About six years ago, I went through a year-long phase, where I had a green smoothie for breakfast almost every single day. It was chockfull of leafy green fiber; yet, after apx. 45 minutes to an hour later, I found myself feeling hungry again! Even when I added pea protein powder to my smoothie, I still would up feeling hungry a short time later.
These days, I find that eating animal protein—salmon, sardines, chicken, turkey or lamb, along with plenty of leafy greens—at my first meal of the day is the best strategy for fending off hunger—for hours. This also tames cravings and helps with focus and energy.
Recently, I discovered grass-fed bovine collagen powder. It is a concentrated source of quality protein: collagen.
Collagen has become a trendy nutritional supplement, but the health benefits are real.
What collagen is—and is not
Collagen is an abundant protein and major building block of skin, bones, teeth, hair, nails, tendons, ligaments, muscles and blood vessels. Unfortunately, as we age, our bodies makes less collagen.
It is also important to keep in mind that collagen is NOT a complete protein. When a food source is a “complete protein”, this means that it contains all 9 essential amino acids that are required to build and repair protein tissues in the body.Collagen peptides are characterized by their high level of specific non-essentialamino acids, including glycine, hydroxyproline, glycine and alanine. So, even if you are consuming collagen on a regular basis, you still want to be mindful of incorporating high-quality sources (e.g., wild-caught, organic, grass-fed, pasture-raised, cage-free, free-range) of complete proteins.
Animal foods, like wild-caught fish, grass-fed or pasture-raised meats and poultry, pasture-raised eggs and dairy, are considered complete proteins.On the other hand, most plant foods are considered “incomplete proteins”, meaning that they are missing certain amino acids that would make it a complete protein.
Eating complete protein is especially beneficial if you have an autoimmune disease, like Hashimoto’s, Lupus or rheumatoid arthritis, or a chronic health condition or challenge, like diabetes or heart disease. Eating complete protein also helps create lean muscle which can help boost your metabolism.
Health benefits of collagen
Collagen has often been touted as an anti-aging nutritional supplement because when consumed on a regular basis—and within the context of a healthy diet and lifestyle—it can confer the following health benefits.
1. It can help improve skin elasticity.
If taken consistently over a period of time (Be patient! Start with a minimum of 3 months), collagen may help plump up the skin and ease facial lines and wrinkles caused by too much sun exposure.
2. It can help with gut health.
Intestinal permeability, a.k.a. leaky gut, is often the result (and a trigger) for those who have an autoimmune condition; high-stress lifestyle; poor diet (high in sugar, refined carbs and processed foods; take multiple medications; drink excess alcohol; or who have food sensitivities. When the tight junctions of your intestinal lining become loose, or, “leaky”, partially digested proteins, bacteria and toxins can pass from the gut directly into your bloodstream, causing an adverse immune response and inflammation. Collagen is an important part of your gut’s connective tissue and lining; consuming collagen can be beneficial in helping repair a leaky gut.
3. It can help build muscle.
Muscle is what keeps a body young. In a study of healthy older men (average age was 72) who had experienced age-related muscle loss, those participants who supplemented with collagen peptides—in conjunction with a 3-month resistance training program—experienced more fat loss, improved muscle strength and increased their fat-free mass than the placebo group.
4. It can help strengthen nails and enhance hair growth and thickness.
Supplementing with collagen has been linked to stronger nails. A study published in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatologyfound that women with brittle nails, who took collagen peptides daily for 24 weeks (6 months), experienced a 12% nail growth rate and 42% reduction in the frequency of broken nails.
Since collagen makes up apx. 70% of the dermis, the middle layer of your skin that contains the root of each individua hairl, it contributes to the elasticity and strength of your hair. As we age, we produce less collagen, which can contribute to thinning hair. Within the context of a healthy diet and lifestyle, supplementing with collagen may be helpful in preventing age-related hair thinning. Research is still out on this.
Your hair follicles can be damaged by free radicals, compounds that develop in your body, due to stress, air pollution, poor diet, alcohol, smoking and other environmental toxins. Lab studies suggest that collagen may act as an antioxidant that can have a protective effect against free radicals.
Now that you know about the health benefits of collagen, here is a quick, easy and delicious way to enjoy it, along with 20 grams of protein!
Broccoli-Collagen Smoothie Bowl
with Organic Strawberries & Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
2 cups cooked broccoli
*I like to use frozen organic broccoli florets (they are fast, easy and take 6-8 mins to cook).
4 medium frozen (or fresh) organic strawberries (apx. 1/4 cup)
2 scoops grass-fed bovine collagen peptides (unflavored)
1 teaspoon ground cardamom OR 1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon Celtic sea salt
1 wedge of avocado
1-1/2 cups non-GMO,unsweetened hemp milk
Place all ingredients in a Nutribullet (or blender). Blend until creamy and smooth. Pour into a bowl.
Garnish smoothie bowl with the following:
1 organic strawberry, thinly sliced
1/4 cup raw, organic pumpkin seeds, toasted in oven on parchment-lined baking sheet for 10 minutes at 350°F; then, cooled. Sprinkle over smoothie bowl.