You may heard the recent buzz about collagen and it’s not easy to miss all of the collagen products popping up on shelves. Promises of beautiful skin, joint pain relief, cellulite reduction, and so many more enticing benefits touted for these collagen products. So is a beautiful, firm body only a collagen dose away? As you might suspect, there’s no quick fix for the ravages or aging or years of poor lifestyle habits. But supplementing your diet with collagen definitely is worth some consideration!
Collagen is a unique type of protein that provides much of the unseen structure of our bodies. It is probably best known for its role in promoting healthy skin tone. Over the years collagen supplements have gone in and out of favor as the most prescribed supplement for healthy skin, hair and nails. The cosmetic industry has promoted multiple formats to increase collagen use, everything from oral supplements to lotions and injections.
Indeed, adequate collagen has a positive impact on skin elasticity and vibrance. However, skin is only, well…skin deep. Yet the structural role of collagen is pervasive throughout our bodies. Collagen plays an important role in cartilage production and collagen supplements are often taken to help ease stiff achy joints. A lesser known benefit of collagen is it’s role in maintaining the extremely thin lining of the digestive tract. This critical structure provides an essential barrier between the contents of the digestive tract and the bloodstream. In fact, collagen is so important to the proper function of this barrier layer that a lack of dietary collagen can contribute to a condition referred to as “leaky gut syndrome”. Collagen is also an essential part of building muscle, tendons, and ligaments. Substantial research shows that inadequate dietary collagen is associated with weakness of these connective tissues, which can result in chronic aches and pains or even acute tears. Finally, and not well known, collagen is the primary building block of bone. (It’s why bone broth is full of collagen!) Collagen serves as the underlying matrix on which minerals get deposited to make bones hard. Inadequate collagen intake results in bone loss. So no matter how much calcium you take, no matter how much vitamin D you ingest, if you don’t have enough collagen your bone health will suffer.
So what’s the best way to get more collagen? Traditional western diets have long been rich in collagen rich foods such as bone broth, and meat that lies close to the bone. Asian cultures often use a soup base made from cooking down chicken and ducks feet, while tendons are often offered as a protein choice in traditional restaurants. And for many age related conditions, traditional Chinese medicine frequently prescribes gelatin made from donkey skin!
But worry not, we won’t be prescribing fried donkey skin rinds any time soon. Instead, you can get more collagen into your diet by including collagen rich foods and extracts. Collagen powders can be stirred into coffee and tea (no taste!) or mixed into soups or added to other dishes while cooking. Collagen powders can be found at many health food stores and Integrative Health Partners carries organic collagen and bone broth products made from grass fed cows. We are glad to help provide guidance on the amount and quality of collagen that is right for you. So call us today for help with this and all your nutritional needs!