You NEED Collagen in Your Life!
A science based review
By Donald Shrump, CSCS, FDN
It is my contention that if you look at someone’s face and skin that you are looking at the state of the person’s stress levels, liver function, and even the effectiveness of the digestive system. The reason that I say this because 3 Key Physiological Phenomena:
So look in the mirror…Do you want to look younger, reduce wrinkles, and clearer skin?
Research is now proving a 100+ year old tradition can help
Brand-new clinical research seems to indicate that there’s something real to those claims of collagen supplementation or traditionally bone broth is part of the keys to better skin. In a large double-blind, placebo-controlled study published in early 2014, women took 2.5 g of hydrolyzed collagen peptide once a day; after 8 weeks, researchers measured a 20% reduction in wrinkle depth around the women’s eyes.
Even more significant, levels of their body’s own procollagen (the precursor to collagen) were significantly elevated, with production up by an impressive 65%. It seems that, however improbably, the supplementation was shown in this study could make a woman’s skin behave like a younger version of itself!
Collagen, the very substance that I suggest as a key to “Looking Good at Any Age” because collagen supports liver function, keeps skin resilient and joints working smoothly. Collagen also provides the structure in the tissue that connects our organs—but past the ripe old age of 30, everyone’s collagen production declines due to stress and malnutrition (lack of organ meats and bone broth). I often comment that this is a common process and not a NORMAL process because it used to be normal for human beings to eat bone broth all the time.
“If you lose the collagen structure in your bones, that’s osteoporosis,” says study coauthor Steffen Oesser, the founder of the Collagen Research Institute in Kiel, Germany, who holds patents on several collagen formulations. “Lose the collagen in skin, you get wrinkles.”
In the past, our diet included foods that may have helped stem this decline, such as homemade broth or stock. When you boil a whole chicken or simmer beef bones, the jellylike substance that rises to the top is—you guessed it—collagen. It’s even been suggested that our society’s current predilection for boneless, skinless chicken breasts could be part of the reason we need these supplements in the first place—we’ve effectively created a collagen deficit in our diets.
Collagen and Gelatin (cooked down collagen) are wonder foods with anti-inflammatory and anti-aging qualities, since they help to fill in gaps of the missing amino acids (the building blocks of proteins) in the Standard American Diet (SAD). Because collagen’s makes up is different than other protein supplements (i.e. high in glycine and proline), collagen can be used to help create a more balanced amino acid profile in our diet. Many fitness fanatics and dieters tend to overdo muscle meats (such as beef, chicken, lamb and turkey), which are high in tryptophan and cysteine and forget to balance out the amino acids with other proteins (such as eggs, fish, dairy, shellfish, organ meats). Eating a diet out of amino acid balance can contribute to chronic inflammation and aging your skin over time.
Research on life-extension (living as long a possible) found that restricting only tryptophan, or only cysteine, produces a greater extension of the life span than achieved in most of the studies of caloric restriction. Both tryptophan and cysteine inhibit thyroid function and mitochondrial energy production, and have other effects that decrease the ability to withstand stress. Tryptophan is the precursor to serotonin, which causes inflammation, immunodepression, and generally the same changes seen in aging. Histidine is another amino acid precursor to a mediator of inflammation, histamine; would the restriction of histidine in the diet have a longevity promoting effect, too?
It happens that collagen and gelatin are proteins which contain no tryptophan, and only small amounts of cysteine, methionine, and histidine. Using gelatin as a major dietary protein is an easy way to restrict the amino acids that are associated with many of the problems of aging. The main amino acids in gelatin are glycine and proline; alanine is also present in significant quantity. Glycine and proline are responsible for the unusual fibrous property of collagen.
ARE YOU STRESSED? WHO ISN’T THESE DAYS
When your cells are stressed, they form extra collagen in places that are stressed, but your cells can also dissolve collagen, to allow for tissue remodeling and growth. When you are stressed you don’t have the collagen in your skin, muscles, and joints like under normal conditions, which is why you don’t recover from injuries as fast, bruise easily, and have sore muscles for days. When your diet is lacking amino acid balance the excess inflammatory amino acids further the stress effect. When you eat collagen and it is easily digested in about 30 minutes, your cells release factors that promote wound healing and suppress tumor invasiveness. (Pasco, et al., 2003)
Glycine is one of the factors promoting wound healing and tumor inhibition. Glycine has a wide range of antitumor actions, including the inhibition of new blood vessel formation (angiogenesis), and it has shown protective activity in liver cancer and melanoma. Since glycine is non-toxic (if the kidneys are working, since any amino acid will contribute to the production of ammonia), this kind of chemotherapy can be pleasant. According to Ray Peat, PhD, “The degenerative and inflammatory diseases can often be corrected by the use of gelatin-rich foods” (source).
Gelatin has a unique and very non-inflammatory amino acid profile, primarily consisting of glycine, glutamic acid, proline & alanine. Although these are non-essential amino acids (meaning your body can make them), many malnourished and over-stressed livers are not able to manufacture all the non-essential amino acids in the amounts demanded by the body. The liver needs an abundance of these proteins to keep functioning optimally, particularly to fuel phase 2 detoxification. This helps your body get rid of all the trash you have eaten, put on your skin, put in your hair, and have breathed into your lungs and thus into your blood
Gelatin versus Collagen Hydrolysate
Although the most nutrient dense source of gelatin is homemade bone broth (since it contains minerals as well), powdered versions offer a more convenient way to consistently get it into your diet.
The Difference is Processing
I spoke personally with the president of Great Lakes Gelatin to get the low down on exactly how collagen hydrolysate and gelatin are processed.
According to Bob Busscher, they carefully source grass-fed beef hides for the raw material for their bovine products. The split hides (under the hair where the collagen lies) are put into an alkaline solution and held for a number of days where the material is broken down into smaller pieces of skin.
Next it’s acid back washed and pumped into cooking kettles which separate tallow, skin, and collagen. The collagen is then filtered and put through a vacuum evaporator at 212 degrees F (a very delicate process). After evaporation is complete there is a four second sanitation process at 240F degrees that kills any unwanted bacteria. At this stage it is classified as pure collagen.
Collagen hydrolysate: The collagen is stored in a holding tank at a higher temperature to reduce the molecular weight cleaving the amino acid bonds. This process is called hydrolysis. At the appropriate time it is then introduced to the spray dryer whereas the product is made into a dry powder.
Gelatin: The collagen is sent to a votator, chilled and solidified, pumped onto a drying belt, and is now considered gelatin. It is dried to under 12% moisture, milled to a granular specification and packaged.
How to Best Use Each Type of Collagen
Collagen hydrolysate – The hydrolysis process described above renders the gelatin powder more easily digestible and appropriate for those with digestive weakness and sensitivity. I find this type of supplement is best used as a protein powder with careful dosing (see Important Note below).
Mix collagen hydrolysate in drinks, shakes, smoothies, ice cream, or add a tablespoon to your favorite recipe to give it an anti-inflammatory protein boost. It will dissolve in cold liquids easily.
Having collagen hydrolysate with a meal that contains muscle meat can help balance the amino acid profile that enters your blood stream. “If a person eats a large serving of meat, it’s probably helpful to have 5 or 10 grams of gelatin at approximately the same time, so that the amino acids enter the blood stream in balance.” Ray Peat, PhD (source).
How Much Do You Need?
Individual needs will vary, but most people can start off with about ½ -1 tablespoon per day of collagen hydrolysate, and increase by 1 tablespoon every two weeks or so as tolerated. According to Ray Peat PhD, gelatin can make up about 30% of total protein intake, which for the typical person is about 3-6 TBL of gelatin per day (1 tablespoon of gelatin is 6 grams of protein).
Important Note: Remember not to get too carried away with gelatin. Adding too much too quickly can cause digestive issues: bloating, loss of appetite, and stomach ache are just a few side effects.
It’s important to remember that more gelatin is not always better, especially if you are adding it to your diet for the first time. Gelatin should be used in addition to a nutrient dense diet and not to replace real food like homemade bone broths and grassfed meats.
Glycine in Gelatin Helps Normalize Liver Function
Gelatin not only helps the liver do its job effectively. It also helps the liver function normally if it is having problems.
Dr. Reuben Ottenberg in 1935 suggested in the Journal of the American Medical Association that patients with jaundice or other liver problems be administered 5-10 grams of gelatin per day as food or via a powdered gelatin supplement to supply additional glycine to the diet in order to encourage normalized hepatic function.
Consuming Lots of Gelatin is Must in Such a Toxic World
Given the toxicity of our world today and the high level of chemicals in our air, water, and food, a large amount of glycine in the diet is one very crucial and important way to assist the body with the nearly constant detoxification that is required to maintain health.
The best way to get lots of natural gelatin into your diet is to make bone broths and incorporate them into your diet on a frequent basis with sauces and soups.
If you don’t consume bone broths either alone or as part of soups and sauces nearly everyday, however, you may wish to consider a natural gelatin supplement.
Powdered gelatin can be added to smoothies which is a great option in hot weather when the thought of a steaming hot bowl of soup is not very appealing. While protein powders are not a healthy choice due to the high processing involved to make them, powdered gelatin is a wonderful alternative and it adds protein to a smoothie as well as plenty of glycine for detoxification.
Powdered gelatin can also be added to bone broth that hasn’t gelled very much to ensure that when the bone broth is used in soups and sauces, adequate gelatin is being consumed with each serving.
If you are looking to stay healthy and look your best as you age. Try the 1-2 punch of Protandim (to eliminate free radical damage) and Collagen (to build younger looking skin, stronger bones, and muscles).
Purchase Protandim online and pick up your Collagen at NJ Shore Fit in the Brielle Sports Club in Brielle, New Jersey.
REFERENCES AND NOTES