Unfortunately, this isn’t a recipe post (although I do have LOADS of recipes that incorporate collagen, all of which I will list at the end of this post, in case you get inspired to start incorporating collagen into your diet & I BET YOU WILL AFTER READING THIS!).
Today, I’m here to talk to you guys all about COLLAGEN! I’ve been taking a daily collagen supplement (in capsule form) for months now & have more recently started incorporating collagen powder into my daily routine by adding it to my morning/afternoon post-workout smoothies. I have seen so many changes & benefits from it, which I’ve ranted & raved all about over on out & I’ve gotten so many questions from you guys about what collagen is, why it’s so important, what benefits it will bring to your life & how you can incorporate it into your daily routine! So today, I’m finally getting down to business & telling you guys everything you need to know!
And I know, it this might sound crazy but adding powdered connective tissue (or taking it in capsule form) from cows & fish to your morning coffee, smoothies, oats, protein bites, energy balls, baked treats, cookies, yogurt or beverages has become a huge THING. I’m talking about collagen powder – the new “IT” supplement that will do SO MANY good things for you that YOU’LL NEVER GO BACK TO A LIFE WITHOUT IT!
BUT… FIRST THINGS FIRST, WHAT EXACTLY IS COLLAGEN?
Collagen is a long-chain amino acid, the most abundant protein in our bodies & is found in everything from our muscles, bones, skin, hair, nails, blood vessels, digestive system & tendons. In a nutshell, it’s a connective tissue protein (proteins are made up of amino acids & help the body with building muscles, cartilage & skin) & it’s basically the glue that helps holds our bodies together, what helps gives our skin elasticity, hair its strength, connective tissue its ability to hold everything in place & helps replace dead skin cells. It’s composed of 19 amino acids, some of which are proline, glycine, glutamine, arginine & hydroxyproline & in nature, it is found exclusively in animal tissue.
I won’t get too into each individual amino acid, but in a nutshell:
- proline: helps protect integrity of blood vessels, improve joint health & has some heart health benefits.
- glycine: helps build healthy DNA strands, promotes healthy cell function & muscle growth & boosts energy production during a workout.
- glutamine: helps prevent anxiety, tension, sleep disorders/insomnia, a lack of concentration, poor digestive health, weakened immune system & low energy.
- arginine: important for arterial & heart health, improves circulation, helps strengthen the immune system & good for male libido.
- hydroxyproline: low levels have been associated with joint degradation and therefore symptoms/signs of aging. It’s main use is collagen stability.
Before we get into all the benefits, there are at least 16 different types of collagen within the human body. These include collagen types 1, 2, 3, 5 and 10. However, between 80-90% of the collagen consists of types 1, 2, and 3, with type 1 accounting for almost 90% of the body’s collagen.
- Type 1: made up of fibres that form parts of the body, including tendons, ligaments, organs & skin. It also helps form bones and can be found within the GI tract. It’s very important for wound healing, giving skin its stretchy/elastic quality & holding together tissue so it doesn’t tear.
- Type 2: helps build cartilage, which is found in connective tissues. The health of our joints relies on cartilage made of type 2 collagen, which is why it’s beneficial for preventing age-associated joint pain/arthritis symptoms.
- Type 3: Type 3 collagen is made of certain fibers and a major component of the extracellular matrix that makes up our organs and skin. It’s usually found with type 1 and helps give skin its elasticity/ firmness. It also forms blood vessels and tissue within the heart.
When it comes to sources of collagen we get from our diets, the main ones are foods very high in protein, such as beef, chicken & fish.
- Bovine (cow or beef) collagen: Comes from the skin, bones & muscles of cows. It’s made of mostly types 1 and 3 collagen & is useful for building muscle & helping the body make its own collagen.
- Chicken collagen: Most abundant in type 2 collagen, which is best for building cartilage. This makes it beneficial for joint health!
- Fish collagen: Collagen derived from fish is easily absorbed & provides mostly type 1 collagen,. Because type 1 can be found throughout the entire body, consuming more fish collagen is associated with benefits for the joints, skin, vital organs, blood vessels, digestion and bones.
ANYWHO, IT’S SAFE TO SAY THAT OUR BODIES NEED COLLAGEN. BUT, we actually make it on our own. However, the reason why so many people take it daily is because ingesting it helps your body MAKE MORE OF IT. In other words, the more we take in, the more our bodies produce!
The thing is our body’s collagen production naturally starts to slow down as we age. This is the reason why as the years go by, we start to see the signs of aging appear, such as: wrinkles, sagging & joint pain.
Other lifestyle factors also contribute to the decrease in collagen production, such as: eating high-sugar diets & refined, processed & packaged foods, excessive alcohol drinking, chronic stress, smoking & high amounts of exposure to the sun.
Although we cannot (unfortunately) permanently get rid of the natural process of aging & in turn, decrease in collagen production, there are ways to consume collagen & to add it to our daily routines & diets in order to fight all the things that happen as collagen production depletes.
Before we get into all the benefits (ALMOST THERE, I SWEAR!), I just want to mention that the type of collagen I take is hydrolized collagen, in both powder & capsule form. Hydrolyzed collagen & gelatin differ, in that collagen is the basic form of protein found in the body while gelatin is produced when collagen is boiled or heated. They are ALMOST interchangeable & have similar compositions but the difference can get confusing when choosing your supplements.
- Collagen powder (the hydrolyzed form of gelatine) contains these proteins broken down into individual peptide chains. Basically, it has been either heated to a high temperature or enzymatically treated to reduce the molecular weight, which limits its ability to “gel”. This form is typically easier to digest, is often suggested for those suffering from digestion issues. It will mix easily into most hot & cold drinks & has no taste whatsoever, making it super easy & versatile to add to foods & drinks! BUT, it will not gel up when mixed with liquid & is therefore not good in recipe that require straight up gelatin.
- Gelatin powder, on the other hand, is the pure form (though some people may not be able to digest it at first) for its ability to coat the digestive track. This is the form that makes things “gel”.
So what exactly are the benefits of collagen?
- IMPROVES THE HEALTH OF SKIN & HAIR: Basically, as we age, the epidermic (outer layer of the skin) thins & loses its elasticity (due to a process known as elastosis). As such, a person tends to show more signs of aging & wrinkles start to appear. Increasing collagen levels can help the skin look firmer & improve elasticity, reduce wrinkles, more supple, increase moisture, hydration & smoothness & help with renewal, regeneration & dead of skin cells. In fact, collagen is one of the best natural skincare ingredients available that has a substantial effect on reducing the signs of aging & promoting younger looking skin. Our hair is made up of 91% protein & our bodies need those essential aminos acids to make protein. This is why taking a collagen supplement is also great for hair growth.
- COLLAGEN IS AN AMAZING SOURCE OF PROTEIN: Collagen is legit pure protein. This makes it great for post-workout refuel & is one of the reasons why I ALWAYS add it to my smoothies!
- HELPS REDUCE STRETCH MARKS & CELLULITE: When skin loses its elasticity due to decreased collagen production, the skin becomes thinner & cellulite becomes more evident & visible. Consuming collagen helps improve the skin’s elasticity & reduces the dimpling effect on our skin. Basically, if your skin has more elasticity, it wont leave behind those marks when stretched (This makes it great for women planing to have kids). With regards to cellulite, let’s be honest: 90% of all women have it & one of the main reasons is due to the way our connective fibres are structured & they start to break down as we age. Taking collagen helps strengthen the bonds and create firmer skin because it gives a stronger foundation! To read my full blog post on all things stretch marks: STRECH MARKS? No problem! My Go-To Remedies to Help Those Bad Boys Fade Away!
- HELPS REDUCE JOINT PAIN & DEGRADATION: Put it this way, as collagen production is decreased, our tendons & ligaments start to move with less ease, which can lead to stiffness &/or swollen joints. Collagen’s gel-like smooth structure that covers & holds our bones together allows us to glide & move without pain, therefore helping the joints move with more ease & reducing the pain associated with aging & the risk of joint degeneration.
- HELPS BALANCE HORMONES: Some research has shown that specific amino acids found in collagen may improve the amino acid balance in the body & support the body’s natural hormone production.
- HELPS HEAL LEAKY GUT (& can also be great for people with IBS): For those who aren’t aware, leaky gut syndrome is a condition where bad-for-you toxins are able to pass through your digestive tract. Taking collagen will help break down the proteins & soothe your gut’s lining by healing damaged cell walls & infusing them with healing amino acids. The collagen basically helps digestion by forming connective tissue & sealing and healing the protective lining of your GI tract. BTW, a lot of people are probably suffering from leaky gut & they don’t even know it. In fact, a lot of illnesses can be traced back to poor & unhealthy gut. This is because poor gut health & permeability in the gut lining allows particles to pass into the bloodstream where they lead to INFLAMMATION. Collagen basically helps pull the acid from the stomach walls & in towards the food to speed up digestion, therefore making food easier to digest! It may also help decrease gas & bloating. In line with digestion, collagen also helps with water absorption within the intestines, so it will help things moving more freely out of the body (if y’all know what I mean) & it also helps break down the protein & fat from foods making them easier for our bodies to digest.
- HELPS BOOST METABOLISM, MUSCLE MASS & ENERGY OUTPUT: Regarding metabolism, collagen provides pure protein of low molecular weight that is quickly absorbed into the digestive tract. Consuming amino acids in the form of collagen also helps improve thyroid health, which as you all know, has a direct effect on metabolism. Regarding muscle mass, collagen adds lean muscle mass to your frame & helps with the conversion of essential nutrients. In fact, one of the most important roles of glycine is to help form muscle by converting glucose into energy that feeds muscle cells (BTW, glycine also plays an important role for the digestive & central nervous sytem & improves the body’s use of antioxidants).
- HELPS STRENGTHEN NAILS, HAIR & TEETH: Collagen is the building block of our fingernails, hair & teeth. Consuming collagen can help keep your nails strong & even possibly reverse signs of hair loss & help thicken your hair.
- COLLAGEN IS HEART HEALTHY (for a bunch of too-complicated scientific-medical reasons that I won’t get into or bore you munchkins with, a.k.a. WORDS I CANNOT EVEN PRONOUNCE!). But in a nutshell, it helps our artery walls release fat build-up in the bloodstream shrinking the fat in the arteries & minimizing fat accumulation, as well as controls blood pressure
- COLLAGEN IS LIVER-HEALTHY! If you want to detox your bod of harmful substances, improve blood flow & keep your heart young, collagen FTW!! This is because glycine helps minimize damage your liver experiences when absorbing foreign substances, toxins or alcohol (YES, WE ALL DO IT!).
- COLLAGEN IMPROVES SLEEP & MEMORY: OKAY & last but not least, we all love a good night’s sleep, right? That same amino-acid, glycine plays an important role in the neurotransmitters within the brain. & recent research has shown that glycine improves sleep quality, decreases feelings of stress & helps reduce daytime sleepiness & memory during waking hours!
NOW, SHOULD YOU TAKE IT OR NOT? & IF SO, HOW?
Whether or not you decide to take collagen is a personal choice! If you were to take my advice (& I am not a nutritionist, dietician or doctor), based on the results that I have seen since incorporating it into my daily routine, I would say YES TO COLLAGEN! Unfortunately, whether we like it or not, we are all subject to the natural process that is AGING! And, if we can do just about anything to ease, slow down or improve the process, WHY NOT? Especially when the thing we are consuming to do just that PACKS A TON OF OTHER BENEFITS FOR OUR HEALTH THAT HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH AGING!
The great thing about collagen is that you don’t have to consume it in powder form. There are tons of great supplements out there in capsule form that will do the trick (as long as they are taken consistently & in conjunction with vitamin C, which we will get to in a few minutes!). If you’re someone who’s unsure that you’ll be able to consume the powder every day simply because you don’t have the time to prepare recipes incorporating it & because you aren’t huge on smoothies, opt for the capsule form!
If you’re unsure about starting to take collagen, TAKE THE LEAP OF FAITH. Try it out & see if you notice any differences in your overall health. Before you start taking it, make a mental list (or jot it down) of all the reasons why you are starting to take it & the issues that you are trying to tackle & improve with it & as time passes, take a second to think about whether or not you have seen any changes &/or benefits since you started taking it! This will help you confirm (or not) whether you should continue taking it! BUT, like with anything when it come stop your health (& to lifestyle changes overall), don’t expect to see the benefits overnight! It’s a process, but I can assure you that the wait is worthwhile! IT WORKS!
If you do decide to take collagen, it’s important to note that there are many factors that support the formation and use of collagen in the body, such as vitamin C, manganese, copper, proline and foods high in anthocyanidins (such as blueberries, cherries and blackberries). In order for collagen to be activated in the body, you always want to take your supplements with a source of amino acids and vitamin C if possible, or make sure that your supplement already includes these activating nutrients to ensure absorption and usefulness.
I take my collagen conjunction with a Vitamin C supplement. Taking Vitamin C with your collagen ensures that your body is able to convert the collagen into protein it can use & in turn, restore the source of your energy & vitality. Basically, vitamin C plays a major role in collagen formation in the body & is a vital molecule for skin health, not to mention, contains a large array of antioxidants that are beneficial to overall health. Vitamin C will give your body’s natural collagen production an additional boost!
NOW, keep in mind that you don’t necessarily need to take Vitamin C in capsule or supplement form, especially if you feel that you are getting enough of it from the foods you are consuming. It really depends on your personal situation & your diet!
ALSO, always remember that: your skin is a reflection of your diet. Our lifestyle & our nourishment has a HUGE impact on our skin’s health. As you guys know, healthy skin is influenced by vitamins, antioxidants, healthy fatty acids & proteins. If you want to protect your body’s natural collagen, opt for a skin-friendly diet! Focus on ANTIOXIDANTS & SULFUR-RICH FOODS! (Research has shown that sulphur is important for collagen synthesis & a deficiency may lead to premature aging of skin!).
- Foods that are high in vitamin C & antioxidants & that can therefore help with collagen production include: citrus fruits, dark leafy greens (kale, spinach, collard), strawberries & blueberries, tomatoes, peppers & beets (due to their lycopene content), carrots & sweet potatoes (due to Vitamin A content, which helps restore damaged collagen),
- Foods high in sulfur include: arugula, dried fruits, coconut milk, cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, cabbage, turnips & cauliflower, some types of dairy, legumes, nuts, garlic & eggs & other proteins like fish, beef and chicken (as they are heavy in amino acids!).
P.S. Collagen can be taken at any time, as long as you get in your daily dose!
WHAT COLLAGEN DO I TAKE & WHAT CHANGES HAVE I NOTICED?
- I take the Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides & the BioCell Collagen supplement by Organika Health.
- I take the Vitamin C capsules by Sisu Vitamins.
- GET THE VITAMIN C HERE.
- P.S. I have also tried the Bulletproof brand Collagen, as well as the NuNaturals one, but Vital Proteins is my go-to & my fave!
Ever since I started taking collagen, the changes I have noticed are:
- HUGE improvement in my digestion! As you guys know, when I first started recovery & in the months following, I was experiencing a lot of digestive issues, as well as tons of bloating, that on some days, was so bad that I could barely function. Ever since I started incorporating collagen (& probiotics) into my diet, I hardly ever experience bloating & my digestion has improved substantially! I’m super regular if you know what I mean (Sorry if that’s TMI) & I don’t seem to have any issues digesting foods that I used to have issues with in the past!
- IT KEEPS ME FULL, SATISFIED & ENERGIZED! Whenever I add it to my smoothies, it keeps me full longer, without giving me that gross full feeling & gives me a huge energy boost! Keep in mind that two scoops of collagen adds about 18g of filling protein to whatever you’re drinking or eating. It’s super versatile, has no taste & completely dissolves in whatever you are making!
- HAIR & SKIN:
- HAIR: Those of you who know me know that in high school/CEGEP, I literally abused my hair with the flat iron & subjected it to WAY TOO MUCH STYLING & HEAT. As a result, the thick beautiful hair that I used to have WENT BUH-BYE. My hair was very burnt & damaged. The effects showed mostly in the front portion of my hair (It looked very damaged scruffy & didn’t look healthy!). Ever since I reduced the amount of heat I apply to my hair & started taking collagen, I’ve noticed a huge difference in my hair’s thickness, in how fast it grows & in its overall texture! My hair looks & feels a lot healthier than it has in years!
- SKIN: Ever since I started taking collagen, I’ve noticed HUGE IMPROVEMENTS in my skin’s texture & firmness. My skin is a lot smoother & having been someone who dealt with dry skin in the past, I feel like my skin is a lot more hydrated than it used to be! Keep in mind that I do use a lot of skincare products that help combat the signs of aging, but I definitely believe that the collagen has contributed to these skin-boosting effects substantially!
- BETTER SLEEP & MORE ENERGY!
- SLEEP: Lastly, ever since I started taking collagen, not only do I find that my sleep is more restful, but I am also able to sleep through the night! (When I was in the depths of my ED, sleeping through the night was a miracle. I often found it hard to fall asleep or found myself waking up in the middle of the night, for a number of reasons, such as: feeling anxious, heart palpitations, etc.).
- ENERGY: My increased energy levels are probably due to many factors, such as other vitamins & supplements I take daily, the fact that I workout on a regular basis & my nutrition, but I strongly believe that the collagen plays a role as well! Ever since I started taking collagen, I’ve noticed that even though my days are usually very packed, I always feel energized & ready to tackle whatever it is that I have to do. I barely ever get to a point where I feel too weak or tired (which is saying a lot given where I’m coming from). Also, whenever I take collagen powder in my smoothies, I feel an instant boost of energy (Keep in mind that my smoothies also usually contain an array of ingredients & superfoods that contain lots of healthy fats, proteins & help boost energy, as well, but I do believe that the collagen plays a vital role!).
YES. YOU MADE IT TO THE END.
NOW, ALL YOU GOTTA DO IS HEAD ON OUT & BUY YOUR COLLAGEN, in whatever form you choose to take it!
Please don’t be shy to message me if you guys have any questions & keep me posted with your feedback & all about the benefits/changes you see after incorporating collagen to your daily routine!
AND LASTLY, IF YOU NEED IDEAS AS TO HOW YOU CAN INCORPORATE COLLAGEN INTO YOUR RECIPES & SMOOTHIES, I GOT YOU:
- Post-Workout Banana Cocoa & Greens Smoothie a.k.a. When Your Smoothie Is THIS LIT, You Show It Off!
- Antioxidants-For-Days & Açai Protein Smoothie a.k.a. Another Day, Another Smoothie, Another Dose of Health!
- Gluten-Free Banana Bread Collagen Balls a.k.a. When-Oatmeal-Cookie-Meets-Banana-Vanilla-&-Cinnamon-You-Fall-In-Love-At-First-Bite!
- Kelly’s Mixed Berry & Cherry Adaptogen Cocoa Vanilla Almond Protein Smoothie a.k.a. Good-For-Your-Skin-Hair-Stress-Muscle-Recovery-&-MAGICALLY-DELICIOUS-&-CREAMY!
- Vanilla Strawberry & Mango Protein-Packed Smoothie Bowl Topped with Bluebs, Flax & Gluten-Free Muesli a.k.a. Creamy-Luscious-Deliciousness-Oh-&-Did-Somebody-Say-FIBRE?!
- (Undercover) Cauliflower, Berries & Greens Vanilla Protein Smoothie a.k.a. That Whole “Cauli-In-Your-Smoothie” Craze Is WELL WORTH The Hype! I Swear!
- Gluten-Free & Refined Sugar-Free Coconut Flour Collagen & Protein COOKIE DOUGH Bites a.k.a. Scrumptious-Deliciousness-Infused-With-Beauty-&-Energy-Boosting-Benefits-Oh-&-Did-Somebody-Say-COOKIE-DOUGH?
- Vegan Almond & Greens Protein Shake a.k.a. When-Your-Afternoon-Pick-Me-Up-Is-This-On-Fleek-You-Brag-About-It!
- Mixed Berry Vanilla Almond Acaï Power Bowl Topped with Strawberries, Banana, Hemp Hearts & Pumpkin Cinnamon Granola a.k.a. Superfood-Beauty-Berry-Bowl-That-Packs-A-Nutritional-Punch-For-Days!
- Post-Workout Berry & Greens Vegan Shake a.k.a. That-All-In-One-Antioxidants-Collagen-&-Protein-Package-Deal-I’ll-Take-It-You?
- Gluten-Free, Vegan & Refined Sugar-Free Matcha Cacao Collagen-Infused “Beauty” Macaroons a.k.a. Scrumptiously-Chewy-But-Chunky-Protein-&-Collagen-Packed-Bites-FTW!
- THE-BEST-EVER Superfood Cocoa Almond Butter Oat Bites a.k.a. Scrumptiously-Chewy-Yet-Crumbly-&-Just-The-Right-Amount-Of-Chocolatey-Oh-&-Chaga-Is-More-Than-Just-A-Mushroom!
- Banana, Pineapple & Greens Collagen & Hemp Smoothie a.k.a. The-Most-Nutritious-Yet-Delicious-Superfood-Afternoon-Pick-Me-Up-That-You-Ever-Did-See-Oh-&-Thanks-For-Plumping-My-Skin-While-You’re-At-It!
- Kelly’s Gluten-Free, Vegan, Refined Sugar-Free Scrumptiously-Chewy-&-Delicious Collagen Cookie Dough Balls a.k.a. It’s-Magic-I-Swear!-A-Cookie-That’s-Good-For-Your-Skin-Hair-Gut-Joints-Nails-Heart-Liver-&-Metabolism!
For a list of all the supplements I take daily: My Daily Vitamins, Minerals & Supplements Routine!
For a list of the steps that you can take towards adopting a healthier lifestyle: My Top “First Steps” That You Can Take To Embark On Your Journey Towards An Overall Healthier Lifestyle a.k.a. Baby-Step-Mentality-FTW!