By Whitney Crouch, RDN, CLT
Collagen: It’s the most abundant structural protein in the body, and it’s more than just a hip, new trend popularised by different lifestyle personalities and brands. It takes the shape of a triple helix composed of the continuous repetitive motif, Gly-X-Y, where Gly is glycine, X is proline (Pro), and Y is hydroxyproline (Hyp).1 The latter two amino acids are specific to collagen structures. These protein building blocks make up the structure in skin, tendons, bones, and teeth and are integral in the health and maintenance of these structures over our lifetime.
Collagen is found naturally in the connective tissue of land animals such as humans, cows, and chickens, as well as some marine life, including fish. It makes up about 25% of our bodies’ protein content and is helpful in soft-tissue repair.2-3
People who consume animal protein regularly in their diet are consuming some collagen; however, muscle-meat proteins largely lack the rich proteins found in connective tissue. Individuals who routinely sip traditionally prepared bone broth benefit from the collagen extracted from the cartilaginous tissue used in the broth’s preparation. Furthermore, studies show that easily digested and absorbed forms of collagen, like those found in quality dietary supplements, can have an even greater rate of absorption than traditionally prepared foods.
Different types of collagen
Whether from animal or marine sources, all collagen comes from amino acids, the building blocks of protein in the body. Animal and marine collagens are constitutionally the same—that is, they’re made up of the same amino acids—however, animal sources have a larger quantity of some amino acids (proline and hydroxyproline, specifically).4
Research shows there are more than 28 different types of collagen, but the three most abundant are Types I, II, and III. These collagen types form the structural fibrils of tissues, while the others take part in the association of these fibrils with other tissues.2
What is the difference among hydrolyzed collagen, collagen peptides, and gelatin?
In addition to improving structural integrity and elasticity of the skin, the consumption of Types I and III collagen also improves skin’s ability to retain moisture and may fight UVB photodamage, which in turn promotes healthier and younger looking skin, according to studies.8-10
There is also mounting clinical evidence of collagen’s benefits in strengthening the collagenous structures of hair and nails. A study in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology reveals that collagen is strongly deposited in hair follicles, and the lack of collagen delays hair cycling and growth, suggesting that collagen could be a potential area warranting further investigation.11
In a six-month study looking at brittle nails, researchers found that daily supplementation with collagen resulted in increased nail growth and improved brittle nails in conjunction with a notable decrease in the frequency of broken nails.12
Inner strength and resilience
Additional evidence shows that supplementing with oral collagen stimulates collagenic tissue regeneration by increasing not only collagen synthesis, but minor components (glycosaminoglycans and hyaluronic acid) synthesis, as well. One such study used validated self-perception questionnaires to measure joint comfort and overall joint health in study subjects. After 90 days of intervention, 78% of subjects in the test group reported to have less joint discomfort, and more than 60% of the subjects agreed their joint health improved by increasing joint flexibility, mobility, and reducing joint stiffness. There were no statistically significant changes in the control group.13
As if the benefits of adequate dietary collagen seen in hair, skin, nails, and joints aren’t enough, there is also evidence to support collagen and gelatin’s role in bone health. In bone, approximately 95% is Type I collagen, providing viscoelastic strength, torsional stiffness, and load-bearing capacity. Type II collagen is also involved in bone formation, even though it is mainly found in cartilage.14
While the body of evidence around collagen supplementation continues to grow, the benefits of daily supplementation with collagen peptides (hydrolyzed collagen) can already be seen. There are uses for both gelatin and collagen peptides in cooking, baking, smoothies, and other means; however, the higher rate of digestion and bioavailability of the peptide form makes this supplement a great addition to anyone’s health routine.
Whitney Crouch, RDN, CLT
Whitney Crouch is a Registered Dietitian who received her undergraduate degree in Clinical Nutrition from the University of California, Davis. She has over 10 years of experience across multiple areas of dietetics, specializing in integrative and functional nutrition and food sensitivities. When she’s not creating educational programs or writing about nutrition, she’s spending time with her husband and young son. She’s often found running around the bay near her home with the family’s dog or in the kitchen cooking up new ideas to help her picky eater expand his palate.
Whitney Crouch is a paid consultant and guest writer for Metagenics.
Tennis is a great game for staying in shape. The fitness you develop from a tennis game has an added bonus: It carries over into the rest of your life. By playing tennis, you also improve your functional fitness or your ability to do ordinary things, like carry a sack of groceries in from the car or climb a flight of stairs. The better your functional fitness, the better you can get through all the usual activities of your typical day with ease—and with energy left over for tennis.
Exercises to build functional fitness aim to mimic the activities of daily living by working several muscle groups at once. They’re designed to improve your strength, flexibility, endurance, range of motion, and balance, because you need all those abilities every time you do something like pick up a toddler, or reach for something on a high shelf, or carry a briefcase. Because they build overall fitness, they’re also great for your tennis game!
Exercises for functional fitness
Functional fitness exercises focus on building a strong core and then working several major muscles groups of the body at once. The five exercises I suggest here are a good basic workout that doesn’t require any special equipment—you’re going to use just your body weight. Plenty of other exercises also build functional fitness, so once you’ve mastered these, change up your routine by swapping some other exercises in and out.
This most fundamental of exercises is key to a strong core—it engages your abs, lower back, hips, and arms. This is the one functional fitness exercise that should always be part of your workout routine, because your core muscles are continually engaged when you play tennis.
Two-Legged SquatThis is a great functional fitness exercise for building up and coordinating your leg muscles, especially the quadriceps, hamstrings, and calves—the muscles that control your knees and hips. By doing this regularly, you improve your ability to get up and down from chairs, pick things up off the ground, and climb steps. For your tennis game, strong legs give you a strong foundation for your strokes and improve your ability to transfer your weight.
The plain old push-up is one of those basic exercises we tend to overlook, but it’s great for strengthening your core, your gluteus maximus and the chest, shoulder and arm muscles. You’ll notice the difference when you’re lifting or carrying something heavy or reaching up to get something in or out of a cabinet. You’ll also see a difference in your strokes—strong arms and shoulders are key to good control.
Bird dogs, also known as pointers, are great for the muscles of the lower back and thighs and the upper arms. If you do these, you’ll notice the difference in anything you do that requires lifting or bending. You’ll find that you’re more flexible on the tennis court.
About Robert SilvermanRobert G. Silverman, DC, DACBN, DCBCN, MS, CCN, CNS, CSCS, CIISN, CKTP, CES, HKC, FAKTR is a chiropractic doctor, clinical nutritionist and author of Inside-Out Health: A Revolutionary Approach to Your Body, an Amazon number-one bestseller in 2016. The ACA Sports Council named Dr. Silverman “Sports Chiropractor of the Year” in 2015. He also maintains a busy private practice as founder of Westchester Integrative Health Center, which specializes in the treatment of joint pain using functional nutrition along with cutting-edge, science-based, nonsurgical approaches. Dr. Silverman is a seasoned health and wellness expert on both the speaking circuits and within the media. He has appeared on FOX News Channel, FOX, NBC, CBS, CW affiliates as well as The Wall Street Journal and NewsMax, to name a few. He was invited as a guest speaker on “Talks at Google” to discuss his current book. As a frequent published author for Dynamic Chiropractic, JACA, ACA News, Chiropractic Economics, The Original Internist and Holistic Primary Care journals, Dr. Silverman is a thought leader in his field and practice.
View all posts by Robert Silverman →
You can’t beat the “meal in a cup” convenience of a smoothie or shake. A smoothie or a shake also provides built-in portion control, which can be so helpful. However, whether it’s Instagram-ready or a basic powder-water combo, your beverage should do more than just fill you up on the way out the door. So check out these seven smoothie upgrades—and become a shake master in the process.
About Maribeth EvezichMaribeth Evezich, MS, RD is a functional nutrition and therapeutic lifestyle consultant. Maribeth is also a graduate of Bastyr University and the Natural Gourmet Institute. Whether she is in her kitchen experimenting, at her computer researching, or behind the lens of her camera, she is on a mission to inspire others to love whole foods. as much as she does. She lives in Seattle and is the founder of Lifestyle Medicine Consulting, LLC and the culinary nutrition blog, Whole Foods Explorer. Maribeth Evezich is a paid consultant and guest writer for Metagenics.
The holidays involve taking time off work, travelling to see family, and picking out thoughtful gifts. For many, the final months of the year also require careful planning to stay in shape. According to a number of studies, including research from The New England Journal of Medicine, the average person gains one to two pounds between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day.1
Fortunately, awareness and creativity will help you keep the momentum going on your fitness regimen. Consider the following workout tips to stay in shape over the holidays.
1: Make the airport your personal gym.Occupy your time at the airport by taking a long walk through the terminal. Use your phone to keep track of your steps—the ground you can cover may surprise you!
Engaging in light activity even for five minutes helps to increase your blood flow and heart rate, so make use of long wait times at the airport by pacing around at the gate. You can log thousands of steps before you board your plane. Celebrate the holidays in style by keeping active amid the chaos of air travel.
2: Stretch in your seat on the plane or in the car.Research reveals that you burn up to 30% more calories standing up than when you’re seated.2 If you’ve booked a long flight for the holidays, you probably know that getting up to stretch your legs isn’t always feasible. (The same goes for driving. While you should plan to stop at a gas station and get your blood flowing every few hours, extenuating circumstances—say, an impending December blizzard—might make this difficult.)
However, you can still stretch during transit. Does this sound counter intuitive? It’s actually quite simple. If you are seated in a small space, there are plenty of ways you can work your muscles. Consider the following exercises:
Go into this knowing that parking far is your choice. Those extra steps will add up, and the fresh air will do you good. Another benefit of parking far from the entrance is that you will no longer need to stress about snagging the perfect space.
4: Take advantage of slow times at the office.If your workload is lighter during the holidays, enjoy your downtime at the office. Step outside every few hours to stretch your legs and recharge. Go for a long walk during your lunch break. You could even encourage your colleagues to bundle up and join you for a walking meeting. This time of year is ideal for building healthy habits on the job.
5: Register for a holiday race.From Turkey Trots to Reindeer Runs, there is no shortage of 5 km and 10 km races around the holidays. Take your workout routine to the next level by registering for your local Jingle Bell Jog. There’s no need to fret if you’re not in running shape—many people sign up for these events with the aim of simply getting in the holiday spirit, and they still manage to break a sweat by walking the course.
These tips will help you maintain a workout routine during the holidays. In addition to working out regularly, make sure to relax and get enough sleep during this busy time of year.
When following a ketogenic diet, it is not uncommon for people to neglect eating quality sources of fiber in an effort to avoid any carbohydrate intake. There is a chance this can lead to constipation, poor digestion, and a lack of certain vitamins and minerals.
What is fiber?Dietary fiber is the indigestible plant material that passes through our digestive system either completely undigested, or broken down via microbial fermentation, in the large intestine.1 Fiber aids in the removal of waste via the colon and is important for maintaining healthy digestion. Fiber is categorized as either soluble or insoluble, and each is digested differently.
Soluble fiber: Soluble fiber dissolves in liquids and becomes gel-like in the digestive tract.1 It slows digestion, increases satiety, and when consumed with carbohydrates can slow intestinal absorption and can help minimize increases in postprandial blood glucose.2
Soluble fiber is predominantly found in fruits and legumes, which are not advised on a ketogenic diet, and small amounts are found in vegetables.3 Soluble fiber ingredients are also commonly found in low-carb packaged foods, such as isomalto-olidosaccharides (IMOs) and soluble corn fiber.
Insoluble fiber: Insoluble fiber does not dissolve like soluble fiber does. This type of fiber stays intact and is responsible for what people refer to as “roughage” when speaking of fiber. This type of fiber aids in digestion and promotes elimination of waste by the colon.4
Insoluble fiber is the predominant type of fiber found in vegetables, especially the low-carb, non-starchy options that are fitting for a ketogenic diet.
Taking in fiber on a ketogenic dietFollowing a ketogenic diet is easy when you stick to fatty meats, eggs, oils, and full-fat dairy. However, by a strict intake of these foods, there is very little consumption of whole-food fiber in addition to a lack of micro nutrient intake. Moreover, low-carb, “keto-friendly” packaged foods, although providing ease of entry into a ketogenic lifestyle, are typically filled with soluble fibers. These soluble fibers contribute toward the majority of the daily carbohydrate count and lead to a lack of insoluble fiber in the diet. Consequently, due to the attempt to meet daily macronutrient ratios, there is a tendency to neglect all vegetables, even low-carb options, and thus losing out on insoluble fiber intake. A well-formulated ketogenic diet should not be void of fiber; some may even argue it provides more fiber than other diets. This is because a well-formulated ketogenic diet includes regular amounts of low-carb vegetables on a daily basis, along with quality sources of fats and protein.
Intriguingly, the fermentation process of insoluble fiber during digestion can also contribute to ketogenesis (i.e. the production of ketones). Fiber is broken down by the gut microbiome into short-chain fatty acids, such as butyrate,5 a molecule that is very structurally similar to the ketone body, beta-hydroxybutyrate. Subsequently, butyrate can be converted to beta-hydroxybutyrate and has been shown to increase blood ketone levels in humans.6
Fiber sources on a well-formulated ketogenic dietLow-carbohydrate fibrous whole foods, such as those listed below, are recommended as part of a well-formulated ketogenic diet to allow for entering and/or sustaining nutritional ketosis (defined as an elevation of beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB) above 0.5 mmol/L). Consider adding these examples to your diet:†
Tips for consuming more fiber on a ketogenic diet:SaladsThis may be an obvious solution to a lack of insoluble fiber in the diet, and you may even be experiencing flashbacks from traumatic dieting memories you just can’t shake. However, a ketogenic salad should be an exception to this bias. If you have ever had a good salad, you know salads are underrated; they only become boring when you take away the fat—not an issue on a ketogenic diet. Gone are the days when you ask for “dressing on the side.” When you find a high-fat dressing you enjoy, you will begin to enjoy your salads!
Recommended ingredients: leafy greens (all types), avocado, hemp seeds, boiled eggs, fatty cuts of beef, chicken thighs, fatty fish, olives, nuts & seeds, artichoke hearts, high-quality oils, high-fat dressings (see below)
Sautéed & roasted vegetablesWhile from a glycemic standpoint there is an advantage to eating vegetables raw (due harder access to carbohydrates stored inside plant cells), sometimes eating cooked vegetables can bring a sense of comfort, and could translate to better compliance to a ketogenic diet. The best oils for cooking that can handle heat contain saturated and monounsaturated fats such as butter, ghee, avocado oil, extra-virgin olive oil, MCT oil, and coconut oil. Use of fresh or dried herbs and spices such as garlic, parsley, cumin, chili, oregano, paprika, rosemary, coriander, etc. will add additional flavors.
Recommended ingredients for sautéing: spinach, onion, mushrooms, kale, zucchini, cabbage, Bok choy
Recommended ingredients for roasting: Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, onion, mushrooms, celery (don’t knock it ’til you try it!)
Chia puddingYes, pudding! Ketogenic chia puddings are extremely easy, cheap, and convenient to make and, most importantly, are full of fiber. The carbohydrate content of chia seeds is primarily fiber, 86% to be exact, and most of it is insoluble fiber! When chia seeds are soaked overnight, they absorb the liquid and take on a pudding-like consistency. Spruce up the chia puddings with some of the recommended ingredients below to avoid a flavorless gel and make sure to include healthy fats!
Recommended ingredients: chia seeds, flax seeds, hemp seeds, low-carb nuts/nut butters, sugar-free chocolate chips, cocoa powder, cinnamon, vanilla extract, MCT oil/powder, full-fat coconut cream, coconut butter, shredded coconut, unsweetened nut-milks, coconut oil, sea salt, sugar-free/low-carb protein powders
Dressings & dips Dressings and dips are like smoothies in that you can easily sneak ingredients into them. Adding fiber into dressings and dips makes food taste better, as well as being an easy way to get in those healthy fats! Use a blender to make these, and include dressings and dips with any savory snack or meal!
Recommended ingredients: spinach, kale, steamed cauliflower, raw or steamed zucchini, high-quality oils, tahini, herbs & spices, garlic, lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, full-fat yogurt (or dairy-free alternative), MCT oil/powder, avocado oil- or olive oil-based mayonnaise
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