Collagen 101

April 7, 2021

Collagen. I get a lot of questions about collagen - what it is, why we should have it, how to best get it and when we should take it. There are lots and lots of powder and liquid collagen blends out there but - shocker of all shockers - I'm going to recommend you get a NATURAL form of collagen.


Before I jump into collagen I need to answer the WHAT question. What exactly is collagen??


Collagen is an English word that comes from the Greek word "kolla" which means "glue". Collagen is just that - its the glue that holds our body together. It's a protein that's found naturally in our body (and the bodies of all animals, vertebrates anyway). It makes up 1/3 of the protein in your body and is found in skin, muscles, bones, blood vessels, eyes, teeth and other body parts, including connective tissue (like cartilage and tendons). It's super important for our overall heath and movement. There are about 16 different types of collagen and they have different jobs based on where they are found. One type, for instance, makes up the cartilage in your joints and provides cushioning and support to those joints. Another type of collagen is found in your skin.


As we age our bodies produce less collagen (both in quality and quantity), hold onto collagen less and retain collagen poorly. That's one reason we need total joint replacements - less collagen in our joints mean degeneration (bone on bone contact) and pain. My whole career as a PT was spent with people who had a replacement due to pain and lack of functioning. Another side effect to this collagen loss is saggy skin. WRINKLES!!!!


So what to do? How can we fight these issues? Both the medical and, quite frankly, the cosmetic side of the loss of collagen? We need to increase collagen. We do that by intaking more collagen. (A side note, collagen also needs vitamin C to be absorbed well.)


The best forms of natural collagen are:


  1. Bone broth - I have shared my recipe and instructions for bone broth in many places. I have a video on our youtube channel and written out on the website in the FAQ portion. Bone broth is super easy! You basically take the bones from a whole chicken, put them in a big pot and cover with water, add a splash of apple cider vinegar and cook until the bones are soft. You'll end up with a pot of clear semi-liquid, with a jello-like consistency when cooled. As you warm it up it will become liquid again and its a great base for soups. I also use it to cook quinoa and rice. We also just drink it with our lunch. It's basically chicken noodle soup broth. It's what your grandmother gave you when you were sick as a kid!
  2. Whole roasted chicken, carved off the bone. Yep. That's right folks! If you can get your hands on pastured chicken (caged chickens don't have the collagen pastured chickens do), roast that chicken in the oven and enjoy the collagen boost! Then after you've eaten the chicken, go back to number 1 and make a pot of bone broth.
  3. Wild caught fish and shellfish.
  4. Eggs. Pastured eggs are amazing for you in so many ways. Pastured eggs are lower in calories and fat, higher in vitamin A and omega 3s and very high in proline, which is a building block of collagen.
  5. Citrus fruits and berries. As I mentioned before, collagen needs vitamin C to make the most impact, so make sure you're getting vitamin C with your collagen.


Now, I've given you some ways to increase your collagen intake and I recommend you do just that! Increase your intake of natural collagen NATURALLY. I know there are handy-dandy powders out there that you can magically stir in water and it disappears. And those might be just fine! Research is being done on those powders all the time with differing results. But you know what is tried and true? Natural collagen found in natural places like chicken, bones, eggs, fish and fruit. So I recommend you get them naturally.


This doesn't mean that by increasing your collagen intake you're going to get the looks of a face lift or people will think you've had Botox. But really, our faces are meant to move! And aging is an unbelievable gift that many people don't get so enjoy the gift of life and remember that those laugh lines are the effect of a life well lived and enjoyed.


Collagen is much much more than a cream to smear on your face to erase the years. It's an essential protein in our bodies that helps us move, see, jump, run, hike and bike. So drink up! Eat up! And get your collagen naturally.


As always, call me if you have any questions!


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