Get a Col­la­gen Boost

You can get more of this im­por­tant pro­tein in your diet from bone broth or hy­drolyzed col­la­gen pow­der

Better Nutrition - - CONTENTS - BY MELISSA DIANE SMITH

This im­por­tant pro­tein may hold the key to healthy aging.

Q

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.

A

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.

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