From beauty products to beverages, you’ve heard the buzz around collagen supplements. But if you’re still scratching your head over what it actually does and how to get it in your diet, read on.
In a nutshell, collagen is the popular protein that’s touted for its benefits for everything from your hair and nails to your gut health. It mostly consists of two nonessential amino acids hydroxyproline and glycine. These amino acids are known to comprise the lining in your intestinal wall and the collagen in your skin. The theory is that consumption of collagen will increase the collagen in your body, leading to improved gut lining and fewer wrinkles.
What is lacking in this logic, however, is how protein is digested. In order to digest collagen, your body must use proteases (enzymes) to break down the protein into amino acids to be absorbed. Then, the amino acids will come together to form many different proteins throughout your body. Therefore, an excess of hydroxyproline and glycine does not necessarily mean your body will produce more collagen.
Another important note is that hydroxyproline and glycine are nonessential amino acids, meaning your body makes these on its own. Therefore, eating regular ol’ chicken (a complete protein) will supply your body the necessary nutrients to produce collagen.
So, that begs the question of the hour: Do you really need a collagen supplement, or can you just get it through your diet?
Food-derived collagen is another protein that is much too large to be absorbed effectively by the intestine. Although bone broth soups and bone-in, skin-on meats are excellent sources of collagen protein, they provide very little usable collagen, as it will be digested and then have the amino acids distributed throughout the body just like any other meat.
For days that you’re intermittent fasting or otherwise eating little protein, a collagen supplement in place of protein powder will work for you. Be sure to use a hydrolyzed collagen supplement, which have been engineered for better absorption. Hydrolyzed collagen is a unique type of collagen that has undergone hydrolysis (a gentle enzymatic process that breaks the protein into smaller, more uniform peptide fragments). There have been a few studies that suggested that almost 90% of hydrolyzed collagen is able to cross the intestinal barrier and reach the bloodstream to be utilized by the nearby cells (gut lining). This suggests that gut health may be improved with hydrolyzed collagen supplements.
You can boost your natural production of collagen without eating it. Certain nutrients can kick-start the body's production of natural collagen and maximize the effects of the collagen you get from foods or supplements. There are 3 factors: vitamin C and iron, which are both essential for collagen production, and omega-3 fatty acids, which protect the body's collagen stores from damage. You can easily get them from foods like bell peppers, broccoli, and citrus (for vitamin C); shellfish, red meat, and dark leafy greens (iron); and hemp seed, chia seed, salmon, and other oily fish (omega-3s).
While collagen is a good source of protein, it is not superior to any other protein source. Research is unclear about what initiates the body to use the amino acids to fight wrinkles or just build muscle. If you choose to supplement with this trendy protein you can take collagen supplements in either tablet form or powder form in hot tea, coffee, oatmeal, or smoothies. While it’s safe to consume upwards of 30g of collagen per day (though no harm will come from having more), 2.5g per day is the suggested starting point.
Have you ever heard of text neck?!
This is a newer diagnosis related to the constant texting or looking down at our cell phones. When we look down at our phones, it causes repeated stress and pain in the neck from being in a sustained flexion for a long period of time.
So what happens to our neck when we are in this position?
The human head weighs about 10-11 lbs on average. When you bend your neck, the stress on your neck will increase. At 15 deg of cervical flexion, the weight increases to 27 lbs. At 60 deg of cervical flexion it increases to 60 lbs. This is a lot of stress put on the cervical vertebrae!
Signs & Symptom
Upper back and neck pain when using your handheld device(s)
Nagging pain in between your shoulders at the end of the day
Numbness/tingling in the arms
How to reduce text necK
The biggest thing and the hardest thing for most people is to limit the amount of time you are using your phone. This will help your neck but also allow you to be more present throughout the day.
Perform posture exercises to help improve the strength of the muscles between your shoulder blades
Perform exercises to reduce nerve involvement of the cervical spine so that you reduce headaches and numbness/tingling in the arms.
Postural taping techniques can be used to remind yourself to reduce forward head posture when using your device.
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AMY CAROLLO, DPT
Now that the Summer Solstice is here, the cookouts, weddings, parties, and happy hours are rotating in our schedules. With all these Orange Crushes and wine tastings, hangovers seem inevitable. The science of hangovers (and how to prevent them) is largely unstudied, which is why people have been inventing their own “cures” for centuries. Though no one meal or drink can cure a hangover, certain foods are better for refueling than others. After waking up with a pounding head, aim to restock your body with necessary fluids and nutrients like vitamins, amino acids, and minerals that can help break down toxins your liver metabolize all the alcohol in your system. Eating certain foods like beets and cruciferous vegetables can speed up that process.
Old-school wisdom preaches reaching for cold pizza or a greasy bacon sandwich, but wait—some foods are scientifically proven to help cure a hangover! Read on to learn which foods can alleviate post-party symptoms and which should be avoided.
What to Reach for
2. Ginger or Peppermint Tea For a soothing brew, look no further than your favorite herbal tea. Studies show that ginger tea may reduce nausea and motion sickness. Peppermint tea (a common morning sickness cure for pregnant women) may also ease stomach pain and decrease nausea.
3. Pickle Juice
This hangover remedy is weird, but sources swear it works! The sour liquid contains vinegar, salt, and water, which can help rehydrate and replenish electrolyte and sodium levels. To make the most of it, sip 2oz (measure it out in a standard shotglass) before hitting the bars and another 2oz in the morning.
While waking up with zero energy sounds like the perfect time for a cup of Joe, it actually could worsen that headache, since caffeine is a mild diuretic. Still, if you drink coffee daily, stick with your habit; The liquid in coffee can help rehydrate your body, and it does give you a little boost of energy. Plus, a study showed that the combo of caffeine and over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs (like Advil or aspirin) may help counteract the head-pounding effects of a hangover.
This breakfast staple is a brunch all-star for a reason. Eggs are chock full of hardworking amino acids like cysteine and taurine. Taurine boosts liver function and may help prevent liver disease. Cysteine breaks down acetaldehyde, the yucky headache-causing chemical that’s left over when the liver breaks down ethanol (alcohol).
6. Bananas, Dates, and Leafy Greens
These brightly colored foods contain potassium, an important electrolyte that is often depleted due to alcohol’s diuretic effect. Not feeling a salad first thing in the morning? Add some yogurt (which contains even more potassium) and blend into a hangover-fighting smoothie.
7. Chicken Soup
Nothing says “wild night out” like a bowl of mom’s famous chicken soup, right? It might not be the most conventional hangover food, but chicken soup can help restock sodium and water levels in the body. Chicken also contains cysteine, which give the liver a much-needed boost.
8. Miso Soup
Sushi is the last thing most people want to eat with a hangover, but there’s no reason to shun all Japanese food. Like traditional chicken noodle, miso soup is a great morning-after remedy—the broth rehydrates and restocks sodium levels while the fermented miso can help aid digestion.
9. Whole Grain Crackers or Toast with Honey
Since crackers can be loaded with preservatives, pick a healthier option like Wasa or a 100% whole-wheat variety. Crackers and whole-wheat toast are both bland carbs that slowly raise low blood sugar, without upsetting the stomach. Add a drizzle of mineral-rich honey for even more instant energy. Just remember to follow it with some protein later in the day to offset the blood-sugar surge.
This whole grain is a super food when you’re feeling less than stellar in the morning. A hot bowl of oatmeal has plenty of essential nutrients like B vitamins, calcium, magnesium, and iron. Plus, oats can help neutralize acids in the body and raise blood sugar levels, giving you an instant energy boost.
What to Avoid
2. Hair of the Dog
This wacky expression comes from a Norwegian folk saying that claims the best cure incorporates the substance that did the damage in the first place. Scandinavian wisdom aside, drinking in the morning is never the solution. An alcoholic beverage can help take the edge off in the morning, but it will further dehydrate the body and lead to even worse hangover symptoms later in the day.
3. Orange Juice
Lay off the OJ after a night on the town. Sour citrus like orange and grapefruit can irritate an already sensitive stomach. Also, skip tomato juice—it is also acidic, making a Bloody Mary at brunch probably the worst choice for a hungover morning.
When hungover, your body is screaming its loudest. Take the time to listen to your body and give it the break from toxins it needs to heal.
Jacqueline Corbett, MS RD LD
Registered Dietitian, #NKFitSquad Dietitian.
Making your own smoothie or protein shake may seem simple, but it can actually get tricky; adding too much of a healthy ingredient or adding ingredients that you think are healthy but actually aren't can lead to calorie overload or a messed up macro ratio.
Shakes should fall around 350 to 450 calories for a snack and up to 600 for a meal. You should use ingredients that contribute nutrients your body needs to stay healthy and meet your goals, not just add empty calories, like fruit juices or sorbet. Here’s what to consider when blending a shake:
You’ve just finished a great pump session with Natalie and feel ravenous for nutrients. For a muscle-building shake, aim for a 40:30:30 ratio of macros, 40% carbs, 30 % fat, and 30% protein. Focus on the protein for this goal and get at least 30g protein per shake to help build muscle mass. Protein powder, dairy, and nut butters should be calculated into your protein and fat macro ratios. There is no need to double down on the protein powder though. Any more than 40g protein at a time is wasted. Your body cannot process more than 40g. Therefore, you’re more likely to clog up your kidneys and experience constipation. That’s why bowel issues are the biggest complaints for those on the Atkins or carnivore diets.
The carbs in your shake should come from fruits and vegetables such as blueberries, spinach, and carrots. Fruits and vegetables are the main source of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Skip grains like oats or sweeteners such as honey. While these carbs also contain vitamins and minerals, they don’t have as many as actual fruits and veggies and will knock your macros out of proportion.
Still confused about which ingredients are best for you? Here are 10 ideas to make your shake healthier:
You shake should contain nutrient-dense ingredients for exercise recovery, muscle building, and cell nourishment. Get creative and make you nutrition powerhouse a perfect shake!
Jacqueline Corbett, MS RD LD
Registered Dietitian, NKFitSquad Dietitian
There are so many things that can disrupt your sleep — from stress about work deadlines to the temperature of the room —you find yourself tossing and turning after a late night with friends or an indulgent meal at home, you may need to reevaluate your eating habits. Read on for what to avoid and then some suggested foods to try for better sleep.
Eating too close to bedtime can be especially problematic if you're prone to heartburn. Laying horizontally after a meal can allow stomach acid to travel back up the esophagus, leading to a bitter taste in the mouth or burning in the chest.
TYPES OF FOOD
Spicy and acidic foods like tomatoes, tomato sauce, and citrus fruits may be problematic, and chocolate may also worsen reflux. Also, foods and beverages that contain caffeine, such as coffee, tea, and soda, should be avoided as well. Caffeine blocks a chemical that helps make you sleepy, and it's also a diuretic, which can cause you to make a trip to the bathroom during the night. Try cutting yourself off from caffeine before lunchtime.
Eating a large meal right before bedtime can also affect your ability to sleep. If your stomach feels overly full and you can feel the contents churning, this can cause discomfort and prevent you from falling asleep. A high-protein or high-fat meal is more difficult to digest and should be avoided before bed.
So what should you eat if you’re hungry and can’t sleep? Melatonin! Melatonin is the chemical that makes us sleepy at night. Light — either from the sun or the blue light from your laptop — suppresses melatonin. That means you should power down your devices in the evening, but supplementing with melatonin can also help improve sleep and combat insomnia. That said, taking it in the over-the-counter form you find in pharmacies may not be safe, particularly over the long-term. Instead, try one of these melatonin-packed foods:
Sleep is both one of the easiest activities and potentially frustrating things our bodies do. Research is still unclear on so many aspects of our sleep. Everybody sleeps differently. With time focusing on your body and brain connection, you will learn what works for your body.
Happy Fourth Everyone!
Backyard BBQ and beach days begin. With summer, I see an influx of patients with Plantar Fasciitis. Why does summer coincide with Plantar Fasciitis and foot pain you may ask? Two words: FLIP FLOPS.
Last year, I bit the bullet and actually bought a nice pair of $30 flip flops with arch support. Never again will I peruse the Old Navy 5$ flip flop wall buying every color imaginable. Not only are they not good for my feet, but honestly they didn’t last very long.
CLICK HERE for the flip flops I wear
So why are flip flops such an issue? The lack of arch support puts you at risk for Plantar Fasciitis.
Before we go into the how, let me explain what Plantar Fasciitis is. Fascia is a band or sheet of collagen connective tissue that connects muscle to bone. However, it also surrounds each muscle so that the muscles can glide on each other without getting “stuck”. In this case, the plantar fascia is a thick band of connective tissue that starts at the base of the heel and fans out to the toes. It also has connections to the Achilles tendon. It’s job is to stabilize the arch of the foot. When irritated it causes pain in the origin of the heel. Some symptoms include pain when first waking up in the morning or after sitting for a long period of time. Overtime if you don’t improve your symptoms, the tissue can begin to calcify and cause a bone spur.
Most flip flops don’t have the arch support needed for your foot. They have flat skinny soles that don’t absorb the necessary impact of the ground, leaving your arch to do all the work. On top of that your body weight is not supported properly. How many times have your heel slipped when walking in your flip flips. This causes the Plantar Fasciitis to become strained.
Follow these steps to improve your plantar fasciitis:
1. Buy appropriate flip flops that support your arch.
2. Wear them moderately
3. Perform exercises that are going to stretch your 2 calf muscles: the gastroc and soleus
4. Perform exercises to strengthen the muscles that support the arch of the foot
5. Roll the bottom of your foot with a ball or a water bottle placed in the freezer
6. Possible to wear a night splint at night to keep your foot in dorsiflexion (or up) to reduce pain in the morning.
Want more specific exercises?
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Carving out time to meal prep is challenging and can frankly be overwhelming for beginners. However, there is truth in the saying “failure to plan is planning to fail.” You need a surefire game plan that's most supportive of your goals. With time, you'll learn how to design your own dishes, and making meals ahead will become second nature. Read below for meal preparation design as fabulous as you are!
1. Protein for fat loss and muscle growth: Lean protein is essential for weight loss. It helps you feel full and aids in muscle recovery and growth — and the more muscle you have, the more calories you'll burn. But that doesn't mean you have to eat the same baked chicken at every meal. Try mixing things up with other picks.
2. Vegetables and fruit for weight loss and gut health:
If you're monitoring your digestion or trying to lose weight, fiber-rich fruits and vegetables should be the star of your plate. They're filling, and fiber helps regulate blood sugar, preventing cravings. All fruits and vegetables have different health benefits, so aim for variety — the more colors, the better. Here are some great ones to add:
3. Grains to round out the meals:
Carbs are not the enemy, as long as you pair them with a source of protein and some healthy fats for a well-balanced meal. Whole grains like brown rice and quinoa have more fiber and nutrients than refined grains like white bread. Try these picks.
4. Healthy fats to nutrient absorption:
Healthy fats are more calorie-dense than carbs and protein, but that only serves to make your meals more satiating and help you absorb your veggies’ nutrients. Plus, fats are crucial for a healthy brain and hormone function. These are the ones worth adding to your list.
5. Get cooking!
Once you get all those healthy foods home, and you're ready to start cooking, remember that certain methods will better serve your goals than others. Stick with grilling, roasting, steaming, and sautéing using low-sodium broth or water. If you're trying to eat healthier, you'll want to avoid frying your food or cooking in a lot of oil or butter.
6. Portion it out
Assemble a protein, healthy fat, and veggies or fruit with each meal. A whole grain should be an accompaniment to add texture to your meals. While portion sizes are highly individual, make sure veggies are at least half your plate. For example, to create a meal with about 400 calories, include 3/4 cup pulses (such as canned, no-salt-added chickpeas) as a protein, 10 kalamata olives as a healthy fat, 3/4 cup grape tomatoes, 1/4 cup onion, and 2 cups spinach sautéed in low-sodium broth, 1/2 cup cooked whole-wheat pasta for a whole grain topped with 1/4 cup tomato sauce. You can also add seasoning as you like, such as black pepper.
When you need to eyeball it, many experts recommend following the 50/25/25 rule, in which you fill 50% of your plate with fruits and nonstarchy vegetables, 25% with lean protein, and 25% with whole grains or starchy vegetables, with a small amount of fat (such as nuts or avocado) mixed in.
Changing how you shop and cook can be overwhelming, but totally worth the effort. Have fun and get creative. As long as you portion out your foods, you can branch out and come up with your own creations.
Women's Health & Fitness Specialist.