I watched the street ahead as my feet hit the ground in rhythmic coordination. It was a stellar summer day for a run. And then I felt it, a dull ache in my right knee which began to radiate from behind my patella. The next day my knee was swollen and painful. Had I torn a ligament? Enraged a tendon? I gave it time to heal on it’s own and finally went to several orthopedists to explore the problem. After x-rays and an MRI I learned that I had the beginnings of osteoarthritis – a condition that slowly wears away the knee joint cartilage causing pain and inflammation. Not fun news for anyone to hear, but especially someone who spends hours a day exploring the mechanics of the body!
A colleague suggested that I drink bone broth to boost my collagen and support my body’s production of the vital protein. I went to my local organic butcher and brought home a plastic container of the fresh broth. I had heard about this magic elixir and its ability to strengthen the body and help manage a variety of chronic conditions. But, after heating up a bit and pouring it into a cup, I took a sip and could not tolerate the intensely meaty taste. I had to force feed myself like a five year old. This was not going to work!
Lifestyle, age, sugar and high amounts of sun exposure deplete collagen in the body. Collagen is a protein made up of a specific chain of amino acids. It is the most abundant protein in the body and supports strength, hydration, elasticity and flexibility.
Collagen is the main protein found in skin (70%), hair, connective tissues, ligaments, tendons and cartilage. It helps joints move easier and reduces pain and deterioration. It strengthens blood vessels and the central nervous system. It promotes the skin’s regeneration and elasticity. It helps in the detoxifying processes by improving the body’s ability to use antioxidants, supports liver function, and the gut of the digestive system.
In addition it helps keep you lean and strong. Glycine (one of the amino acids found in collagen) increases the metabolism by converting glucose into energy that feeds muscle cells. This lean muscle burns calories and supports posture and bone health.
As we age, the fibroblasts that regenerate cells in the epidermis of our skin weaken and our ability to produce collagen slows down, among other things this results in a reduction of skins elasticity. Skin cells renew every month and are made of proteins that need essential amino acids in the right ratios in order to develop. By stimulating the production of collagen and elastin we support the health and healthy glow of our skin. Just an added bonus!
Type of protein does matter.
In collagen there eighteen amino acids and eight are ‘essential’. An ‘essential’ amino acid is one that your body can’t produce on it’s own and needs to be introduced through your diet. Meat and dairy are the best sources, but also nuts, legumes, almonds, pistachios , broccoli, asparagus all are good sources of quality amino acids. If you are like me you may be limiting meat and dairy from your diet, or eliminating them altogether.
And this is where a supplement becomes valuable. As you get older, unless you are eating like a crazy healthy rock star and have a personal chef who is also a certified nutritionist, you may want to consider a collagen supplemental powder or capsule. Studies, like the one published in here in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermotology and here in Skin Pharmacology and Physiology are now being done on the advantage of supplemental support of collagen peptides and its benefits to support healthy skin.
Collagen supplements can be found as in a pill form or a powder that can be added to your smoothies or soups. You may see Collagen peptides and gelatins – the difference being that peptides are easier to include in smoothies or soups – and are easier to digest and absorbed more efficiently by the body. And don’t forget to include vitamin “C” which is needed to help convert collagen into usable protein.
Obviously a balanced diet is the most important way to stay healthy, strong and sparkling.
But with our busy lives we can’t all support a diet that will provide us with all the building blocks our bodies need to flourish. In additional, pollution, environmental toxins, stress, and lack of sleep challenge our bodies to operate at optimum. So – why not add a little boost to your fuel and a little bloom to your beauty from the inside out.
With the support of a mindful yoga practice and daily strategic supplements, my knee is feeling so much better that I often forget that I have a degenerative condition, and I am back to my old antics! I am offering you the following insanely delicious smoothie to add to your morning routine.
Bone Beauty Boost Smoothie
(I like to use organic frozen berries and fruit that can be found at Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s. I keep bags on hand in my freezer.)
Strawberries or Cherries – super high in Vitamin C
Almond butter or Cashew butter
Collagen Peptides – I like Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides
Favorite Protein Powder – Vanilla or Chocolate – It’s a good idea so that you are sure you have covered your vitamin A, B and C’s. There are many options here, whey based, soy based etc. Look into a rice based protein.
Cinnamon, Liquid stevia, Dates or Fresh ginger
Unsweetened non dairy milk or coconut water
In a VItamix, or blender, stack the ingredients beginning with the dry powders, followed by the frozen fruit and any wet solids. Top with the liquid. Blend on a high speed until smooth and creamy – adding liquid as needed to create the consistency you like.
Get yourself a traveling smoothie canteen and take your creation on the road or make a double batch and store some in your fridge:)