What’s all the hype about collagen
2nd March 2019
I’m quite fascinated by the collagen phenomenon and the huge body of evidence that has been published of late regarding the multiplicity of its positive effects. In fact, I’ve yet to come across one bad study regarding the health benefits of collagen so I’m sharing this blog as I feel each and every one of you could benefit from it. Once you’ve read this, I’m sure you will agree.
What is collagen?
Collagen is the main structural protein that forms connective tissue throughout your body. From your bones to your skin, it’s essentially the glue that holds you together.
Your body is 20% protein, and some 30% of all the protein in your body is actually made up of collagen. That’s a huge proportion! Collagen is abundant in your hair, nails, fascia, discs, joints and digestive tract as these are primarily made up of collagen.
So, based on these facts, you are probably starting to see why collagen is so important and why consuming collagen may breathe new life into your body.
Your body naturally produces collagen every day but with age, the production slows down. What can we do? We can give it a helping hand by supplementing.
Fibroblasts are the cells in your body that produce collagen. In order for this process to happen effectively, fibroblasts need access to amino acids such as glycine, proline and hydroxyproline. Collagen supplements allow these amino acids to supply the fibroblasts so they can do their job properly.
What’s collagen good for?
Collagen has been shown to reduce wrinkles, keep joints strong, decrease joint inflammation, improve flexibility, support strong bones and tendons as well as increasing skin hydration.
Disc herniations are becoming more common (I’m a case in point!). Many studies have shown that supplementing with collagen can result in huge improvement of severe pain owing to the fact that the majority of the spine is made of collagen.
Collagen is great for healing the gut because of its glycine and glutamine content. Glutamine is also found in bone broth and hugely beneficial in improving gastro intestinal permeability (leaky gut.) Glycine is a pre-cursor to glutathione which helps with phase 2 of the liver detoxification pathways.
Glycine also helps with sleep by helping to modulate cortisol (the stress hormone) levels at night. If you have too much stimulation before sleep (eg, blue light from computer screens, bright lights around the house which haven’t been dimmed or your blood sugar levels aren’t balanced) then cortisol will be higher which means you are less likely to produce as much melatonin the promoter of restful, deep sleep. By supplementing with collagen and reducing these cortisol stimulations, sleep can be vastly improved.
Another key job for collagen: it’s vital for bone health. 50% of your bones are made from protein and the other half is made up of minerals. Most people think of calcium when they think of strong bones but collagen is a similarly important.
Collagen is the most abundant amino acid protein in the skin and makes up approximately 75 to 80% so it really helps with skin integrity. The collagen sits within the dermis (the middle layer of the skin) which loses its plumpness and starts to sag with age. 1% of collagen is lost each year after the age of 30.
Do I need to supplement with collagen?
Let’s face it, liver and bacon isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but unless you routinely eat a huge amount of bone broth and organ meat, you probably don’t have enough naturally occurring collagen in your diet.
30% of your protein intake should come from collagen yet most people get less then 5% of their total intake of protein from collagen. The balance of proteins has to be right though. Most people are getting enough BCAA’s (branch chain amino acids) which are essential proteins needed for muscle building, but not getting enough glycine needed for all the other important purposes including liver function and increased life span!
So, when we’re talking about supplementation, you of course need to revaluate your diet making sure there is enough protein and good fats present which supply the building blocks and then on top of that consider supplementing with collagen.
The biggest sources of collagen are bone broth, chicken skin, fish skin and organ meat. Our ancestors ate these foodstuffs regularly but we don’t eat so much.
It is really easy to add some unflavoured powdered collagen to soups, stews, smoothies or coffee and for anyone worried about how it tastes, you really can’t taste it.
What brand of collagen powder is best?
Always look for grass-fed products. My favourite is ‘Great Lakes’ collagen hydrolysate which is a pure unflavoured protein. I have been using this for years and it really is good quality.
Hydrolysed collagen, also known as collagen peptide (collagen which has been broken down into smaller parts), can be much more easily absorbed and used by your body. Studies have shown that regularly ingesting hydrolysed collagen can support overall skin health and combat the effects of ageing. It can reduce the appearance of wrinkles, increase skin hydration and smoothness on top of supporting skin elasticity.
How much should I be taking?
As with all supplementation, take healthcare practitioner advice?
Most people are ‘bankrupt’ in this important amino acid so, to start with, opt for three servings a day for 30 days ideally then reduce to two servings a day. The results you will see can be amazing.
Collagen loading can be achieved regularly throughout the day. For example, an effective regime may be as follows:
One SMOOTHIE with added collagen for BREAKFAST
One COFFEE with added collagen MID MORNING
A GLASS OF WATER with collagen in the AFTERNOON or a spoonful of collagen added to your STEW or CURRY at NIGHT.
You can take up to 60g a day if you have severe joint inflammation.
If you do try supplementing and see improvements in your health, I would absolutely love to hear your story.