Get a Collagen Boost
You can get more of this important protein in your diet from bone broth or hydrolyzed collagen powder
This important protein may hold the key to healthy aging.
I’ve heard that collagen is related to bone broth, but I know virtually nothing about it. What is collagen, and why are people taking it? — Rebecca C., Kansas City, Kan.
Collagen is the most abundant protein in our bodies. In fact, it accounts for one- third of the total protein in our bodies, and 70 percent of the protein in our skin. It provides the structure in connective tissue and is found in our bones, tendons, ligaments, gut, hair, and nails. There are many types of collagen, but 90 percent of the collagen in the body are types 1, 2, and 3.
Collagen is made from the protein we eat. Protein helps rebuild damaged joint tissues and produce healthy cartilage, which is another type of collagen. But while our bodies make collagen, this production decreases as we age. Environmental factors such as pollution, and lifestyle factors such as poor nutrition, can also diminish collagen production.
Our ancestors utilized whole- animal nutrition, which naturally provided an abundant amount of collagen. Bone broths, good sources of collagen, are staples in the traditional diets of most every culture. This protein also made its way into early diets through slowcooked shanks, necks, feet, oxtails, and ribs, as well as in whole- fi sh soups and stews. Few people prepare and eat these foods today, so virtually none of us are getting much collagen in our diets. And that’s not good, because this multitasking protein performs numerous key functions in the body.
Collagen Roles and Benefits
Collagen is critical for smooth, healthy skin, and research suggests that supplementation might counteract some signs of aging. One double- blind, placebocontrolled study found that collagen supplements used daily among women ages 35– 55 for eight weeks signifi cantly improved skin elasticity. In another double- blind study, women who took a collagen supplement daily experienced a 20 percent reduction in wrinkle depth around their eyes after eight weeks.
Some people report other benefi ts from collagen supplementation, such as healthier hair and nails, improved wound healing, a decrease in cellulite, and even speedier recovery from injury. Mark Sisson, Paleo diet expert at Mark’s Daily Apple blog, wrote that when he suff ered an Achilles tendon injury, he experienced dramatic healing after he began supplementing with collagen.
Many people also report that their joints become less achy and stiff when they supplement with collagen. Studies have shown that supplemental collagen provides improvement in some measures of pain and function in people with osteoarthritis or other arthritic conditions.
Collagen might also help with postexercise muscle recovery. A study by the Department of Nutrition and Sports Nutrition for Athletics at Penn State University found that when student athletes supplemented with collagen over the course of 24 weeks, the majority showed a signifi cant improvement in joint comfort, along with a decrease in factors that negatively impacted athletic performance.
Ways to Get More Collagen
You can get collagen from foods such as gelatin used in recipes ( yes, this includes Jell- O), but the best- known food source is bone broth ( sometimes called stock), long revered as a healing food. Bone broth is easily digestible, and it may help strengthen the immune system and reduce infl ammation and symptoms during illness.