Everyone is aware they require protein but there are many sources to consider. One that should be at the top of your list is collagen.
You always want to find the cleanest versions of food whenever possible. Just like there are top choices of protein, carbs, and fats there are many great sources of collagen. This article will look at what collagen is, why it’s important and the best natural sources.
Why Is Protein So Important?
I’m sure you’re aware that you need protein in your diet, no surprise there. What people forget though is protein is not just about building up muscle but is crucial for so many functions in the body including:
- The structure, function, and regulation of the body’s tissues and organs
- Making enzymes
- Repairing tissue
- Building hormones
- Regulating body processes
- Transporting nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, cholesterol, blood sugar, and oxygen
- Crucial in immunity
- Contraction and use of muscle
It goes on from here but you can see how you need protein not just for building big biceps.
What Is Collagen?
Collagen is a structural protein and the most abundant protein found in mammals. Collagen makes up 70% of your skin, hair, nails, discs, ligaments, tendons, and even your gut lining. You can see that you want to include it in your diet as you are literally made of it. The problem is the average person is maybe getting 5% in their diet as far as their overall protein intake. This needs to be higher upwards of at least 30% but many people who don’t eat real whole foods are at risk for not getting enough.
You can look at collagen like a building block to get the best understanding. One of the big things it does is the help to repair the gut and prevent leaky gut syndrome. They have linked this with things like autoimmune disease, IBS, ADHD, even migraines and headaches. One of the best reasons (and some would say #1 reason) to consume collagen is to improve your gut health.
When your gut is not healthy your whole body suffers and collagen plays a big role in optimal gut function. The next thing it’s big for – and people who use beauty products will know where I’m going – is that it’s crucial for skin, hair, nails and overall beauty. Conditions like cellulite are more because the skin has become weakened because of a lack of collagen. Collagen is important for the tightening of the skin and the overall health and appearance of it.
Wrinkles appear because of the same issue with the cellulite; the body is producing less collagen and there is less structure and support in the skin. When you’re younger, the body produces more collagen, and therefore young people have healthier looking and glowing skin.
Collagen also helps to thicken up your hair and strengthen your nails and it’s why you see it in a multitude of different beauty products. This is also why collagen is needed as it not only strengthens those external things but your internal joints, tendons, and ligaments. Things like omega-3 and fish oil are important and helpful for the joints but you want to make sure you’re not deficient in the amino acids that come from collagen.
This is causing joint pain and inflammation which can have a bad impact on your everyday life. The connective tissue is just not as strong as it could be and it’s the reasons people suffer joint issues more than muscles issues. We tend to tear ligaments and tendons and not biceps and quads because of low levels of collagen.
A majority of elderly people have all these joint problems because of a lack of collagen and increase protein requirements they’re not getting.
So you can see how important this is but what are the best natural sources of collagen?
1. Beef Collagen
On a supplement, you will see this as “Bovine Collagen“. Ideally, you want to get this from grass-fed beef sources so you know that you’re not being exposed to the hormones and antibiotics that are used on commercial livestock. This is an average source of collagen but will be great for your hair, skin, nails, bones, and those sorts of areas of your body.
2. Chicken Collagen
They consider this a type 2 collagen and it makes up your ligaments, tendons, connective tissue, and cartilage. When you think of these things you think of your knees but this concerns other parts of your body including your neck, back, and spine. The health of the discs in your back depends on collagen and a lot of back issues may be because of deficiency. This is a great natural source of collagen if you’re looking for improved joint related health.
3. Chicken Bone Broth
So these are both connected but the bone broth is a different form of getting this type 2 collagen. Bone broth is an amazing substance that’s been used for thousands of years. When people get sick what are one of the staple foods they want? Soups like chicken noodle come to mind. The bone broth is full of collagen and helps to repair the gut lining, fight infection and provide a ton of nutrients to the body that promotes healing.
You can buy bone broth in supermarkets but I wouldn’t waste your money. These commercial varieties are high in sodium and other additives. The other reason is you can make this at home for next to nothing and it will be much more nutritious. You need chicken bones, water, celery, carrots, onion, garlic, and some herbs. You want to take a large pot and fill it with water until it covers the ingredients.
First, you will bring it up to a boil and then take it right down to the lowest heat. From here you can simmer for at least 4-6 hours but more will be better for extracting more collagen and nutrients from the bones. You can go up to 16 hours which is what many high-end restaurants do. I would aim to let it simmer for at least 8 hours and you can portion it off and freeze what you don’t need right away.
4. Wild Fish Collagen
This is collagen which will help support your bodies natural collagen production. Just like chicken broth, you can make fish broth out of the bones. You can use either of these broths in soups or stews to get a daily dosage of clean collagen to your body.
So those are the animal-based sources of collagen but if you’re vegan – or looking to avoid animal products – there are other great natural foods that can boost your collagen production:
- Dark green leafy vegetables
- Pumpkin seeds
You can see that these are all foods you can include daily. So not only will you get a boost in your bodies collagen production, but they provide a ton of great nutrition. Collagen is a critical component of our bodies and the good news is there are many great natural sources of collagen to help boost your overall health and wellness.