The last time you probably heard of Collagen was back in the day when your lip plumper from Sephora boasted it’s magical benefits (anyone else remember those?!). Until recently, I didn’t understand the importance of this “fibrous protein” found throughout our bodies — and why I was seeing it cropping up as the supplement of choice everywhere in the wellness world.
I did a little digging and testing for you folks to understand (1) what the heck it was, and (2) if adding it to your diet actually worked. Here’s what I found.
What is Collagen anyway?
Collagen is often called the “glue of the body” for it’s role in holding all of our shit together. Basically, it’s a protein found exclusively in animal bodies (e.g. humans) that connects bone to tissue. Fun fact: gram for gram, it’s stronger than steel.
So, collagen is not only an extremely important factor in our bone and joint strength, but also our skin’s suppleness (think: more collagen, less wrinkles). Also, when you’re working out it’s collagen that helps to repair and connect those muscles together.
But, as we get older collagen production in the body decreases. This is why wrinkles form, bones can crack easier and joints are less fluid when we start getting up there in age.
Collagen ain’t all about the lip plumping, huh?!
Why do you need to add Collagen into your diet?
As I started to research the importance of collagen, I couldn’t help but think: Isn’t this a normal process of aging?
Well, not necessarily. Besides reasons of vanity (I’m starting to see some slight wrinkles already!), collagen is actually extremely vital to many different parts of your bodily functions. It has been shown to help heal the gut — which we all know leads to a variety of other health issues — and keep our metabolism revving.
Also, there are a bunch of other lifestyle factors that can decrease collagen. For example, sunlight exposure (e.g. Vitamin D), diet choices (…lots of sugar), and other digestive issues or disease can impact your natural collagen levels.
So, upping your Collagen intake is not just about beautiful, glowing skin (though that’s a major plus!).
Sign me up. How do I find this stuff?
If you’re sold on this fibrous protein, there are lots of different ways that you can add it into your diet.
The first way you can increase your collagen intake is through supplements. Trust me — before I started doing this, I thought that supplements were exclusively made for dudes at the gym. But, Vital Proteins (one of my favorite brands ever!), has a lot of really simple products that help you sneak collagen into your diet. Some of my favorites are: Beauty Boost Supplements, Bone Broth, and their classic Collagen Peptides. For most of these, you can add them into anything you would normally have — like coffee or a smoothie.
There are also a variety of other companies out there that have similar products like Primal Kitchen and HUM Organics. I haven’t tried those out, but typically when looking for Collagen supplements make sure that they are “grass fed.” These tend to be higher in good fats, and you know — are better for the environment.
If you’d rather start this collagen uptake slowly, you can begin to incorporate collagen-rich foods into your diet. Fish, and lean meats have naturally occurring collagen. Bone broth is also cooked collagen.
For my vegan and vegetarian friends certain vegetables help with the collagen production process. Kale and spinach are rich in antioxidants, which assist the body in breaking down collagen. Carrots and sweet potatoes have lots of Vitamin A, which helps to replace collagen that’s been lost.
So, no matter which way you feel best – start adding this strong(er)-than-steel protein to your diet.
Any other collagen tips?! Tell me in the comments!