the health and weight loss industry. But you may still be questioning what exactly is collagen and how do we use it?? Did you know that collagen is the most abundant protein in the body? Collagen gives support to the structure and strength of one’s nails, skin, hair, bones, connective tissue, tendons, and ligaments in the body!
However, to understand the importance of collagen, we first have to understand the role of amino acids in our bodies!
What are Amino Acids?
Amino acids contribute to the advancement of protein within the body and are essential in promoting wound repair and encouraging healthy tissue in muscles, bones, skin, and hair. As well as encouraging strong and nourished ligaments and tendons.
It is so important to note that amino acids are also crucial in eliminating waste deposits related to metabolism! There are 22 total amino acids. 9 of them are called “essential” amino acids. This means that they are complete proteins, which are highly essential to our overall basic health. Our bodies need these complete proteins since we cannot produce them naturally, so we must get them from different sources.
We get these essential amino acids from sources such as:
- Chia seeds
Collagen, on the other hand, is a powerful protein that is naturally produced by the body. It is synthesized from 2 “non-essential” amino acids.
“Non-essential” amino acids are simply proteins that our body can naturally produce on its own.
Foods that lack one or more of the nine essential amino acids are called incomplete proteins. These incomplete proteins must be supplemented with other proteins to make up for the missing amino acids in our diet! These non-essential amino acids play a very important role in removing toxins from the body, promoting a healthy digestive system, aid in promoting healthy body tissue, and they support your metabolism.
The non-essential amino acids include Cysteine, Alanine, Proline, Serine, Asparagine, Glutamic Acid, Tyrosine, Arginine, Aspartic Acid, and Glutamine. Now that we have the basic background information on amino acids it’s important to understand the powerful, advantageous role of collagen!
What is Collagen?
As stated above, collagen is a powerful protein that is “non-essential,” meaning that it is naturally produced by the body. The two non-essential amino acids that collagen is synthesized from are proline and glycine.
These two non-essential amino acids are the key components of muscular growth, joint health, digestion and gut health, and an overall glowing appearance!
Collagen benefits are so remarkable because this protein is what helps give our skin elasticity and potency, along with replacing dead skin cells. When it comes to our tendons and joints you can think of collagen as the “glue” that helps hold the body together and function properly.
As we age, our body’s collagen production naturally begins to slow down. This is what results in the formation and appearance of aging such as wrinkles and sagging skin.
As well as the appearance of cellulite (will be explained later!). Bones become less dense and joints become less flexible, and this can result in knee or elbow pains. Decreases of cartilage are also due to low levels of collagen in the body. It is essential to point out that our body’s productive of collagen also depletes when we have excessive exposure to sunlight, diets rich in high amounts of sugar, and if you smoke.
Luckily, there are collagen supplements that are rich in amino acids (glycine, proline, and hydroxyproline) that are each necessary to synthesize collagen. Since “amino acid” is another term for protein, that is why collagen supplements are often referred to as “collagen protein.”
The four main sources that makeup collagen supplements come from chicken, cow (bovine/beef), pig, and fish.
While there are many hydrolyzed collagen (collagen peptides) supplements on the market today, it is so important to be conscious of the ingredients in the products and the quality of it.
The collagen in animals that have free range to graze the grasslands or swim in the ocean is much more healthy than those raised inhumanly in a factory. It is much stronger, cleaner and more effective. Always check the label to see if there are added sugars or additives!
But Then What Is Gelatin?
You may have researched collagen powders and saw the term “gelatin” and questioned if it was the same. Well, gelatin is derived from collagen! What does that mean? When collagen breaks down, it becomes gelatin. Gelatin is made from the boiling of animal bones, skin, and cartilage to extract the collagen! When the collagen is processed, it turns into a colorless and flavorless substance called gelatin.
For better understanding, think of the process of making bone broth!
The bones are full of collagen and when the bones are boiled, the collagen is broken down to make gelatin. Gelatin is absolutely beneficial for those with food allergies or food sensitivities. It is essential for gut health and for managing the digestive system and its aids in repairing the GI tract!
Sources of gelatin from collagen, like bone broth, can accelerate the healing of the mucosal lining, which means improvements in the absorption of nutrients! Collagen also reduces the risks of developing “leaky gut syndrome”, also known as increased intestinal permeability! But I will explain that in detail as well!
Why Do We Need Collagen and What Are The Benefits?
There are SO MANY big benefits to collagen, so I just want to make sure I break them down as simple as possible!
It is so important to get know that collagen makes up 70% of your skins, hair, nails, connective tissue, bones, discs, ligaments, tendons, and your gut lining. And did you know that the average person only gets 5% of collagen from their daily sources of protein?
When in reality, the average person should be getting 30% of their daily protein intake from collagen riched sources and the other 70% should be from essential branched-chain amino acids! It is vital to get the necessary amounts of collagen because our bodies are way out of balance when it comes to collagen! And it is so vital to comprehend the benefits that collagen has on our bodies!
If you are looking to improve your gut health and digestive system, then a daily serving of collagen is highly recommended! Those who suffer from “leaky gut syndrome” will greatly benefit from collagen.
“Leaky gut syndrome” is one of the leading causes of autoimmune disease and inflammatory bowel disease since your digestive system is not absorbing foods correctly, and toxins are being released into the bloodstream! Collagen is the ultimate foundation for rebuilding your gut and promoting your overall gut health.
Skin, Hair, and Nails:
Collagen is perfect for your overall beauty and to heal your body from the inside out! This protein also helps to tighten and firm your skin at any age! The reason that you get more and more wrinkles over time is that your body produces less collagen as you age. The skin because less elastic and firm since the collagen is depleting and not being replaced by supplements. Also as we age, our hair tends to become thinner and susceptible to breakage. Our nails become more brittle and or more prone to splitting.
While some of this is completely natural with aging, the appearance of unhealthy nails and hair can indicate nutrient deficiencies, immense environmental stressors or underlying health issues. However, collagen helps to support stronger and thicker hair, as well as your nails! Another big concern that many women have is cellulite! I mean who doesn’t?!
This is a result of having a weak collagen matrix.
There isn’t enough collagen being absorbed in your body and the structure of your skin has weakened as a result. The number one nutrient your body needs to improve the overall appearance of cellulite is collagen!
Joints and Connective Tissue:
This is a BIG benefit that comes with the help of collagen!! I’m sure you’re aware that you need Omega 3’s and Omega 6 fat supplements (fish oil for example) to reduce inflammations in your joints! Well, just as you need a healthy balance of those supplements, you also need a healthy balance of amino acids.
Our bodies have become so out of balance not only by our intake of fats, but we have become out of balance with our amino acids. And our joints are suffering because of this!
Think of high school, college, and professional athletes. A lot of times you hear about an athlete spraining a ligament or developing a ligament injury such as a tear in an ACL, rotator cuff, or even developing a herniated disc in their back. These are all joint issues because of a lack of collagen!
Have you ever wondered why you rarely hear about muscle tears in athletes?
This is because most athletic injuries involve the tearing of ligaments and tendons. It could be that most of the protein supplement sources in our diet come from muscle-building proteins such as whey, casein, or soy protein powders.
Another great is example is if you look at elderly men and women. How many times do you hear an elderly person say that their muscles feel terrific and absolutely fine, but it’s their knees or their joints that are causing the issues and pain that they have in their body?
We are simply not getting enough collagen-building protein!
What I found interesting is this 24-week study done by the Department of Nutrition and Sports Nutrition for Athletics at Penn State University. They found that when athletes supplemented with collagen, a majority of the athletes showed significant improvements in joint comfort and a decrease in factors that negatively obstructed their athletic performance!
Where Do We Get Collagen From?
Where can we get our sources of collagen from? Interestingly enough, different types of collagens make up different parts of your body!
Type 1 & 3 Collagens: makes up your skin, hair, nails, discs, bones, and parts of your gut tissue.
Type 2 Collagen: makes up your ligaments, tendons, and your fascia. Your fascia is what keeps your organs and everything in your body in place.
Type 5 & 10 Collagens: make up your cardiovascular systems such as your arteries and the outer part of your veins. Even when a woman is pregnant her placenta is also made up of parts of 5 and 10 collagen!
Natural Sources of Collagen:
Type 1 and 3 collagen. This again is responsible for the healthy, glowing appearance of your skin, the strength of your nails, and the thickness of your hair.
Made up of primarily Type 2 collagen. Perfect for the function and wellness of your ligaments, tendons, cartilage, connective tissue, and overall joint health.
- When you are consuming type 2 collagen from chicken or chicken bone broth (very popular), it not only has collagen but it has collagen boosters! Collagen boosters increase your body’s productive of collagen!
- The main “boosting” ingredients found in chicken or chicken bone broth are known as glycosaminoglycans. These three glycosaminoglycans are glucosamine, hyaluronic acid, and chondroitin and they are what boost the natural collagen production in your body. (study).
- These sources of collagen are incredible for your gut health and for your immune system as well!
May sound a little gross when first reading it, but this is another very interesting way that you can get collagen!
- Whenever you crack open an egg, you may notice the thin, clear film lining that comes off the eggshell. Or you may notice it when you peel a hard-boiled egg. That is the eggshell membrane!
- This eggshell membrane is incredibly anti-inflammatory and can aid in the treatment of pain and stiffness from osteoarthritis of the knee and other joints! (study)
- Contains types 5 and 10 collagen is essential for your overall cardiovascular system and to improve the function and stiffness in your joints.
Wild Fish Collagen:
Made up of types 1 and 3 collagen. Fish skin and fish broth also support your body’s own supply of collagen.
- As a history geek, I remember reading an article about a woman, living in Okinawa, Japan, who was interviewed about her diet and how she still has abundant amounts of energy at 104-years-old!
- People living in Okinawa have always eaten a diet that was rich in collagen proteins! No wonder Okinawa is known as the “Land of Longevity!”
- The average life expectancy in Okinawa is 81.2 which is the longest in the world. And they have the highest global rate of centenarians, about 35 for every 100,000 people (source).
- Also, did you know that they suffer only a fraction of diseases that kill Americans? A fifth of the rate of cardiovascular disease, a fifth of the rate of breast and prostate cancer, and less than half the rate of dementia seen among similarly aged Americans! Truly eye-opening!
So when you are buying a collagen supplement, be sure it has all or at least one of these sources of collagen together in one single supplement!
How Can I Add Collagen to My Daily Routine? + Recipes!
As mentioned above, bone broth is one of the best sources of collagen and gelatin! Just like this delicious and very detailed, homemade bone broth soup! It is easy to make and you can store in the fridge or freezer for multiple days of the week!
However, I totally understand that not everybody enjoys broth or has the time to make it themselves! With that, here are some of my favorite ways to use collagen and gelatin powders. And the many ways that you can effectively incorporate collagen and gelatin into your everyday life!
Below are some great and unique ways that will help you get more gelatin and collagen into your diet!
Fun Gelatin Powder Recipes
- Homemade, Raspberry Collagen Gummies
- Cinnamon Covered Paleo Marshmallows
- Dark Chocolate Coconut Pudding (Dairy-Free, Paleo-Friendly)
- Probiotic Infused Lemon Jello
- Chocolate Protein Smoothie
Fun Collagen Powder Recipes
- Grab and Go Bacon and Egg Cups
- Bulletproof Coffee Recipe
- Matcha Avocado Smoothie Bowl
- Slow Cooker Chili
- Collagen Hot Chocolate Recipe! Found in this post!
I hope these facts and recipes help you out and you give collagen a try!!
Until next time!