COL­LA­GEN – THE WON­DER WORKER

WE’RE USED TO HEAR­ING ABOUT THE ROLE OF COL­LA­GEN IN MAIN­TAIN­ING THE ELAS­TIC­ITY OF OUR SKIN AS WE AGE, BUT THIS PRO­TEIN HAS MANY OTHER POS­I­TIVE EF­FECTS ON OUR HEALTH.

LOSE IT! - - Contents - BY NU­TRI­TIONAL THER­A­PIST SALLY-ANN CREED

This pro­tein has many pos­i­tive ef­fects on health

We’re made up of more than 30% col­la­gen, which acts like a glue. It strength­ens the struc­ture of the body and aids the in­tegrity, elas­tic­ity and re­gen­er­a­tion of con­nec­tive tis­sue, skin, ten­dons, lig­a­ments, car­ti­lage and bone. This flex­i­ble sub­stance has in­cred­i­ble strength – the fib­rils can­not be bro­ken, even when stretched. Chil­dren and young peo­ple’s bod­ies make plenty of col­la­gen (un­less their health is com­pro­mised) but by the age of 60 you will have lost more than 50% of your col­la­gen. This is due to age­ing (of course), hor­monal changes, med­i­ca­tion, smok­ing, al­co­hol, pro­cessed food, sugar, seed oils, ra­di­a­tion, flu­o­ride in the wa­ter, stress, too much sun, nu­tri­tional de­fi­cien­cies and de­hy­dra­tion, among other fac­tors.

Low lev­els of col­la­gen in the joints cause a loss of car­ti­lage and joint func­tion, re­sult­ing in dis­com­fort, pain and even bone loss in ex­cess of the for­ma­tion of new bone. Sar­cope­nia, or the loss of mus­cle mass, is a very real prob­lem in older peo­ple, af­fect­ing bal­ance, gait and mo­bil­ity – and col­la­gen is in­stru­men­tal in pre­vent­ing some of this mus­cle loss. Other symp­toms of de­fi­ciency are: • wounds that take too long to heal • aching mus­cles • stiff­ness • dry eyes, headaches, skin rashes • loos­ened teeth, re­ced­ing gums and other den­tal prob­lems.

As skin cells be­come less ac­tive, the col­la­gen ma­trix pro­vid­ing struc­ture and firm­ness be­gins to break down, and skin be­comes thin­ner and de­hy­drated, re­sult­ing in the de­vel­op­ment of lines and fur­rows.

You can boost col­la­gen for­ma­tion by eat­ing high qual­ity an­i­mal pro­tein. Bone broth and brawn are won­der­ful sources of col­la­gen, and the omega-3 fatty acids found in fatty fish such as salmon, sar­dines, trout, pilchards and cod liver oil all sup­port col­la­gen pro­duc­tion. Vi­ta­min C also helps your body to ramp up col­la­gen pro­duc­tion.

It is en­tirely pos­si­ble to get enough col­la­gen by eat­ing gelati­nous meat, car­ti­lage from

Low lev­els of col­la­gen in the joints cause a loss of car­ti­lage and joint func­tion, re­sult­ing in dis­com­fort, pain and even bone loss in ex­cess of the for­ma­tion of new bone

chicken drum­sticks and chicken skin ev­ery day, but if this doesn’t ap­peal to you, the fastest way to in­crease col­la­gen is by tak­ing a good sup­ple­ment.

Types of col­la­gen

There are nearly 30 dif­fer­ent types of col­la­gen in the body. The most com­mon are: • Type I: found in skin, mus­cles, hair, nails, ten­dons, bone, vas­cu­lar lig­a­tures and or­gans • Type II: the main com­po­nent of car­ti­lage • Type III: found with type I in all con­nec­tive tis­sue.

Types I and III oc­cur to­gether nat­u­rally in bovine col­la­gen, which comes from the in­ner hide of the cow, as well as from car­ti­lage and bone, and it’s the clos­est to what we make in our own bod­ies. It con­tains a high level of the amino acid pro­line, which plays a crit­i­cal role in prompt­ing the body to pro­duce its own col­la­gen. The other amino acids in it that do the heavy lift­ing are glycine, ala­nine and hy­drox­ypro­line.

Type II, which is found in chicken col­la­gen, should be taken sep­a­rately from types I and III to en­sure ad­e­quate ab­sorp­tion. It’s par­tic­u­larly help­ful for joint prob­lems, os­teoarthri­tis, stiff­ness and joint pain.

I rec­om­mend sup­ple­ment­ing types I and III col­la­gen from a grass-fed bovine source, and type II from chicken. The sup­ple­ment should con­tain no preser­va­tives, E num­bers, added flavour­ing, or sta­bilis­ers – and it should be in pow­der form.

Avoid fish col­la­gen (some­times called ma­rine col­la­gen) as you don’t know which kind of fish is used and there is the po­ten­tial for al­ler­gic re­ac­tions. I’d also avoid porcine col­la­gen, un­less it’s from free-roam­ing pigs. I pre­fer to stick to bovine and chicken sources, and I’d rather eat eggs than use egg col­la­gen.

Be­cause col­la­gen is pure pro­tein, there are no car­bo­hy­drates – tak­ing a sup­ple­ment won’t in­ter­fere with ke­to­sis or stall weight loss. In fact, as a pro­tein, it en­cour­ages weight loss. It’s also a ‘com­plete’ pro­tein so it has all the es­sen­tial amino acids. The sup­ple­ment is sol­u­ble in both cold and hot liq­uids, so it’s ver­sa­tile as you can bake with it or add it to hot or cold food. I stir mine into my morn­ing cof­fee for ex­tra creami­ness be­cause it’s taste­less.

Many peo­ple are lac­tose or ca­sein in­tol­er­ant and can’t take whey pro­tein pow­ders. Col­la­gen is the ideal sub­sti­tute, but it’s not rec­om­mended for preg­nant women due to the high lev­els of amino acids.

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