I approach any new diet or nutrition fad with caution. I put on my experimental lens and investigate it for myself and my body. I take a quick assessment (the "Body Scan Assessment" I mentioned in the blog "Listen to Your Body, But I Don't Hear Anything") and consistently try to reassess how I'm feeling. I strongly encourage you to do the same.
Currently, there are a lot of “Bone Broth Diets” discussing how to lose weight fast. However, in this blog, I hope to share some additional benefits of bone broth (collagen and gelatin) that may peak your interest if you’re aiming to live more healthfully.
So first off, what is collagen?
“Collagen is the most abundant protein in the body and is a key constituent of all connective tissues. Collagen provides the infrastructure of the musculoskeletal system, essential for mobility. The intake of collagen ensures the cohesion, elasticity and regeneration of skin, hair, tendon, cartilage, bones and joints. Collagen is a protein made up of amino-acids: glycine, proline, hydroxyproline, and arginine.” - Vital Proteins
Below are some of the more popular and more marketable benefits:
Improves the health of hair (less brittle, thicker)
Increases skin moisture levels
Improves skin texture (smoothness and suppleness)
Increases strength of nails (stronger, thicker, less brittle)
But if we go beyond, how collagen can promote more youthfulness, what do we find?
#1: Gut Health: For many of us, sometimes it’s challenging to get in adequate protein without upsetting the healthfulness of our GI system. Eating too many meat sources, can be fairly acidic, therefore disrupting the pH balance in our bodies, especially when combined with too little fruits and vegetables. An imbalance in pH level, can result in a higher risk of illness (ex. More susceptible to colds/flus, and more likely to have IBS, diarrhea, constipation or bloating flare ups).
Collagen is typically digested well (however, experiment for yourself. Remember, everyone’s body is different). Collagen is composed of amino acids (glycine, proline, hydroxyproline, and arginine), which serve as building blocks for developing more lean muscle tissue. It helps propel you towards optimizing recovery. Amino acids, also increase gastric acid secretion, which unlike meat sources, help us better digest foods. Collagen, helps heal the gut lining and reduce inflammation.
I’ve previously talked about the importance of gut health and it’s direct correlation to anxiety and depression. Imagine if the foods you consumed, were not being absorbed due to “leaky gut” syndrome (basically, your intestinal wall having “pockets” that let nutritious vitamins and nutrients slip though and into the bloodstream). Therefore, regardless of how “healthy” your diet is, you would still feel tired, lethargic, bloated and express a depressed mood. The permeability of your intestinal wall, can be repaired via a healthful diet, that of which including collagen.
#2: Cost: In the ideal world we’d all be able to enjoy local, organic produce and grass-fed meat products. However, high quality meats are expensive (remember, not corn fed or corn finished), and oftentimes hard to find. Collagen can be a viable option to help supplement the diet. It may help you increase your overall protein intake without breaking your wallet. The collagen I would suggest, comes in a tub for about $43, keep in mind that $43 gets you 28 servings (roughly $1.50 per serving).
#3: Ease and Consistency: Ever found it difficult to create more of a balanced meal? One of the largest benefits is the ease of incorporating collagen. Personally, I mix it in with my coffee in the morning. It’s tasteless, so I don’t even notice it, and it helps boost my overall protein intake. Collagen can be incorporated easily into soups, smoothies, and even baked goods, and because of the protein content, will leave you feeling more satiated.
#4: Performance: Because of the amino acid profile (also coined “the building blocks of protein”) in collagen, collagen is hugely beneficial in muscle repair and recovery. Often times when training load increases (or when starting a new training program), we tend to also notice an increase in muscle fatigue or soreness (note: optimal recovery depends on additional factors: sleep, stress management, training progressions, light exposure etc). Adding in collagen may help reduce potential “delays” in your progress. If you’re less sore, more recovered day to day, most likely your training will reflect that. You’ll feel stronger day to day and more refreshed.
#5 Injury repair: Collagen can also help aid in the repairing process after an injury. How? Collagen helps rebuild the connective tissues that are compromised when injured. So, let’s say for example you sprained your ankle. Swelling, bruising, and pain. Ouch! You’re told to rest and ice. But what if we could help speed up recovery by also eating foods that help repair those ligaments and tendons? Insert collagen! It will help your body through the healing process. Because, I would consider collagen to be an anti-inflammatory aid, it will help manage the swelling.
#5: Void of Tryptophan: We can’t talk about collagen without also bringing gelatin into the conversation. Gelatin, is the breakdown of collagen. It’s the gooey, jello-like substance we often find in stews, or boths that contain bones. Well, gelatin, contains a positive amino acid profile void of tryptophan. Tryptophan, when consumed in excess can lead to increased inflammation. An increase in inflammation over an extended period of time can result in pain, decreased mood, decreased strength, weight gain etc. Gelatin, has proven benefits like the following:
Improving gut health
Stabilizing blood sugar
Improving hair, skin and nails
(Here is a great recipe for Egg Free Brownies with Beef Gelatin).
Though, it can aid in tighter skin and healthy hair, it has many healing benefits. Collagen (and gelatin) may be something to consider adding into your diet. It can make an impact on literally every part of your body. From healing your gut to improving memory in the brain, from your muscles to your ligaments.
Personally, I am a fan of Vital Proteins.