TWIST TIPS: Collagen: Improving Your Inside and Out

Collagen: Improving Your Inside and Out

written courtesy of Katrina McGiffin, Yoga Teacher and Certified Holistic Nutrition Coach


When you think of collagen, you may think of augmented lips and a lack of wrinkles. Although the popularized beauty enhancements of collagen come to mind first, its internal benefits are a powerful contributor to overall health.

So, what is collagen exactly… It is a protein. In fact, it is the most abundant protein in our bodies. In short, collagen helps hold everything together in our muscles, skin, tendons and bones. It makes our skin strong and, it lessens the effects of aging. We can thank collagen for delaying sagging skin and slowing the weakening of joints as we age.

Historically speaking, collagen was a larger part of our natural diet. Over time and with the evolution of modern butchering practices, we have come to rely less on using all parts of an animal, including the tendons and bones. For example, bones left from cooking a chicken have been used to make highly nutritious bone broth for ages. In other cultures, stewed tendon is a regular addition to soups and other dishes. Over time, this nutrient-rich ingredient has been watered down to chicken or beef flavored water.


Before we get into some easy ways to bring this amazing protein back into our lives, let’s discuss just a few of the benefits:

  1. Beauty Enhancement – At the risk of being a bit vain, collagen will improve the elasticity of your skin and improve the production process of new skin cells and as a result, encourage less facial lines, more taut skin and less cellulite. I like to think of this as a terrific side-effect of increased collagen intake.
  2. Joints – Increasing collagen in your diet contributes to joints working with greater ease, while also decreasing stiffness, swelling and deterioration.
  3. Digestion – Poor gut health is something that most people have experienced at one time or another, whether from illness, poor digestion or stress. For some, it can be chronic, caused by allergies or sensitivities that regularly flair the lining of the gut. Collagen provides the nutrients necessary to heal and soothe the lining of the gut and improve overall digestion.
  4. Energy – Collagen contains an amino acid called Glycine. Glycine encourages the use of sugar in the body leading to greater energy. Additionally, it helps with muscle development. The more muscle you have, the more calories you burn.
  5. Cleansing – Collagen is a great source of support for your liver which helps your body rid itself of chemicals and toxins. In the cleanse experience I host quarterly, participants begin each day with a cup of bone broth just for this reason.
  6. Hormone Balance – New research indicates that the amino acids present in collagen improve the overall amino acid balance in the body, thereby supporting natural hormone production.Clearly, there is reason to incorporate more collagen into your diet. Here are a couple of my favorite ways to do that:

Making bone broth is a great way to unlock the collagen within bones. You can use it as the base for any soup or stew and as the liquid for any grain you are cooking. It is also delicious to drink straight with a dash of ume plum vinegar or some sea salt.

Having gelatin powder on hand to use in a variety of different foods and recipes. I like the Great Lakesbrand of gelatin, as it is sourced from pasture-raised cattle.

You can buy the hydrolyzed version which is great for adding to smoothies because it will not thicken or “gel”. This form of gelatin is said to be easier to digest and is a great place for people with digestive issues to start.

The non-hydrolyzed form (simply “gelatin”) can be used to make all sorts of amazing things,
such as gummies, jello, marshmallows, glazes, gravies, smoothies, etc. *

Here is just one of my favorite recipes (that also happens to be a kid favorite!) using gelatin “Sour Gummy Stars”:

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*Note that if you are using gelatin for the first time, begin slow. Use 1/2-1 Tablespoon to start and work your way up from there.