This week as we continue our Keto journey we’re joined by friend of Nourish, Benjamin Richardson, sharing, ‘My Keto experience’. We’ve loved finding out more about how someone busy and energetic manages their own Keto lifestyle. Especially as this week Ineke and I start our own Keto journey. We’ll be diarising that over the next few weeks on Instagram and here on the blog, Join us and find out how we get on.
I am a 40 something guy, London-based professional worker, nutritional therapy student, keen exerciser and incurable foodie. I follow a cyclical ketogenic diet. Why? Get ready for shock and awe . . . not for weight loss!
Why keto for me?
Yes, I do find ketosis very helpful for weight control and body composition but even those are not my reasons. As a keen healthspan optimiser ketosis is a tool I use for potential health benefits. One is mitigation against the risk of developing metabolic syndrome, the term for the combination of insulin resistance, diabetes, obesity & coronary heart disease. Another, combined with fasting, is to give my body an opportunity to perform some ‘clean up’ in the form of cellular regeneration. Key word autophagy. Greek for “self-eating”. Love it. Bring it on.
Further, a huge lifestyle benefit from following a ketogenic diet pattern is freedom from hunger and ever feeling the urge to eat junk food or even eat at all. I feel enabled to choose only to eat when I can savour the experience and the food.
State of the Keto tribe.
In the 21st century it feels like the diet you follow defines which tribe you belong to. Keto vs gluten-free vs vegan vs carnivore vs many others. There are surely some negative aspects to this yet there are positives too.
Whatever its virtues the keto diet presents a fair level of challenge to begin and stick to well. One needs to know the macronutrient content of foods, your personal carb tolerance and other foods that may knock you out of ketosis temporarily. Apps and gadgets, such as a ketone meter, can be helpful but also add their own initial learning curve. This is where a supportive community can help a lot.
London has a popular and active Keto London Meetup club that was meeting up monthly prior to COVID restrictions. There are also two active nationwide keto community Facebook groups (1, 2) that offer a lot of sharing and guidance that can help welcome new folks and provide inspiration for time-served vets. Hey, if there is not a keto meetup club in your area . . . maybe start one? Once restrictions lift, celebrate with a keto feast!
London now has a dedicated “Keto Restaurant” called exactly that serving only keto friendly meals. Within 2019 ‘Cut + Grind’ claimed to launch the first London Keto burger. To me this feels like a repeat of the growth of gluten-free options. First there were few, then many, then it almost became normal. Caveat that I know that I am very lucky to be in London where these things happen first and fast.
Most eateries including most high street chains continue to favour higher carb options and macronutrient info is rarely available for menu items. Regardless I find it rather easy to eat out so long as I can order ‘off menu’. Burger in a bun with fries? Sure, but please skip the bun and swap the fries for extra veggies and mayonnaise please? Many places are happy to accommodate this kind of request.
My approach is to respectfully share that I am on a keto diet, and ask would the chef very kindly be willing to make a few swaps? I am careful to be respectful rather than assume as I have respect for the effort and skill that has gone into the regular menu and the challenge for a kitchen of making lots of adjustments.
So with a bit of advance planning, and nutritional know-how, and ordering off-menu, it is now entirely possible to enjoy eating out. In theory at least. I write this during Tier IV covid lockdown!
In 2019 Planet Organic stores began featuring an ‘Easy Keto’ stand stocking only keto friendly foods like coconut oil, MCT oil, fat bombs and low carb snacks. There are dedicated online shops stocking only keto friendly food such as lowcarbfood.co and ketosource. In 2020 Ocado introduced Keto as a keyword and added a dedicated “The Keto Way” banner for a section of their store. It is delightfully eclectic. It has cauliflower and broccoli right alongside Atkins bars and Avocado Oil Mayonnaise. Love it.
For sure, dedicated “keto friendly” products are enjoying a sustained boom. This includes lots of keto-friendly snacks. Ironically, given their popularity, I find keto snacks are really not necessary. Once you are in regular ketosis and out of the blood glucose rollercoaster ride the need to ‘snack’ really vanishes. In place you have a constant supply of energy from your fat stores and do not need to “top up” with carby sugary drinks and snacks.
Still, if someone makes something that is delicious *and* keto-friendly I am very happy to sample. On this I simply *must* give tribute to the Nourish Coconutty bars. They are so freaking delicious that they just might be dangerous. Thankfully they are highly satiating too. Unlike say, Pringles, you can absolutely stop at one. Or even half. Mmmmm . . . <Coconutty Bar daydream, back in 5 minutes . . . . >
Most of the time though I follow a well formulated keto diet. This means using my daily carb allowance with as many cruciferous veggies, roots and alliums and colourful plants as I can. I think of it as a pact I am making with my gut bacteria. I will take care of them and they take care of me. Good deal little bacteria people!
Future for Keto?
2019 provided a fist pump worthy milestone of the NHS giving backing to a low-carb diet program intended for treatment of type 2 diabetes. Virta Health are using a carbohydrate restricted diet as a treatment to even reverse diabetes.
More and more evidence arrives supporting the use of ketogenic diets for multiple health benefits and not just short term weight loss. Hopefully this will help embed keto as a sustained trend rather than a shorter term fad.
I have other hopes for 2021 and beyond too. Allow me three wishes . . .
. . . well formulated ketogenic diets, stuffed with as many veggies as possible, becoming recognised as the benchmark to use when comparing to other diets
. . . growing recognition from government, medical and patient support charities that a ketogenic diet may offer an effective and sustainable template for some people to enjoy better health
. . . and not kidding, if Nourish like to bring out new keto-friendly companions to the Coconutty bar, I am absolutely at the front of the queue to taste-test them. At least once. For science.
Ending with a caution and an advert for my future self as a Nutritional Therapist. The one thing I would not suggest anyone do is begin a keto diet without support, knowledge and confidence. If you are thinking about it for the first time I absolutely encourage you to engage some expert help. Help to check whether it is right for you and if so how to do it well. It is not for everyone and there are better and worse ways to follow keto.
Looking after your mental health during lockdown is the key to staying positive in spite of the news. We want to help you to nourish your mind, body and spirit through this time and today we start with a blog from the lovely Vidya at Vivid Outcomes. Vidya is a therapeutic practitioner here in our local town, Reigate, and she has written all about supportive practices that can help you at this time. If you’d like to contact Vidya directly please see her bio at the bottom of the page.
Looking after your mental health during lockdown.
We are living through such unique times right now. With a second lockdown bedding in for the foreseeable, so much is unclear and what the coming months will really look like is anyone’s guess.
That vacuum for the unknown breeds uncertainty, which when in exaggerated abundance, can feel problematic to even the most resilient amongst us!
The sense of ‘powerlessness’ over the unknown, can lead to those increased feelings of ‘negative stress’. We try to overthink the permutations of the unforeseen, with scenario creation; ‘what if’, ‘what might happen’, ‘what will happen if’, and try desperately to juggle with outcomes we just don’t know for sure and have no guarantees over. The literal pressure of overthinking can leave us either in a spin of overwhelm, or standing still, frozen in despair.
Reclaim your power.
I know the picture I have painted looks slightly on the gloomy side. But that said, I know from my own experience, and from working with my lovely clients, that just by adopting a slightly different approach to the one you usually might, you can feel significantly calmer, more relaxed, and feel able take back and reclaim your ‘power’.
It’s really worth stressing (no pun intended!), that the most important relationship to nurture is with yourself- especially in times of stress. When the tough gets going – who ultimately listens to all those thoughts that go round and round in your own head? You do. Who has your back when you’re up against it? You do. The means to keep going and breathe from moment to moment, even on the not so good days – who finds the way to do that? You do.
You are uniquely you, and in order to change the relationship to stress, you have to change the relationship you have with yourself, and find the means to take the moments of time and space you can afford, to nurture yourself and show yourself the appreciation you deserve. Only when you do that, will you grow strong within and feel self-motivated to weather the internal and external storms you may face.
Fill your ‘cup’.
Fill your ‘cup’ with the things that bring about fulfilment and wellness. When you allow your own cup to overflow, you create the surplus and abundance of energies to help to support those who rely on you. You can’t do that fully and completely, from a place of scarcity and depletion because those times when your cup is nearly empty, there isn’t sufficient amount to even quench your own thirst.
Perhaps take stock of the times in your life when you’ve probably felt the most stressed and overwhelmed, you will most likely notice self-care dropped off your ‘to do list’. I want you to read that again slowly: ‘to do list’, because that’s everything self-care shouldn’t be. Instead, embrace it more as a way of life. Think of it as a strategy for going about life more calmly.
Let that sense of calm be the focus and create rituals which are joyful and nurturing to you. Rituals create certainty, and our minds appreciate a fair bit of that. They’re those patterns, rhythms and activities that we rely on to ground us:
Three simple things
1) Mindfulness & Meditation. Many say they find it difficult to ‘empty’ their thoughts when they’re so stressed. The idea with mindfulness isn’t to create emptiness, but to notice simply how cluttered your mind is with thoughts that take you away from being with your present moment. Every time you notice your mind wandering, come back to whatever you are ‘being’ with at the moment. Sometimes we’re so busy and consumed, stressing about what tomorrow brings, we miss simple pleasures contained in today, right now.
2) Journalling. Writing down our thoughts, help us to literally ‘dump’ a lot of those consuming thoughts that have nowhere to go, whilst providing some space for greater clarity.
3) Flow activities like Arts & Crafts, Exercising, Music, Gardening. Flow activities are wonderfully calming because they provide the opportunity to be completely out of ‘negative stress’ mode. In fact, flow activities promote ‘Eustress’ – this is a ‘positive stress’ which in fact helps us to feel a sense of meaning, wellbeing, confidence and hope…
I think it’s fair to say that we could all do with a bit more of that right now! So next time you are feeling the negative stress, it’s worth reminding yourself to ‘Go with the flow’!
Vidya Bellur is a Clinical Hypnotherapist and EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) Practitioner, Mindset Coach and Mindfulness Trainer. Her passion is helping people to change their relationship to their thinking, to alter their behaviours to affect their outcomes. She’s experienced in helping people who suffer from anxiety, worry, stress and depression.
Parenting during a pandemic isn’t something that any of us imagined doing this year we’re joined by Dr Mari Kovanen to look at 3 key steps towards peaceful parenting. Just in time for half term some wonderful advice for how to deal with your triggers and maintain a calm, peaceful parenting approach. If you’d like to find out more about Dr Kovanen see below for her biography to find out more.
3 Key Steps Towards Peaceful Parenting: Dr Mari Kovanen.
In the past few weeks, you have been living under very unusual circumstances and spent most of your 24 hrs in a day with your family. There may have been the added pressure of home-schooling. You may have been triggered & on high alert a lot of the time and/or even personally affected by Covid-19. Now things may or may not be slightly changing and improving for you in terms of your movement is less restricted.
Then, in the past week, you may have experienced anxiety over the state of the world following the news of a person (and many others) losing their life because of their skin colour. You may have experienced a full range of emotions from anger and rage to sadness and disbelief of how still in 2020 there is such inequality between us humans.
Whether your personal experiences of inequality have been triggered or you feel helpless because you don’t know how you could personally impact the world and make it a better world for all of us here, we have all been touched in some ways. Your other personal experiences of feeling rejected, perhaps within your family, maybe triggered.
I am so really sorry if you personally have ever experienced discrimination on the basis of the colour of your skin or any other quality. How can we collectively change the world? That is a big, even overwhelming question if we don’t break it down to smaller, more manageable steps.
Why good enough parenting is in the heart of changing the world?
Children are the future. Only by us parents and other parental figures teaching children about values such as (self-)compassion, acceptance of difference, equality, resilience and problem solving when facing difficulties can change happen for the future generations. As I generally write about childhood trauma, this post is for you if you struggle with parenting at the moment. Positive role modelling and being a peaceful parent may feel very difficult at the moment.
If your nervous system has been alarmed by the recent events, you may have also been more triggered by your children’s behaviour as the smoke detector of your body, the amygdala, is already alarmed.
You may have had strategies for coping with parenting dilemmas and challenges, but when you are spending extended time with your children and/or your internal wounds are triggered, your usual coping strategies may go out of the window.
It is so hard being a parent, and especially if you did not receive appropriate mirroring and nurturing in your family of origin. It is very hard to know how to parent peacefully and you feel at a loss.
Stress in parenting
When under a lot of stress, you may revert to the parenting practices you experienced as a child, even if you swore that you would not repeat the same patterns. Please be kind to yourself, without appropriate knowledge about triggers and tools for bringing your nervous system down when you are being triggered, it is very hard to change patterns. Hence, often prevention is the key in trying to keep your nervous system in the window of tolerance (where you are able to function well).
Parenting is in the heart of social change and the values of peaceful parenting can help with creating an atmosphere at home that helps children to become individuals with not only a strong sense of self and confidence, but also having the courage to speak up if facing inequality or injustice, and having (self)compassion, acceptance and a sense of celebration of difference and uniqueness. Children learn best through our example and not necessarily just by our words.
This post talks about the steps towards becoming a peaceful parent. The key features are parental self-regulation and self-compassion, cultivating connection with your child at all times and especially when a child is having a hard time, and being a loving coach to our child.
3 Essential principles for becoming a parent you wished you had
When you think about your own parenting experience, how would you have liked your parents to be with you? This post was inspired by Dr Laura Markham’s book “Calm parents, happy kids”. The secrets of stress-free parenting.
Previously I wrote about parenting in this post. These three key principles of parenting can truly change your experience of parenting particularly if you did not receive adequate parenting yourself.
Grounding oneself and having compassion towards self
It is awful being in a state of high alert (your nervous system is alarmed) when you are triggered because something your child did or didn’t do triggered some old stuff within you or by external circumstances. It is very difficult to parent effectively from that state of mind.
If you want your children not only to be happy but also to be future role models of a society that is kinder and more accepting, the change starts from within you. Please do not take this as a pressure for you having to do more but just as an invitation to acknowledge how important you are in this world.
Being a calming influence in your family starts from taking care of you, the leader of your family. You can only create an atmosphere of peaceful family existence by learning to acknowledge, accept and regulate your own emotions. If you are responding to your children from a place where you are triggered, it is like putting more fuel to the fire.
Be kind to yourself
Please be kind yourself, if this has been very difficult for you in the past. You are learning and the more aware you become, the easier it is for you to change your patterns of behaviour to help your family to become more peaceful. I have previously written about self-compassion here.
It is essential that you focus on supporting yourself and seek support (even professional support) if you find yourself dysregulated a lot of the time.
Start a self-care practice that helps you to feel grounded and return to the window of tolerance when you may feel triggered by something. You could join this 10-day self-care and self-compassion challenge to kick start your self-care practice.
When you get triggered during a parenting moment, take a deep breath. Give yourself a moment, if it means going to the bathroom to catch your breath. If no one is likely to harm themselves whilst you pop out of the room for a couple of minutes, take the space to regroup. Notice your body and stand tall. When you are grounded, then address whatever is going on in the family. A calm leader makes better choices.
The Resource Library has some tools e.g. Safe/Happy place exercise that can really help with creating a resource for you which you can use in these moments to regulate your nervous system.
Humans crave connection: Children and adults want to feel connected. Our survival as a species has been dependent on the connection. When your child/children are playing up, they are likely to feel disconnected. Those are the moments that someone might label them as being “naughty” when in fact this is likely to be a way of a child communicating that they feel distant and disconnected from you. These are the moments when children need our attention and feel connected even more than ever.
Connection means that your child feels that his/her feelings are accepted as they are and s/he feels heard. Connection means that you and your child are in tune with each other. S/he feels calm and at ease in your presence.
This connection can be created through talking, but often it does not necessarily mean words but your child experiencing your loving, accepting presence. Your child feels that you have time for them and their thoughts and feelings without being judged. Some children feel more physical contact to feel connected such as roughhousing or giving your child a back massage.
Start to notice patterns and look beyond your child’s behaviour. What is s/he communicating to you about connection and disconnection either by words or behaviour?
If you struggle with connecting with your child, seek professional support to help you out to understand what is stopping you from a connection. Often this may be linked to your own experiences of being parented.
Being a peaceful parent is about being a guiding leader and coach who sees disruptions in the relationship with child and children’s unwanted behaviours as opportunities for teaching and coaching. Coaching can only be effective when it takes place after a full connection has been created.
Your child will not hear you trying to explain why they should have not done something if they are in a state of alarm and feeling disconnected. This is a standard threat response. When we are feeling disconnected which is experienced as a threat, the higher parts of the brain go offline and we cannot learn new things. Your child may not hear or even understand what you are trying to say to them if they are in that state.
Therefore, the key thing is for you to regulate yourself so that you can approach the situation from a calm place. When you have reached that then you can connect. And once you have connected you can start to coach and teach again. 3 Key Steps Towards Peaceful Parenting.
Finally, I hope this piece gives you hope that you can do a lot for changing the world by being a good enough parent who role models (self-)compassion, kindness, acceptance and fairness. If you feel a mixture of emotions at the moment, please be kind to yourself. If it feels all too much, please seek support for yourself whether it is with understanding your trigger points or parenting.
Dr Mari Kovanen, CPsychol, is a registered counselling psychologist who helps individuals to heal from past trauma, live whole-heartedly and have fulfilling relationships. She is passionate about peaceful parenting and supporting individuals, who have suffered childhood emotional neglect themselves as children, in becoming knowledgeable and peaceful parents.
This week our guest blogger, Katie Jenson, shares with us her tips for creating your natural skincare spa at home. Katie is a former trained beauty therapist and spa therapist. She is currently training to become a Naturopathic nutritionist.
We’ve loved learning more about natural ways to nurture your skin this month and hope you’re enjoying reading what we’ve been up to, drop us a comment below and let us know if you try any of Katie’s fabulous ideas. Don’t forget that the perfect pick you up alongside a bit of self-care is our new Cherry and Collagen Macaroons!
Creating your natural Skincare Spa at home.
When I was little all I wanted was to go into the garden and get lost in nature. I would make lotions and potions with my mum’s empty glass milk bottles for hours. Using leaves and flowers to create a rose perfume from the petals. Little did I know that this was the start of a lifelong hobby. I’d love to help you with creating your natural skincare spa at home.
(Rose petal photo)
Glowing healthy beautiful skin has always been a focus of mine. I believe that it is obtained by much more than simply what we placed on our skin. I’m passionate about the whole process of looking after ourselves, resting more, being in touch with the moment, in nature, eating whole foods that nourish us. There’s been a massive rise in the natural skincare industry in the last few years; people are looking to nature to look after themselves. Creating self-care that has more meaning and is more soulful.
Nothing is more enjoyable than opening my kitchen cupboards and preparing myself something totally natural and homemade. I must admit when I first did this my husband thought I had gone slightly crazy and asked me why I had porridge on my face! There is an element of, ‘what am I putting on my face?’ when you literally have food on your face. It was only once I became a mum that my love for making my own skincare really exploded. It was a way of me beginning to take care of myself again. Easily creating my own home spa that was inexpensive, homegrown, and non-toxic. Short of time, on maternity leave and with no childcare I began to get creative within the kitchen. Carving out some much needed time to myself, to recharge my batteries. Slowing down and pampering myself.
I work on the principle of a “wholefood wardrobe”. A skincare wardrobe of sorts in which you can select whole food and fresh ingredients, using real foods that are beneficial to your skin. Before I select my ingredients I take a look at my skin and say to myself, what does my skin need today? What do I need today? I then go and take a mindful walk around my garden collecting herbs and any flowers in season that I can use. I also take a look through my fridge for fresh ingredients and grab store cupboard staples from my cupboards.
Because you are using what you already have, natural beauty is a wonderful way to be more sustainable, cutting down on the packaging that enters your home and creating less waste. It is also a great way to be more mindful of what you are putting on your skin and limiting your exposure to potentially harmful ingredients that disrupt hormones and are potential carcinogens.
After all, between 60-70% of what we put onto our skin is potentially absorbed into our bloodstream. Therefore, we should be super careful about what we are using on a daily basis. When I first started my journey with natural beauty I found www.thinkdirtyapp.com super helpful. We are often so careful about what we put into our mouths with the food we eat, so why aren’t we taking the same care about what we put on our skin?
There are a few golden rules that I always follow before I make anything. Yes, the ingredients may be natural but that does not mean that they are all safe to use. Even natural ingredients are powerful and can cause reactions. Before you go off making your creations you must go
and do your own research. There are some amazing websites out there dedicated to all things natural beauty.
The basic rules before I begin putting anything on my skin are:
1. I always do a patch test first before applying any of the ingredients. Although they are natural they could still cause an allergic reaction.
2. I soon realised that making my own natural skincare was not as glamorous as beautifully packaged products. My drains learnt the hard way, I now use an old towel that I perform my body scrubs on so not to block them.
3. I always make sure to use my natural beauty creations straight away so they do not spoil. They don’t have all the chemicals and preservatives to keep them fresh and safe so I make sure to make and enjoy asap. Like food, if something smells bad I do not use it!
4. The first thing I do before making anything is to make sure that my containers are sterilised and clean before using them.
With all that being said, I find making your own natural beauty so rewarding. My five favourite ingredients to use within my creations are:
1. Oats are wonderfully nourishing. They also make a great gentle exfoliator and help to soften the skin. They contain natural saponins that help to draw out toxins and absorb dirt. Perfect for sensitive or irritated skin.
2. Ingredients full of antioxidants and vitamins help to fight free radicals and help to prevent and protect against ageing skin. They are also radiance-boosting helping to brighten and even out skin tone. Antioxidant ingredients can come in the form of acai berry powder, cacao powder, and even mashed up blueberries or strawberries.
3. Dairy in particular full-fat yogurt is a super ingredient. I like using yogurt as it is not only moisturising but the lactic acid contained also acts as a gentle exfoliant leaving my skin glowing.
4. If I need a quick fix for my face I love to put a mashed banana on it as it is packed with potassium and vitamins that help to feed the skin.
5. I use coconut oil the most out of all my kitchen ingredients within my natural beauty. I use it as a cleanser to dissolve and take off my make up at night. Using a cloth with warm water to gently wipe and remove it. I also like to use it as a night-time moisturiser a couple of times a week. I also make lip balms with it, body scrubs, and use it as a base to face masks.
Possibly my favourite natural beauty treat to make is a super simple and nourishing bath soak. Always using oats that leave my skin super soft. I also like to add dried camomile flowers which are so beautiful and calming for the skin and mind. Sometimes I will switch these out according to the season, adding dried lavender or homegrown rose petals or beautiful fresh revitalising herbs from the garden. I also like to add dried milk when my skin looks lacklustre and needs a boost to glow. The lactic acid in the milk helps to gently exfoliate and soften skin. Of course, leave this out if you are vegan.
For an easy recipe to create at home I will use:
½ cup oats
¼ cup of dried milk
¼ cup dried chamomile flowers buds
Add to a muslin and tie with string under the running tap. Watch as the bath turns a delicious creamy colour and then enjoy and let your mind unwind and go into a relaxed happy state.
I hope you enjoy carving out some me time and enjoy your natural beauty journey. Remember that this whole process is much more than simply what you are putting on your skin. It is about creating time for you and carving out time for nourishing the inside too.
Enjoy creating your natural skincare spa at home!
Katie has a background in the skincare industry and is a trained beauty therapist and spa therapist. She is currently training to become a Naturopathic nutritionist. When she isn’t studying you can find her gardening, cooking seasonally, and creating with nature @storiesoftheseason. She also has a page dedicated to glowing from the inside out @slowtoglow where the message is that being mindful and slowing down all contributes to a delicious healthy glow.
This blog is for information only and does not constitute advice. Please consult a professional and do your own research.
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Always wanted to know more about why you might supplement your diet with a collagen? Look no further, this blog from our friends at Bare Biology takes a deep dive into the subject. Don’t forget that this month only you can grab our Cherry and Collagen Macaroons, made in collaboration with Bare Biology, containing their Skinful Collagen.
As one of a growing number of nutri-cosmetics, collagen powder (also called hydrolyzed collagen powder or collagen peptide powder) has been written about extensively, mostly from a ‘beauty-from-within’ standpoint. But while it does have some intriguing properties when it comes to our complexions, in reality collagen is about so much more than skin.
As one of the staple ingredients in anti-ageing creams, collagen’s been a beauty industry favourite for some time now. But recently collagen has become increasingly popular as a food supplement. You’ll find it as a liquid, in capsules or as a collagen powder that can be stirred into drinks and used in cooking.
It’s the most abundant protein in the human body and our own collagen levels change throughout our lifespan, with studies suggesting that overall collagen begins to decline as early as our 20s. The effect on our health isn’t just skin deep, as declining levels of collagen can mean we lose muscle strength, bone mass and less flexible joints.
The good news is you can replenish declining collagen levels with a high-quality supplement such as Skinful, a type I marine collagen protein powder made from wild-caught fish. But how does a collagen supplement really work and can it help us stay flexible, strong and fresh-looking as we age? Read on to find out.
How does collagen work?
Collagen anchors cells to each other to form sturdy, fibrous strands. These strands of collagen twist together, giving structure to skin and forming the flexible fibres used in ligaments. The fibrils of collagen have amazing tensile strength so it can be stretched without breaking.
In the skin, these strands look a little like fat Roman pillars placed closely together to hold up the top layer of the epidermis.
Collagen exists in different forms, depending on its location and function in the body. At least 16 different types of collagen have been identified, but some 80 to 90 percent of all the collagen in the body is either type I, II, or III.
Type I Collagen – The vast majority of all the collagen we contain is type I, because it’s found in skin, hair, nails, muscles, joints and organs. Most anti ageing collagen powder supplements for the skin will contain type I, and it’s the type that’s found in large quantities in marine collagen.
Type II Collagen – This type of collagen is present in movable joints and cartilage (the connective tissue that protects your bones). You’ll also find it in spinal disks and eyes. In supplements, type II is predominantly used for joint health.
Type III Collagen – After type I, this is the second most abundant collagen in human tissue because it’s found in places such as your intestines, muscles, blood vessels and the uterus. As a supplement, type III collagen is most commonly used for gut health.
What is collagen made of?
Each type of collagen is made up of amino acids, nitrogen-containing molecules that form the building blocks of all proteins. In collagen, the main amino acids are glycine, proline and hydroxyproline (a special amino acid made from proline and lysine) which account for up to 57% of its chemical make-up.
These amino acids are secreted by specialised cells known as fibroblasts and as they’re manufactured, they’re tightly wound together to create a strong, yet flexible, triple helix fibre.
Why do our levels of collagen decline?
Your body naturally produces and breaks down collagen every day. But over time, more old collagen is broken than can be replaced and the net result is gradually declining levels of collagen.
This natural decline in collagen is responsible for many of the health outcomes we associate with ageing. Like a house with a crumbling frame and weakened supporting structures, skin becomes wrinkled and sunken, there’s less mobility in the joints, muscles weaken and bones lose their density.
Collagen production begins to decline at a rate of about 1 percent a year in our mid-20s and goes rapidly downhill in our 40s and 50s, with the majority of women experiencing a 30 percent drop in the first few years post-menopause.
Collagen and skin
The appearance of our skin is important to all of us and not just for vanity reasons. The skin is also the external manifestation of our inner health, so keeping it in good condition is vitally important.
Type I collagen makes up 75 to 80 percent of our skin and it’s found in the dermis. It plays a huge role in the health of our bodies’ largest organ but to explain its importance, we need to take a closer look at the skin’s structure.
The skin is made up of three layers.
The epidermis is the skin you show to the world and it also provides a waterproof, protective barrier. The cells here were formed deep in the dermis around four weeks ago. The dermis is the next layer, lying just beneath the epidermis. The dermis has a blood supply and contains much of the skin’s collagen and elastin fibres, which give it structure and firmness, along with the fibroblasts – specialised cells that make new collagen.The hypodermis is the bottom layer and is made of connective tissue and fat.
As we age the collagen in the dermis breaks down and the fibroblasts don’t make enough to keep up. At this point, skin begins to lose its firmness, fine lines and wrinkles begin to show and there’s a loss of elasticity, meaning skin doesn’t plump up so well after pinching.
But besides age, there are other factors that contribute to declining levels of collagen in the skin. UV rays from the sun, cigarette smoke, pollution, poor diet and even stress can all speed up the breakdown in the skin’s structure.
When we’re younger the damage is repaired by the fibroblasts producing more collagen, but as we get older our fibroblasts become more sluggish. We can’t produce enough collagen to make up for the rate we’re losing it and as the collagen vanishes, so does our skin’s youthful appearance.
So can we just add more collagen to the skin in the form of topical moisturisers? Unfortunately it doesn’t work that way. While creams and serums can hydrate the dead skin cells on the epidermis and make it superficially look a bit more healthy, the collagen molecules are too big to penetrate the dermis and just sit on the top level of the skin.
Do we need to take a collagen supplement?
While collagen is an important building block for whole-body health, it’s one that’s slipped entirely out of our diets. Our Western love for muscle meat that’s skinless and boneless has meant our diets are almost completely devoid of important amino acids.
That’s not the case in Asian cultures such as China, where nutrient-rich organ meat and connective tissue are routinely eaten. Head to Beijing and you’ll find street markets brimming with pig’s trotters, chicken feet and whole duck’s heads, and bone marrow is often served as a side dish.
Of course ideally you’d get all the amino acids you need to replenish your collagen levels from your diet. But unless you want to sit down to a bowl of bone broth every day, there’s every chance you’re missing out on vital nutrients that can keep your bones, joints and skin healthy. That’s where collagen protein powder supplements can step in to fill the gap.
What is collagen powder and where does it come from?
Collagen peptides, hydrolyzed collagen and collagen protein powder are all different names for the same thing. It’s all animal or fish collagen that’s been treated to break down the amino acids into smaller molecules that your body can absorb.
Collagen protein powders are made from the hide and connective tissues of large mammals like cows or in the case of marine collagen powder, from the skin and scales of fish. Because the collagen molecule is too big and sturdy to be digested and absorbed by the bloodstream, it has to be ‘hydrolyzed’ using enzymes and high-pressure steam.
This process splits the super collagen molecule into tiny snippets of collagen fibre, now commonly referred to as collagen peptides. These are much more bioavailable, meaning your body can actually absorb the key amino acids they contain.
Made from fish skin, scales and sometimes bones, marine-sourced type I collagen peptides are widely considered to be superior to the bovine variety when it comes to skin health.
What do collagen powders contain?
Collagen peptides are a white, odourless powder that are neutral in taste. They’re normally derived from type I collagen (the same type that’s found in all human skin and bone) and are up to 97 percent protein.
But the real magic lies in the levels of amino acids they contain. Collagen peptides normally contain around 18 different amino acids, including eight of the nine essential amino acids. The important amino acids glycine, proline and hydroxyproline are the most prevalent in collagen peptides, making up 50 per cent of its total amino acid content – the same amount that’s in human skin.
How do collagen supplements work?
Your body makes its own collagen proteins from the amino acids proline, glycine and hydroxyproline. All three (and hydroxyproline in particular) are hard to come by from diet, unless you regularly eat organ meats or foods such as bone broth.
Collagen supplements are brimming with these amino acids. When you eat them they are absorbed by the small intestine and circulated into your bloodstream. In fact, collagen peptides show up in your bloodstream just two hours after you take them.
What happens next is the subject of two different schools of thought. The conventional view is that the body uses the amino acids to make new collagen directly. But more recently, scientists have come to believe that the presence of these amino acid fragments in the bloodstream tricks the body into thinking there’s been a collagen breakdown. Believing that repair is urgently needed, it stimulates your own fibroblasts to produce more collagen, elastin and hyaluronic acid.
What are the different kinds of collagen powder you can buy?
There are two main types of collagen powder available: bovine and marine. But which one is best for you will depend on why you’re taking it and your personal preferences. Let’s compare the two side by side.
Made from the hide, bones and muscles of cows, bovine collagen powder contains type I and type 3 collagen, both of which are abundant in the human body. A rich source of proline and glycine, bovine collagen powder is normally promoted for bone and gut health, along with strong joints. But because it’s derived from cattle, it could be a problem for those who don’t eat certain types of meat for religious or ethical reasons.
Made from fish skin, scales and sometimes bones, marine-sourced type I collagen peptides are widely considered to be superior to the bovine variety when it comes to skin health. This is due to their smaller sized molecules, because having a lower molecular weight allows it to be absorbed more efficiently. It’s also suitable for those who don’t eat meat.
What is the best collagen protein powder for skin?
Marine collagen powder is best because it has a nearly identical chemical make-up to skin. Human collagen is made almost entirely of glycine, proline, and hydroxyproline, in roughly the same ratio you find in marine collagen supplements.
The peptide molecules in marine collagen are also much smaller in size than bovine collagen, making it more bioavailable.
And while marine collagen is high in glycine and proline, it’s especially rich in the amino acid hydroxyproline, which is an essential component of skin.
That’s why Bare Biology’s Skinful collagen powder is sourced from wild-caught cod, making it rich in type 1 collagen.SHOP SKINFUL
How to take collagen powder effectively?
Skinful marine collagen has a neutral taste, so it’s easy to add to drinks you already enjoy like tea and coffee. This means that whenever you remember to take it, you can simply stir it into your drink and you won’t even notice it’s there.
Unlike other supplements the collagen won’t be damaged by heat, so you could add it to muffins and cookies as well soups and stews. Collagen peptides can withstand heat up to 300°C, making them one of the few protein powders that’s good for cooking and baking.
As a side note, it’s a good idea to make sure you’re also getting plenty of vitamin C too, either by increasing the amount of fruit and vegetables in your diet or by taking a supplement. That’s because vitamin C is a co-factor in collagen synthesis. In fact scurvy (the plague of sailors on long journeys in the 15th to 18th centuries) was actually a lack of collagen caused by vitamin C deficiency.
When to take collagen powder?
Is morning or night best? Should you take it with or without food? The short answer is it doesn’t matter when you take collagen powder, as long as you remember to take it everyday. The collagen will be broken down by your stomach acid, whether you take it with food or without, but if you experience any gastrointestinal problems such as indigestion, taking it with food could be helpful.
How to find the best quality collagen powder?
With so many products out there, it can be hard to know if you’re getting the best quality collagen powder money can buy. Here’s what you should be looking out for.
Choose marine collagen
If you want to take collagen for skin health, marine collagen is best as it is especially high in type I collagen, the kind most associated with anti-ageing.
Look for wild-caught sources
Some brands of collagen powder may come from factory farmed fish. If a brand is proud of where their fish come from they’ll shout about it. Bare Biology’s own Skinful marine collagen peptides are sustainably produced from wild-caught, non-GMO cod.
Check the amino acid profile
Make sure your chosen collagen powder actually contains glycine, proline, and hydroxyproline in substantial amounts. And always opt for brands that are transparent about their entire amino acid profile.
A collagen powder should be as pure as possible, so make sure yours contains no additives in the form of dyes, flavours or fillers.
Test results Look for brands that publish their test results and, even better, get their products third-party tested for heavy metal residues.
Is collagen powder the same as gelatin?
Gelatin is also a substance derived from the collagen of animals. Its gel-forming properties make it particularly useful in foods that need structure, such as jelly or cheesecakes, or as a casing for vitamin supplements.
Odourless, flavourless and clear, you can buy gelatin from the supermarket in leaf or powdered form. It’s brittle when dry but gummy when moist, which makes it particularly useful in soft sweets.
Collagen peptides have no gelling capabilities because of their low molecular weight, which means they can be dissolved in water of any temperature, hot or cold, without binding together, emulsifying or foaming. This makes them easier to stir into drinks such as tea or to make a collagen latte.
And while gelatin is made up of long chains of amino acids, collagen that has been hydrolyzed is formed from short chains known as peptides. This makes them much more bioavailable, as the shorter chains can be taken up by the bloodstream through the intestinal wall.
How many calories are there in collagen powder?
One serving (a tablespoon, or 5g) of Skinful contains just 19 calories. And because it’s pure protein, it makes the perfect keto collagen powder for those on a low carbohydrate diet. It can also be a good substitute for bone broth for those who are following a paleo diet.
Having a protein-rich diet is also known to prevent cravings by keeping your blood sugar levels stable, as well as keeping you feeling fuller for longer.
Which one is best, collagen capsules or powder?
Whether you take collagen as a capsule or powder is a matter of personal preference, but Bare Biology Skinful marine collagen comes only as a powder.
We believe powder form is best because it’s so versatile. You can add the powder to almost anything you can think of, with favourites including smoothies, juices, coffee and water. Want to get even more creative? Try making collagen omelettes or ice lollies.
These clever ways of taking collagen are impossible with a capsule. It would mean splitting one open which is messy and wasteful, as you lose a lot of the product in the process.
Collagen capsules are also large in size and you may find you need to take several of them a day to get anywhere near a 5g dose, something that makes capsules more costly, too. So if you struggle to take tablets or are worried about the cost, you’ll find that a powder form is a lot cheaper and much more pleasant.
Can I put collagen powder in a face mask?
While it won’t hurt you to put collagen in a mask, it’s far better to eat it than put it on your skin. It’s unlikely that the amino acids it contains will be able to cross the skin barrier to stimulate new collagen growth.
Some products claim to have formulated transdermal collagen that can cross the skin barrier, but these creams are extremely innovative and at present cost hundreds of pounds, which is further evidence that slathering powder on your face is unlikely to have a great benefit.
Choosing a reputable brand whose products are tested for purity and who are transparent about their test results is key.
Is taking collagen powder safe?
Taking collagen protein powder is safe and well-tolerated. But how do you know that your marine collagen doesn’t have high levels of the kinds of toxins that are present in fish, such as PCBs and mercury?
Choosing a reputable brand whose products are tested for purity and who are transparent about their test results is key. Our Skinful collagen peptides are made from hydrolysed wild (never farmed) codfish skin, made and packed in Norway. They’re 100 percent safe and have the highest degree of purity.
We publish our test results for each and every batch, and third party tests which are carried out by an independent laboratory, which you’ll find on the product page as a downloadable PDF.
What are the side effects of taking collagen powder?
Collagen supplements are generally well-tolerated with no known drug interactions. However, some people have been known to experience mild side effects, ranging from a feeling of fullness to mild diarrhea and on rare occasions, skin rashes. Taking collagen supplements with food may help to avoid any gastrointestinal problems.
Some people notice that they feel thirstier when they consume more protein. Listen to your body and drink extra water if you need to.
Is there anyone who should avoid taking collagen powder?
People who are allergic to fish or shellfish should not take a marine collagen powder. And if you have kidney disease or suffer from kidney stones, you should consult your doctor first as collagen will count towards your daily protein total. Pregnant and breastfeeding women should consult a doctor before taking.
How much collagen powder should I take?
We recommend taking two tablespoons (10g) of Skinful every day for one month, then reducing the dosage to 5g per day for month two.
Can you take too much collagen powder?
Anytime you consume more food than your body has the enzymes to process, you may notice some digestive discomfort like bloating. If this happens at a higher dose of collagen peptides, just scale back and slowly build up to your ideal dose.
Some people feel thirstier when they consume more protein. Listen to your body and drink extra water if you need to.
Can you mix collagen with protein powder?
Mixing collagen powder with protein powder (such as whey or pea) is completely safe, and doing so has its advantages, because you’ll be getting a full range of amino acids and other nutrients.
How long does it take for collagen powder to work?
In all the studies carried out on collagen to date that have shown a benefit, particularly on skin, the subjects took a supplement for between 8 and 12 weeks.
So should I take a collagen supplement?
Collagen plays an essential role in both the structure and appearance of your skin, but that’s not the only reason to include a good quality supplement in your diet.
Collagen is an important building block for all our connective tissues, muscles, joints and ligaments, yet our Western diets are totally devoid of many of the important amino acids we need to make for ourselves, such as glycine, proline and hydroxyproline. While in Asian cultures people still eat collagen regularly, here in the West we favour boneless, skinless (and collagen-free) muscle meat.
If that’s not a good enough reason to include some collagen in your diet, it’s worth remembering that levels of our own collagen decline naturally from our 20s and drop sharply in post menopausal women. This can cause bones to weaken, muscles to atrophy and joints to lose their flexibility, some of the symptoms most commonly associated with ageing.
Collagen supplements are particularly good for us as they’ve been hydrolyzed, or broken down into short snippets (called peptides) of amino acid chains. This allows them to be absorbed more readily by the body to be used where you need them most.
If your priority in taking collagen is anti-ageing, taking a pure marine collagen such as Skinful is best. That’s because it contains type I collagen with a near-identical chemical make-up as the skin itself. And because Skinful is made by Bare Biology, you know you’ll be getting the purest collagen free from any additives or contaminants.