Glowing skin, healthy hair and nails, and decreased joint pain are easier to attain than we thought, thanks to an increasing popularity of collagen supplements on the market. Why is everyone buzzing about it? We asked the ultimate health and wellness guru Mark Sisson, creator of Primal Kitchen and the author of two bestselling books, Primal Blueprint and The Keto Reset Diet, to give us the scoop. Below, he shares the benefits of adding a collagen supplement to your daily routine.
Why is collagen having a moment?
In truth, it’s always been a common supplement for many purposes. These days there’s more quality research to validate collagen’s role in supporting connective tissue and promoting skin and hair health, among other basic functions.
Who needs to take it?
I’d suggest that most if not all of us would benefit from some supplementation just for the unmet maintenance needs of connective tissue as well as skin and hair. Add to this the additional recovery related to heavy exercise, and you can see how athletes would require additional supplementary support. Even for those of us who aren’t professional caliber or endurance athletes, collagen is essential for the day-to-day repair involved in exercise recovery. Whether we’re runners or yoga practitioners, collagen helps keep joints, tendons and ligaments healthy to maintain the flexibility and mobility we need. Finally, supplementary collagen is an essential tool for maintaining the vibrancy of our skin and the strength of both hair and nails.
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Why did you decide to create a collage-based product line?
Collagen is the most abundant protein in the human body, comprising around a quarter of your overall protein makeup and as much as 80% of the protein in your skin alone. Not only does it keep skin elastic and hair strong, but it’s critical for the functionality of joints and connective tissue. Ironically, we don’t get much collagen from a regular healthy diet. Up until the Primal Kitchen Collagen Protein Bars, there wasn’t a ready, flavorful source of supplemental collagen. (Supplements then were mostly unflavored gels and pills.) The bars were launched to offer an easy, delicious delivery system for collagen filled with real food ingredients and only 3 grams of sugar from honey.
What happened in your own personal experience that collagen helped correct?
A while back, I experienced significant Achilles tendon issues after a long, hard season of Ultimate Frisbee matches. I was told by physicians I’d be out of commission for months and that surgery was the best course of action for what might not even be a full recovery. In my attempt to speed recovery time, I did some research and started supplementing with collagen. The results were pretty dramatic. Once I added collagen to the mix, my healing kicked into overdrive without my ever having to resort to surgery. I became a huge believer.
There are a lot of collagen supplements on the market, how does the consumer choose a good one?
Given that you’ll be taking collagen every day to obtain the full benefits, taste becomes a huge deciding factor. Bars are great to grab at breakfast, as a meal replacement, or as a snack between meals. For unflavored collagen, the biggest deciding factor is its ability to dissolve in liquid. Some dissolve better than others, particularly if you don’t want to be limited to using them with hot liquids. Ultimately, go with the brand that you trust the most.
What’s the secret to feeling good and staying healthy?
Everything I do is motivated by enjoyment. Sure, I work hard in the gym to maintain my strength, flexibility, muscle mass, and explosive power as I battle the calendar. However, I also greatly enjoy my sessions. I never, ever overdo it to the extent of compromising my health. My main motivation is to do the least amount of training possible to safely enjoy the passions I love the most—Ultimate Frisbee, stand up paddling, and snowboarding.
What’s the most important piece of advice you’ve learned about health and fitness?
The clues to optimum health are in our evolutionary template. The foods we ate, the movements we had to perform, the sunlight to which we were exposed, the stressors we face (or didn’t face)—influence our makeup today. When we act out of alignment with our body’s innate expectations (e.g. eating processed food every day or shortchanging sleep), our health suffers. Likewise, this model shows us we don’t need to chronically exercise to get fit or restrict calories to manage weight. We need to simply meet our bodies’ needs with healthy inputs—lots of slow movement each day with lifting heavy things and sprinting on the side each week, and the balance of macronutrients (and a full set of micronutrients) that our bodies run best on. We make things overly complicated and get tripped up by changing and competing messages. In truth, the inherent formula for health is already set up for us to follow.