- Print Length: 176 Pages
- Publisher: Countryman Press
- Publication Date: October 23, 2018
- Language: English
- ASIN: 1682683338
- ISBN-13: 9781682683330
- ISBN-13: 978-1682683330
- File Format: EPUB
This volume is intended for use by healthy adults as a general information resource only. It is not a substitute for medical advice. Readers who are pregnant, nursing, or considering pregnancy, and readers who have been diagnosed with, or suspect they may have, any medical or psychological condition, should consult a licensed physician or other professional healthcare provider before introducing collagen to their diets.
Do not give collagen to infants or children. Do not use collagen to prevent or treat illness. Read manufacturers’ labels carefully and avoid any product that contains ingredients to which you may be allergic or sensitive. The author and the publisher specifically disclaim responsibility for any adverse effects or consequences resulting from the use of this volume.
The Collagen Glow reflects the author’s personal research and experience. Neither the author nor the publisher is engaged in rendering medical or other professional advice, and neither makes any representation or warranty with respect to the accuracy, completeness, or fitness for any particular purpose of the information herein. Specific results mentioned in this book not be typical.
Web addresses, if any, included in this book reflect links existing as of the date of first publication. The publisher is not responsible for the content of any website, blog, or information page other than its own.
Dedicated to my familiy, and our North Star, my grandmother
I wrote this book because I truly believe that taking collagen has totally rejuvenated my skin and made me feel better all around. But not surprisingly, there are disagreements among doctors and others about the benefits and risks of ingesting collagen. Not everyone thinks it will have any effect, some caution about overdoing it, and others say it has some risks. Also, I can’t promise that collagen will do for you what I think it has done for me: I don’t know how old you are, what your skin looks like, what your regular diet is, or what kind of lifestyle you have; and I don’t know whether you have any genetic or medical conditions or allergies that would make ingesting collagen inadvisable for you. So:
• Consult your doctor before you start to take collagen, especially if you are pregnant or nursing, or if you suffer from any allergy or other medical condition, and especially if you are taking any medication.
• Check the ingredients of whatever collagen powder you are considering using. The FDA doesn’t regulate collagen supplements. Some collagen comes from shellfish, and many collagen powders contain eggs, to which some people are allergic.
• Check with your doctor before you start to include any new fruit, vegetable, or any other ingredient from my recipes as a regular part of your diet. Some foods carry risks for some people. For example, goji berries, which I use in one of my collagen shakes, can negatively interact with warfarin and diabetes drugs; and, even though, like most Koreans, I’ve been eating kimchi all my life, there is a dispute about whether kimchi causes stomach cancer. Even seemingly ordinary foods like pomegranates may be problematic for some people!
• Definitely consult your doctor if you have begun to ingest collagen regularly and you don’t feel well. While there may be absolutely no connection, better to be safe than sorry.
Foreword by Tess Mauricio, MD, FAAD
Introduction: My Collagen Story
Hot and Cold Drinks
Soups and Broths
Collagen Boot Camp
Notes on Collagen Studies
TESS MAURICIO, MD, FAAD*
When I was asked to write the foreword to Sally Kim’s book, The Collagen Glow, I was thrilled for many reasons. Most important, Sally shares my belief that nutrition is the key to health. I am in my late forties now and I certainly have observed through experience and my own research that nutrition is key to health and beauty. In fact, I am probably one of the first dermatologists to talk to my fellow doctors and patients about nutrition and supplements because as we know we can effectively apply antioxidants, botanicals, and vitamins on our skin topically, and we can also provide our skin with the building blocks it needs by ingesting key ingredients through our diet and proper supplementation.
My interest in supplementation started with my husband’s health journey and recovery from a brain tumor. His tumor was treated with chemotherapy but the experience sparked a passion for brain health and how to approach it holistically. We put our Stanford MD brains together, used our biochemistry and molecular biophysics education, and did our research on essential ingredients for brain health. In the process, we became believers that food has to be thought of as a means to deliver the parts and pieces, the biomolecules that are necessary for protein synthesis, energy production for maintenance, repair, and regeneration.
I believe there is absolutely something to be said about Sally’s being Korean. My husband is Korean American and truthfully, one of the qualities I loved about him from the beginning was his beautiful skin! And as Sally explains, her grandmother’s recipes for beauty truly involved recipes for food! Koreans (just like my fellow Filipinos and other Asian cultures) incorporate varying and rich sources of collagen in their native dishes, which were historically born out of necessity and poverty. Most Korean soup bases are broths made from boiling bones and marrow for hours—without the cooks usually thinking about the fact that these are all great sources of collagen. I believe that years of regular ingestion of collagen-rich foods, such as these, naturally increase the levels of biopeptides and amino acids that circulate in the bloodstream and, just like in the studies, end up concentrated in the dermis for days after eating the meal! So no wonder Sally found her grandmother’s recipes healing not only in a spiritual sense but also on a biochemical and biomolecular level. She uses her culture and background to highlight the intrinsic beauty and skin benefits of a Korean diet. Not all of us have grandmas who can cook these amazing soups and dishes for us, but with today’s technology, we can all have access to ingestible collagen, ingestible precursors to essential components to our skin’s health and beauty. Throughout her book, Sally shows us an innovative, modern, and unconventional way to achieve our best! Who doesn’t love food, recipes, and cookbooks?
The skin is the largest organ of the body, and as a dermatologist I am fully aware that it also has the most psychological impact to our overall well-being. Our skin is made up of the epidermis: the outermost layer; and the dermis: the innermost layer. Although what our eyes see is the epidermis, the dermis is where it all begins. Collagen plays a huge role in the health of this crucial layer. The structure of the dermis, the collagen, must be maintained so as to provide the proper structural support to the epidermis and allow the skin to function normally and appear healthy and youthful.
Speaking of optimization and dare I say it, biohacking, I am all for it. I love the results of optimizing my mind, body, and soul, and I love that when I tell people how old I am, they are usually shocked. Sally was amazed when I sent her my twentieth wedding anniversary family photo. Of course, I attribute some of my youthful looks to the cutting-edge cosmetic dermatology and regenerative aesthetic procedures now available in my clinics, which I take advantage of. But I also get this a lot: “Of course you look young, you are Asian!”
* Publisher’s note: Dr. Mauricio is a co-founder of Liveli, a nutritional supplement company
MY COLLAGEN STORY
You don’t have to be a genius to figure out that what you put into your body directly translates into how you look and feel. But despite knowing this all my life, I admit that I didn’t realize just how true this was until I seriously burned myself in a cooking accident. That incident led me to initiate a deep dive into finding a cure—spoiler alert: it turned out to be ingesting collagen—turned me into something of a true believer on this topic. I also figured out that my Korean grandmother, my halmuni, with her bone broths and fish dinners, had been right all along about the importance of collagen for a healthy skin and body.
After my accident, I tried to fix the burns from the outside in. I bought every lotion, patch, and prescription ointment I could find. Nothing worked. I kept at it, researching everything I could find about skin, and how to heal and regenerate it as quickly as possible. I discovered a treatment using the skin of fish. Researchers in Brazil determined that tilapia contains a very high level of collagen proteins, and that by placing the fish skin directly onto the burned area, the collagen helped relieve pain and showed signs of helping to prevent scarring. Could this be the answer? Of course, I wasn’t going to put fish skin all over my body, and I was already past the point of preventing initial scars. I decided to start taking collagen supplements, just to see what would happen. Less than a month of consuming 20 grams of collagen a day, I saw incredible changes. I have to add here that what I took is twice the recommended dose, so I’m not telling you to reproduce this experiment! But it did work for me. Not only were the burns on my arms starting to fade, but everywhere from head to toe, even my nails and hair, had started to look better. Everyone began asking me what eye cream I was using—and that’s when I realized that ingesting collagen was making my skin the healthiest it had ever been since I was a kid, back when I was enjoying my grandmother’s traditional cooking. She served every meal with a basket of roasted seaweed, grilled mackerel with its skin on, and a bowl of piping hot soup with bone broth as its base (chicken, pork, beef, or anchovy stock). And what all these dishes have in common is that they are all loaded with collagen, or as my grandmother calls it, the good stuff.
There’s so much collagen in these side dishes and soups that after you’re finished with a typical Korean meal, even your lips get taut and sticky (a sign of your skin’s becoming more revitalized)!
Why is that important? Because collagen is a type of protein that all living, breathing animals—including humans—produce. It makes up our bones, muscles, skin, and hair. It’s also the most abundant protein in our body that holds our bones, muscles, and especially skin, together (collagen comprises 70 percent of the protein found in skin). Collagen plays an integral role in keeping our skin plump and youthful, as it is key in our body’s facilitation of new regeneration of skin, muscle, bone, and joint cells. Yet unfortunately, as we age, our body’s ability to produce our much needed supply of collagen diminishes at a rate of 1 percent per year, resulting in the depletion of collagen in our skin cells. Consequently, our skin fails to retain moisture as it once used to, leading to less hydrated cells and looser, weaker, stretchier, and thinner skin (and of course, this is what causes wrinkles, fine lines, dry skin, cellulite, and even brittle hair).
Despite religiously yet unknowingly consuming collagen all my life—I didn’t always put two and two together—I always attributed my skin to “Korean genetics,” the same way everyone else did. Because, to be honest, I didn’t really ever do anything to my skin. I was terrible at making a daily habit of those expensive products that I’d purchase on a whim, and in comparison to my friends who were getting regular facials and peels, my skincare efforts were minimal.
My family moved to the States when I was ten years old, so my diet changed at that time (as did my skin). But once I started back on collagen—this time, in powdered form—not only did my burns heal, but the differences I noticed were not just on my arms, but in my face and hair. My eyelashes, brows, and hair got so much thicker, and my skin no longer just looked great—according to my friends, it looked “Photoshopped,” “glowy,” and “as soft as a baby’s bottom.”
Even my number-one skin problems—dry skin and enlarged pores—seemed to have disappeared without my even knowing, over the course of my collagen regimen.
It truly felt like a miracle, but was one that was literally hard to swallow. I was using unflavored powdered bovine collagen, which was designed to be mixed into drinks; coffee was the most popular as it was supposed to mask the taste of the collagen. Even in the blackest of the coffees, though, I was able to pick up on the earthy, musty, icky flavor. I actually ended up just mixing my dose of collagen into a bit of water, holding my nose, and gulping it down. The fact is, there are people who are able to stand the strong taste of bovine collagen; I was not one of them.
But, knowing how beneficial collagen was for me from head to toe, I kept at it. I started telling everyone I knew about this wonder supplement and got quite a few people started on it. The taste continued to be an issue. To me, it was a challenge. And after months of research, tasting essentially every collagen brand out there, and then flavoring it with other, delicious superfoods, I found the king of all collagens, one that would work with the other superfood powders I liked to add.
I happily sent it out to every single one of my friends and family. But despite their approval, I came across other obstacles: they kept forgetting to take it daily; plus, some of the plastic tubs were a hassle to open and they’d lose the measuring spoon. Without taking it every day, they did not see the results that I was seeing.
So, I decided to reverse-engineer the experience a bit; if people genuinely liked the taste of the collagen drink and looked forward to drinking it, then they wouldn’t think of it as medicine, but like any other flavored beverage out there. On a mission to get them hooked, and with the goal that my final product would taste good (so good that you’d have no idea that there were 10 grams of fish skin in it), I started formulating, and invented hundreds of recipes with collagen in them.
Finally, when my friends and family couldn’t taste the difference between the matcha latte that had the collagen in it and the one without, that’s when I knew that I had succeeded. And that’s the start of my ingestible beauty brand, Crushed Tonic, and the purpose of this book, and this collection of recipes—to show you that collagen, if prepared well, could be something you enjoy, and even love.
It can be confusing to decipher what collagen is, especially when there are so many different terms to describe it: collagen peptides, hydrolyzed collagen, gelatin collagen, collagen type I, type II, type III—list goes on. And then there are all of the different sources: cows, fish? What about pills, liquid, or powder?
In this book, I will help you answer some of those questions, share with you my personal journey with collagen, and offer 40 recipes that can help make ingesting collagen an easy, delicious, and daily routine.
WHAT IS COLLAGEN?
Mainstream usage of collagen has been mostly topical, which leads people to mistakenly believe it to be only something to apply externally to skin (and in some cases, inject with a needle to plump the skin).
Collagen is a natural protein that our body produces. It is a major structural component of the human body (different types of collagen make up our skin, bones, muscles, and joints), and we depend on
collagen to keep our skin plump, hair strong, bones healthy, joints lubricated, and digestive system working smoothly.
And though our body is able to produce ample amounts of collagen when we are young, unfortunately, sometime after the age of twenty-five, our bodily production of collagen begins to decline at a rate of 1.5 percent per year (in addition to the decline in the quality of our produced collagen). By our mid-forties, our collagen levels may have fallen by as much as 30 percent. Without collagen, our cells lose structure, increasingly becoming weaker, stretchier, and thinner—and essentially, this decline is the true cause of many of our skin woes, such as wrinkles, fine lines, dark circles, dry skin, and cellulite.
But don’t worry; you can make up for the collagen you lose by consuming collagen, the foundation of healthy skin.
TYPES OF COLLAGENS
Collagen occurs in many places throughout the body, making up a huge 90 percent of our bone mass and 30 percent of all other proteins our body produces. There are various types of collagen (at least 16), each type being found in different areas of the body: the skin, connective tissues, lungs, muscles, joints, blood cells, arteries, and more.
The six most common types are:
COLLAGEN TYPE I
• Found in our skin, tendons, ligaments, and heart
• Crucial for healing wounds and holding together our muscles and bones, in addition to making our tissue strong so it doesn’t tear
COLLAGEN TYPE II
• Found in our cartilage and connective tissues
• Because our joints rely on well-lubricated cartilage, collagen is integral in optimizing our joint health.
COLLAGEN TYPE III
• Found in our organs, such as our heart and skin (alongside type I)
• The reticulate in type III helps give our skin and tissue their elasticity and firmness.
COLLAGEN TYPE IV
• Integral in lining our digestive and respiratory organs
COLLAGEN TYPE V
• Supports new hair formation as well as placentas
COLLAGEN TYPE X
• Important to the formation of new bone
If this sounds confusing, think about it this way: if you divided your body into 16 different sections, there would be some type of collagen in every single quadrant, and multiple types of collagen in varying quadrants. Type I and type III collagen would be in every section, because your skin covers your entire body—and hence these are considered to be the most abundant types of collagen.
WHAT KIND OF BENEFITS CAN I HOPE TO SEE?
First and foremost, daily consumption of collagen, which you now know is found in almost every part of your body, may dramatically improve your skin.
In various studies, survey respondents noted improvements in their skin in as little as four to eight weeks.
And although I emphasize the benefits of collagen to skin for most of this book, when you ingest collagen, it seems the benefits spread to the rest of your body, too, from head to toe.
But before I get into these benefits, I’d like to talk about the makeup of collagen—the reason that collagen is so beneficial to us.
Some of the most confusing bits of the science behind collagen have to do with amino acids. Amino acids are crucial building blocks of our body. A large proportion of our cells, muscles, and tissue is made up of amino acids, and they carry out many important bodily functions, such as giving cells their structure. We depend on amino acids—they are at the basis of all life processes, and insufficiency can lead to negative impacts on our skin, hair, bones, and health (arthritis and osteoporosis; high cholesterol; diabetes; obesity; hair loss; poor sleep, mood, and performance, and even virility).
There are 20 different amino acids in the human body. These can be grouped into three different categories—essential, semiessential, and nonessential. (Note: The use of the terms essential and nonessential is not to indicate one is less essential for our health than the other—it just indicates whether the human body can create those amino acids on its own.)
ESSENTIAL AMINO ACIDS
There are eight amino acids that our bodies need but cannot produce, so we have to eat foods that contain them.
SEMIESSENTIAL AMINO ACIDS
There are two semiessential amino acids that our bodies need but cannot produce, so we have to eat foods that contain them as well.
NONESSENTIAL AMINO ACIDS
Those are 10 nonessential amino acids found in our body. We can produce these acids on our own, but ingesting them from external sources will still be beneficial in supporting our day-to-day functions:
• aspartic acid
• glutamic acid
Collagen, as a complex protein, contains 18 out of the 20 existing amino acids found in our body. And studies have shown that these 18 amino acids, when ingested, support all of the different various functions of our body in different ways: our skin, hair, brain, bones, teeth, nails, heart, digestion, muscles, weight, mood, virility, and even sleep.
Collagen Helps . . .
• Hair and nails
• Bones and teeth
• Muscle tissues, ligaments, and tendons
• Lower stress and anxiety
HOW CAN WE CONSUME COLLAGEN?
For us to consume collagen, we must look to high-protein parts of animals.
You’re probably thinking, “Oh, I eat chicken every day—I’m fine.”
But here’s the catch. Collagen is not in a salmon fillet or a piece of chicken breast—but in the animals’ skin, joints, bones, and muscle tissue.
WHAT IF I DON’T WANT TO BE EATING ANIMALS’ BONES OR SKIN?
Americans do not generally eat these parts of animals (and now you’re thinking, Other countries eat these parts? And the answer is yes—chicken feet are a delicacy in Korean cuisine, among others).
The Korean diet is full of collagen for many reasons, but an interesting one that my grandmother would never let me forget is that Korea used to be an extremely poor country. Although Korea, and where I grew up in Seoul, is so developed that it mirrors the ever-cosmopolitan New York City, even just 50 years ago it was thought to be a third-world country. When my grandmother told me she grew up in a straw-hut house, I remember I didn’t believe her. So when I wouldn’t finish my food, she would always tell me a story about the importance of food: when my grandma was younger, food was so scarce, she could barely ever have meat—and it was considered to be the biggest luxury when she was able to get it for her children. And because it was such a rarity to have chicken at the table, when she was able to get it, she would split it seven different ways for her five children, my grandfather, and herself—and she did not discriminate as to which part of the animal they got. This explains why Koreans leave zero waste of anything—they had to make do with the little they were given—hence the creation of such foods as fried chicken feet. But interestingly enough, it happens to be that Koreans had accidentally cracked the code!
The closest Americans get to eating collagen in its natural state is as bone broth—which can be made by simmering bones (or backs, necks, and feet) for more than 12 hours, until a rich and almost sticky broth is produced.
Essentially, bone broth is cooked collagen. And all the benefits that are touted for bone broth are simply benefits derived from the collagen—specifically, from ingesting amino acids in the collagen.
SO, DO I HAVE TO MAKE BONE BROTH EVERY DAY TO GET MY COLLAGEN?
Not at all.
We don’t need to turn to the onerous labor of cooking bone broth to get our collagen.
Personally, I’m not the biggest proponent of daily consumption of bone broth, anyway: there may not be enough collagen in the serving you are having, and if you are cooking the bone broth with lots of salt and seasonings, it will probably be incredibly high in sodium.
For those of us who want to avoid sodium, don’t have time to be cooking cauldrons of bone broth daily, or have zero desire to munch on 10 grams of raw fish skin or bones, no need to worry: collagen peptides are the answer.
I KEEP HEARING ABOUT COLLAGEN GELATIN. HOW IS IT DIFFERENT FROM COLLAGEN PEPTIDES?
Collagen gelatin is usually in a brittle, flat, almost papery form, and when mixed with water, turns into more of a gel, whereas collagen peptides are like protein powder and turn into liquid without much texture.
Gelatin and collagen peptides have the same amino acid profile (18 amino acids, of which eight are considered to be essential amino acids), and an identical source (skin, bones, tissue).
Gelatin is often used in recipes as thickeners—it is what gives food a lot of its creamy texture. Collagen peptides, on the other hand, when dissolved perfectly, do not change the consistency of beverages or foods.
The chemical difference between them is that gelatin only goes through partial hydrolysis, whereas collagen peptides go through a more aggressive one. Peptides are easier than gelatin for your body to digest and absorb, which means the amino acids in collagen peptides, also known as hydrolyzed collagen, may be more bioavailable and therefore more effective.
WHAT IS HYDROLYSIS?
Hydrolysis is a fancy word to describe the process of breaking something down with water. Our body cannot utilize collagen in its native state (as the skin, bones, or connective tissue of animals). For this reason, companies that make collagen powder put the collagen compounds through an intense process called hydrolysis, whereby these large sources of edible collagen are cooked, boiled, and then hydrolyzed.
Hydrolyzed collagen peptides have a more than 90 percent absorption rate, three times higher than when their collagen source is ingested directly from food.
HOW CAN I TAKE COLLAGEN PEPTIDES?
Collagen peptides are offered in a variety of forms: collagen pills vs. liquid vs. powder.
LIQUID COLLAGEN: A ready-to-consume product that comes in an 8- to 32-ounce bottle. Its collagen is in a base of water and often includes flavors to make it tastier, and you will have to consume it by taking the amount the manufacturer recommends on the bottle. The liquid collagen will save you the time of mixing collagen powders yourself.
COLLAGEN POWDER: Collagen peptides in their most raw form are a fine powder. This powder is usually mixed with water, creating liquid collagen (which is by far the most beneficial for the body as it is absorbed most efficiently). The key to assessing collagen powder is through its taste, purity, and color. Not all collagen powders are created equal, and to find a high-quality collagen powder that you can take every day, you should try a few different ones and see which you like best—both in taste and in ease of use.
COLLAGEN TABLETS: Generally one capsule or tablet provides 1 gram of collagen (equal to 1,000 mg). Follow the manufacturer’s directions to determine how many capsules/tablets should be taken daily.
COLLAGEN CANDIES, GUMMIES, AND CHOCOLATES: There are candy alternatives for collagen—however, they are usually made with high-fructose corn syrup or other artificial sweeteners. Collagen gummy bears are often made with gelatin.
I prefer powders over tablets, capsules, gummies, and liquids, as I hate the feeling and experience of swallowing pills (and to swallow 10? No, thank you!). But whether it be in liquid, powder, capsule, or candy form, its essence is all the same: collagen peptides. However you consume your collagen, I have found that the most important thing is to take your collagen daily, and for at least four weeks straight, assuming you are tolerating it well.
WHERE ARE COLLAGEN PEPTIDES SOURCED FROM?
MARINE (A.K.A. FISH) COLLAGEN
• Sourced from fish skin and scales
• Rich in type I collagen
• Rich in glycine, proline, and hydroxyproline
BOVINE (A.K.A. COW) COLLAGEN
• Sourced from cow hides, bones, and muscles
• Rich in type I and type III collagen
• Rich in glycine and proline
• Helps produce creatine, which is beneficial for building muscle
AVIARY (A.K.A. CHICKEN) COLLAGEN
• sourced from chicken bones, cartilage, and tissues
• contains type II collagen
PORCINE (A.K.A. PIG) COLLAGEN
• Sourced from pig skin
• Sourced from eggshells and egg whites
• Rich in type I, but also includes types II, IV, and X
Marine and bovine collagen both perform well in studies and get similar results, primarily because both are bioavailable and dissolve great in liquids.
For vegetarians and everyone else who consume eggs: egg whites are high in both lysine and proline, so adding more egg whites to your diet could help support your body’s natural production of collagen. Collagen-like proteins have been found in the eggshell membranes of hens, as well. Vegetarian collagen comes from chicken egg whites and eggshells, which offers types I and V collagen (type V is found in relatively minimal amounts, in hair and placenta mostly, so it’s not one you need to focus on, but doesn’t hurt to consume it if you prefer vegetarian powders).
There is no direct source of consumable collagen for vegans, as collagen is an inherently animal product. Vegan collagen does exist, made from plants that are good for the skin. Many of those on the market include extra vitamins and minerals. The downside is that they may also contain sugars, dextrose compounds, and even preservatives or fillers.
Vegans (and even those who are able to take animal-derived collagen) have still other ways to help their body’s collagen levels flourish: one is by eating foods that help stimulate the body’s production of the vital protein. Another is to consume plant foods that are packed with hyaluronic acid, a naturally occurring acid found in the human body that acts as a lubrication agent for our hair and skin. Hyaluronic acid has properties similar to those of animal collagen, and plays a critical role in skin health, with its remarkable ability to bind to 1,000 times its weight in moisture. My favorite source of hyaluronic acid is seaweed: Koreans eat roasted seaweed at almost every meal and I believe it to be a powerful superfood. Other hyaluronic acid and collagen production–stimulating foods include green vegetables for vitamin C; red vegetables, such as tomatoes, for lycopene; mushrooms; and nuts.
I suggest trying each type of collagen source and seeing which kind your body tells you it feels strongest on. Also, listen to your body and see which is the easiest on your stomach.
DOES IT MATTER WHAT TYPES OF COLLAGEN OR WHICH ANIMAL COLLAGEN SOURCE IT COMES FROM?
As I explained previously, there are different types of collagens in our body. And though some research suggests that consuming certain types to benefit the particular parts of the body (for example, types I and III if we want better hair, skin, and nails, vs. type II for cartilage and joints), most collagen experts and doctors don’t see the necessity in consuming specific types for specific purposes. According to collagen expert Nick Bitz, a licensed, board-certified naturopathic doctor (N.D.) and chief science officer for a supplement company called YouTheory, “When you ingest collagen, you are ingesting amino acids that help rebuild all of your own collagen in the body. Not just Type I or III, but every type.” That is, when we ingest collagen, our body breaks it down into amino acids that are then absorbed, transported to cells, and used to make new collagen proteins suited for our body—new forms of collagen no longer corresponding directly to the type associated with their original source.
While many different types of collagen do exist—differentiated by where in the body it’s sourced and its amino acid structure, and there can be benefits that arise from ingesting heavier concentrations of certain amino acids in those different types of collagen, most collagens have a similar amino acid profile, and Dr. Bitz at YouTheory explains, they’re all still the same protein.
I’M SOLD ON THE BENEFITS. BUT IS COLLAGEN SAFE TO INGEST? WHAT ABOUT SIDE EFFECTS?
Technically, collagen is really just like any other protein you are consuming on your plate—something you’ve been eating here and there all your life (yet probably had no idea).
And even if taking collagen powder may seem like a foreign concept, it’s been around for decades, and has been used in Asian and European countries for quite some time.
Still, as with everything we put into our body, we must know where exactly a substance originated from, and how it was processed. Like many protein powders on the market today, collagen powder can contain things that are toxic for the body—metals, pollutants, contaminants, and more. Luckily, the standards for making collagen powder have been raised significantly in the last few years, and with the help of the Internet, we can find out quickly what goes in the collagen we are purchasing. If a company cannot trace its collagen every step of the way back to when it was in its original form, I’d stay far away from that brand. Properly processed collagen would have been first sourced from non-GMO fish, cow, chicken, or pork; then purified; then hydrolyzed in an enzymatic solution; then filtered; then milled into powder, which is again sterilized; and then spray dried.
Aside from the physical source of the collagen, you need to look at the broader picture: you should know where the source itself came from (just as you should know where your salmon or steak came from). For example, if it’s marine collagen, is it from fish from clean waters or waters contaminated with heavy metals or radiation? Is it from fish that are generally higher in mercury? If it’s bovine or aviary collagen, then is the source from grass-fed beef, naturally raised chickens, or other farm animals sustainably raised in every possible good manner? Or is it from commercially raised cattle, poultry, and so on?
Hydrolyzed collagen is the most bioavailable, which means your body is more likely to be able to absorb its nutrients without reacting to it negatively.
I am not a doctor, so I can only speak for it personally, but I have been taking and recommending collagen to my friends and family for years, and no one has ever reported any side effects—even my vegan friends who haven’t consumed animal product for years don’t react to the collagen.
Having said that, collagen in bigger forms, such as gelatin or in its source’s natural state, could be too big for our body to break down, which then could cause digestive problems, such as gas and bloating—which is why I’d recommend always turning to collagen peptides over anything else. Because I am not a doctor, I want to remind you that it’s important for you to speak with a physician before making any changes in your diet if you are suffering from any health condition or if you are nursing a baby, pregnant, or planning to become pregnant. Even if you do not suffer from any health condition and are neither pregnant nor nursing, it’s important to understand that there may be risks associated with ingesting particular kinds of collagen, or collagen from particular sources. For example, Livestrong says that collagen from marine sources contains a lot of calcium. If that calcium raises your overall calcium levels by too much, you may experience “constipation, bone pain, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, and abnormal heart rhythms.” You also may experience allergic reactions and have a bad taste in your mouth.
HOW DO I KNOW THAT MY COLLAGEN IS OF HIGH QUALITY?
To test the quality of your collagen powder, simply pour a little bit of lukewarm water into a glass or a cup, put a scoop of collagen into it, and mix it until the powder begins to dissolve.
With high-quality, pure collagen, you will see that the color of the water will stay translucent. In an interview with Well+Good, Naomi Whittel, a supplements entrepreneur who has been studying collagen for the past 20 years, advises to “steer clear of anything yellow, brown, or another tinted color—that’s one way to spot less-than-
premium quality.” If you’re buying a collagen in powder form, Whittel says it should be colorless (when mixed with water) and tasteless. “This shows how pure it is.”
And of course, we must always pay attention to the label, and check the origin of the collagen—according to YouTheory’s naturopath, Dr. Bitz, country origins matter: “Collagen sourced from China is really cheap and just not up to the standards of higher-quality stuff,” he says. And because supplements are actually unable to be regulated by the FDA, brands should make sure to turn to quality manufacturers and suppliers that sourced only the most premium, high-quality ingredients (and they should be able to trace every step of the way back to where their collagen comes from).
Tip: Read reviews, and make sure you test a few before really ritualizing one brand.
HOW ABOUT FOR PREGNANT WOMEN?
If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, or if you are planning to become pregnant in the near future, you should always ask your doctor before you start to ingest collagen.
HOW MUCH IS THE RIGHT AMOUNT?
This will always be up for a debate.
Many brands recommend a minimum of 8 to 10 grams of hydrolyzed collagen. Other sources suggest that 6 to 10 grams daily is the appropriate dose.
Most powders come with a scoop that’s about 10 grams—some brands recommend one scoop; some, two scoops. Then there are the powders that come premeasured, in handy packets (perhaps beautifully designed, like Crushed Tonic!), which contain about 10 grams per packet. Always check the manufacturer’s recommendation and do not exceed the recommended dose.
WHEN SHOULD I TAKE COLLAGEN?
The best time to take collagen is when there’s nothing in your stomach. This could be in the morning when you first wake up, before bed, or a few hours after eating a meal. It’s important to bypass the digestive process when taking collagen supplements. You want the collagen to be in your bloodstream in its present form, not digested by stomach acid or mixed in with your food for breakdown during digestion.
SHOULD I TAKE ANYTHING ELSE ALONG WITH COLLAGEN?
VITAMIN C: According to the Linus Pauling Institute researchers at Oregon State University, vitamin C has a distinct role in collagen synthesis: without vitamin C, our body is slower in healing wounds and producing collagen. Thus, it makes sense to have some vitamin C added to your collagen supplement. I also like to have a clementine or orange in the morning to spike up my collagen production.
PROBIOTICS: Probiotics are one of the latest ingredients added to collagen supplements. High-quality probiotics are known to do a lot—and because our stomach, a.k.a. the second brain, is the ruler of our overall health, we need to do all things possible to keep it happy. Because when our stomach is off, our skin takes a beating almost immediately!
HYALURONIC ACID: Hyaluronic acid (HA) is a substance known to improve skin hydration from both the inside and out. HA has been shown to have a durable effect to retain moisture in the skin from inside the body. In a month-long study, surveyed individuals who added hyaluronic acid to their diet showed significant reductions in skin dryness and wrinkles, and improvements in skin moisture and fullness. It also doubles as a powerful moisturizer: it can attract around 1,000 times its own weight in water—a feature that few other compounds have. Its ability to retain so much moisture is why hyaluronic acid is so popular in skincare products. The compound also plays key roles throughout our body: it lubricates joints, helps provide moisture, and ensures our eyes don’t dry out. And last but not least, it also helps decrease collagen loss in our body! I often refer to it as unicorn blood, as it is a clear, viscous, Jell-O–like gel that works magic on my skin.
SUPERFOODS: Superfoods are often added to collagen powders to provide flavoring and other health benefits. I’ve selected matcha, turmeric, and lucuma as the superfood flavorings to my formula. Because matcha induces a sense of calm while simultaneously boosting your energy, concentration, memory, and metabolism, it can keep you full and awake for hours.
WHAT SHOULD I NOT TAKE WITH COLLAGEN?
The main rule of what not to take with collagen is foods that are eaten in a meal.
Anything that requires digestion is a no-no because it will interfere with the absorption of collagen into the bloodstream (also see the discussion of charcoal, page 118).
I also recommend forgoing collagen blends that contain added sugars as well as other preservatives and chemical additives—a lot of brands, to mask the taste, have been formulated with artificial flavors—which indeed defeat the whole purpose of their being healthy!
I GET THAT THE POWDER IS EASIER, BUT WOULDN’T IT BE BETTER FOR ME TO GET THE COLLAGEN FROM WHOLE FOODS?
Often, when we prepare some of these collagen-rich foods (of course, every meal prep is different), we usually cook them with a lot of things that aren’t quite so great for you, such as salt, and then packed with preservatives that are often carcinogenic (such as fried fish or chicken wings). And when one consumes fish skin, which is where we source collagen from primarily, it is usually deep-fried, or loaded with sodium.
Hence, we can’t advise you to eat 10 whole grams of fish skin too often, let alone every day (and the daily aspect can’t be emphasized more, as our body cannot store protein for longer than 24 hours).
What Are Probiotics?
Probiotics are live cultures that help balance the good and bad bacteria in our gut. By supporting the excretion of radical toxins from our systems, probiotics help our skin become stronger, happier, and healthier. Probiotics can help fight gut inflammation, help the body absorb certain types of nutrients, and keep the immune system in optimum shape. They may also help alleviate allergic and inflammatory skin disorders by increasing our immunity and optimizing digestion.
And how do these little probiotic soldiers help our skin? What probiotics do for our health and our skin, is almost immeasurable: our stomach, a.k.a. the second brain, is actually the ruler of our overall health. With probiotics, our stomach achieves that needed homeostasis much more easily. And they help fend off a lot of what causes problems, and by their supporting our body’s excretion process of pushing the radical toxins that make our skin problematic, out of our system, our skin becomes stronger, happier, and healthier. This was something my grandmother would never let me forget if I ever decided to avoid eating kimchi at lunch.
IS COLLAGEN GLUTEN-FREE? DAIRY-FREE? IS IT PALEO-FRIENDLY?
Collagen powder, by itself, should be gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-
free … free of everything but animal skin and bones or vegetarian-
sourced substances, such as seaweed. Many brands are certified kosher. If you are allergic to anything, you will want to know whether the collagen powder you are using was processed with any other substances. Even if it doesn’t say that on the bottle, the bottle should identify the facility where the collagen was processed. You can contact that facility and ask whether the collagen was processed with other substances.
MY PERSONAL PREFERENCE
Because I get asked about my personal experience with collagen often—and because I’ve been asked the same questions so frequently, I figured I’d share them with you as well.
Q & A
What is your personal favorite type of collagen?
While founding Crushed Tonic, I made a conscious choice to use only marine collagen. From the research I’ve done, it tastes the best and is considered to be the most effective for skin (studies show that marine collagen might be absorbed more readily into the body because the protein peptides are smaller than those of cows).
How often do you take collagen? How much of it?
I take 10 grams every day, sometimes twice a day. But I do not suggest exceeding the dose recommended by the manufacturer of whatever collagen brand you are using.
My favorite recipes are supersimple: the Matcha Tonic (page 48) and the Golden Milk Tumeric Latte (page 71) (hence the two being chosen as Crushed Tonic flavors). I also love making chocolate smoothie bowls!
How do I prepare my collagen lattes?
I don’t like drinking lattes with any collagen clumps, but I also don’t always have an electric whisk with me. So I hacked the process a little bit; now, all I need is an empty water bottle.
I’ll pour my crush into an empty water bottle and then add a tiny bit of water (really, just 1 teaspoon. It’s all about the proportions here, so don’t add too much water).
I’ll shake the bottle until the crush has dissolved and turned into an elixir.
Then, I heat coconut, almond, or pea milk (my favorite is pea milk) in a microwave for 1 to 2 minutes.
Finally, I’ll add the collagen mixture to the heated latte mixture and stir. I sometimes like to add such things as vanilla extract, nondairy creamers, and superfood powders to spice things up a bit!
What benefits have you seen specifically?
Over the course of my two-years-plus collagen regimen, here are some of the things I’ve observed:
• I become fuller and more satiated throughout the day. This makes sense, because it’s essentially like drinking bone broth, and since every drink is packed with 10 grams of protein, I don’t get hungry for hours after.
• My hair grew so much more quickly, and my eyelashes and eyebrows grew in thicker. My anxiety had caused my hair to fall out (either that, or I tugged at it every five seconds), but after drinking collagen for six months–plus, my bald spot sprouted back up with hair! (Yes, a bald spot. I started to have one since the age of sixteen because I did cheerleading and dance all of my life, and the supercrisp, superhigh ponytails did a number on the root of my hair strands. It was so bad that sometimes my sister would add eyeshadow to color them in before my recitals).
• My skin is so much more hydrated. I used to have chronically dry skin that would peel (the worst over the winter months in New York City), so I always had a spritz and facial lotion with me, everywhere I went. I barely need to wear moisturizer now!
• My pores around my nose have gotten smaller.
• My under-eye dark circles have gone away. This truly was such a crazy discovery for me; I used to have purple rings underneath my eyes.
• I no longer need to wear foundation or cover up as much.
• My skin looks more dewy and glowing.
• My skin has gotten brighter, tighter, from head to toe: with less cellulite in my thighs.
• I’ve lost weight; again, it’s just like drinking bone broth (one that’s flavored with my favorite ingredients, and that tastes nothing like bone broth). So, not only did I never forget to drink it because I loved it so much, I consumed fewer calories throughout the day.
But beyond all these benefits, my favorite part is the ritual of making and drinking my Crushed Tonic/collagen latte every day. I wake up, and instead of running out the door to the next coffee shop, I start prepping my collagen latte. And I smile the entire time I’m drinking it! It’s become such a habit that now my mornings feel incomplete without it—so when you do give it a try, I really recommend that you take five minutes to really prep and make your tonic the most perfect for you.
I love my collagen with a nut milk latte base. So, if you would like to have more of a milk base than water, make sure to mix the powder into a bit of water first, and add to the cup of your favorite milk!
Hot and Cold Drinks
Now that you know which collagen works for you, and all the benefits you’ll see, let’s introduce you to the recipes that will help you integrate collagen into your daily routine and diet—recipes that will help you make it not just an easy habit, but an enjoyable one.
For best results, you should consume collagen daily, at least in the beginning of your regimen. Since our body cannot store protein the way we store our fats and sugars (and as with all types of proteins, our body’s supply of it must be replenished daily), it’s essential that we don’t just do it here and there—but truly commit to it. (It is also worth noting that many collagen studies required participants to ingest collagen daily for one to three months, so we don’t really know how taking collagen less frequently, or for a shorter period of time, would affect us.)
Since becoming hooked on it, I’ve developed dozens of recipes that make taking your collagen an easy and pleasurable task—and I want to share those recipes with you.
These drinks are similar in nutritive profile as the Korean meals I ate as a kid—collagen dense, gluten-free, low in sugar—and packed with other superfoods that are great for your skin, hair, and health. I guess mom was right after all!
Note: You might decide that liquid collagen or collagen pills make more sense for you; however, for the purpose of this cookbook, we will be using collagen in powdered form, as you can put it into just about anything and everything: water, coffees, juices, teas, smoothies, shakes, soups, cocktails, baked goods, candy—the options are truly limitless once you get the hang of it, and you wouldn’t be changing the flavor of the drink or food at all!
TIPS & DIRECTIONS
I often say that to truly benefit from ingesting collagen, it’s important to know how to take it. Here are some tips I’ve picked up along the way:
• If you are like me, you won’t like drinking your collagen with any clumps (don’t forget, at the end of the day, it is protein powder, which is best consumed when shaken up or blitzed). But because it’s such fine protein powder, you can make do without an electric milk frother or juicer. Instead of directly mixing the powder into a big glass or bottle of liquid, pour a little bit (really, even just a sip) of lukewarm water into a container first, then add your collagen, and either shake or stir vigorously for about ten seconds. You’ll end up with a very small amount of liquid collagen that can be easily mixed into just about everything.
• I love my collagen with a nut milk latte base. So, if you would like to have more of a milk base than a water base, make sure to mix the powder into a bit of water first, and then add to a hot cup of your favorite milk!
• I also love to make my lattes creamy, so I turn to denser milks, such as pea milk. If you’re more of an almond milk type but want a thicker consistency, you can even turn to wholesome coffee creamer brands—adding even a tiny bit would make the latte richer and more decadent.
• Get creative. Mix it up. Some of my favorite drinks are a product of my accidentally combining two ingredients that would never go with each other (but look like the same thing). Teas are lovely to mix together. I love mixing Earl Grey tea with matcha, and rooibos tea with cacao. I even like getting creative with different flavors of nondairy milks. I love flavoring any base—whether it be almond, cashew, coconut, or soy—with nontraditional superelixirs, such as rose water or honeydew juice (blitzed-up honeydew).
• “Good for you” doesn’t have to mean that it has to taste bad. And when it comes to smoothies, I am a proponent of not removing the sweet ingredients entirely, but replacing them with wholesome, all-natural ingredients that enhance the drinks.
• Incorporate as many skin-enhancing nutrients as possible into your drinks. Fruits, herbs, and roots that don’t contain collagen are still great for your skin for other reasons—either they are packed with antioxidants that fight the toxins in your body, or are dense with nutrients that stimulate your body to produce more collagen.
Sweeteners and Milks
If the recipe calls for a certain sweetener or a milk, feel free to replace it with your favorite, or one that works the best for you:
• Lucuma powder (a Peruvian superfruit that goes perfect with milky bases)
• Agave nectar (goes perfect with juice bases)
• Honey (goes perfect with teas and juice bases)
• Bee pollen (goes perfect with teas)
• Stevia (goes perfect with juices and milk bases)
• Whole dates (goes perfect with milky shakes)
• Frozen banana (goes perfect with milky shakes)
• Almond milk (goes with almost everything)
• Coconut milk (great with spices, such as turmeric)
• Cashew milk (a perfect coffee base)
• Oat milk
• Rice milk
• Pea milk (goes really well with matcha)
• Hemp milk
Caramel Rooibos Lucuma Latte
This lucuma latte is one of my personal favorites. Because it relies on lucuma powder, an all-natural, O-calorie sweetener derived from a Peruvian fruit, for its sweet caramelly flavor instead of actual caramel, we get to forgo all the sugars that would spike your blood level afterward.
Makes 1 serving
½ cup hot water (too little water will make the rooibos taste too bitter)
1 rooibos tea bag
10 grams (about 1 tablespoon or scoop) collagen powder
1 tablespoon lucuma powder, plus more to garnish
1 cup almond milk
Pinch of ground cinnamon
Brew the rooibos tea in the hot water.
Add the collagen powder and lucuma powder to the brewed tea.
Place the almond milk in a microwave-safe mug and heat in a microwave at a medium-high setting for 2 minutes.
Pour the heated almond milk into the rooibos tea mixture.
Sprinkle on more lucuma powder and cinnamon to taste.
If there are any clumps of powder, blend all the ingredients together, including the tea (this will actually give the latte a nice foamy layer at the top), or place the entire mixture in a saucepan and simmer together.
All the lotions, potions, and skin-tightening masks in the world won’t accomplish what a daily dose of collagen may do. And now that collagen is easier than ever to find and use, in powdered and liquid supplements, readers need The Collagen Glow. Packed with 40 delicious recipes, this book is the ultimate guide to choosing and using collagen. It includes information on how collagen is harvested, what to look for in an ingredient list, and how to take it to the next level with an easy 10-step plan.
Skincare entrepreneur Sally Kim grew up drinking her Korean grandmother’s bone broth― essentially collagen broth―so when she experienced a painful burn and turned to collagen to heal and regenerate her skin, it was an epiphany. She realized that collagen is actually the key to the world-renowned “ten-step” Korean beauty routine. Here, Kim offers a different ten-step plan that includes ingesting collagen for good skin, healthy joints, and strong hair and nails.