Every so often, dietary science throws up a new ‘must’ ingredient that holds the key to an enormous amount of health, wellness and anti-ageing benefits. Collagen is one of those. You can find it in almost any beauty products, as well as in several energy drinks, however, the best way to get stock of it is not trough a magic pill but via a well-balanced diet.
Collagen is believed to beat off wrinkles and cellulite, improving our mood, sleep and bone density. According to the bestselling author and nutritionist Dr Josh Axe, specialised in natural medicine and fitness, collagen and its compounds may help regenerate new tissue, aid gut repair and even increase our life span.
Unfortunately, today we consume almost none of it. And that’s a problem because it is one of our best defences against the ravages of age.
Collagen is a strong, springy, fibrous substance and the most abundant protein in the body, Dr Axe writes in his new book The Collagen Diet, in which he features a 28-day meal plan, 70 mouth-watering recipes, and specific advice for supporting our body’s collagen production with exercise and lifestyle interventions. Like an invisible suit of protective armour, it serves to strengthen, fortify, build and renew tissue at a cellular level. Collagen is in our skin, nails, bone, cartilage, tendons, muscles, the gut lining, as well as the discs that cushion our vertebrae, and even the outer layer of our organs. It’s sort of like the scaffolding that holds our body up. And it’s the body’s most abundant protein.
Wondering how to naturally boost the collagen levels in your body? Adding a few foods high in collagen and elastin (a type of protein found in connective tissue) to our diet can help increase collagen quickly and easily.
Amongst the most powerful ones suggested by Dr Axe are: wild-caught fish like tuna, sardines, and mackerel (all excellent sources of omega-3) as well as pasture-raised poultry (like chicken or turkey), legumes, seeds and leafy greens, including fermented dairy products and bone broth (which is considered a powerful inflammation-fighter).
Bone broth is nutrient-dense, easy-to-digest and a super all-round collagen boost, Dr Axe says. One of the most valuable components of bone broth stock is gelatin. Gelatin acts like a soft cushion between bones that helps them ‘glide’ without friction. It also provides us with the building blocks that are needed to form and maintain strong bones. This helps take the pressure off of ageing joints and supports healthy bone mineral density.
If you make one change to your dietary routine, consuming a daily cup or two of bone broth should be enough. Simply simmer chicken, beef or fish bones in a soup pot with other healthy ingredients, such as carrots, onion, celery and bay leaves.
Stay away from those foods that increase inflammation, destroy your collagen production and also reduce the quantity of collagen in your body such as refined carbs and processed meats as well as drinks like soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages. Instead, revaluate a great ally for your health: the humble garlic. It is one of the top herbs rich in collagen-boosting compounds, such as sulfur, which is thought to ramp up collagen synthesis in the body. Not only that, but garlic also makes a nutritious and delicious addition to nearly any dish, from soups to sauces to salad dressing and beyond.