Autumn is officially here along with the likelihood of blustery weather and bone-chilling temperatures. A hearty meal simmering on the stove or in the crock-pot is the perfect way to be welcomed back inside after outdoor adventures. Best of all, the right meal can supply all the nourishment we need to stay healthy when made with the right ingredients.
For this kind of meal, let me refer you to my favorite cookbook, Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon with Mary G. Enig, Ph.D. Accompanied by many interesting facts, Fallon provides detailed information on cooking nutrient dense foods and explains why this nourishment is essential to health and the survival of future generations. Perhaps when you finish this article you’ll be interested enough to browse through a copy of Nourishing Traditions always on the shelf in my office and make plans to attend our workshop in December!
Perhaps you’ve heard the latest nutritional buzzwords – collagen and bone broth. If you’re wondering if the nutritional benefits of these substances were just discovered, that’s hardly the case. After all, who hasn’t heard of chicken broth as a treatment for colds and flu? Collagen was referenced six times in the 2nd edition Nourishing Traditions almost 17 years ago… So why is everyone talking about it now?
I believe it’s primarily due to the marketing of some great new products by Dr. Josh Axe, DNM, DC, CNS, and several others. As a doctor of natural medicine, doctor of chiropractic, and clinical nutritionist, Dr. Axe is passionate about helping people become well by using food as medicine – and his Multi Collagen Protein powder is ready for the test! Let me know if you decide to give it a try. For convenience, we’re currently carrying this collagen powder in my office and we’re looking for feedback.
Collagen protein powder is designed to provide the benefits of bone broth without time intensive preparation. In my practice I’ve had great success with whole food supplements filling nutritional gaps in patient’s diets. I often suggest making shakes made from whole food sources – with or without pulverized vegetables and low glycemic fruits such as berries – to increase nutrition. Adding a flavorless, odorless powder sounds like another easy way to increase nutrition and boost collagen levels.
As the main structural protein within the body, collagen contains 19 amino acids. Even a healthy body cannot make most of these amino acids so they must be obtained from food. The four key amino acids utilized by the body that form collagen include proline, glutamine, glycine, and arginine. As the chief component of collagen, proline is essential for healthy skin, hair, and nails. It builds the gut lining, facilitates digestive function, repairs tissue within joints and arteries, and supports healthy blood pressure levels and cardiovascular function. (More information on other amino acids at the Workshop.)
While there are at least 16 types of collagen within the human body, 80-90% are Types 1, 2, and 3. Type 1 is most abundant and considered the strongest type of collagen in the human body. Important for wound healing, it gives skin its stretchy and elastic quality, holds tissue together so it doesn’t tear, replaces dead skin cells, and reduces cellulite, stretch marks, and dimpling. Collagen is often referred to as the “glue” that helps hold the body together.
The body’s collagen production begins slowing down with age. Signs of aging, such as wrinkles, sagging skin, and joint pains may be attributed to nutritional deficiencies including lack of collagen. However, the clock ticking isn’t the main reason the body begins to break down with age; ingesting sugar in any form, smoking, drugs, and other unhealthy lifestyle factors negatively affect collagen production.
Animal products including eggs, poultry, fish, and milk help boost collagen formation. The best natural way to obtain collagen is to consume bone broth, natural bouillon, or stock made with all the parts of the animal as our thrifty ancestors did. They cooked down all the bones, skin, tendons, and ligaments rather than discarding them as is standard practice today.
Collagen Sources: Bovine collagen comes from the skin, bones, and muscles of cows. Similar to the human body, it contains the highest amount of Type 1 collagen. It’s useful for creatine production, building muscle, and helping the body make its own collagen due to its rich supply of the amino acids, glycine and proline.
Chicken collagen is primarily Type 2. Known for building cartilage, it’s also beneficial for joint health because it contains chondroitin sulfate and glucosamine sulfate.
Fish collagen is mostly Type 1. It’s known for being easily absorbed and its abundance of amino acids glycine, proline and hydroxyproline.
Egg shell membrane collagen (from the shells and whites of eggs) contains mostly Type 1 collagen. It also has Type 3, 4 and 10, but most prevalent is Type 1, similar to the human body. Egg shell membrane has approximately 100 times more Type 1 than Type 4.
Creams and powders often claim to revitalize skin by adding collagen but the molecules in many topical products may be too large to be absorbed through the skin. However, consuming collagen through the diet and/or supplementation can help skin improve from the inside out.
Before purchasing a collagen supplement or powder, look for products that derive their collagen from grass-fed, pasture-raised cows (without antibiotics or chemicals) and wild caught fish. Chicken and egg based collagen should ideally be obtained from environmentally conscientious farms.
Home cooked meals are rare in today’s world because there’s so much involved in finding recipes and shopping for ingredients as well as being home to prepare and eat your meal. If you’re fortunate enough to share a Thanksgiving Day meal with family or friends this year, I hope every morsel will nourish your body, mind and soul. Maybe you’ll offer to bring the bone broth? Happy Thanksgiving!
P.S. Cook down your turkey bones afterwards and be thankful for real food!
(The statements in this article have not been evaluated by the FDA. Products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.)