Ugh. Ageing. Just like every other mortal, it is a fact of being human that I can not escape. Unfortunately, I am too vain to let go without a fight!
Although a good skincare regime (e.g cleanse, tone, exfoliate, moisturise, serum, vitamin c boosters, sunblock etc etc) is vital, how you take care of your insides is even more important. For example, it is pretty common knowledge that drinking, smoking and sugary foods don’t contribute to excellent skin. On the other hand, nutrient-rich diets, managing stress and regular exercise can significantly combat the impact of time.
I am always on the lookout for how I can support my skin from a nutritional level and have recently become a huge fan of collagen. Specifically marine collagen due to its superior bioavailability (the quantity of the ingested dose that is absorbed), which is absorbed up to 1.5 times more efficiently into the body due to the smaller particle size of fish collagen peptides .
From a less superficial level, I have also started training for my first ever half marathon. I have recently been inspired by the book Eat and Run by Scott Jurek. Jurek is a renowned ultramarathon runner who has shattered many a record. Love him or hate him, he puts together an excellent argument about how it is possible to thrive as an athlete following a nutrient dense and plant-based diet. While some might think that this states the obvious, this approach was sacrilege back then – ultramarathon runners didn’t care where the calories came from, just that they got enough of them. I am not ready to go to the vegan extreme (and marine collagen is not vegan), but I do notice that when I fuel myself with low human intervention foods, that my recovery improves. I have also incorporated some of his drool-worthy recipes into my regime.
What is collagen?
Collagen is a protein that is produced naturally and is responsible for 80 per cent of all connective tissue and 75 per cent of skin – you can think of it as the glue that holds the body together!
Collagen can be found in tendons, ligaments, skin, cornea, bones, cartilage and blood vessels. Out of the 28 kinds of collagen, the skin is made up of types I and III.
Why is collagen important?
While our bodies naturally produce collagen, this production is gradually disrupted as we age. Annoyingly, women also produce less collagen than men, and from the age of 25, this collagen is lost at a rate of around one per cent per year! Hello, tell-tale signs of ageing like wrinkles, sagging skin, thin hair, brittle nails, stiff joints and muscle.
Not all doom and gloom, can collagen save us?!
New research shows that taking collagen can help prevent this ageing process. Yay! For example, a collagen supplement can improve your collagen levels as it delivers collagen to the body in a way that increases collagen levels directly. Research has shown that the benefits of this include improved skin texture, firmness and hydration, strong teeth, hair and nails, tendon and joint flexibility and strength .
The other surprising benefit of collagen? Muscle recovery!
The other benefit that I have been super excited to read about is how collagen can help with muscle repair during exercise. As collagen is mostly protein and contains high levels of amino acids such as glycine, glutamine, collagen can also support the recovery from injuries and muscle repair . As glutamine helps maintain adequate energy and provides ‘fuel’ to our sells’. Glycine helps form muscle tissue by converting glucose into energy that feeds muscle cells.
This is basically the argument to why collagen can potentially help repair muscle tissue, heal wounds, spare tissue wasting, boost the metabolism, and aid in proper growth and development.
Where can you buy marine collagen supplements?
Online there are lots of options. In New Zealand, I love to support the South Island based company Jeuneora. Although they have many types and flavours available, I am not so keen on stevia. So I take either the tablets or use the naked powder in smoothies.
What does marine collagen taste like?
I have found that the collagen powder blends into my daily smoothie well and I don’t notice the taste. Sometimes, it does make the texture slightly frothy but can be shaken back in. In my recipe below, you don’t notice it there! Obviously taking a capsule, or adding a teaspoon to a smoothie or something where it won’t get diluted when you portion it will ensure you consume the daily recommendation.
Most surprising marine collagen product?
Recently I was given a packet of Clean Mixes Collagen After Dinner Mint Balls. I’m not sure how effective they are, as they are only 4% collagen and that isn’t much if you are only having one ball – but man they are tasty! I figure every little bit helps. See my recipe at the end for turning this bad boy into a yummy mint slice.
So are marine collagen supplements just another fad?
We have all been privy to claims of superfoods doing this and doing that, and I think time will tell if collagen lives up to the hype. I must say, I have now been training for 10 weeks and I have been adding it to my daily smoothie (along with my pea protein), and my muscle repair, especially as I build up to longer runs, has been surprisingly quick. Given that I am now in my early 30’s and I’m sometimes a little bit slack with stretching and hydration, I can not help but chalk it up to these little boosters!
- Clean mixes - Collagen After Dinner Mint
- 1 cup shredded coconut
- 4 tbs maple syrup
- 4 tbs coconut oil, gently melted
- 1½ cups raw cashews, soaked overnight and drained
- ½ cup coconut oil, gently melted
- ½ cup cacao butter, gently melted
- ¼ cup maple syrup
- 1 tsp vanilla paste
- A pinch of Himalayan salt
- Mint leaves
- Shredding coconut
- Mix all base ingredients together and using your hands, press most of the mix into 3-4 small lined tart tins, or one large lined tin. If these tins are too hard work, almost any cake tin or square tin can work too and you can cut them into slices with your hands at the end. Set enough mix aside to make about 6 small balls
- Roll the remaining mixture into 6 balls. Roll in shredded coconut to cover
- Place in the freezer to set
- Add all ingredients into a high powered blender and blend until super smooth. You might need to stop and scrap down the sides with a spatular a few times to ensure everything gets blitzed.
- Pour over the tart base and place into the freeze for 2 or so hours or until set - I usually do it overnight
- Getting the slices out of the tins can be tricky. I suggest waiting approx. 5 minutes after they come out of the freeze to negotiate them out of the tins - that way they are still frozen enough to not be easily damaged but not so stuck to the edge of the tin.
- Sprinkle the top with shredded coconut and place balls on top - I did a mix of full, half and quarters. Finish by sprinkling little mint leaves on top.
- These slices are great either direct from frozen, or thawed for ½ an hour for a creamier texture.
- Will keep in the fridge for a few days or freezer for a few weeks.