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March 31, 2020
Collagen: health treasure or marketing hoax?

This month - amidst all that has happened lately - included a major celebration. I'm talking about Women's Day, which was March 8th. We certainly should not honor the women of our lives only once a year - it is good to show our love and appreciation to our whole family and friends daily. I think you, just like me, have been thinking about this even more these past few days wink

So, as I’m hearing more and more women at the gym talking about collagen, I decided to search and find out if it's really as good for our skin and bone health as it sounds. Especially for those of us who are exercising or doing a job that requires a lot of standing, and generally, for all those who are constantly on the move every day, it seems like something that could help prevent injuries and joint pain.

To most of you, I imagine it is known as a supplement and as an ingredient that you may have come across in various facial creams. But what exactly is collagen, can we find it in foods and not just in supplements or cosmetics?

What is collagen?

Collagen is a protein complex that plays an important role in maintaining the elasticity of skin tissues and in other important functions of the body. In fact, the word “collagen” is the result of two Greek words - "kola" and "gen", which is somehow interpreted as producing gum. It is mainly used in medicine, biochemistry and in the food, cosmetic and pharmaceutical industries... So, we often find it in the form of a supplement, as powder, capsule or in a drinkable-liquid form. Therefore, this protein helps the connection of the body's tissues and specifically supports the bones, tendons, cartilage, and muscles.

What does research show?

Studies have used several forms of collagen to investigate the possible positive effects of consuming a certain amount of it (usually 2.6-10 g / day) on dry skin, aging skin, cellulite and stomach ulcer treatment. Other studies examine the effectiveness of collagen in skin hydration, osteoarthritis, but also in the healing of wounds or burns in the body. I have to say that it all sounds very interesting to both women and men!

In fact, it seems that the results of these studies are quite promising, although further scientific research is needed in order to obtain more valid results. Now, I want to mention something that, as a person who works out a lot, I paid a little more attention to smileyIn a study comparing collagen supplementation with a placebo supplement, the effects on knee osteoarthritis were examined and there was a slight difference between the two supplements after 3 months of consumption, despite the fact that it wasn't significant. So, we cannot safely say that it has positive effects regarding osteoarthritis.

Even if scientists are not convinced yet, you can simply add collagen to your diet through food - of course- and as part of a balanced diet.

Do you know in which foods it can be found?

Meat, (such as pork, cattle and chicken), and of course, fish and seafood are all good collagen sources. You can also consume it through meat or seafood stocks, as well as from eggs - you will also find it in the eggshell membrane. Quite shocking, I know!. It is also advisable to consume foods containing vitamin C, such as fruits and vegetables, which play an important role in the formation of collagen.

Vegetarians or vegans cannot consume most of the above forms of collagen and therefore, they’d better consume even more fruits and vegetables!

It is definitely good to make sure we get all the nutrients our body needs from our food and anything else we might consume – especially as a supplement – should be checked with a health expert first. Remember, each of us has different habits and a different medical history. So, let’s go over some recipes I have prepared for you!

Salmon with avocado and grapefruit

Salmon with avocado and grapefruit by the Greek chef Akis Petretzikis

Chicken and Greek salad wrap

Chicken and Greek salad wrap by the Greek chef Akis Petretzikis

Warm salad with prawns and green beans

Warm salad with prawns and green beans by the Greek chef Akis Petretzikis

Sirloin steaks with roasted vegetables and parsley pesto sauce

Sirloin steaks with roasted vegetables by the Greek chef Akis Petretzikis

Akis

This article was written in collaboration with Kitchen Lab’s Sports Nutritionist Anna Maria Volanaki, MSc, BDA, SENr.

*The above information is based on published research findings.

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