Collagen, Why Supplement With It and Who Needs It
So often I get a lot of questions about which supplements I am taking and why. And truth be told my supplement routine changes all the time depending on what is going on in my life, my diet, and also the time of year. BUT all that being said there are a few constants that I always have kicking around that I take on a daily basis (I will talk about supplementation in a future blog post)....one of these is COLLAGEN!!!
Now I know collagen seems to be all the rage over the last few years and there are many good reasons for that. The first and biggest of those reasons being that it is something that is actually severely lacking in our "modern day diets" since most of us do not eat "whole animals" anymore (more on this later in the post). The second reason is that after our 20's our bodies stop producing as much as what we need on a daily basis, which leads to an over all decline which shows up in our physical health. Plus it is orderless, tasteless and can literally be added int your diet so easily by incorporating it into smoothies, soups, hot drinks , cold drink, baking and even homemade salad dressings!
So what is collagen actually needed for in the body then if we need it so bad.....Well here is the reality....Collagen is need for the majority of our cellular repair, growth and building blocks in bone, skin, and connective tissues. In fact collagen makes up about 90% of your connective tissue (the tissue found between joints, in the digestive tract, and major internal organs), it also makes up about 90% of bone tissue too. Seeing those numbers I am sure that you can out two and two together to figure out even without major health issues how supplementing with collagen (especially with the lack of it in diets and the decline in the body after your 20's) can improve your over all health and well being. Collagen also makes up about 70% of your skin cells too, which because they are always in constant contact with the outside world and so are in constant repair/growth mode. In fact the decline in the production of collagen in the body after your 20's is the same reason we start to see sagging skin and wrinkles as we age......
Now I personally supplement with collagen for the above reasons but also a few others. I have been plagued in life with thyroid disfunction (especially over the past 3 years), adrenal dysfunction (the two usually go hand in hand) and gut/intestinal imbalances......ALL OF WHICH COLLAGEN PLAY A ROLE IN!!! Glycine (a factor found in collagen) helps to balance the thyroid and adrenals by blocking an endotoxin that is produce in the body that creates imbalance in the first place. Collagen also works to help balance blood sugar which plays a significant role in both thyroid and adrenal dysfunction. And as mentioned before our digestive tract is made up of connective tissue (which collagen makes up 90% of) and so to heal the gut we must be getting enough to keep up with the repair of it....or food sensitivities/allergies begin to appear.
Now I bet you are wondering....well can't I just get this stuff from my diet? And HECK YA you can....but the problem is most of us do not! See in order to actually get collagen from your diet you need to be actually eating what is called a "whole animal diet"...now fret not this does not mean that you literally eat the whole animal (brain, heart, tail and all...although that is how it was anciently done) but it does mean that you are eating the connective tissue between joints (this is the soft little cartilage between the bones), the skin/connective tissue between skin/muscle, and some of the organ meats....AND truth time is that this just really does not happen.....most people are just eating the muscle if they are eating animal meat. Soooo ya you can get it from your diet.....but they just don't live/eat like that. So enter supplementation!
One thing I would like to touch on when it comes to supplementation of collagen is that it is actually a protein and thus it does count as part of your daily protein intake! Most collagens have 10-14 grams of protein per scoop. The average North American ACTUALLY OVER CONSUMES PROTEIN in their daily diet......this leads to problems because it not only over burdens the digestive tract but also the liver and kidneys causing problems with blood sugar, detoxification, the heart, can lead to cancer and so so so much more. The rule for protein consumption I tell most of my clients is try to only eat 8 ounces of animal protein (thats the size of the palm of the average persons hand) 1 to 2 times a day and then get the rest of your protein from mostly plant sources like nuts, seeds, beans, legumes, eggs (even though an animal protein they seem to cause the body less trouble than meat does), and quinoa. I promise that you will not in any way be deficient in protein from eating this way!
So in short who should be supplementing with collagen??? Well I think anyone over the age of 30 should but here is a more detailed list:
Those that suffer from joint pain/stiffness or have recently injured a joint.
Those that suffer from imbalanced blood sugar or diabetes.
Those that have gut impairments and are in need of gut lining healing.
Anyone who wants to help fight wrinkles, cellulite and reduce the appearance of aging on the skin.
Those who are working towards a weight loss, or muscle gain goals (collagen powders DO NOT add sugar where most other protein powders have sugar or simulated sugars which lead to sugar cravings).
Anyone suffering from thyroid or adrenal imbalance.
Now here is one of my favourite ways to enjoy my collagen!
Hazelnut Latte Collagen Bites
1/4 cup Hazelnuts
2/3 cup Coconut Flour (I really like using Jans Coconut Flour as it isn't as dry and doesn't clump as much as most)
2 tbsp fresh Ground Coffee
1/4 cup Maple Syrup
1/4 cup Collagen of choice (I personally really like Further Food Collagen, which you can purchase here and receive 10% off at checkout).
1 tsp of Pure Vanilla Extract (or for a stronger flavour I like using Vanilla Bean Powder)
1/3 cup Shredded Coconut for rolling
Place all ingredients (except shredded coconut) in a medium bowl and combine. Once throughly combined use a small cookie scoop to form into individual balls (or place 2 tbsps of dough and shape by hand). Roll each ball in shredded coconut and then place in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks! Enjoy as a snack or a quick breakfast on the go.