Are You Getting Enough of This 'Fountain of Youth' Nutrient?

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(Photo: John Lok / The Seattle Times)

In the wellness world, you hear buzzwords come and go. New products and potions always promise to help us look better and live better. Some of those trends stick around (we're looking at you, coconut oil!) and some fizzle out fast, making room for the next big thing.

The hot word right now is collagen; it's popping up in everything from bone broth recipes to superfood smoothies. We caught up with best-selling Paleo cookbook author Melissa Joulwan to get the facts on this product and learn whether it's worth the hype.

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So what is it?
Collagen, deriving from the Greek word "kolla" for glue, "is a protein found in bones, muscle, skin and tendons,” Joulwan explained. This protein is vital for the replacement of dead skin cells and it improves the quality of our skin. It's also been shown to increase bone density and is helpful in maintaining muscles and connective tissues.

“Collagen production declines with age, so it's important to consume it to maintain the skin's moister, elasticity and luster,” she added.

Is it just another fad?
“It's getting a lot of attention right now—and, unfortunately, that's led to some pretty outrageous claims about its purported magical qualities—sorry!” she said. “Collagen can't eliminate cellulite. But it is almost a fountain of youth in terms of skin quality, bone health and avoiding injury.”

In this slew of trends, Joulwan says she hopes collagen is here to stay. “Our ancestors naturally ate a lot of collagen-rich foods because they ate the entire animal and gnawed on bones. Our modern diet favors lean, boneless meats over bone-in cuts, so we miss out on these sources that used to be a part of daily life," she said.

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(Photo: Christopher Testani / Prevention)

How can the everyday Womanista incorporate collagen into her diet?
Joulwan shared two easy ways to incorporate collagen into your diet: bone broth and a grass-fed collagen supplement like Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides.

“There are dozens of high-quality bone broths available commercially, so those are an easy, delicious option,” Joulwan suggested. “It's also very easyand more economicalto make homemade bone broth. Once you have bone broth on hand, you can with drink it on its own or use it in soups, stews, chili, curry—any recipe that calls for stock.”

Joulwan says she sips bone broth from a mug seasoned with a little freshly grated ginger, a crushed garlic clove and a sprinkle of ground black pepper. She also makes a batch of Silky Gingered Zucchini Soup every week and eats a small cup nearly every day.

If she doesn't have bone broth on hand, Joulwan adds a protein supplement to whatever she's eating. “It dissolves in both hot and cold liquids and has no taste, so I've mixed it into salad dressing, stirred it into tomato sauce, and even sprinkled it on ground beef while I browned it in a skillet," she said. 

And it's as easy as that! Will you try this protein for its fountain of youth effects?

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