Natural collagen is the latest trend and big business!

It is hailed as the best way to beat the wrinkles and get younger looking skin, and athletes are also using it to help repair sports injuries.

Shoppers are prepared to spend a lot of money to look and feel good. One little daily shot of pure collagen can cost nearly £4. Vast sums of money are also spent on face creams all promoting miraculous results.

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It all starts with yourself

It’s incredible that people will invest this kind of money on a supplement or cream, but not focus on improving their diet and lifestyle first.

It is as though they don’t see the link between what they fuel their body with and their skin quality.

It could be argued that oral intake of natural collagen is unnecessary due to its high content of non essential amino acids (in other words, the body is capable of producing these itself). However, for the body to work efficiently to make these, it needs to receive the right intake of vitamins and minerals.

Adapting to a healthy lifestyle

A good diet may be sufficient for many, if we don’t factor in the ‘off’ days that all of us have (when maybe we just haven’t done the shopping yet, or the evenings when we have too much wine, the high intake of sugar, the very stressful job or the demanding fitness routine etc).

To state that a good diet will provide all the necessary nutrients, is to completely disregard our individual nature and makeup.

One diet does not fit all

The Western Price movement will also argue that our diet is far removed from our predecessors, in as much as our natural diet used to include a wider range of foodstuffs, thereby ensuring a bigger range of nutrients.

Our diet has become detached from normality.

Sterile. How many of us turn our noses up at the thought of organ meats and will only eat turkey crown or chicken breast?

Natural collagen in meat

By avoiding other parts of the animal, such as the wings of a chicken or the bone marrowfat, we are also avoiding natural collagen present in tendons, skin and bone, which in turn supports our own tendons, skin and bone.

Why do we have recurring soft tissue injuries after our heavy exercise sessions?

Could the answer be, that in our obsession to reduce body fat and gain muscle, we eat only lean protein and ignore the cuts of meat that our body needs to repair itself?

natural collagen_2So where does this leave vegetarians, or vegans?

And if these cuts of meat are so vitally important, why is it that vegetarians don’t all have poor skin and tendonitis?

Well, if we put aside the poor diet choices of some (because whether we are vegetarian, vegan, or meat eater we can choose a poor diet filled with processed rubbish).

The health conscious vegetarian will have a diet high in raw vegetables and fruit and will eat a rainbow of colour, including plenty of dark greens.

All of which are necessary for the cells (fibroblasts) to produce natural collagen.

For example: the inspirational vegan triathlete Ruth Heidrich (79), who overcame cancer (without chemo) to complete over 60 marathons. She is not hobbling miserably with sport injuries due to low collagen. Nor is she a mass of sags and wrinkles.

Her skin is glowing and she is brimming with health and vitality.

Choose the right ingredients

Whichever diet we choose to follow, there are a few pointers to support natural collagen by including the following:

– Good fats: such as avocado, olive oil, coconut and those present in nuts and seeds.

– Meat eaters may include oily fish.

– Vegetarians should opt for flaxseeds, chia and hemp seeds.

Don’t leave out the bones

Meat eaters should get into the habit of boiling bones. Sounds horrid, but can be as simple as using the chicken carcass after the Sunday roast.

The most time saving and easiest way of doing this is by investing in a slow cooker:

1. Place bones of choice in the slow cooker

2. Add a dash of acid in the form of either lemon juice or vinegar (this helps degrade bones and leach minerals into the broth)

3. Cover bones with hot water. You may also like to add herbs and the ‘holy trinity’ of celery, onion and carrot, but these are optional.

4. Cook on low for 48 hours.

5. Once cooled and placed in the fridge any fat will form a layer, which you may remove if wished.

If the thought of boiling bones is too much. I have a vegetarian recipe on my blog, which will provide all the nutrients needed for natural collagen support.

Eat the right nutrients

By far the best way of supporting natural collagen is by giving the cells the nutrients they need to produce collagen and protect from free radicals.

I could give you a list of the vitamins and minerals, but I think it’s more practical to explain what to eat and how much.

Ignore previous advice of eating five portions of vegetables and fruit per day and double it!

Go for bright, bold colour, like a rainbow.

Choose by colour

A great habit to get into is choosing the colours of your plate, before choosing anything else, such as whether to eat pasta or potato.

If we know we are going to be eating mainly blue and red (for example blueberries and raspberries) at breakfast, orange and green (carrots and kale) at lunch, we can look to dinner or snacks to provide the rest of the rainbow.

Yes, it does mean practising mindfulness and entails some food preparation, but then that is hardly a bad thing.

It will stop us cramming in the Danish pastry or leftover Christmas chocolates and if you are serious about looking for ways to naturally boost collagen, you need to look to your diet first.

Connect with Expert Alison Aldred.  

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