A drink from the grocery aisle is going to can change my skin routine? Really?
A snack bar is going to help with my muscle and joint recovery? You’re joking.
Nope. Not joking.
The rise of functional food and beverage is exploding around the world and in Australia alone it’s expected to grow from 4bn in 2018 to 5.5bn in 2030 according to CISRO.
That’s a lot of function.
Isn’t all food functional, I hear you asking? Well, I can’t actually hear you, this is an article, but let’s say, ‘I imagine you thinking’. Functional food & beverages refer to packaged food and beverages that contain added health ingredients and/or nutrients, where the enhancements are intended to produce a nutritional benefit. Examples include probiotics and omega-3 oils added to yoghurt and milk, and antioxidant rich breads, cereals and beverages and the most recent trend, collagen.
With functional foods in our grocery aisles, you don’t need to be a Master of Nutrition and Supplements to get the benefits of nature’s goody basket. They’ve done the hard work for you.
Everyone’s seen the absolute plethora of probiotic, well, everything. You can even find probiotics in bread these days. Collagen seems to be the next in line. It’s moving from traditional beauty products like serums, powders and pills into everything from snack bars, ice-creams and wellness tonics. By putting it into the foods and drinks you typically pick up every day, you can help take care of your skin, hair, nails, joint health and more.
First off, let’s try and get rid of the confusion about collagen that’s out there. Plenty of people are using the word but aren’t clear as to the benefits the collagen they’re buying might have. You would have thought there was a simple chart out there, but I couldn’t find one. So here you go:
Now, the above speaks to the raw collagen material. When it’s transformed into a peptide (hydrolysed), the truth is there may not be much difference between animal and marine collagen apart from the source. Once it becomes a peptide, it’s absorption rate can be the same, they’re both on average 95%+ Type 1 collagen.
But there are a few differences worth considering:
• Any collagen from a gelatine, does not absorb into the body as fast as Hydrolysed collagen.
• The content of essential amino acids in the alpha chains (which are constitutive of all collagens) is higher from fish collagen vs bovine collagen. Now, truth be told, it’s not by a huge amount.
• From an environmental standpoint, the carbon footprint of sourcing marine collagen is less than that of bovine collagen. For example, Icelandic cod loins bought directly from the fisherman contribute just over 0.5 Kg CO2 eq/Kg of fish and added effort to get them to some markets increases their carbon footprint to about 3.75 Kg CO2 eq/Kg of fish. In contrast, beef production alone contributes 16 Kg CO2 eq/Kg of beef, not counting added emissions needed to get it to market (2).
So, make sure you look at the label - just because something says ‘collagen’ on it doesn’t mean you’re going to get the benefit you’re looking for. A few quick tips:
• If the label says ‘collagen peptides’ it means there’s actual collagen in it (and how much ;). But be sure to check what type pending the benefit you’re looking for.
• If the label doesn’t say ‘marine collagen’ it’s probably animal or plant collagen
• Animal collagen is typically be labelled bovine or porcine collagen and in rarer cases, poultry collagen.
• If the label just says ‘collagen’ check if it’s plant collagen. That may be what you’re looking for, but be informed ;)
• No matter the collagen type, hydrolysed is better because it absorbs into your body faster.
And by the way, that goes for traditional beauty brands too.
So, what products are we talking about and what type of collagen do they have? Well, here’s a few that you may have already seen in your grocery story and surely online:
Sources:18 Aug 2021 nougly.com.au, eatlikeachief.com, lowcarbemporium.com.au, krumblefoods.com
How does that stack up against traditional beauty brands? Let’s take a look-see, shall we?
Sources: 18 Aug 2021 vidaglow.com, healthylife.com.au, kissedearth.com.au, thebeautychef.com
When you compare the amount of collagen you’re getting and the price per serve, you start to see the value of what functional foods can deliver. Not only that, but in food or beverage form, like No Ugly Skin, it offers one less thing to manage. No powders, pills or fuss.
Yeah but, those aren’t beauty brands, so it can’t be the same, can it?
Well, yes it can. If you are ingesting collagen, it all travels through the same organs and will be absorbed the same ways. A nutrient is a nutrient is a nutrient. In fact, most people recommend getting those nutrients via natural foods only because those foods often have a host of other nutritional benefits as well.
Now, let’s get down to brass tacks. Odd saying by the way, but I digress. When it comes to the research on collagen supplement effectiveness (all types), there is no doubt that there are no long-term studies or studies with a large number of participants (I’m talking in the 1000’s) which is why some researchers are hesitant to agree on its effects. As a result, there is a lot of debate out there on what works, doesn’t work, what’s hocus pocus and what’s better.
That being said, in May 2021, a systematic review of current literature said “The evidences obtained from these systematic reviews indicated that oral administration of intact or hydrolyzed collagen improves clinical manifestation of skin health. Almost all of the included studies reported the beneficial effects of collagen supplementation, and no inconsistencies have been seen in this regard between studies.” And just to note, the above doesn’t include plant collagen, but there are studies out there showing positive results for plant ‘collagen’ as well.
My view? The amount of emerging science out there all seems to be pointing in one direction: the substantiation of collagen’s efficacy and, at the end of the day, you can’t beat your personal experience.
But don’t get me wrong. These products aren’t magic pills. Just like most things, from exercise to a healthy diet, you need to take it consistently to see the benefits, just like your current beauty regime. And if you are taking collagen in another form, make sure you’re checking out the other ingredients alongside it like sugar content, for example. Don’t steal from Peter to pay Paul. But today’s functional products are pretty phenomenal and all have a pretty healthy profile ;)
So, whether it’s a new part of your regime or a one-off snack or drink, you can now get everyday products with the added functional benefits of collagen. And I’m sure we’ll see more to come.
Collagen, welcome to the grocery aisle.