Have you been hearing about the wonders of collagen for your skin and hair? Collagen is suggested as a beautifying aid everywhere these days. But what exactly is it and do you really need it? We're going to take a deep dive into this topic - the benefits of collagen, the best kind of collagen, and how it connects with your hormonal health. Collagen does have many benefits, but we don’t often hear how it can benefit our insides as much as our outsides.
Collagen as an anti-aging supplement
Collagen is a protein that is found in our bodies - our muscles, bones, skin and tendons. As we get older collagen depletes, and this leads to sagging, aging skin and aches and pains in our joints and muscles. We need collagen to look and feel youthful.
The inside game is feeding our body what it needs to stay youthful, supple, and healthy - which includes collagen supplements. Collagen is a much better choice than toxin-laden anti-aging creams that are endocrine-disrupting or adding toxins to your body like Botox, which compromise your liver function.
The benefits of collagen for your hormones
Does collagen affect the menstrual cycle? Bodies are complex and many of our internal chemistries are related. In addition to the widely known collagen benefits to skin and joints, collagen also has other interactions that are not as well publicized, including benefits to your hormonal health. If you notice changes when you begin taking collagen, this list may help you understand the deeper connections between your body and taking a collagen supplement:
- Collagen is a great source of amino acids (arginine, glutamine, glycine and proline). We need amino acids to produce healthy levels of hormones.
- Collagen can help with gut health issues like leaky gut syndrome, repairing holes in the gut and preventing the inflammatory response (and subsequent hormonal havoc) that can come from food passing through these gaps, undigested.
- The amino acid glycine is liver-supportive, helping your liver function to process and eliminate pesticides, xenoestrogens, and other avoidable and unavoidable toxins from the environment, food, and products we use.
- Collagen supports healthy thyroid function and offsets cortisol (stress hormone) imbalance.
Collagen vs. gelatin
You may have heard the terms collagen and gelatin used interchangeably. That’s because gelatin is actually a part of collagen. When collagen is heated up - say, when you’re making chicken soup, or bone broth - it breaks down to become gelatin. They have very similar nutritional profiles and benefits, because they come from the same source. However, gelatin is a way we can most easily get the benefits of collagen. Unless taken in raw supplement form, cooking collagen is the easiest way to eat it and absorb its benefits.
Making bone broth is a great way to do this (see below), but you could roast a whole chicken, turkey, duck or a beef or lamb joint. This will also give you the benefits of gelatin, from including the bones, tendons and ligaments which contain the collagen. Another option is to buy gelatin powder and add this to smoothies.
The best way to get the benefits of collagen and gelatin
There are so many supplements available on the market to choose from. Look for a product that blends collagen, MSM, and Vitamin C for the best results. Be prepared to take it for up to 3 months before you see results. We also recommend drinking bone broth. It is hormone-balancing and super nourishing. Here is a simple recipe, or you can buy fresh bone broth online for delivery or purchase it from your local Whole Foods or natural foods store. Finally, you can purchase a gelatin powder and add it to smoothies - it's a great protein source and gives you bioavailable building blocks to make collagen.