We all know the importance of incorporating healthy protein into our diets. Protein provides the essential building blocks for maintaining health. Our digestive enzymes are made of protein, blood is made of protein, our immune health depends on protein, and our nervous system requires protein.
With the influx of smoothies, bone broth and other high-protein meals, you will often see collagen included in the recipe. Collagen powders have become a popular option to get more protein without the added calories.
I want to introduce you to the benefits of collagen protein, and share with you how to include it in your diet.
What is Collagen?
Collagen is an abundant structural protein in all animals. It is a rich source of amino acids, which are the building blocks of proteins. Amino acids are responsible for some of the body’s most essential functions ranging from digesting food to building muscle and it aids in the process of losing weight as well.
In humans, it accounts for about one-third of the total protein in our bodies and three-quarters
of the dry weight of our skin. Collagen helps us build our bones, ligaments, tendons, and cartilage. It also supports healthy skin, hair, nails, joints, and digestion.
Collagen and Joint Health
If you’re living with arthritis joint pain, you will want to incorporate collagen into your diet. Numerous studies have investigated how joint pain and joint swelling, have benefited with the use of collagen in their diets.
In a study of ]rheumatoid arthritis patients, people took either a placebo or one of four different dosages of oral collagen. After 24 weeks, even the group taking the lowest amount of collagen (which was only 20 micrograms) experienced a statistical improvement over the placebo group.
A 3-month study of osteoarthritis patients with knee pain compared those who took collagen with participants who took a combo of glucosamine and chondroitin. At the end of the study period, the collagen group experienced a much higher reduction in pain and improvement in the quality of life than the glucosamine/chondroitin group.
Collagen and Gut Health
Collagen is easy for us to digest, making it easy to reap the benefits.
Amino acids including proline and glycine (which are found in bone broth) are essential for healing and repair in the muscles and tissues of the digestive tract. Studies have shown that [iv]collagen can help strengthen the intestinal barrier of the digestive tract.
Collagen For Skin, Nails and Hair Health
You will often see collagen in anti-aging skin care products. Collagen helps us maintain the hydration, integrity, and firmness in our skin. Consuming collagen helps with maintaining healthy skin tone, firmness, and youthful glow. The evidence is shown that taking collagen for eight weeks improved skin elasticity, especially in older women.
Collagen can also help to strengthen our nails and our hair. Hair loss can be due to nutrient deficiencies, including a lack of amino acids. Collagen may be able to provide those important proteins for hair growth.
Food Sources of Collagen
One of my favorite food sources of collagen is bone broth. Collagen is also available in meat and fish. Make sure you chose good quality grass-fed meat and wild fish, not farm raised.
You can also boost collagen production by eating foods that help your body make it, including:
Vitamin C is an antioxidant that promotes collagen synthesis. Vitamin C rich foods include bell peppers, dark leafy greens, berries, lemons, and limes, broccoli
Iron-rich foods including lentils, spinach, chickpeas, (grass-fed) beef, liver, dark leafy greens (kale, collard greens, spinach) sesame seeds
Zinc-rich foods that include mushrooms, beef, turkey, lamb, pumpkin seeds, lentils, chickpeas, quinoa, dark chocolate, lobster, oysters
Copper-rich foods include sesame seeds, cashews, tempeh, mushrooms, sunflower seeds, lentils, avocado, kale, cooked chickpeas, prunes, mango, and kiwi.
What is Collagen Powder?
Sometimes we are unable to get enough collagen from diet alone. This is when adding collagen protein powder to your diet is beneficial. What do you look for in a Collagen powder? Generally, hydrolyzed collagen protein is what you will find in the collagen powders.
Most suppliers sell brands of hydrolyzed collagen peptides, meaning that they break down the amino acids in the collagen for easy digestion and absorption. You can add collagen powder to smoothies, hot beverages, or baked goods to pump some extra protein into your day. I use mine in my morning cup of coffee. Collagen dissolves quickly and it’s tasteless. You won’t even know it’s there!
You can easily add to collagen to the following:
Soups, stews and other one pot meals
Energy balls or bites
Homemade granola bars
Chia pudding or overnight oats
Homemade almond milk or store-bought almond milk
Dips and spreads, like hummus, guacamole or salsa
Here’s one of my favorite smoothies, including collagen:
Blueberry Banana Smoothie -Serves 1
● 1 C frozen or fresh organic blueberries
● 1 small banana
● 1 C almond or coconut milk
● 1 C chopped spinach, collard greens, or kale
● 1 TB freshly ground flax seeds
● 1 Tbsp Collagen Protein, I use this brand from Amazon.
● 2 scoops of Sun Warrior Vanilla protein powder (20g)
Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. It helps to start at a low speed and slowly increase speed as the ingredients begin to blend. Add water by the ¼ C if your smoothie needs a little more liquid.