collagen 101: the merits and the myths
All you ever wanted to know about collagen and then more!
(By a purist with an OCD bent for unearthing the grandeur in simple food.)
Protein Powder - Friend or Foe?
A Note from Serene:
“As we progress in this article, I may refer to collagen and gelatin similarly as they both are inherently the same thing and possess a similar amino acid profile. Collagen peptides are simply amino acids of gelatin broken down into smaller molecules through a natural process. The main difference between the two is that collagen is more therapeutic and they also act a little differently in the kitchen. Gelatin gels when cooled after being mixed with liquids (think jiggly jello) while collagen does not. Some of the studies cited here may use the simple term “collagen” or use other names for it like “hydrolyzed collagen” or “collagen peptides”. These are all different names for the same thing.”
A WORD OF CAUTION WITH A VERY BRIGHT RED FLASHING LIGHT
This AIN’T a little… “let’s just hit the highlights” article. If you are entirely uninterested in uncovering an exciting wonder list of collagen’s benefits with me or a scientifically breaking down its magnificent molecules, then please avoid suffering through the TRAUMA of my long windedness and skip to the last few paragraphs of this piece. Go to “FINAL IMPORTANT INFO.” There you will find important safety information and how to use it optimally for health and weight loss.
WE LOVE THIS STUFF!
You might be wondering what all the fuss is about collagen lately. Pearl and I can’t stop talking about it and we keep on whipping up delicious recipes starring them here at Trim Healthy Mama headquarters. Supplementing collagen in our own daily meal and snack times has made a huge difference not only in the balance of our protein profiles, but also in the way we look and feel. Not to mention how fast our hair grows! Collagen has allowed us to reap the healing power of old fashioned bone broth even if we can’t regularly find the time to boil up a pot of this liquid gold. We’re no longer just consuming protein from meat muscle sources and dairy, but we’re now able to integrate missing amino acids that generations past and other cultures enjoy with great benefit.
Everything from our digestion, to our skin, nails, and hair, have been supported and fortified by collagen. Our immune systems have become noticeably stronger, and we even sleep better. We couldn’t keep this easy health secret to ourselves, so we blabbed it to you in our new Trim Healthy Mama Plan and Cookbook, and you caught the collagen bug too. Daily we hear from our readers with glowing testimonies about how collagen has helped their skin, their hair, their joint pain, their digestion issues… the list goes on and on. But we’ve also had many questions and inquiries streaming in for more info about this wonder food than we had room to originally share in our book so I thought I would take the time to enlighten you more. I want to highlight many more of its talents, teach you how to use it effectively and lay to rest some worries that naturally come with adding a new supplement into your diet.
OUR OWN STORIES
I know. I know. We sell the stuff… all of our enthusiasm about collagen probably sounds so “salesy” and trite. Ugghh… We hate to be the types that are always peddling their wares… but we only sell Integral Collagen now because of what it did for us before! We jumped on the collagen wagon a couple of years before we began to carry it as part of our Trim Healthy product line. Back then we bought it from other companies (always trying to find grass-fed sources) as often as we could afford it. We’re just authentically excited about our personal and family experiences with collagen. Bringing you a clean, pasture raised source is just icing on the cake.
Before I get all scientific, let me share with you some of these personal stories and get this “collagen paper party” started out the right way… from the home first, and then to the research papers and science lab last.
Our Mom started collagen supplementation to help an injured shoulder (she took a bad fall about a decade ago and her shoulder never completely healed). Our Mother is a world-traveling, extremely busy 75 year old who is constantly burning the candle at both ends with a full-time ministry. She lives sacrificially for others and always puts herself last. Due to this, she often battled a weakened immune system. During her heavy overseas travel season she almost always got hit with awful colds and flus which took far too long to recover from.
SURPRISED BY HER COLLAGEN TEA
We gave our Mom a nice stash of collagen and insisted she start to use it for the constant pain in her shoulder… “Just stir it into your tea, Mom” (she’s not much of a coffee drinker). Mom was surprised when she started noticing an extra level of overall well-being. That year she didn’t miss a beat when traveling from country to country, and experienced very little jet lag. Her usual horrible colds and flus never reared their debilitating heads, and she began to wonder what she had done differently to warrant this improved health. She was actually not able to eat as healthfully as she would at home with the impracticality of traveling, but she still felt great! Then she remembered the collagen that she had been stirring into her tea at airports and practically everywhere she went. It finally dawned on her that this was the only difference between this particular season and all the other sick ones. Mom was taking it for different reasons, but a major immune system boost occurred as a secret side effect. The amino acid Glycine, so abundant in collagen, is necessary for the liver to properly remove toxins from our systems. Our livers have to put up with a huge onslaught from the myriad of greebly toxins in our modern world, and often cannot manufacture enough of their own glycine and other anti-inflammatory proteins (found in collagen) to keep up with this huge trash removal job. Immune building is a fundamental task that supplemental collagen does for your body.
GOING… GOING… GONE
By 25 years of age, collagen levels decrease in the body at a rate of 1.5% a year. After the age of 30, our collagen production slows down further and we begin to lose 2% of our collagen stores every year. By the age of 40, we are 15% in the red! And the debt keeps growing from here. At 40, collagen is depleted much faster than it can be manufactured by the body. And by age 60, over half of our body’s collagen stores are gone… gone… gone.
Our Mom’s immune system at 75 was in a desperate need of the treasures found in collagen. Collagen levels plummet drastically, especially after menopause, as a lack of estrogen compounds the issue. Also, as testosterone declines in older men, so too does their collagen levels plummet, as testosterone supports collagen production.
OUR DAD SLAMS IT DOWN THE HATCH
Let’s just say our Mommy is hooked on collagen now and seldom gets sick. She is literally a powerhouse of energy, and looks younger now than a few years back. We are amazed at what she accomplishes at her age, and how strong she is. And you bet she has our Dad taking his daily dose too! He has also remarked on a much noticeably stronger immune system. He now tells almost everybody he meets about this stuff that basically alleviated the cold and flu season for him too. He’s not one for fancy-dandy recipes, so he just mixes it up straight with a shot of water and slams it down the hatch. He doesn’t take it for its yummy recipe creation abilities like we do. He just knows it is anti-inflammatory, that it fights free radical and mitochondrial damage, and helps prevent diabetes.
SCIENCE CONFIRMS OUR EXCITEMENT
Science backs up our Mom’s accidental findings. Here is just one of the many studies on the positive immune support of collagen. In 2015 Japanese researchers published a study on the effects of collagen ingestion and human immunity. The study was a placebo, controlled, double and blind trial, and measured the SIV (Scoring of Immunological Vigor) and other immunological, biochemical, physical, and subjective symptom parameters. They tested Japanese men and women between the ages of 30 and 59 with low SIV markers and complaints of overall fatigue. The study revealed that through 10 grams of daily collagen supplementation, over an eight week period, there was significant improvement in the comprehensive immunological status of humans. (That would resemble 3/4 scoop of THM Integral Collagen.) Those participants who took the placebo supplement did not show any immunological improvement.
Our Mom came over to my house for dinner last night and we got onto the subject of me writing this little (“he he”) article on our experiences with collagen. She reminded me of some details I had forgotten, and told me some new ones that she didn’t want me to leave out.
MUM WENT SPLAT ON THE GROUND
Let’s get back to my Mom’s original fall. A decade ago she was walking in the dark, late at night, on a trail through the woods back to her room at a conference where she was speaking. She tripped on a protruding tree root and went splat onto the ground. She broke a bone, and even after much medical help (including seeing a physiotherapist), still suffered with pain and lack of mobility in her shoulder. She just couldn’t find any relief and had learned to “just live with it” over the years. Mom is not the type to complain out loud, but we could all tell it bothered her. Now after a year or so of daily rich collagen use, she says she barely can tell she ever had an injury.
SHE WAS SURE SHE WAS GOING TO PAY!
Last night she told me about two new falls she had recently with the same hard impact on the ground that had previously ruined her shoulder for almost a decade. It is not that our Mom is fragile and loses her balance easily; it is that she does crazy things like race walks through the woods in the dark for the wild fun of it, then topples to the ground over hidden shrubbery. Anyway, she was sure she was going to pay for these latest falls with terrible joint or bone injuries, but after the soreness of a few short days there were no other consequences. She says she is sure that her bones and ligaments must be so much more supple and forgiving from all her collagen sipping. She also has been very faithful lately in making collagen-rich homemade bone stock… yum, yum!
COLLAGEN PEPTIDES ARE SUPER SMARTY PANTS LITTLE DUDES
Collagen is what makes up 90% of organic bone mass, and several studies report very favorable results on bone metabolism by administering hydrolyzed collagen. Just ten grams of collagen peptides (slightly less than a THM scoop of Integral Collagen which is 1½ Tbsp) taken for 4 – 24 weeks, show increased bone mass density, increased bone size, and less brittle bones. Scientists have found that when the metabolites of collagen peptides are present in the extra cellular matrix of bone, osteoblasts (which are the cells responsible for bone formation) are stimulated. The amazing thing is that osteoclasts (yes, with a “c” – not a “b”), which are the cells involved in bone reabsorption and cause a bone to disintegrate are not stimulated. Collagen peptides are super smarty pants little dudes and can differentiate between the goodies and the baddies. Not only that… once they locate the bone builder cells, they help mature and grow them all up “nice like” and support them in their task. Wowzers!! The human body is amazing, isn’t it?! Even a simple study on collagen reveals creation from Intelligent Design.
CONFIRMED OSTEOPOROSIS THERAPY WITH JUST A SCOOP PER DAY
Ten grams daily for long term use is proven in both experimental and clinical studies to act as an osteoporosis therapy (Nomura et al., 2005; Wu et al., 2004). Osteoporosis is a major threat to mature women. By the age of 65, a whopping 19.5% of women find themselves living with pain and reduced joint functioning. Men are not left out of this bone crumbling equation with 8.7% of men, over the age of 65, experiencing osteoporosis symptoms.
BONE IS BUILT ON A SCAFFOLD OF COLLAGEN
Many sufferers of bone loss try and treat this issue by taking calcium and vitamin D supplements. This method is not an effective fix because the collagen based protein frames of bones have to be ample enough for them to recalcify. When bones are deficient in collagen, their frame is not strong enough for calcification to occur, so taking a bunch of calcium simply doesn’t work. Clinical work shows that hydrolyzed collagen is so integral to bone health it actually improves osteoporosis, even without a calcium or vitamin D supplement. Bone broth does not aid the bones because it contains calcium, as many erroneously think. Actually, neither bone stock nor collagen obtained from land animal sources are ample sources of calcium.
SUPPLEMENTAL COLLAGEN FOUND IN CARTILAGE 12 HOURS AFTER INGESTION
In its hydrolyzed form (which is the same as found in Trim Healthy Mama’s Integral Collagen), collagen has amazing bioavailability and reaches maximum plasma concentrations 6 hours after being ingested. Fragments of radio-labeled hydrolyzed collagen were found in bone cartilage 12 hours after oral administration in Kinetic studies in animals.(Oesser, 1999).
THE MOST IMPORTANT PROTEIN FOR BONE AND JOINT HEALTH
Hydrolyzed collagen is more important than any other protein for joint and bone health as it contains three times more of the amino acids glycine and proline. It is specifically these two amino acids that are not only responsible for the super strong three dimensional conformation of collagen, but also the ones that support the stability of collagen structures in cartilage. In vitro studies show that adding hydrolyzed collagen to a culture medium of chondrocytes (healthy cartilage cells), significantly provides a dose dependent increase in collagen type ll synthesis.
CONFIRMED RELIEF FOR RHEUMATIC PAIN
Hydrolyzed collagen is quite remarkable in treating rheumatic pain for those suffering from arthritis. It reduces inflammation in the joints. We hear from women all the time who say their joint pain is so much better when using collagen, but these results are not just anecdotal. Many clinical studies (especially in Germany and here in America) report its efficacy in pain reduction, decreased analgesic use, and improved comfort and mobility of the joints.
Our Mom didn’t know any of this science stuff. All she knew and continues to experience, is that her joints and bones feel better now at 75 than when she was sixty something. She used to get little sleep at night due to aching hip bones. Her mother (our grandmother) had debilitating osteoporosis, and we remember her being unable to get out of bed her pain was so intense. Mom thought she was headed for the same future. But this simple dietary addition, easily yummied up into so many delicious treats, seems to have changed her genetic diagnosis.
PEARLIE AND I LOVE OUR COLLAGEN TRIMMIES
Both Pearl and I have also realized collagen’s immune boosting and joint strengthening powers. By drinking our daily delicious coffee and tea based Trimmies containing collagen (found beginning on page 430 of the THM Cookbook), we have resisted many of the common colds and tummy bugs we would normally succumb to in the latest boogie-woogie germy season. We both (a funny genetic thing) use to have clicks in our wrists that would pop in and out when putting weight on our hands, and this weird annoyance appears to have gone for good. Okay, so Pearl is looking over my progress here and tells me she is often too lazy to make a Trimmy. She wants you to know you can just make her “Lazy Collagen Coffee”.
Lazy Collagen Coffee
- Put half to one scoop THM Integral Collagen in a mug.
- Add a little hot coffee and stir well with a fork.
- Fill mug with coffee, stir again then add a Tbsp or two of heavy cream or half and half.
- Done! Enjoy!
Pearl is 45 and I am close to 40 now (there, we said it). We’re not trying to look twenty something, but we’ve both been happy to notice softer, and smoother skin, and even think some of our “wrinks” (our pet name for our wrinkles) are starting to disappear. Yippee for Integral Collagen! Don’t want to come across as too vain, but we get excited over this. Our nails are basically bulletproof these days, and our hair needs much more frequent lopping off. We hear from so many Mamas whose hairdressers are asking them what in the world they are doing as they have to come in for so many more haircuts than before they started taking collagen.
Actually, my hair usually takes a downward spiral during the first six months postpartum. but after my most recent baby (biological number 8) my hair has stayed thick and healthy and not done its usual excessive shedding. Adding Integral Collagen to help creamify my favorite Trimmies and smoothies and using it in my Superfood Chews (a delicious candy found on page 382 of the THM Cookbook) was such an easy and delicious way to combat this usually disheartening situation.
POSTPARTUM WONDER FOOD
While we are on the subject of postpartum issues, I can’t forget to tell you about my pregnancy recovery and how unique and wonderful it has been for me this eighth time around. I am usually plagued with Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction, which is a painful situation resulting from the separation of the symphysis pubis joint in the front part of the pelvic bone structure. Even regular granny-style walking can be severely painful for me in the first few months postpartum and can flare up for a couple of days at a time even many months down the road. I took Integral Collagen faithfully every day of my pregnancy (which was a great pregnancy by the way), and kept it up faithfully, even sipping Beauty Milk, (THM Cookbook, page 440) a collagen-rich recipe in our recipe book throughout my long labor.
BEST “ZIP UP” YET
I sorta feel like an “infomercial fake artist” when I tell you this, but my usual pubic symphysis pain was nonexistent and I felt stronger and more put together from day 1 after this latest birth. As far as zipping up the core and Diastasis (the split between the two halves of the six pack “recti” abdominal muscles) healing, I have more positive raving to share! After eight babies you would think this time around would be my worst “zip up”, but it was my best yet. Of course I followed all our “Workin” principles (these exercise DVD’s will be out soon), during and after the pregnancy, but it was the combination of both protective and restorative exercise, plus Integral Collagen’s supportive nourishment to my ligaments, bones, and skin that made the noticeable difference. After birth there is definite repair and healing that needs to be done in a woman’s body, and collagen-rich gelatin has been used traditionally for speeding wound healing and reducing excessive bleeding. I am personally convinced that collagen (along with traditional bone broth) is one of the most important supplements that a pregnant and postpartum Mama should take. There is nothing strange in collagen that a pregnant woman needs to be concerned about. Check out the last few paragraphs of this article for safety, but as with all things, balance is key. There is no need to overdo it and forget about your other whole protein sources, but don’t be scared of it either. It was a huge help to me.
A PREGNANCY PEARL
(Not “Pearl” herself but collagen being a pregnant Mama’s treasure.)
For sake of time we haven’t even properly addressed the buoying up of a pregnant Mama’s body that collagen provides. It supports her skin with adequate elasticity as it stretches over her growing little treasure and the curves that will nourish it when finally in arms. I have read that a cup of bone stock everyday can help prevent stretch marks on a pregnant Mama’s belly. To make this easier and not so “meaty” tasting all the time, she could just have a Healing Trimmy (THM Cookbook, page 30) or a glass of Beauty Milk (THM Cookbook, page 440), which are both awesome substitutes for bone stock (still a good idea to incorporate bone stock itself too though). Thanks to the relaxing, anti-excitatory amino acids rich in collagen, it calms a tense hormonal “preggieite”, and aids in more restful sleep. I could go on and on but I am starting to rabbit trail from my main point in this particular testimony. Let’s talk some more collagen science for a bit.
Collagen is a polypeptide molecule, the largest and most abundant protein in the body. Collagen makes up about 65% of our total protein. Aside from water, collagen is the most necessary structural substance in our bodies. It is absolutely integral and that is why we call our pasture-raised collagen, “Integral Collagen”. It’s in our bricks and in our mortar. Literally!! Our tendons, joints, ligaments, skeletal muscles, bone tissue, blood vessels, blood cells, arteries, intervertebral discs, skin, hair, heart, lungs, liver, prostate, other organs, and even the cornea of our eyes contain collagen. The word “collagen” is derived from the Greek word “kolla”, which literally means glue. Collagen helps keep us glued together and prevents us from falling apart.
BEYOND SKIN DEEP
As I already pointed out, aging slows down our own collagen production, and all of the myriad of body parts and systems that need the support of this wonderful structural glue are affected by the lack of it. We may not be able to see all of the issues related to the gradual decline of collagen in our bodies that are beyond skin deep, but organs depleted of this building material become weaker and more flimsy, and those like the heart and the prostrate tend to enlarge. What we can see however, is the gravitational pull and southward plunge of collagen depleted skin and muscles as the years go by. Skin starts to sag and becomes thinner and less pliable and resilient.
But let’s not get all down and depressed of soul about this. Let’s raise our Healing Trimmies and fight the rigors of aging with a delicious cuppa of collagen-rich creamy wonderfulness!
MORE HYDRATION AND RESILIENCE
Third party clinical studies demonstrate significant skin improvement from daily supplementation. A study performed in Tokyo in 2008 of women ages 40-60 who supplemented 10 grams of Hydrolyzed Collagen daily for two months revealed a dramatic 91% increase in skin hydration and resilience. That’s huge! Another study that same year in Lyon, France, using Deriscan technology showed similar results with an increase in skin smoothness and hydration in woman age 35-55 who ingested that same amount of collagen daily for 12 weeks. Using objective and state of the art technology (including the new Corneometer, the Skin Image Analyzer, and the C&Z Cutometer), the results were 41% less furrowing, less wrinkles with skin showing more hydration and resilience.
DEFY AGING – TRIGGER THE GROWTH OF NEW COLLAGEN!
Scientific research has begun to reveal just how new collagen is rebuilt in the skin, and also in our ligament and bones, which we will discuss in more detail soon. When supplemental hydrolyzed collagen is digested, it creates metabolites that trigger the synthesis of new collagen by attracting fibroblasts. It is these fibroblasts that are responsible for the production and reorganization of new collagen fibers. They are the most common cells of connective tissue. The peptides in collagen have also been observed to increase the density and diameter of collagen fibrils in skin dermis by their stimulation of fibroblasts. Dermal collagen fibers have better cohesion and strength which defies aging by thickening the skin and allowing it to regain lost suppleness and more resilience and hydration.
BEAUTIFUL WINTER SKIN
Pearl and I are believers in collagen’s ability to reverse skin damage. Not because of reading the results of these sorts of study papers, but by firsthand experience. Winter usually does a number on my skin. Our home is heated by a wood stove and creates a very dry environment that leaves my skin feeling crapey, itchy, and thin. The past couple of winters I have sipped on collagen-rich Trimmies, and if I slacked off in making my own bone stock, I made sure to throw some collagen into all my soups. My skin has been renewed. I did not get that stiff mask-like dryness or the pillowcase line prints into my face that took half a day to finally go away. Many times this last winter I awoke with my face having been smushed into my pillow all night with zigzag marks to prove it, but the art work left within just half an hour or so. I call that progress!
COLLAGEN AND GELATIN PROTECT SKIN FROM ULTRAVIOLET LIGHT
Researchers from Tokyo confirm my experiences and reveal that eating gelatin/collagen-rich foods help maintain a more youthful complexion. A study from the Tokyo University of Agriculture tested the effects of gelatin on skin repeatedly exposed to ultraviolet light. Mice that were exposed to ultraviolet light that did not receive gelatin in their diet had a 53% decrease in the collagen content of their skin. Exposed mice that were fed gelatin/collagen had not only a zero reduction of collagen, but had an average increase of 17%.
So who are we going to talk about next… hmm… our sister Vange has an awesome testimony of gut healing through drinking loads of her homemade, collagen-rich bone stock and by taking Integral Collagen when she didn’t have access to her stock. She has always been extremely sensitive to many foods and was a projectile vomiter for the first few years of her life. Her sensitivities got to the point where she was in so much pain in her digestive system sometimes that she felt like she was experiencing worse pain than labor.
She tried many different food elimination protocols to try and figure out the offenders, but didn’t find total relief until she started studying the benefits of collagen-rich bone stock. She became the best bone stock maker in town. She’s always boiling up bones and has her freezer stocked with this delicious broth. She also loves taking Integral Collagen in Trimmies for the simple ease of it. She finds that when she keeps on her stocks and collagen supplementation, that her digestion is fantastic. But when she gets busy and has seasons when she can’t keep it up, she feels the pain and agitation revisiting.
COLLAGEN AND BONE BROTH HEAL THE DIGESTIVE SYSTEM
Collagen-rich broth or supplements like Integral Collagen provide soothing and healing relief to the digestive tract. Rich in the amino acid glycine, they stimulate stomach acid production which improves digestion and helps your body assimilate more nutrients from your food. With all the ant-acids on the market today it might come as a surprise that low stomach acid is a chronic and wide spread issue and can mimic the same symptoms as too much acid. Low hydrochloric acid has a domino affect in the body and effects much more than the gut. Poor digestion and inadequate nutrient absorption is a major trigger in hormonal imbalances. Collagen helps restore a lazy and sluggish digestive system.
REBUILDS THE INFRASTRUCTURE OF THE STOMACH AND INTESTINES
Our digestive tracts are made up of the same amino acids that are richly provided in collagen. Homemade bone stock or supplemental collagen/gelatin can help repair a leaky gut, an inflamed and agitated digestive lining, and also the infrastructure of our stomach and intestines.
DON’T LEAVE IT BEHIND
Raw foods are hydrophobic in nature, which means they attract water and keep the digestive system hydrated. Cooked foods do not contain this ability unless they are prepared with homemade stock or a supplement of gelatin or collagen. It is interesting to remember that preparing foods like meat and garden veggies were many times traditionally cooked with the bones attached to the meat or in a collagen-rich stock infused soup. I have to think our tummy troubles have gotten a lot worse in our modern culture due to the boneless, skinless, stockless meals so many of us eat. Food sensitivities are on the rise. The standard American diet has left an very important ingredient behind.
Science confirms that when cooked foods are eaten with gelatin they are much more easily digested and assimilated. Gelatin/Collagen contains the gut healing amino acid glutamine which is a fuel for our intestinal walls. It is interesting to note that breast milk contains naturally high levels of glutamine and is of course so soothing to the digestive tract. Studies on Glutamine have shown it to be protective against mucosal breakdown in the gut. Research conducted by Dr. Gotthoffer, a well know researcher and author of the book “Gelatin in Nutrition and Medicine”, extensively studied gelatin’s role in digestion and found that babies in need of supplementation other than breast milk could better digest their milk with gelatin added. Babies whose milk was not supplemented with gelatin had much higher rates of intestinal problems and allergies (see “FINAL IMPORTANT INFO” toward the end of this article for safety for babies and nursing mamas and my own personal experience ).
Many food allergies are thought to come from a leaky gut, and nutrition expert Lisa LaBarr says that adding gelatin to a child’s diet can reverse allergies by healing the stomach and intestines. Homemade gelatin-rich Gummy bears here we come… (checkout Lemon Pucker Gummies in the THM Cookbook, page 387). Sally Fallon, the author of Nourishing Traditions and founder of the Western A. Price Foundation, explains in her book that gelatin has been researched to help alleviate fatigue, asthma, Crohn’s disease and colitis. These issues can be the direct symptoms of, or even just exasperated by allergies.
BACK TO VANGE
Okay, back to our sister Vange and her collagen-rich stock and collagen supplementing testimony. Not only did she experience digestion relief through rich sources of collagen in her diet, but she started to excitedly tell all who would listen that she was sleeping like a baby for the first time in years! For decades she suffered with insomnia and couldn’t get a full night’s rest, but her stock drinking and collagen supplementing habits turned this scenario around.
If you don’t want to take Vange’s word alone then let’s talk some science again. Studies connect the amino acid glycine that is so rich in collagen to improved sleep cycles and to the triggering of sleep aiding neurotransmitters and enzymes.
PROMOTES RESTORATIVE SLEEP
The theory is that when our body’s core temperature is hot we can run through our sleep cycles more rapidly than when we are cool. Glycine promotes a better quality nights sleep by reliably maintaining a lower core body temperature during sleep. Apparently, the glycine in collagen doesn’t actually get somebody to sleep faster, but once asleep it helps them enter into the restorative deep sleep phase and stay there for longer. Oh yeah Mamas… I’m gonna have my Hot Chocolate Trimmy before bed tonight!! Probably due to its promotion of such an awesome night sleep, the glycine in collagen is also famous for reducing daytime sleepiness and helping improve concentration, learning, and memory.
CHOPS OFF THE HEAD OF ANXIETY
This science of how collagen helps those fearing bed times due to traumatized nights of staring at the ceiling for hours does not end here. This incredible amino acid has potent, anti-anxiety properties. Glycine has receptors distributed throughout our body including our spinal cord and brain stem areas. When we feel anxiety, a fight or flight hormone called norepinephrine, is released and creates a feeling of panic and stress within us. Glycine is an antagonist of norepinephrine which means it literally chops off its head and makes you feel calm once again. Glycine, abundantly supplied in collagen/gelatin, has a quieting, protective, and anti-stress action in every cell and promotes recovery from strokes and seizures.
Anti-anxiety medications use the same mechanism of targeting the body’s inhibitory neurotransmitters to bring on feelings of calm, but they sadly carry with them a host of dangerous side effects. Some daily collagen is a much cheaper, safer, and yummier way of soothing the nervous system and our emotions. Some years ago I suffered with a season of intense panic attacks after adrenal burnout and some emotionally stressful situations. After much healing, I am still very aware now of the mental pathway to panic. When I sense the first signs of it I enjoy a soothing Healing Trimmy, a comfy couch, and my bible for an effective balm of relaxation.
TRIMS YOU DOWN!
Okay, what next? Weight reduction and appetite suppression. Yep. Collagen, when supplemented properly (see “FINAL IMPORTANT INFO” toward the end of this article for how to supplement properly), has a hand in both of these. All proteins are known as the most “crave-curbing” and satiating of all macronutrients. The collagen peptides, like those in Integral Collagen, have been shown to be more effective for satiety than other forms of protein. Research shows that collagen peptides taken at breakfast time are 40% more satiating than other proteins and subsequently induce a 20% reduced intake of food later at lunch. This is soooooo interesting to me because when Pearl and I began experimenting with using gelatin or collagen in our recipes we both noticed a dramatic sense of satiety. This was one of the first things that we experienced after adding it into our diets.
FIRES UP YOUR METABOLISM
Apparently collagen satisfies by stimulating hormones that are responsible for satiety in the brain. It revs the thermogenic temperature of your body and fires up your metabolism because it takes even more energy than other proteins for oxidation. This way you burn calories just with digestion. No need for jumping jacks… but you just might have the energy for them… woot!
Collagen stimulates your body to release glucagon which is the body’s “fat strippin” hormone. In fact just like we mentioned above with satiety, collagen peptides stimulate more glucagon than other forms of protein. Collagen is a very powerful tool to have in our weight loss belt. The amino acid glycine that we talk a lot about is found abundantly in collagen and is needed to form creatine which promotes healthy muscle growth and energy. With more energy to move and exercise and more lean muscle on board to keep our metabolisms fired up it yet again encourages a healthy trim weight.
RICH IN PROLINE AND ARGININE (which fight obesity)
Glycine is not the only amazing little amino acid that collagen boasts. It is also rich in proline and arginine, both of which help in the battle against obesity. Arginine promotes fat metabolism and the release of human growth hormone, which we will talk about a little more soon. Proline helps your artery walls release fat and reduces fat accumulation in the arteries. There are many more talents to arginine and proline including the latter being vital for skin beauty and firmness and arginine’s ability to enhance the breakdown of fat cells, build lean muscle tissue, and its use in forming creatine. Remember, creatine builds healthy muscle which in turn burns calories and also uses up blood glucose, thereby lowering your blood sugar.
SURGES GROWTH HORMONE
Japanese researchers have now determined that glycine, the most abundant amino acid in collagen, has stimulatory effects on Human Growth Hormone. In the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, nutritionists at the University of Maastricht write about their discovery with gelatin and Human Growth Hormone. Two hours after eating a generous portion of gelatin, the body has a surge in growth hormone production. All protein will cause a release peaking 2 hours post ingestion, but gelatin/collagen is the most powerful and causes the biggest rise.
Keeping our Human Growth Hormone surging as much as we can naturally as we age is a major factor in controlling weight. HGH holds on to lean muscle and repels fat. And while we are on the subject of hormones, let’s discuss how collagen can help with balancing your other hormones.
You body require amino acids (proteins) to make hormones. Skinless, boneless, stockless muscle meats (which is how they are so often consumed today in our western culture) are high in the amino acids tryptophan and cysteine. These amino acids are involved in producing cortisol which is our stress hormone. Neither cortisol or these amino acids are by nature bad. They are both necessary for our bodies but we just don’t not want them to be out of balance. When tryptophan, and cysteine are not balanced properly they actually suppress thyroid function. Muscle meats lack glycine and proline which are wonderfully abundant in collagen and are involved in the making of thyroid hormones. Collagen also lacks tryptophan which when consumed, happily helps balance out our normally high dietary intake of this amino acid.
As you read in our book The Trim Healthy Mama Plan, our modern diets are also high in the amino acid methionine. When in balance, it’s super de duper amazing for us, but when consumed in imbalanced proportions causes premature aging. The amino acids in collagen naturally balance methionine and restore an amino acid equilibrium that favors healthy hormonal balance. When your diet has a balance of amino acids, your metabolism can literally purr unhindered by the burden of an off-centered protein profile which can wreak havoc on your thyroid and increases cortisol.
TRIMMY UP YOUR MEAL
Ray Peat, a nutritional counselor and hormone researcher, advises consuming 5-10 grams of collagen or gelatin (equaling ½ to 1 scoop of THM Integral Collagen) when eating a meal with large amounts of skinless or boneless muscle meat. His theory is that when supplementing with collagen or gelatin your meal will be much healthier and the amino acids will enter the blood stream in balance. Sipping “Beauty Milk”, your favorite Trimmy, “Purist Primer on the Go”, or real bone broth (all found in the THM Cookbook) during a meat heavy meal takes care of this perfectly. Pearl and I prefer to suggest lowering your meat a little in your meal and saving some fuel space for your Trimmy or collagen treat so you are not abusing calories and consuming too much fuel. A perfect balance for optimum trimming of your body would be slightly less meat than you would normally eat and an added half scoop of collagen. (See FINAL IMPORTANT INFO toward the end of this article for how to supplement for weight loss).
STOPS THE LIFE LINE THAT FEED CANCER
On to the next… yes, we are still not done singing the praises of this ancient, traditional, medicinal food making a modern comeback as collagen peptides… Let’s talk about its ability to prevent and battle cancerous cells. The amino acids found in collagen peptides have a broad range of cell-protective abilities. Glycine is a potent wound healer and tumor inhibitor. It fights tumors with many actions, one being angiogenesis which is the inhibition of new blood vessel formation in cancerous tumors. It helps stop cancer in its tracks and defends against new lifelines that feed it.
A CANCER PREVENTATIVE DIET SHOULD BE RICH IN COLLAGEN
This amazing glycine found so richly in collagen has shown protective activity against liver cancer and melanoma in many studies. Remember how we discussed that collagen makes up a hefty chunk of the body’s overall protein and how it is the very scaffolding that makes up our extra cellular matrix in healthy tissue? Cancer breaks down this extra cellular matrix. A cancer preventative diet or even a cancer fighting diet should be rich in collagen-rich bone broths or supplementation. Dr. Matthias Rath, who has done extensive study on cancer and its correlation with collagen dissolving says, “Both infectious diseases and cancer spread throughout the organism breaking down the collagen in the adjacent connective tissue.”
HEALTHY COLLAGEN LEVELS THWART THE SREAD OF CANCER
A brick wall without mortar can easily crumble or be pushed over. If collagen is the glue that holds our cells together it only makes sense that our cellular tissue can be easily weakened without adequate collagen and can become vulnerable to dangerous disease causing invaders. Healthy collagen levels can thwart the spread of cancer by forming a strong force against metastasizing growth.
THE SCOOP ON COLLAGEN DISSOLVING ENZYMES
For any cell to pass through connective tissue for an untold number of bodily processes, collagen must be first dissolved temporarily. This is a positive process and occurs by the influence of collagen dissolving enzymes. One example of this is during a woman’s cycle when her egg has to break through her ovarian wall and make its way through her fallopian tube and into her uterus. You can see here the healthy action of collagen dissolving, after which the body blocks these particular enzymes, and begins to heal the ovarian wall. A properly functioning immune system also uses these collagen dissolving enzymes to allow the white blood cells to move through the cell wall to the area of battle.
This awesome insight into the intricacies of how our bodies work for our good takes a dark twist when we find out that villainous viruses, “meany” microorganisms, and “bad boy” bacteria use this same collagen dissolving mechanism to invade our healthy cells. Science is now revealing that we succumb to the common cold because of this collagen dissolving process. Cancer can be metastasized, inflammatory diseases advanced, and cardiovascular diseases such as arteriosclerosis worsened with this internal phenomenon. So what is a proactive Mama to do to thwart this negative action of collagen dissolving? Besides from supplementing with dietary collagen, the answer lies with the same antagonizing influence that firms up dissolved collagen when the body breaks it down in healthy functions. Collagen dissolving enzyme blockers are the key, and aside from those intrinsically produced by our body, dietary sources are specifically lysine, proline, and vitamin C.
TAKE ACTION WITH COLLAGEN SUPPLEMENTATION, VITAMIN C, AND ENZYME BLOCKERS
Let’s start with lysine, which blocks collagen dissolving enzymes. It is the most necessary of the nine essential amino acids that our body must source from our diet. Lysine blocks anchor sites in our connective tissue that are used by collagen dissolving enzymes to attach and initiate their collagen destruction. Even though diseased cells may still be producing lots of collagen digesting enzymes, they are rendered useless because they have no anchor site. This is the action lysine favorably encourages to help prevent and stop infections and diseases in their tracks. Supplemental collagen naturally contains ample lysine, which in turn beautifully protects your own collagen stores.
A CLOSER LOOK AT LYSINE
Most people have a chronic deficiency of this essential amino acid which dulls their body’s normal, healthy level of intrinsic enzyme blocking abilities. The Research Gate Scientific Network says lysine also acts as a building block for proteins and builds the fibrils and fibers of collagen. Stanford University of California Researchers report that collagen produced in the brain protects against the plaques of Alzheimer’s disease. According to the Vitamin C Foundation, a lack of collagen causes hemorrhages due to blood vessels breaking down. We will talk more about this last point in just a bit.
ENRICH YOUR DIET WITH LYSINE TO PROTECT COLLAGEN STORES
Taking collagen peptides provides an easy, absorbed source of lysine. Other dietary sources of lysine include: red meat, poultry, cheese, sardines, nuts, and beans. Brewer’s yeast and spirulina also contain lysine. Some might need to take supplemental lysine, if suffering ailments like heart disease. (Supplemental lysine is considered safe as excess amounts are naturally excreted from the body).
PROTECT YOUR OWN COLLAGEN WITH PROLINE AND VITAMIN C
To help us look more closely at the other two choice collagen protecting properties, proline and vitamin C, let’s put collagen itself under the microscope. Collagen is made up of three tightly woven chains of amino acids. Glycine, proline, and hydroxyproline are the three superstars in collagen’s glue-like strength. The collagen chain is first built with glycine and proline and then the body modifies some of the proline molecules into hydroxyproline, which is the amino acid necessary for collagen’s stability.
VITAMIN C DEFICIENCY PARALYSES YOUR ABILITY TO MAKE NEW COLLAGEN
Lysine is also modified into hydroxylysine by the same catalyst and also fortifies collagen’s strength. Hydroxyproline and hydroxylysine are created by a reaction when they mix with oxygen, but there is a fine print to this step. This much needed process, or reaction, is dependent on adequate vitamin C levels. When vitamin C transforms proline and lysine into their hydroxy form, they become known as procollagen. Procollagen is used to reinforce collagen. You may have heard about vitamin C being a catalyst for the production of collagen in your body or skin. It is true. A vitamin C deficiency paralyzes your body’s ability to form new collagen. So you see how both proline and vitamin C are key players in restoring or preventing collagen breakdown? Good sources of vitamin C are your dark green veggies like leafy greens, okra, and green peppers. Of course berries are great sources, too! And did you notice that these just happen to be superstars on the THM plan?
Proline is critical for collagen renewal, and even though it is a nonessential amino acid (meaning you don’t require it in your diet), it is only synthesized by your body in tiny amounts. The problem comes when ailments and disease or even just the onslaught of modern day toxins barrage our bodies with significant enzyme destruction of collagen. This leaves many with a handicapped ability to produce adequate amounts of proline. Ingesting collagen supplements like Integral Collagen provides us with generous amounts of this special amino acid.
MORE COLLAGEN ACTIVATING NUTRIENTS
Taking a supplement of vitamin C, in a well-absorbable form, is helpful as well. Vitamin C is said to increase collagen synthesis by a whopping 800%. While on the subject of collagen synthesis, and as a side note, exfoliating the skin also helps generate more collagen in our dermal layers. Three cheers for the Trim Healthy Naturals Spunj! It gently, but super efficiently, exfoliates our skin and leaves it more youthful and glowing with every swirl on our face.
The hydroxylysine amino acids we mentioned earlier, that help make up procollagen, are glycosylated. This glycosylation step enhances fibril size and imparts a unique chemical and structural strength to the collagen molecule. The trace mineral manganese, found in foods like nuts, seeds, and spinach, is required by the enzymes that catalyze this important step.
Other collagen activating nutrients include: copper found richly in kale, mushrooms, and sesame seeds. Another dietary support for the formation of collagen are foods high in anthocyanidins like blueberries, blackberries, and cherries.
A RABBIT TRAIL ON COLLAGEN PRESERVING
While we were discussing the biological process of collagen dissolving enzymes, and not only their healthy function but also their rogue use by offending pathogens, an interesting paralleling thought crossed my brain. Middle Chain Triglycerides (otherwise known as MCTs) found in coconut, palm oil, and also in mother’s milk are much smaller and more fluid or malleable than other fatty acids.
They carry the remarkable ability to permeate through cell walls. They break open cell walls that are infected with viruses, bacteria, and disease and help rid the awful pathogens with their anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, immune boosting, and healing power. It is just interesting to me how most good and bad bodily processes use collagen dissolving enzymes to unlock their way and advancement but this remarkable oil can do this alone. MCT oil and coconut oil, so rich in these fatty acids, build up our immune system so we have less loogie boogies to attack our collagen stores. Oh, and isn’t it interesting how our Creator designed mother’s milk, also abundant in MCTs, as the most immune supporting superfood for human being’s first years? Go MCT oil… you rock!
A RABBIT TRAIL ON A MODERN DAY TWIST TO AN ANCIENT DISEASE
We don’t hear much about scurvy these days, unless we are reading a novel about a long voyage lost at sea. This disease of yore may not be manifesting itself as it had in the past, when vitamin V deficiency could become chronic with dramatic side effects, but scurvy has not altogether disappeared from our modern list of ailments. Some, like German doctor Matthias Rath, believe it to be the root cause behind many current ailments and degenerative diseases.
Without adequate vitamin C, collagen cannot be manufactured. This has a domino effect much larger than one would expect. Scurvy is an ailment where our body literally falls apart as our collagen is broken down and cannot be remade. Joints fail, tendons shrivel, blood vessels weaken and cave in. This causes fatal hemorrhages, gums can no longer anchor our teeth, and the dominoes keep falling. Our organs lose their structural strength and can no longer function as designed and every tissue of the body breaks down. The immune system is compromised, the heart fails, and the last domino falls.
COLLAGEN DEPLETION IS LOW-LEVEL SCURVY
Scurvy is happening on a slow and drawn out scale in many who sadly eat the very nutrient lacking standard American diet with limited fresh produce providing adequate vitamin C. Our modern day diet is also deficient in dietary collagen sources like bone broth and “skin on and bone in” cuts of meat that were enjoyed in yesteryears. Many do not get there much needed trace minerals like manganese and copper or sufficient amounts of lysine and proline for the manufacturing of collagen which is being broken down daily by natural wear and tear, aging and the onslaught of environmental free radicals.
RAISE YOUR SINGING CANARY GLASS
Those of us who deal with weakened adrenals are at greater risk of vitamin C deficiency as our normal ability to store healthy levels of C are impaired. When our adrenals are burnt out, the breakdown of connective tissue in our body is much greater. Supplementing with vitamin C and drinking the THM Singing Canary Sipper (THM Cookbook, p. 398), bolstered with a tsp or two of collagen peptides, would be a proactive and beneficial preventative of collagen wasting in the body.
IS HEART DISEASE JUST A FORM OF SCURVY?
Dr. Matthias Rath’s associate, Linus Pauling, was an American scientist who won two Nobel Prizes. He made a breakthrough in how heart disease should be viewed and ultimately treated. His extensive research led him to believe that the deposits of plaque connected with atherosclerosis were not the root cause of heart disease at all. Linus Pauling believed that heart disease was actually a form of scurvy. According to his theory, plaque was actually the body’s life saving attempt to reinforce and shore-up weakened blood vessels and arteries that would otherwise be in danger of rupturing. Plaque was the bodies fix-it glue to repair damage done by long term vitamin C deficiency and ultimately a lack of collagen. This is amazing stuff here, people! Pauling also believed that the accepted “triggers” of plaque formation, such as homocysteine and oxidized cholesterol, are actually just additional symptoms of low-level scurvy.
Pauling’s theory finally explained a niggling unanswered question never before addressed by older mainstream theories. The fact that plaque is not randomly distributed throughout the body, but only restricted to areas of high mechanical stress, was never rationalized or resolved until Pauling’s theory of collagen breakdown and low-level scurvy. Numerous animal studies support this new breakthrough theory. Those animals who cannot manufacture their own vitamin C, when deprived of adequate amounts of this vitamin show major collagen breakdown and their blood vessels thin and weaken. Other studies depriving animals of vitamin C confirm this scientist’s findings and show increasing blood levels of Lp(a) and deposits of plaque forming in their arteries to strengthen them against vessel ruptures.
A CHEAP ALTERNATIVE TO BYPASS SURGERY
The unified theory of cardiovascular disease by Pauling and Rath is an incredible breakthrough of modern science. Sadly, it has gone mostly unnoticed by the medical profession, the pharmaceutical industry, and the media. The biggest reason being because real help for cardiovascular disease is actually cheap and easy, you can’t patent it, and it would cause a major hole in the pocket of every major hospital. Bypass surgery is one of the biggest industries in America. According to Stephen Cherniske, biochemist and author of DHEA Breakthrough, surgery to fix a blocked coronary artery accounts for 30 to 40% of many hospitals total income.
LP(a) CHOLESTEROL IS JUST LIFE SAVING ARTERIAL CRACK-N-DENT FILLER
Pauling, the founder of modern chemistry and holder of 48 honorary PhDs, found that when this deficiency in vitamin C causes a breakdown of collagen (and the subsequent need for a buildup and patching of the arterial walls) it uses the cholesterol known as Lp(a) as its crack filler. This Nobel Prize winning scientist learned that Lp(a) binds to strands of lysine protruding from these weak and damaged blood vessels. This is when he invented the high-lysine therapy used also by Dr. Matthias Rath. When this safe, essential, and nontoxic amino acid is supplemented it puts extra lysine molecules in the blood that enter into competition with the lysyl residue on the wall of arteries. These lysine molecules prevent Lp(a) from being deposited and can even function as Lp(a) removal crews and actually pull it loose and destroy this artery clogging plaque.
RAMP UP COLLAGEN PRODUCTION TO PREVENT HEART DISEASE
When we supplement with collagen, which naturally provides lysine, we help to provide this positive environment against cardiovascular disease and help our bodies literally melt plaque and keep our arteries open. By combining our daily collagen dose with abundant dietary sources, or easily absorbable supplemental vitamin C, we prevent this low-level scurvy that science is now revealing initiates the problem. Linus Pauling suggests however that those individuals inflicted with heart disease, or who show high risk markers, should supplement with at least 2 grams of supplemental lysine and 5 or 6 grams of vitamin C daily.
VITAMIN C, COLLAGEN, AND PREGNANT MAMAS
Vitamin C deficiency, and its subsequent collagen manufacturing zapping, does not only negatively affect heart disease but is especially dangerous for a developing baby in the womb. Pregnant Trim Healthy Mamas, listen up! Researchers from the University of Copenhagen reported in the journal PLOS ONE that pregnant women with a vitamin C deficiency are at greater risk of having a baby whose brain does not develop properly. Let’s eat our large, dark green leafy salads so rich in this nutrient and “bottoms up” our shots of vitamin C-rich Singing Canary with a bit of supplemental collagen thrown in for good measure. (To be on the safest side, pregnant woman may want to use only half the turmeric and vitamin C called for in the Singing Canary Shot found on page 399 of the THM Cookbook.) Pregnancy puts our bodies in an extra need of manufacturing collagen which is such a foundational and integral building block for growth and life.
Okay, where are we in this long journey to get to know collagen? Oh, let’s briefly talk about its benefit for those with fibromyalgia. Some researchers believe that sufferers of this disease marked by unexplainable muscle pain have low amounts of collagen type III in their bodies. It is interesting to note that it is this collagen type III that is the collagen first laid down by the body in the connective tissue healing process.
It makes sense that if in fact those inflicted with fibromyalgia are deprived of this important collagen, their bodies will not be able to repair properly at this deep cellular level and will suffer pain and inflammation as a consequence. This lack of collagen and its resulting pain inflicted on the body is a confirmed speculation when we look at the genetic disease Ehlers–Danlos syndrome (EDS). Those who are inflicted with this disease lack a chromosomal marker for making collagen and suffer much pain as a result. Some sufferers of this syndrome have tried supplemental collagen and have seen improvement in their symptoms.
CONFIRMED PAIN IMPROVEMENT FOR FIBROMYALGIA SUFFERERS
Research concludes that patients with fibromyalgia and concurrent temporomandibular joint pain have gained improvement in their chronic symptoms with the addition of hydrolyzed collagen in their diet. A 90-day evaluation was completed on 20 people who had been medically diagnosed with fibromyalgia for at least 2-15+ years to determine the effects of collagen supplementation. The participants were initially evaluated and then again at 30, 60 and finally 90 day periods. The results were weighed against comparisons and the overall group average of pain complaint levels decreased significantly. That’s the boring study… The not so boring is what we hear from our Trim Healthy Mamas! Many are telling us that they are experiencing real relief from fibromyalgia for the first time in years after being on-plan and adding in collagen.
MY INADEQUACY TO SHED PROPER LIGHT
We really need the space of an entire book to fully uncover and dig into the virtues of collagen, science, and personal health. You may think this a long article but I feel it is sadly hampered by my meager attempt to convey just a little and not nearly the entirety of its merits. I have left out much detail, many studies, and just skimmed the surface of understanding this integral food-based medicine. Like a hyperactive and excitable pup in my studies, I have raced from rabbit trail to rabbit trail. I hope you have been able to glean some helpful knowledge to give you clarity into this sadly missing natural food therapy. You’ll most likely find “Collagen 102″ available in the Trim Healthy Membership site soon. So before we close, let’s address the safety issues of daily supplementation to finally clear the air of any negative myths that might be lurking… And let’s welcome back all the readers who skipped the middle part of this article and just want the necessaries.
FINAL IMPORTANT INFO
SAFETY – IT’S A FOOD, NOT A DRUG!
Collagen/gelatin supplements are really just foods. They are pure proteins that are nontoxic and free from any known adverse side effect. They are not a pharmaceutical drug and in their pure form are free from additives and preservatives. Hydrolyzed collagen and gelatin have been rated by the United State’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA) at the highest safety category – labeled GRAS after clinical testing. It can be taken with any other medications, without contraindications, and the FDA has posed no restrictions on its use. Research has also been done in-depth for any potential cancer vulnerability with long term administration and the results reveal no increase in carcinogenicity or mutagenicity.
But everyone is unique and can react differently to different foods. Having said that, there have been no reported serious reactions to hydrolyzed collagen or gelatin in clinical tests. In the recent international Moskowitz study, the worst of any complaints was diarrhea. We do hear back from a few of our Mamas that it causes them stomach discomfort. A good way to deal with that is to start with very small amounts and work slowly up to 1 scoop per day (a THM Integral Collagen scoop equals 1.5 Tbsp). Regarding gelatin, it should always be bloomed before eating. This simply means it needs to be mixed first with cold water and then with hot water to dissolve. Ingesting unbloomed gelatin can cause stomach discomfort. Food incompatibilities that are common with other proteins resulting from enzyme intestinal defects are not shown with collagen/gelatin.
In the past there have been brief concerns about animal diseases such as Mad Cow Disease transferring into gelatin. There has never been a confirmation of this by Food and Drug Administrations throughout the world. The process to obtain gelatin and produce collagen supplements is highly controlled. The manufacturing steps used make the risk of contamination impossible. Quality does matter. Always seek out a pasture-raised source of collagen and gelatin. You don’t want a whole bunch of hormones and antibiotics in your powder.
We get lots of questions from nursing Mamas about whether they should supplement with collagen or not. I’ll keep my response personal and not just cite a boring bunch of research studies. My latest little bubby (how we say baby in kiwi land) has had to deal with genetic high palate issues. It is hard for him to properly empty the breast efficiently because his high palate makes him lose a strong nursing suction. I have had to pump my breast milk after I naturally nurse him then supplement him further with my milk through a Lact-Aid nursing supplementer to make sure he gets enough.
With the busyness of a large family and then the added bustle of writing, researching, and working alongside Pearl for Trim Healthy Mama, I was not always able to get those 7 scheduled pumps in. I’ve had to sometimes supplement with the Weston A Price raw milk formula. My little Remmy, who is almost 12 months now, thrives on it! He is nice and plump… and what do you know? The recipe calls for collagen-rich gelatin. So the same grass-fed, Trim Healthy Mama Just Gelatin that I throw into my own Trimmies and treats is the very one I also use to make his special formula. Some who are new to collagen and gelatin supplements raise concern about the safety of this kind of supplement, but I have been feeding it to my own baby upon much researched recommendation and he is a healthy, vibrant specimen whose happy smile melts my heart at every turn.
NO FEAR OF MSG WITH INTEGRAL COLLAGEN
Some of our readers have voiced concern about glutamic acid and MSG in collagen products. Our Trim Healthy Mama Integral Collagen contains approximately 11% glutamic acid that is bound to the gelatin protein chains and is not free glutamate. It is only the free glutamate that poses concern. Individuals sensitive to MSG do not have problems with glutamic acid as part of a protein chain. Other common food proteins are actually a lot higher in glutamic acid than gelatin or collagen.
MORE FREE GLUTAMIC ACID IN HUMAN BLOOD THAN INTEGRAL COLLAGEN
Glutamic acid, as part of protein chains, is not considered a problem for MSG sensitive individuals. In independent laboratory testing, collagen hydrolysate showed free glutamic acid at only 0.09%. There is more free glutamic acid in human blood than in the Trim Healthy Mama Integral Collagen.
UNDERSTANDING GLUTAMIC ACID
Glutamic acid is an amino acid common in plants and animals. Nearly every food contains glutamate. It is found richly in meat, fish, eggs, milk, and cheese as well as plant sources like grains, beans, mushrooms, nuts and fruit and veggies of both land and sea. Of the 20 amino acids in mother’s milk, glutamic acid is the most abundant. Besides from being a building block of proteins and peptides, glutamic acid is found in most tissue and even manufactured in the brain. It is vital in the transmission of nerve impulses. Our bodies produce roughly 50 milligrams of glutamic acid every day
A CLOSER LOOK AT GLUTAMIC ACID
For a quick, closer look at glutamate… it is categorized as either L-glutamic acid or D-glutamic acid. The kind found in natural food is the L-glutamic kind and is bound to the protein chain and does good not harm to the body. When we metabolize protein foods our body naturally hydrolyzes it in our stomachs and lower intestines through the use of hydrochloric acid and digestive enzymes. A healthy person’s body then controls the amount of glutamic acid that it takes from protein. Excess glutamic acid is not stored by the body, so L-glutamic acid is never toxic but rather passed as waste.
LET’S NOT GET TOO CRAY CRAY
Let’s not demonize a healthy ingredient because its name sounds closely related to something actually villainous. Some people are so scared of glutamic acid they have removed many of our God-designed and bestowed natural foods from their diet. They choose to cook their meat the more carcinogenic high heat way in an effort to diminish the glutamic acid that is naturally released in slow cooked meats. They say the slow cooking method hydrolyzes the amino acids and releases some free glutamic acid, but don’t you remember that this is a natural process that happens when we simply digest protein foods? Some even shy away from gut healing superfoods like fermented foods just to avoid a little glutamate. Let’s not get too “cray cray” and lose our food sanity over food molecules that are designed to be embraced and not eliminated.
HOW TO SUPPLEMENT PROPERLY
Two words – “DON’T OVERDO!”
We often get asked, “What is the right amount of collagen to take per day?” There is no hard set number to shoot for. If you make your own homemade bone stock and eat that daily, your requirements will be less or none at all. For the rest of us, anything from 1/2 a scoop to 2 scoops of Integral Collagen or Just Gelatin per day can be extremely helpful. That breaks down to 3/4 a tablespoon to 3 tablespoons per day. No need to go over two scoops. If budget is tight, you should still see great improvements in hair, skin, pain, etc with just one scoop daily over several months time… and you can break that scoop up into smaller amounts during the day. Many times we only put a tsp or two into our Trimmies if we are paring that with an already protein-rich snack.
Supplementing properly means not in excess of fuel needs. Still confused? The simple fact is if you are filling up on your usual fare, ‘till your gills are completely stuffed, and then you top your gullet to the limit with a Trimmy loaded with a full scoop or two of collagen… then you are in danger zone of excess calories! Excess of what your body needs becomes trash! We don’t count calories on the Trim Healthy Mama plan, but we don’t abuse them either. Your wonderful superfood supplement that is so weight loss friendly can tip the scale a little higher – as would any other wonder food topped on top of an already filled digestive system.
LEAVE A LITTLE ROOM!
Here is your mantra for collagen/gelatin supplementation – “Replace… don’t just add.” When properly supplementing with collagen, you need to leave a little room for your Trimmified coffee or collagen treat so that it becomes part of your fuel needs and not over and above what your body can burn. If your body doesn’t need the fuel, the scale will kindly oblige and take on the extra numbers. If you usually eat 3 fried eggs for breakfast and want to add a good amount of collagen, well then just fry up 2 and leave room for your full collagen scoop Trimmy. Or, alternatively you could just add 1 tsp of collagen to your Trimmy and keep your 3 eggs – adding the remainder of your collagen to another Trimmy or treat later on in the day.
Here is what not to do when adding collagen. Let’s take breakfast. Don’t eat 3 to 4 eggs, 2 sausage patties, some low-carb, gluten free bread, mushrooms cooked in butter, and then add to that a coffee enriched with a full scoop or two of collagen and a bunch of cream! Yes, that’s all on-plan, but you’re overdoing it, Girl! You have plenty of protein in the eggs alone… let alone the meat and the collagen! Sure it is fine to have a big ol’ breakfast of bacon and eggs for a satisfying meal on the Trim Healthy Mama plan on a Saturday morning, but if your weight is tad stubborn, pull back a little. Just have 2 eggs, if you’re having a meat with them. Do, at most… a half a scoop of collagen in any meal with both eggs and meats. You probably actually only need a tsp or two if your protein amounts are already high. If you want to add more collagen, for health’s sake, eat just a couple of whole eggs and some added egg whites and veggies… now you can add more collagen to your coffee.
A similar thing applies when making shakes and smoothies… Here’s another case of what not to do. You make a Trim Healthy Mama shake or Frappa that calls for one scoop of THM Pristine Whey Protein. You think, “Well now, I want the benefits of collagen… gotta get me some long, glossy locks growing… so in goes a scoop or two of collagen… the more the better right?” Hold up! You’re adding – not replacing! Simply use half a scoop of whey and half a scoop of collagen. You’ll still receive plenty of protein that way and get the creamy, fluffiness that the whey provides (and the different health benefits it offers), plus a nice dose of collagen or gelatin to balance out your protein profile.
Collagen really shines when your meal or snack has less than adequate protein. Put it in soups that don’t contain a lot of meat. Want a delicious THM dessert for an afternoon treat, but feel that it doesn’t contain quite enough protein? Then feel free to use a full scoop of collagen in any meal or snack like that.
Coconut oil and MCT oil are known weight loss metabolic raving foods when these fats replace other less waist friendly fats or calories. But if you add them on top of a McDonald’s Big Mac… they won’t be so waist whittling! In other words, we need to make sure these weight loss friendly foods become part of our planned fuel intake and not extra add ons… to tip the scales. Collagen, in clinical studies (as well as being proven by countless testimonies), does indeed help fight obesity and combat excessive appetite. But any weight loss aid, when used in excess of your meal, will be counterproductive to this goal. Got it?
IN CLOSING: SHOULDN’T A WELL-BALANCED DIET PROVIDE EVERYTHING WE NEED, MAKING COLLAGEN SUPPLEMENTS UNNECESSARY?
As we come to our final thoughts, let’s remind ourselves of why we even need to fuss with adding this white powder to our diet. Can’t we just eat a well-balanced diet and keep truckin’? The answer is yes. But the problem lies in the fact that in our modern culture, we don’t know what a balanced diet should look like anymore. The majority of us don’t have bone stocks bubbling away on the stove or seek bone-in and skin-on meat cuts. Most of the mass produced packaged meats found in grocery stores today are proud of their boneless, skinless labels.
A LOST ANCIENT ART
We need to supplement with collagen because the majority of us have lost the art of harnassing it in our cooking. Many of us simply don’t have the time for long and old fashioned cooking methods and we need to use prepared collagen peptides for the sake of practicality. Our bodies are faced with a barrage of environmental toxins that our forefathers didn’t have to deal with. We modern folk need the strengthening, supportive, and cleansing properties found in this treasure food that is so easy to take. We may not have the perfectly balanced mineral-rich soils today but we have the opportunity to harness technology and use it for our blessing and not our curse.
A GIFT OF MODERN SCIENCE
Whole food extracted supplements are our gift of science and help balance out whatever negative consequences have come from our modern constant yearning to advance and leap forward. Collagen peptides are a fruit “ripe for the taking” from the tree of helpful science. I’m a bone stock maker myself and encourage others to keep alive the traditions of millennia and simmer that golden pot of life’s elixir. But many are simply not going to do it! Collagen peptide supplements like Integral Collagen, along with other healthy scientific breakthroughs and blessings, are a lifeboat amidst the tossing sea of modern day living.
– SERENE ALLISON
Protector of Purist Mama Peeps and Friend Not Foe to Pearl and Her Drive Thru Sue-ness