You may have heard of collagen as a skin care miracle worker. Collagen in personal care products is thought to boost skin health from the outside in by repairing skin (hair and nails too) topically. Often added to skin care products, collagen protein is advertised as the best thing for your skin.

And sure, collagen is amazing when applied topically. But it works even better from the inside out!

Your hair, skin, and nails can become fragile when your body isn’t producing enough collagen on its own, or when collagen is lacking in your diet (or both). Consuming plenty of healthy collagen can strengthen your hair, skin, and nails, while providing a host of other health benefits as well.

Read on to see how this simple food can do so much for your entire body.

What Is Collagen?

Collagen is the most abundant protein in our bodies. It’s comprised of amino acids, like glycine and proline, that help our skin to be strong and elastic. It also helps our hair and nails to be strong and healthy too. Collagen acts as the glue that holds our joints together and also acts as a cushion so that our joints don’t wear down (as can happen with excessive exercise or aging).

Similar to gelatin, collagen comes from gelatinous parts of animals such as bones and skin that are cooked down (like when making broth or stock). The collagen that you buy at the store is extracted in a similar way.

Benefits of Collagen

Just like gelatin, collagen has many benefits for your health. When ingested, collagen helps balance out the amino acids in your diet, helping you to avoid some heart problems and other diseases caused by eating too much muscle meat.

If we look to nature, we see that animal protein was intended to be consumed from head to tail, meaning not just chicken breasts and steaks. We need to eat organ meats and lots of collagen for a healthy balanced amino acid profile. Collagen also:

  • Protects joints – Helps reduce the inflammation that causes pain and stiffness.
  • Improves gut health – Helps line the walls of the intestines, improving digestion and reducing leaky gut.
  • Improves cognitive health – Studies show that collagen consumption helps improve memory in both young and old folks.
  • Improves sleep – Also helps folks sleep better and fall asleep more quickly.
  • Improves liver function – Glycine helps minimize the damage caused by processing toxins.
  • And helps maintain stellar hair, skin, and nails!

Hair, Skin, and Nails… on Collagen!

Used topically, collagen may be helpful. But when you eat it, you can see amazing results. Collagen is the building block of hair, skin, nails and even teeth!

Many women have dry skin, brittle nails, and hair loss or breakage during pregnancy. Collagen, or lack thereof, may be to blame. One study even found that collagen may be a promising treatment for folks with hair loss, so it makes sense that lacking enough collagen might be causing the problem.

Consuming collagen has been shown to reduce visible signs of aging. (source) As we age, collagen production declines. Which can lead to wrinkles, saggy skin, dryness, brittle nails and hair loss.

Adding collagen to your diet can help your body replenish its natural collagen for healthier hair, skin, and nails. Collagen has even been shown to reduce the effects of sun exposure.

Collagen Supplements or Collagen Peptides?

There are many collagen supplements on the market that likely work well, but it’s just as easy to use collagen hydrolysate (also called collagen peptides) instead.

Collagen peptides cost less than collagen supplements, and they’re super easy to add to any recipe. I prefer the Vital Proteins collagen but Great Lakes is another grass-fed collagen that many folks enjoy.

Collagen During Pregnancy

Collagen is not only safe during pregnancy, it’s a must! Without collagen, you may not be getting the full spectrum of amino acids. Amino acids are the building blocks for protein and help build your baby’s… well, just about everything! Collagen is also great for helping your skin avoid stretch marks.

Other benefits during pregnancy include:

  • Improves digestion. During pregnancy this is especially important. If you’re not assimilating your nutrients, baby’s not getting them (or he’s stealing them from your stores—still not good!).
  • Aids in bone repair. Weak bones and carrying babies don’t mix!
  • Boosts energy. Glycine, one amino acid present in collagen, helps turn glucose into energy for cells.
  • Liver detox. When you’re pregnant, you’re processing and eliminating toxins for two. Liver support is very helpful!

How to Use Collagen

Collagen peptides are the easiest way to consume collagen. They dissolve in hot or cold liquids so you can add it to just about anything for a boost of healthy protein. Think of it like a healthy, all natural protein powder.

Note that collagen peptides don’t gel like gelatin, so don’t try to use them to make gummies or jello.

Collagen Recipes

Because collagen can be added to cold or hot liquids, it’s a very flexible “protein powder.” Here are some recipes to get your creative (and digestive) juices flowing.

Strawberry Beet Collagen Smoothie

  • 1 cup cooked beets (skins removed)
  • 1 banana
  • 1 cup frozen strawberries
  • 1 cup coconut cream or milk
  • 4 tablespoons collagen peptides
  • 2 teaspoons honey (optional)
  • Water for blending

Add to a high powered blender and blend until smooth. If it’s hard to blend add a bit of water.

Green Collagen Smoothie

  • 1 pear, peeled 
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 banana (or 2-3 dates, pitted)
  • 1 cup leafy greens
  • 4 peeled cucumber slices
  • 1 sprig mint leaves
  • Water for blending

Add to a high powered blender and blend until smooth. If it’s hard to blend add a bit of water.

Pineapple Almond Collagen Smoothie

  • ½ banana
  • ¾ cup frozen pineapple
  • 2 tbsp organic almond butter
  • 2 tbsp collagen peptides
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • Water for blending

Add to a high powered blender and blend until smooth. If it’s hard to blend add a bit of water.

More Mama Natural recipes:

Collagen recipes from around the web

How About You?

What’s your favorite way to use collagen?

References

  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4206255/