I’ve noticed a big difference in my skin, hair and nails since I started supplementing collagen, and I’m always looking for more ways to incorporate more collagen into my diet.
So what is collagen exactly and how can we get more of it?
Here’s a brief explanation of what collagen is, plus some ways to get more of it into your diet, how to naturally raise your levels of collagen, and things to avoid to preserve it from breaking down.
What is Collagen?
Collagen makes up about one quarter of the protein in our bodies. It’s found in our muscles, bones, and tendons, and is basically the glue that holds us together. It’s what keeps our skin nice and plump, but as we age, the collagen and elastin in our skin break down. This leads to sagging and wrinkles–something we want to avoid if we want to keep looking young.
Foods to Help You Get More Collagen in Your Diet
Eggs are a good source of collagen – just be careful not to overcook them.
Grass fed meats and wild salmon provide amino acids and the omega 3 fatty acids help reduce inflammation and protect and feed our cell membranes.
Leafy green vegetable and fruits provide antioxidants, such as Vitamin C, to protect our cells and to help build collagen.
Nuts and seeds provide essential minerals, such as manganese and copper, to help build collagen.
Bone broth. When you cook bones, the collagen becomes cooked and turns into gelatin. Bone broth is recommended for reducing inflammation, healing a leaky gut, and more. We’re not talking about the kinds you buy in boxes at the store. There are some companies selling real bone broth, but it tends to be expensive. It’s cheaper and healthier to make your own. See my bone broth recipe.
A healthy diet is the best way to help you maintain your collagen, but it’s hard to get everything we need from our diet sometimes and most people don’t have time to make bone broth. That’s where supplementing collagen can help.
Here’s some possible benefits of supplementing with collagen:
- It supports bone and joint health and builds connective tissue
- It improves elasticity and moisture levels in the skin
- It improves sleep quality
- It supports hormone balance
- It’s good for digestion and can help repair leaky gut
- It helps repair muscle tissue, reduces inflammation and aids recovery
- It reduces cellulite and prevents stretch marks
- It promotes healthier, stronger hair and nails
- It supports healthy teeth and gums
Studies have found that supplementing with collagen is helpful, such as this study that says it’s beneficial to the skin.
You can buy collagen supplements in pill form, but I haven’t tried them as they’re either too expensive or of questionable quality.
For an extra boost of collagen in the morning, I add a scoop of Upgraded™ Collagen Protein to my Bulletproof® Coffee. It’s virtually tasteless and dissolves easily so you can add it to hot or cold drinks (like smoothies), bake with it and add it to sweet or savory dishes. It contains the amino acids glycine, proline, hydoxyproline needed to manufacture our own collagen. Unless you’re eating things like organ meat and connective tissues, it’s hard to get enough of them through your regular diet.
Try to pair your collagen supplement with Vitamin C to help your body convert it into a usable form.
5 Things that Deplete Collagen
- Stress: Stress produces the hormone cortisol that helps break down collagen.
- Sugar: Besides being bad for us in so many other ways, sugar breaks down collagen in the skin through a process known as glycation, which leads to wrinkles and sagging.
- Lack of exercise: Exercise helps boost your metabolism and helps with collagen production. Try to get some kind of movement in every day.
- Too much sun: A little sun every day is good for us because it helps make hormones such as Vitamin D, but, as we know, too much is bad for our skin. Cover up or wear a sunscreen if you’re going to be out in the sun for an extended period of time.
- Smoking: The chemicals in tobacco help break down the collagen in skin.
The next time you think about buying an expensive skin cream or are tempted to go to the dermatologist for expensive injections or laser treatments, try the above suggestions first.