In the past month, more people than ever has asked me about collagen, how to get more and if it really does all the things it says. To be honest, I’m a supplement skeptic. Everyone asks, if I take it, will I feel better? No, probably not, and it’s important to note that’s not what supplements are anyway. They’re to supplement what you’re currently eating and taking in for nutrients, I doubt that any of us will notice a drastic effect from adding in collagen or protein powder or BCAAs or what have you. Cumulatively, with other positive lifestyle changes, like more sleep, better hydration, managed stress and frequent training will handle most of that load. We can use supplements to bring up a deficiency or to get more of something that we don’t often get. That’s where collagen comes into play.
In the great book, Deep Nutrition, Dr. Catherine Shanahan goes over her Four Pilars of Health. She uses these principles of healthy eating for humans, not by forcing this restricting diet over this one or that one. These principles can be added into any current diet of someone looking for health benefits without the dogmatic, in-your-face style we’re used to with diet books.
First, what is collagen anyway?
“Collagens are extra-cellular proteins that give skin its ability to move, stretch and rebound into shape…Collagens aren’t just in skin; they’re everywhere, imparting strength to all your tissues… [they] hold our outermost layer of skin together, unite adjacent cells in all your glands and organs, they’re in the bones, heart valves, brains, liver and lungs. Bundles of collagen form extended strips and sheets in sturdier tissues like ligaments and tissues that surround your joints and hold your skeleton together.”
Deep Nutrition, pg. 306-207
One of her principles is to eat meat off the bone. This way, without remembering to make a smoothie with collagen power in the morning, or take a daily pill, you can get a hearty dose every now and then. Shanahan recommends making soup with bones or drinking bone broth to get all the collagen building nutrients.
Before you reach for the latest and greatest supplement, try a slight modification in your diet. Cook some cuts of meat with bones to get some tendons and ligaments, order the bone marrow for an appetizer and make a hearty soup with some bone broth.