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What is collagen?

A lot of people don’t really understand, what is collagen? This blog has been written to help people know more about collagen and why it is important for you to have in your diet. At Boil and Broth, we prefer the natural ways of producing and consuming collagen, as opposed to buying processed collagen. We will discuss this more later.

A triple helix protein

Collagen is a triple helix often called tropocollagen [1]. A collagen fibre is made up of three different amino acids. These amino acids are called Hydroxyproline, proline and glycine.

Amino acids are proteins that are made by your body and obtained from certain foods. There are 20 amino acids altogether (and two more), with nine of those amino acids being essential, which means you must get them from your diet, because your body does not produce them.

Proteins are essential for your body function. The way in which cells grow and reproduce are because of proteins. Each cell is made up of proteins and it is the DNA (the instructions within each cell) that tell the proteins what to do and what cells to make up. For example, a cell within the heart muscle will have specific DNA coding to tell the proteins to make up a heart muscle cell. Without proteins, our body simply will not function.

What is the function?

Collagen is naturally made in the body. It is made using the amino acids hydroxyproline, proline and glycine. It forms most of the body’s connective tissue. Connective tissue is important because it is what holds the skin together, joints and ligaments to bones, and connective tissue also forms structure and cohesions between tissues to form organs and systems. It is one of the most important complex protein structures in the body of humans and animals. Collagen is also very important for the digestive system, it can aid digestive function and help repair damaged cells caused by inflammation. It’s important to know this if you are suffering from a condition caused by poor gut health. Some of these conditions are leaky gut syndrome, irritable bowel disease, diverticulitis, colitis and more. [2]

Collagen is also important for our skin. It keeps our skin tight and strong and that’s thanks to the triple helix collagen fibres. As our bodies age, the production of collagen in our body slows down. In fact, it has now been proven that after the age of 20, your collagen production slows down [3].

How can we stimulate production?

There are a few ways that we can stimulate collagen production and use collagen for assisting in healing of the digestive system.

First, ingesting collagen can support digestive function. This means that if you have a health condition caused by your unhealthy gut, then you could help to reduce some of the symptoms associated with your health condition if you help to repair your gut and reduce inflammation. Healing your gut, with certain foods, supplements and lifestyle changes can have a positive impact on your overall health.

To help stimulate collagen production, we recommend drinking our bone broth. Our bone broth is particularly high in lamb and beef bone broth. You will know that the broth has plenty of collagen in it, because the broth wobbles – it is a jelly. Our chicken bone broth does have small amounts of collagen in, but much less than the other two bone broths.

Why do we recommend bone broth?

The collagen produced from bone broth is a completely natural cooking process. We use natural ingredients to assist in mineral extraction, such as our homemade apple cider vinegar. The proteins that are extracted from the bones and the joints are then passed into the broth itself. You cannot lose these structures once they are there. The only way you can lose the consistency of collagen is if it is watered down. Some bone broth companies chose to add vegetables to their broth, which is a great way to flavour broth, but as a result you are left with lower protein levels due to the fact they have replaced the bones with vegetables. This can be a great way to keep the cost down, but the quality of the broth is affected because of this.

What about supplements?

Some people swear by collagen supplements, ones that can be ingested and ones that can be applied directly to the skin. In general, if you chose a good brand, then you should see positive results. However, if you have an ethical conscious, then do your research about where the collagen comes from. The collagen industry is predicted to be worth a whopping 5.6 billion dollars by 2026 [4]. But where is all this collagen coming from? There is no doubt that fish, and animals, will be killed specifically for collagen. This may not be true quite so much in countries such as UK, Europe, America and Australia, but collagen production in countries where industrial fishing is an issue – like Asia, then we need to be conscious of where our collagen supplements are coming from. Choose companies with an ethical stance and those that are produced as local as possible.

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