Collagen Meet the protein behind healthy skin and joints!
By Elizabeth Bradley, MD, Medical Director of Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Functional Medicine.
Collagen is a protein — the most plentiful protein in your body. It’s in your muscles, bones, tendons, ligaments, organs, blood vessels, skin, intestinal lining and other connective tissues.
While you can’t measure your collagen level, you can tell when it’s falling. Collagen decreases as you get older, contributing to:
• Wrinkles and crepey skin
• Stiffer, less flexible tendons and ligaments
• Shrinking, weakening muscles
• Joint pain or osteoarthritis due to worn cartilage
• Gastrointestinal problems due to thinning of the lining in your digestive tract
“Aside from aging, the top reason people don’t have enough collagen is poor diet,” Dr. Bradley says. “Your body can’t make collagen if it doesn’t have the necessary elements.”
The best collagen-boosting food:
In addition to healthy servings of foods packed with protein, vitamins and minerals, Dr. Bradley recommends her favorite collagen-boosting brew: bone broth. You can buy it in grocery stores or make it yourself.
Bone broth draws collagen out of beef, chicken or fish bones, leaving a flavorful liquid that you can drink straight up or use in other dishes. Most bone broth recipes require slowly simmering bones in water — on the stove or in a crockpot — for one or two days.
“I recommend buying only organic bone broth, or cooking broth from the bones of only organically raised animals,” Dr. Bradley says. “You don’t want the residue of pesticides, antibiotics and other contaminants in your broth.”
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