Before winter rears its chilly head and the noses at your house start to run, the time to fortify your immune system for the onslaught is now! One of the best ways to take on the season is with a strong gut, which is the cornerstone of your immune system. Your gut is home to trillions of beneficial bacteria that help keep immunity strong, plus trillions of not-so beneficial bacteria that need to be kept in line – in sum, your ‘microbiome.’
When your gut bacteria is in balance, defenses stay strong and the gut functions well. Throw off the balance with health-underminers like too much stress, too little sleep, a low-nutrient diet or one that’s high in sugar, and the bad guys can gain the upper hand, leaving you with a porous, ‘leaky gut’ that’s susceptible to invaders. (Small wonder as to why so many people get sick around the holidays!) The good news, however, is that there’s plenty you can do to help ward off winter ills – and one of them is to add a daily dose of collagen to your routine. Here’s how, plus a winter cup of cozy recipe to help keep immunity strong all season long…
Bring in the reinforcements
While most of us are familiar with collagen as the stuff that keeps muscles, bones, connective tissue and skin in good shape, it’s also a type of protein that’s helpful in maintaining the health of our digestive systems. Though collagen is the most abundant protein in our bodies, as time marches on, production decreases, so covering the shortfall with a collagen supplement (particularly if you’re over 40), is a great way to support the health of your gut – your immune system’s ground zero.
Prepare – and fill up – for battle
Because collagen is a protein, it has the added benefit of filling you up and curbing hunger cravings, so chances are, if you add it at breakfast, you’ll likely snack less and stay fuller till the lunch bell sounds. Or, if holiday foods and buffets are your Achilles’ heel, a heaping tablespoon of collagen before you head out may help keep your appetite in check. How to work it in? At Be Well, we love getting it from bone broth or by taking it in powder form, mixed into cold water, hot water, tea (see recipe below), smoothies, yogurt and even baked goods (fortunately, heat doesn’t degrade its effects).
Put up a good fight – and win!
So what’s collagen actually doing for you? First up, it’s helping to heal your digestive lining, and preventing further gut permeability. A healthy gut is better able to tame inflammation, the condition that can trigger all sorts of gastrointestinal ills and worse, any number of autoimmune problems. For those of us who’ve spent far too much time and money on unnecessary or ineffective, gut-undermining antibiotics, collagen is an excellent way to help heal the damage no matter what the season. Another way collagen helps keep digestion on track? It aids water absorption in the digestive tract, so things, shall we say, keep moving, with less straining.
Glow – and grow
Collagen is also essential in supporting the health of the the rest of your body, as in keeping structures like skin, bones, connective tissue, ligaments and joints intact, upright and supple, something we all want and need throughout the holidays and well beyond. So, when buying a collagen supplement – and there are more brands and variations hitting the shelves every day – be sure to look for:
– Good, clean ingredients that combine the nutrients needed to metabolize collagen correctly.
– A blend of nutrients, including Vitamin C, biotin, glucosamine sulfate, aloe vera and silica (preferably from plants), to supply the body with what it needs to build, repair, and maintain health.
– Significant amounts of the amino acids glycine, lysine and proline, which help generate more rapid cell growth, which can help improve the look and feel of skin, and are essential to build new connective tissue.
WINTER CUP OF GLOW: COLLAGEN REFRESHER
8 oz warm water
1 heaping tablespoon, Collagen Refresher
Lemon slices and/or mint leaves as desired
Ginger slices as desired
A dash of cayenne powder
Stevia to taste
Stir until collagen is well dissolved and allow to steep for 5 minutes before drinking.