Protein, and the many amino acids found in them, form the building blocks of our bodies. They are found in bone, muscle, skin, hair and nails. Without protein, our bodies simply couldn’t function.
While it has always been acknowledged that protein is an essential part of any healthy diet, only in recent years have high protein diet come to the fore. Paleo diets, operating on the principle of fostering a diet similar in composition that of our paleolithic ancestors, naturally contains a strong presence of natural animal protein, something which has been missing in most modern diets.
Other high protein diets have also recognised the benefits of protein and aim to introduce a higher concentration of this essential nutrient into people’s everyday lives.
Benefits of Protein
Apart from being the building blocks of the body, which is a pretty important factor, other benefits of protein are as follows:
- helps us to feel fuller for longer, helping us to avoid over-indulging.
- helps to build muscle mass in those who pair their diet with an appropriate exercise regime.
- helps existing muscles and other tissues to repair faster, making us less prone to injury.
There has been a resurgence in recent years of weight lifting and body building, and with this has come a need for high protein foods that are readily available. The market has responded willingly with a proliferation of high protein products in the sports nutrition area. In fact, research has shown that there was an increase of 6.4% in protein products between 2012 and 2013. Empathy Research also found that over half of Irish consumers buy protein enhanced food on a regular basis.
However, not all protein or protein based products are created equal. At Paleo Ireland, we strive to create healthy meal solutions which are easy to prepare and adhere to our paleo ethos. One way that we have seen to increase quality protein stores in the body is through eating collagen protein, and we are currently developing an exciting new product which will bring the benefits of collagen protein to our customers in an easy, tasty way.
What is Collagen Protein?
Most of us have when we think of collagen probably think of it as a protein which is used mainly in beauty products and supplements. And we wouldn’t be wrong, it is found in our hair, skin and nails helping to keep them in tip top shape. However, collagen’s role doesn’t end there, it’s main job in the body is to bind everything in our body together, so it’s found in the connecting tissues that hold your muscles to the bone and much more besides. Unfortunately, however, as we age we produce less collagen and the skin starts to sag and parts of our bodies we’ve never felt before start to pull. Ouch!
Supplementing Collagen Protein
The good news is that we can get extra collagen from our diet which can improve the condition of our skin, hair and nails, ease the symptoms of arthritis, improve joint and bone health and contribute to a healthy digestive system.
The LA Lakers basketball team, who are serious about their nutrition, have been incorporating collagen protein into their diet since 2012 through bone broth. Although the name doesn’t sound particularly appealing, the concept is not new at all – in fact our parents and their parents and so on have been wise to this for generations. Bone broth is simply a broth garnered from boiling the bones from beef, chicken or fish in a pot of water with some vegetables for about 8 hours. This extracts the collagen protein from the bones and connective tissue remaining on them and allows us to use this broth to make a highly nutritious soup.
Bone Broth Success
One of the Lakers key players, Kobe Bryant, who retired last year had great success with the use of bone broth. He would ask the nutritional staff who support the team to try and make sure it was available when on the road as he recognised how much it helped his body to repair. Now 38 years of age, Bryant struggled with injuries over the last few years of his career and found it difficult to keep up with the much younger players on the court. However, when he landed a ruptured achilles tendon in 2013, he expected to be out of action for a long time, but actually only missed two games. Bryant himself believed that the bone broth ‘definitely contributes’ to his ability to return to form quicker than expected.
It’s not just athletes who have recognised the potential of collagen protein rich diets. Actresses Gwyneth Paltrow and Salma Hayek both enjoy bone broth on a regular basis, with the latter saying that she cooks a recipe you can get on the internet. That’s the great thing about bone broth, it is a return to old traditions rather than a highly complex fad that is accessible to only the few.
Other Sources of Collagen Protein
If bone broth doesn’t sound like your cup of tea (or should I say soup?) you can also increase your intake of collagen protein through supplementing with hydrolysed collagen capsules, or by adding gelatine to your dishes. Gelatine can bought in most supermarkets and is derived from collagen. In fact, when your bone broth cools, it will actually look just like jelly!
There are also some protein bars which are made from collagen protein, unfortunately, there aren’t any raw collagen protein bars on the market in Ireland at present. Someone should really think about developing one…