Collagen: what it is, how to use it, the benfits
Collagen has been gaining a lot of attention lately and for good reason! It’s an impressive little protein. I’m here to give you a crash course on all things collagen! We’re going to be discussing the common mix up people get between collagen and gelatin, what collagen is, the benefits and how to use it!
Collagen vs Gelatin
Collagen and gelatin get confused often and most people aren’t too sure what the difference really is. For the purpose of this article, I’ll be referring to hydrolyzed collagen anytime I mention collagen. All this means is that the collagen is processed more and the protein is broken down into smaller particles.
First of all, their benefits are the same, the amino acids are the same, the protein content is the same, it’s the difference in their chemical structures which gives them different properties. The first difference is consistency. Gelatin will gel at room temperature or below, collagen dissolves completely in warm or cold liquids. Another noteworthy difference is the molecular weight: gelatin is heavier and doesn’t absorb as easily or as readily as collagen. Collagen has a 90% absorption rate and does it in just 30-minutes making it very bioavailable. For people with intense digestive issues or ailments, gelatin can be more difficult to digest.
You can watch my YouTube video on collagen by clicking here.
What is collagen?
You’ll find collagen throughout the body but most abundantly in different types of our connective tissues like the tendons, cartilage and ligaments
Collagen is an insoluble, complex fibrous protein made up of many different amino acids. There are 3 types of collagen: type I, type II and type III and they all coexist to maintain healthy bones, cartilage, skin, tendons, joints, teeth etc.
Collagen accounts for 1/3 of all the protein found in the body, with 70% of the protein in the skin being collagen. It’s unique because of the amino acids it contains: arginine, alanine, proline, hydroxyproline, glycine, lysine, glutamic acid, aspartic acid, valine, threonine and serine to name a few.
Collagen can be derived from consuming cartilage, tendons and ligaments of animals, which most of us aren’t down with- totally fine! You can also reap the benefits of making your own bone broth, which is an extraction method- this is my favourite way to get collagen because you’re getting more than just collagen when you make broth. However, supplementing with a collagen powder is easy and it’s something I recommend you do if you’re not drinking broth daily. The one I’m currently taking is the Enhanced Collagen from Organika. It’s readily available at most health stores. Other brands I’ve used and love include Great Lakes and Vital Proteins. All are from grass-fed cows (bovine). There are also marine (fish) based collagens if you prefer. Brands that I’m familiar with that make marine collagen are Vital Proteins and Nakka.
The Benefits of Collagen
Aging slows down the production of collagen we have naturally in our bodies. There are additional factors that can contribute to further decline and these include: hormonal imbalances, toxicity, stress, nutritional deficiencies, a diet that is high in sugar and processed foods, leaky gut and other digestive issues. The natural production drops begins around the age of 25…yikes! Here are 3 of my favourite reasons to supplement:
Well, it doesn’t get any better for joint nourishment than collagen. Think of collagen as the slippery glue that holding the body together. Joint cartilage needs the amino acids found in collagen to stay strong and for lowering inflammation. The stiffness and pain in the joints and ligaments can be a result of collagen depletion. The friction can be reduced by increasing your collagen intake to create a lubrication-like affect on the joints. This is promising for people suffering from arthritis and osteo conditions.
Every ailment begins in the gut! The digestive benefits of collagen are my personal favourite and the reason why I give it to my kids. I’m all about a healthy digestive system because I know from personal experience both within myself and through watching my kids that digestive ailments negatively impact everything from your mood and behaviour to your body’s ability to absorb nutrients and stay healthy. Most kids have ‘leaky gut’- meaning that the intestinal tract is permeable- it allows undigested food and pathogens to pass through the junctions in the lining and go into the bloodstream where they don’t belong. We want to ‘heal and seal’ the intestinal walls to prevent this from happening. To do so, amino acids are needed to close off the junctions and forms healthy connective tissue in the intestinal tract.
Collagen is a rich source of amino acids and help with that lockdown. When the GI is healed and sealed, there is a strong barrier that keeps food and pathogens out of the bloodstream and keeps our body from eliciting an immune response.
The third benefit, albeit a little vain, is still a benefit nonetheless. Healthy hair, skin and nails begin with collagen! I don’t think it’s bad to mention the beauty benefits because the inner health benefits far outweigh the external. I really wanted to share my experience in this: my hair has never grown faster, my nails (despite months upon months of shellac) grow faster and are stronger than ever and… my skin feels amazing. I’ve noticed a considerable difference in the tightness of my skin. As I mentioned earlier, 70% of the protein in our skin is collagen. I don’t know about you but I’m well over 25 so it would only make sense that fine lines, wrinkles and the sagging of my skin would begin by now.
The elasticity in our skin keeps our skin looking tight and youthful, with collagen in the system, healthy skin cells will rejuvenate making our skin appear smoother, firmer and healthier!
How to use collagen
Collagen is versatile. It’s flavourless, dissolves in hot or cold water, is heat stable and freezes well. There are endless ways you can add it to your life. I get mine in daily by making my Bulletproof Coffee. Keep it simple by adding some into your water, tea or kombucha. You can add collagen to any baking recipe without it altering the taste or consistency of whatever it is you’re baking. So, if you’re baking muffins, cookies or even cupcakes, add it! Making French toast? Whisk some into the egg mixture. Serving dip? Mix it into your hummus, spinach dip or dressing. It also goes well in soup, stews, chili’s, burgers or meatballs. It’s a surefire way to get nutrients into the kids without them noticing. The possibilities are endless!
Sound off below, do you use collagen? Leave a comment and share your creative ways of getting it in!