Are Collagen Peptides the New Superfood?

Are Collagen Peptides the New Superfood?

Collagen peptides have been a buzz worthy topic amongst the paleo community for years now, and I personally think they’re great. I can’t use them currently because they’ve got a lot of calcium in them and I’m working on a magnesium deficiency, but I’m working really hard to get those magnesium levels up, in part because I want to be able to take collagen peptides.

But what exactly is a collagen peptide, and how can it benefit you?

Most well-known for the role it plays in our skin, collagen also makes up the majority of the muscoskeletal system, including joints, bones and ligaments. Collagen benefits the skin, nails and hair. Yet perhaps more importantly, collagen peptides can also really help improve systems inside the body, especially the gut.

Collagen peptides are short chain amino acids. They come from protein. But, they are unique because they contain four specific amino acids:  hydroxyproline, arginine, glycine, and proline. If your body lacks any of the four amino acids composing collagen peptides (which is easy to do if you don’t regularly eat skin or bone broth or gnaw on bones), it may be difficult for your body to produce collagen. This is why I value the supplements.

The difference between collagen and gelatin

Gelatin and collagen peptides often get confused. I myself accidently purchase gelatin originally instead of collagen peptides. One of the main differences between the two is the ability to dissolve into cold and hot substances. Gelatin is only able to dissolve into hot liquids and will congeal. it’s good for things like making jello. Collagen peptides on the other hand stay liquid at room temperature.  In my opinion, although technically flavorless, gelatin has a more noticeable taste and smell than collagen peptides. Whichever you choose to use, don’t worry; they have the same amino acids. Check out my favorite gelatin supplement here!

Why I started using collagen peptides

Collagen is known to help rheumatoid arthritis, osteosis, and in general, strengthen bones, joints and ligaments. Because collagen is the primary component making up our bones and cartilage, it is believed that consumption of the peptides will lead to easier reproduction of collagen in the body and replenishing supplies which as a result, promotes elasticity in the joints.

I have really bad knees. I’m not sure if I ever told any of you that!

AND My gut health really matters to me, so I am really eager to get back to taking peptides.

Finally: Of course, we all know I’m super vain.  Perhaps most (and worst!) of all, I really value the collagen supplements for their ability to help my skin be as smooth and elastic as possible.

Joint Health

Collagen is high in glycine and proline that are essential in creating new collagen in the body . Collagen peptides stimulate production of collagen in the body, allowing an increase of collagen production. Because it is the primary component in our bones and cartilage, it is often used by athletes to prevent injuries, and heal existing injuries in bones, tendons and ligaments.

What else can collagen be used for athletically?

Collagen is also used as a supplementation pre- and post-workout because of its ability to stimulate collagen production internally. Its content of Gylcine and Arginine may also help the synthesis of Creatine in the body. Creatine is widely known as the athlete’s supplement because it has demonstrated the ability to improve exercise and strength performance. Collagen also can contain up to 18 grams of protein in a twenty-gram serving.

Improved Skin, Nails and Hair

Collagen peptides improve the epidermis moisture content which can result in several additional positive symptoms (woooo!) including:  

         Promote younger looking skin

         Improve skin moisture level

         Prevent the formation of deep wrinkles

         Improve skin suppleness.

         Replenish moisture levels in hair

         Support nail growth

Healthy Gut

As I had mentioned, because of its elasticity collagen is essential in connectivity tissue growth. Those with leaky guts, or penetrative holes in the gut, may benefit from supplementing. Glycine is thought to reduce GI inflammation, aid digestion, and reduce symptoms of leaky gut. Research has shown that people with autoimmune disorders like Inflammatory Bowel Disease had shown depleted levels of collagen in their system, leading researchers to believe the lack of collagen contributed to inflammation levels.

Where can you source high quality collagen?

Vital Proteins sources from grass fed, pasture raised bovine hides in Brazil, which still supports grass systems. Being pasture raised and grass fed, there is no risk of having RBGH in their products. This, paired with a Brazilian law prohibiting hormones in bovine feed, result in a pure sustainable version of collagen. Vital Proteins also ensures the cows are raised in a happy environment. You can find their collagen peptides here.

Great Lakes Collagen and Gelatin also source their products from grass fed and pasture raised Argentinian and Brazilian cows. They have guaranteed that their laboratories remain free of insecticides, pesticides, herbicides, steroids, antibiotics, or hormones. You can find this brand, here.

I have noticed increased elasticity in my skin, as well as relief in my joints after consistent use. It took about a week of use to notice these benefits; however the other benefits may take consistent long term use to produce results. Collagen is a supplement that has a wide spectrum of positive benefits, and sourcing from a sustainable and non-toxic companies like Vital Proteins and Great Lakes can improve skin quality, hair and nail strength, and gut health to name a few.

What are your thoughts? Have you tried collagen peptides?

Weight Loss Myths and Scams

Weight Loss Myths and Scams

*Rant warning*

I feel like I’ve been bombarded lately with questions about fad diets.  They’ve always been around, but they just don’t seem to go away.

It just seems shiny and new to try a “new” diet instead of sticking to the fundamental principles of a healthy one.

I’ve been noticing this more and more, with the incredible popularity of “keto” which is pretty much paleo circa 2012, and with new books sent to me for my feedback like The Sirtfood Diet (Find it here).  

I was able to read and review The Sirtfood Diet, a plan that claims to help you lose 7 pounds in 7 days, all with the power of what they call “Sirtfoods” which are essentially antioxidants, polyphenols, and other health supportive compounds.

What are the kinds of foods the Sirtfood diet wants you to eat?  Things like buckwheat, soy, strawberries, turmeric, red onions, kale, dates, garlic, and olive oil, among others.  Besides buckwheat (for some) and soy, I had a hard time figuring out how these foods were so lacking in typical healthy diets like the authors claim.

Most people who promote a paleo diet include ample amounts of these, and sometimes the dark chocolate and red wine pictured on the cover, as well-rounded parts of the diet.

Reservetrol, a healthful component the diet authors claim is often missing is available in fabulous multi-vitamin supplements like this one and in many foods like blueberries and cranberries, besides red wine.  

Polyphenols are also common across the range of plant based foods and are even available as powders to mix with smoothies (like this one). Most paleo authors value and promote the inclusion of lots of plant based foods in the diet.

Here’s the truth as I see it.  The reason you might lose 7 pounds in 7 days is because the first three days consist of 1000 calories of mostly green juice.  This is a common trend among fad diet plans- starve you during the first week while you’re motivated (while also telling you that you aren’t starving but are instead “detoxing” which is why you feel like you’re starving) and then working calories up to more maintainable levels so you continue to lose weight but think you are eating much more.  

You’re losing water that first week.  A little fat is lost too, but its almost scientifically impossible to lose 7 pounds of pure body fat in one week for the average person.  It requires a caloric deficit that not even 1000 calories a day can meet.

I have no issues with a diet that supports the inclusion of healthy ancient foods.  My mind has changed over the years with regard to gluten-free grains and other dietary components, so long as they are healthy FOR YOU.  

The key to lifelong weight loss is learning how to heed your internal cues.  Learning your body, understanding its needs, and feeding it nutrient dense food.  There doesn’t need to be a special superfood protocol.  There just needs to be balance.  

I’m never going to say its ok to eat mostly bacon and butter.  They’re nice as inclusions, but they don’t have the nutrient density that vegetables do.

I’m never going to be cool with women fasting.  Thankfully the Sirtfood diet and I agree on that one (though I still think 1000 calories a day for a woman is pushing it, even for 3 days).  If the choice is between you eating or not eating, I’m always going to say, eat.

But eat what makes your body feel good.  I know what that looks like for most people- vegetables, fruit, meat, fat.  Eat those things, in balance with the other things. with a focus on quality.  That’s all you really need.  And that’s what Weight Loss Unlocked is all about.  

If weight loss has become a struggle following that paradigm, then you should look into seeing a professional.  A good functional nutritionist in your area can help you get to the bottom of what is going on and provide a structured plan that will help you reach your goals, along with the accountability and monitoring to help you truly maintain that weight loss.

Please, oh please, don’t just go looking for another crash diet.  In the end, you’ll lose much more than some money and a few pounds.  

One Genious Way to Eat More Vegetables

One Genious Way to Eat More Vegetables

Vegetables are, quite literally, life.

Without enough of the vital nutrients and vitamins in these incredibly important plants, survival for humans in the modern world is very hard.  Thriving is even harder.

Yet the vast majority of the those in the developed world, and especially the United States, continue to eat less than the recommended daily amount. 

Not only that, but over the centuries, the varieties of fruits and vegetables we eat in the United States have become sanitized, reduced, and sometimes genetically modified.  

We grow far fewer varieties of vegetables and fruits than ever before in our history, and the fruits and veggies we have access to are often limited compared to other countries.

Additionally, the vegetables and fruits we eat are limited by our taste buds.

Americans tend to have a set variety of vegetables they like to eat and many don’t like or know how to try new things. But this limits us so much!

Smoothies are great and juicing has its benefits.  But what if there was a way to get highly concentrated vegetables in everything you eat- from salads to smoothies to baked goods?

What if we could eat our recommended 5 servings of veggies and fruit a day AND add additional veggies without having to actually force another whole vegetable down our throats?

And what if we could supplement our diets to have an incredible variety not possible in typical American diets, even healthy ones?

Enter Dr. Cowan’s Vegetable Powders.

These isn’t your typical green powder supplement.

Dr. Cowan carefully formulates several distinct, organic powders to help provide those concerned with eating a healthy diet highly nutritious, interesting, and delicious flavors.  

The powders are formulated not just for maximum nutrients but for taste and can be added to cooked foods and baked goods as well.  

I had the chance this week to sample several of the powders.  I was lucky enough to sample the Leek, winter vegetable, Burdock roots, and savory threefold blend.

In addition to having AMAZING flavor leeks are a rich source of many of the B vitamins, have more polyphenols (chemicals that are thought to prevent human disease) than most other commonly eaten garden vegetables, and are loaded with vitamin K.

Burdock root has many health properties like prevention of acne, reduction of allergies, and can even help with eczema!   The savory threefold blend was really cool!  Most people use only the roots of a certain vegetable or only the leaves.  

The threefold powder uses the whole plant because its recognized that the different parts of the plant have different health properties, and this way we get them all!  

All of the powders were delicious and unique and actually added flavor to my food.

I added them to my breakfast smoothies and even once put them in some gluten free brownies.  Whaaaat.

Dr. Cowan was so nice to share with me, I’m excited that we’re able to share these with you too!

Just use this link and place an order and receive 20% off your first purchase with the code PALEOFORWOMEN.  

20% is a HUGE discount off these organic, nutritional powerhouses.

So if you want to get more nutrition in a smaller package, check out everything they’ve got to offer and don’t forget to use your code ‘PALEOFORWOMEN’ for 20% off.

Find Dr. Cowan’s vegetable powders here!

3 Reasons to Try Apple Cider Vinegar

3 Reasons to Try Apple Cider Vinegar

If you’ve been around the health world for any length of time, you’ve probably heard about apple cider vinegar.

Once the darling of the pop-science community everywhere, it still has a strong and valuable allure for those following whole foods, paleo diets.

Apple cider vinegar may seem like a fad.  But hey, there’s a reason it’s so popular!

While it is certainly no cure-all and shouldn’t be used as, say, a spot remover on teeth (hello, enamel!), apple cider vinegar does contain important properties that can play a role in detoxification, weight loss, insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance, and more!

Read on to find a few of my favorite reasons to drink it, how I like to drink it, and the best kind to get the most benefits.  

#1 ACV may improve insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance

Several small studies have tried the use of Apple Cider Vinegar for those with insulin-based conditions like type II diabetes and those who suffer from insulin resistance and pre-diabetes.

What they found is that vinegar (any kind, including apple cider vinegar) added to a starchy meal reduced the load of the starch on the bloodstream, preventing drastic insulin spikes often seen after this kind of meal.  

The ACV did not improve insulin response to protein or fat based meals, but instead was seen to be most effective in meals containing starch.

So if pre-diabetes is an issue for you, it might be worthwhile to try to incorporate some vinegars with starchy meals.  While it doesn’t have to be apple cider vinegar, the health properties of this vinegar compared to others make it a better choice. 

#2 Apple Cider Vinegar May Boost Weight Loss

Weight loss is not the main goal of most of my readers.  We are all about that body positivity and HEALTH, not someone else’s idea of what is attractive.

BUT, many of the women I work with are attempting to lose weight for health reasons and apple cider vinegar is a great way to add a small boost. Plus, ACV may help maintain healthy cholesterol levels.

The process of weight loss can be so frustrating, so anything that can boost results is awesome.  If you’re on that journey now, you might want to take a look at my delightfully helpful Weight Loss Unlocked program (find it here) along with the apple cider vinegar.  

#3 Beautiful Skin and Hair

Apple Cider Vinegar is a great blemish treatment and helps dry out excess acne.  Cut it with water first, and don’t use it raw or you could burn your skin.

I also like to use apple cider vinegar as a rinse on my hair.  It’s great for dandruff, helps slough off old skin, and has anti-fungal properties that make it great for places like the scalp that can develop issues quickly from scratching.

Many people find this an important part of a no-poo routine.  Vinegar won’t remove natural oils from the scalp (oil and vinegar don’t mix) but it will help keep the scalp clean and clear of debris and dead skin which can sometimes build up without clarifying shampoos.  

The Way to Drink It

ACV can be used in so many ways.  It makes a great dressing for salads along with olive oil, is a nice tangy way to brine meats and other dishes, and makes a tasty drink.

I like to pour a tablespoon of ACV into sparkling mineral water and add a squeeze of lemon.  For me it’s like a no-sugar lemonade! It’s got a strong vinegar taste, so cut down to a tsp. if its too much for you at first! 

Other women I know like to add a few drops of essential oils (like these), usually orange oil in a glass with apple cider vinegar and water and even salt the rim so it feels like a cocktail! 

Bragg, which sells the brand of apple cider vinegar I prefer, also has a recipe for a great ACV drink.  They take 8 oz. of water, add 1 to 2 tsps. of ACV and 1 to 2 tsps. of honey, maple syrup, or liquid stevia (find it here).  Sounds pretty good!

Bragg’s apple cider vinegar is one of the highest quality out there.  It’s raw, unfiltered, and unpasteurized, made from organic apples.  I highly recommend it.  Find Bragg’s apple cider vinegar here!

How do you like to use apple cider vinegar?  I’d love to hear your stories and recipes below!

Tips for Getting Iron Without Red Meat

Tips for Getting Iron Without Red Meat

I have not a thing against red meat.  But many women I talk with do.

There are lots of reasons someone might avoid red meat- family history of colorectal cancer, ethical issues with red meat or meat in general, or just plain not liking it.

But a common recommendation for women, especially those with a history of anemia, is to eat lots of red meat (especially in the form of liver) for all the good iron.

Non-pregnant, pre-menopausal women actually have a daily requirement of twice the amount of iron as men!  Because we lose iron through menstruation, it is very important for us to makes sure we’re getting enough, lest we develop iron-deficiency anemia.

While red meat is a good source of iron, there are actually lots of other sources, some even higher in iron.

Dietary sources of iron include two different kinds of iron- heme and nonheme.  Heme iron is most often found in food and is much more bioavailable than non-heme iron which is contained mostly in plants.

That’s why vegetarians and vegans have so much trouble getting enough iron!  Even though they may be eating foods that contain a good amount, it isn’t well absorbed.  Phytic acid from grains and legumes and polyphenols from tea and chocolate can also reduce absorption of this important mineral.

But getting enough iron doesn’t have to be a red meat fest if you don’t want it to.  Below are several non-red meat foods that contain higher amounts of iron which you can try to incorporate more of.  You probably already eat some of these now!

Good Sources of Iron That Aren’t Red Meat

  • Organ Meats
  • Oysters
  • Clams
  • Dark Meat Turkey
  • Chicken Breast
  • Beans (be careful if you are sensitive to these)
  • Dark Leafy Greens

Iron Supplements

If you need to supplement your iron (and many women do) first make sure it is ok for you with your doctor.  Iron overload is toxic to the body.

Second, try a good quality iron supplement (I like this one).  Typical iron pills you might get are constipating and cause nausea, as well as being poorly absorbed.  This brand is a great choice to avoid those things.

Many women also like to take desiccated liver because they want the benefits of liver without actually having to taste it!  This is the brand of desiccated liver I like.  

Consider also doing a lot of cooking in a cast iron skillet (like this one).  It will help incorporate some iron into your diet, plus it heats evenly and makes food taste better, especially as it is used over time!

Being in the paleo world, it is tough to find any advice that doesn’t center on eating as much as possible red meat.  I think we all got so burnt out on not eating it, we’re just psyched to eat steak again!

But red meat isn’t for everyone.  I have met MANY women who struggle to eat it because they just don’t like it.  I have met many others who can’t afford good quality and don’t want to risk it.

Whatever your reasons for avoiding it, I wanted to provide a little comfort that it is possible to get iron, particularly heme iron, in your diet even if you don’t eat much red meat.

How do you get enough iron?

Top 3 Sneaky Ways to Eat Your Greens

Top 3 Sneaky Ways to Eat Your Greens

Ah, leafy greens.

We love to extol your benefits, hate to actually eat you.

We praise the benefits of daily servings, yet fail to meet our own mark.

If you are one of the beautiful people who LOVE leafy greens and eat them all the time, this post is not for you.

No, this post is for all you ladies and gents out there who make a salad and eat mostly the toppings.

This is for those who buy those beautiful boxes of organic spinach and throw it, moldy and weeks later, in the trash.

This is for the ones who praise paleo and the nutritional benefits of leafy greens to friends but never seem to find the time to actually eat them.

I mean, geesh, it’s hard enough eating the minimum daily serving of VEGETABLES when all you really want to do is down about 3 sweet potatoes in the form of french fries.

I get it.  Life is busy, food is hard.  And it’s true what they say about leafy greens- they are one of nature’s healthiest, most important foods.

Spinach itself could provide all the nutrients a person needs in high enough quantities without ever touching another vegetable.

It’s magic food.

So if you find yourself flailing in the meantime as you mean to get those greens in but don’t, cut yourself some slack and try some of these 3 ways of getting in a little extra.  It’ll do your body good.

1. Greens Capsules and Powders

I’m known in some parts for my smoothie recipes which, in my opinion, are bomb.

And usually I’ll use fresh greens and grind them up to include.

Spinach is great with banana, kale is awesome with raspberry.

But when you’re on the go or out of spinach, there’s also several great powders you can use that combine all the goodness and nutrition of leafy greens with other vegetables, many of which we don’t commonly eat.  These can be mixed into smoothies and taste great.

I love these greens caps from Premier Research Labs because they have some crazy weird greens in them!  All organic and nutritionally power-packed, there are a lot of greens you’ll probably never eat.

I’m talking to you barley grass!

These are great to take with food and it also comes in powder form for smoothies.

Find the greens capsules on Amazon here or the greens powder here

I also really love this greens powder for smoothies.  Just another great option to mix in! Find it here.

2. Baby Food

Okay, so maybe it sounds gross.

But if you’re in a hurry, making a smoothie in the morning or just need something to grab and sip, there are some seriously great baby foods out there.

Who says baby’s are the only ones who can eat pureed fruits and vegetables?

The best part about these is that they are pureed so you still get all the important fiber.

My favorite are these organic spinach, apple, and kale packets. (Find them here)

Truly, they taste pretty good and I love to just throw them into a smoothie or brownie batter, or whatever and I get extra greens in the process!

3. Chips

I don’t know if it’s possible to make spinach into a chip.  In fact, I’m pretty sure it’s not.

But I do know one thing.

Kale can be made into a chip.

And it’s DELICIOUS.

I’m a huge, huge fan of kale chips.  For some reason, they genuinely don’t taste like kale.

They are crunchy, salty and still good for you.

Find some of my favorite kale chips here.

From mixing purees into spaghetti sauce, to dressing up veggies like cute tiny animals, there are tons of ways to get more veggies.

What are some sneaky ways you like to get your greens?