Collagen supplements and protein powders have increased in popularity in recent months – some would call it one of the newest health food ‘fads’. What’s the deal with collagen that makes it so popular? You may be wondering how collagen could help your hair, skin, nails, joints, and gut?
Collagen is the main protein that is part of all the connective tissue in our body – hair, skin, nails, bones, cartilage, muscles, blood vessels, ligaments, tendons, and the lining of our gut. It provides strength to these structures while still giving them the flexibility to move. Vitamin C is also needed to help form the collagen matrix within the connective tissue. When the collagen matrix is not as strong, it weakens the connective tissue. This can make hair and nails break easily; skin starts to lose its elasticity; muscle weakness and/or muscle tears; weakened blood vessel walls; weakened connective tissue in the intestines may contribute to increased intestinal permeability; ligaments/tendons/muscles can be more prone to damage and tears; bones and joints may become weaker resulting in joint pain.
Consuming hydrolyzed collagen is the best form as this is broken down into amino acids which makes it easier to absorb into the body and build the collagen matrix. Gelatin can help to build connective tissue as it has the same amino acids that are in hydrolyzed collagen but it is not as well absorbed as it is not processed the same way – this makes gelatin a great source for healing the intestine and it has more of a gel-like consistency which makes it great to use in making healthy gummies.
Some things to know when buying a collagen supplement:
- Since collagen is derived from animals, there are two forms on the market – bovine and marine – so depending on your ethical and/or religious beliefs, this may deter you away from using collagen.
- Vital Proteins have a great form of bovine collagen peptides and marine collagen. The matcha collagen peptides I used in this recipe is from Vital Proteins. Bulletproof also has a hydrolyzed collagen power. There are other powders on the shelves of health stores.
- While some people may notice relief within a week of taking collagen supplements, often it takes time to accumulate in the body and form the collagen matrix to strengthen connective tissue before you see benefits.
- Know that collagen alone may not be the answer to providing strength to these tissues in the body and there may be a deeper root cause – thyroid dysfunction can affect skin, hair, and nails; autoimmune conditions can affect joints; bacterial imbalances can create gut inflammation contributing to leaky gut to name a few other causes. This is where seeing naturopathic doctors or other healthcare professionals can be useful.
If you have joint pain, arthritis, tendinosis, weak tendons and ligaments, partial tendon/ligament tears, shin splints (micro tears in the muscles of the calves), collagen can help strengthen the tissue but it may take some time. Prolotherapy is a form of injection therapy that is great for these type of musculoskeletal conditions.
Prolotherapy uses sugar (dextrose) to induce a controlled inflammatory response which helps the body initiate tissue repair. Through this process, it brings nutrients and new blood vessels to the site along with fibroblasts. Fibroblasts help form granulation tissue (a form of collagen) to strengthen the connective tissue framework again. As months goes by, the newly formed connective tissue remodels itself and becomes stronger and flexible. Learn more about prolotherapy here.
If you are curious on what else can be done for joint pain and arthritis other than having to take collagen, have a quick read at Joint Pain – A Naturopathic view to Arthritis.
MATCHA COLLAGEN SMOOTHIE BOWL
- ½ Avocado
- 1 banana
- 1 package (10g) Vital Proteins Matcha collagen peptides powder**
- ½ – ¾ cup almond milk
- ¼ cup spinach leaves
- Unsweetened coconut flakes
- Chia seeds
- Fresh blueberries
- Add the avocado, banana, collagen, almond milk, and spinach in a blender and blend until smooth. You can add milk or water to make it your desired consistency.
- Pour into a bowl and top with unsweetened shredded coconut flakes, chia seeds, and fresh blueberries
You can consume the smoothie bowl as is or add some granola and/or other toppings to it.
** Since this powder contains matcha (a form of green tea), it does have a small amount of caffeine. Matcha is also a great source of the antioxidant commonly found in green tea known as EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate).
Nutrition Facts: 421kcal; Protein: 15.1g; Fat: 22.7g; Trans fats: 0g; Net Carbs: 31.4g; Fibre: 15.0g; lots of vitamins and minerals [Nutrition data as per the Cronometer app]