If you’re looking to improve your health, The Collagen Diet by Dr Josh Axe is a really great resource.
Despite its title, this book isn’t only about Collagen. It’s about improving your health from a holistic point of view. Yes, collagen is the cornerstone, but he also touches on subjects of sleep, exercise, supplements, Chinese herbal medicine, essential oils, gut health and CBD Oil to name a few.
This book is structured in three parts. Part one, is where Dr Josh Axe teaches you everything you need to know about Collagen, it’s co-factors and its “enemies”. In part two, he explains what collagen can do for you. Throughout both parts he goes to town with educational explanations on every recommendation he puts forth. In Part three, he introduces you to his 3-day cleanse, 28-Day diet plan and recipes.
So, what is Collagen and What can it do for you?
“Collagen is a strong, springy, fibrous substance that is woven into dozens of your body’s tissues. Its responsible in large part for the firmness and elasticity of your skin, the strength of your nails and bones, and the pliability of your cartilage, tendons, muscles, gut lining, and blood vessels.”
In your mid-twenties, your body’s natural collagen production begins to decline “at a rate of about 1 percent per year; a drop-off that accelerates in your forties and fifties. By the time you reach your early fifties, you produce roughly 30 percent less natural collagen than you did in your twenties”. As we age, it becomes increasingly vital to get this substance from your diet.
Being deficient in collagen can manifest both internally and externally, leading to conditions from Arthritis, slower wound healing, decreased bone density, gastrointestinal problems, immune issues, chronic inflammation, food sensitivities and heart problems, to the more superficial; wrinkles, cellulite, sagging skin, hair loss and brittle nails.
Dr Josh Axe says that adding 20 to 50 grams to your diet can improve the health of all these things.
“One of the reasons collagen can play such disparate roles in your body is because it’s a protein – and proteins, and the amino acids they contain, are incredibly versatile.”
Meet the ingredient that might change your life
There are six types of Collagen, which come from different sources and are found in different concentrations throughout the body, carrying out different functions.
Type I, for example, makes up more than 90% of the collagen in your body. It is used in your skin, bones, tendons, ligaments, supporting structures around organs, the meniscus, and the intervertebral disks. Consuming it can help us avoid injury, benefit skin elasticity, and reduce pain in people with osteoarthritis.
All six types are found in animal sources (making it impossible to find a vegan version). Sources include beef bones, beef muscle, fish skin, eggshell membrane, chicken skin, chicken bones, duck bones, turkey bones and organ meats (i.e. liver, kidney, heart, sweetbreads).
Although you can get Collagen from a supplement, Dr Axe is a huge proponent for bone broth which he repeatedly lists as the best source. If you want to give either a try, we have recipes for both beef bone broth and chicken bone broth, which you can find here.
Collagen in supplement form is made from dried, concentrated real bone broth or animal parts as listed above. Dr Axe explains that “these parts are typically cleaned, soaked to separate fat, and then soaked in an alkaline or acid solution to help release the collagen. The collagen is then evaporated and milled into a fine, consistent powder that is easy for the body to absorb and utilize.
As with most dietary interventions, Dr Axe takes the time to educate that adding Collagen alone to your diet isn’t enough to make major changes. Rather Collagen works at its most optimal level when;
- It is paired with collagen co-factors
- You eliminate foods from your diet that tear Collagen down
- It is used in conjunction with treatment methods that support and promote collagen production
What are Collagen Co-factors
Collagen co-factors help your body synthesize proteins and lipids and can help your body retain collagen and make it function more effectively. They also reduce inflammation and free radical damage.
Vegetables (Dark leafy greens, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, garlic, onions, leeks, chives)
Fruit (Berries, cherries, grapes, avocados, olives, kiwi, apple pineapples, citrus)
Fermented foods (Kimchi, sauerkraut, miso, tempeh, natto, yogurt, kefir, kombucha, apple cider vinegar)
Protein (Wild-caught fatty fish, bone broth, grass fed meats, pasture-raised poultry, raw organic fermented dairy products)
Fats and oils (Coconut oil, grass fed butter, ghee, extra virgin olive oil)
Herbs and spices (Turmeric, ginger, cloves, cinnamon, rosemary, parsley, thyme, sage, oregano, cayenne, black pepper, basil, mint)
What destroys Collagen?
This should come to no one’s surprise that the foods that destroy collagen are the usual culprits villanised in lifestyle diseases and removed from common dieting methods; refined carbs, fried foods, sugar sweetened beverages and processed meats.
Treatment methods that support and promote collagen production
When it comes to using collagen to boost your appearance, Dr Axe makes specific mention that “Collagen does not work in a vacuum”. He recommends three beauty treatments. These being;
- Red light therapy (RLT). Read our full story on that and how we incorporate RLT daily.
- Microneedling, and
My thoughts on The Collagen Diet
Reading an educational book isn’t easy or quick and can sometimes be dry reading but it doesn’t take away from the value of the content. The Collagen Diet is highly educational. I really appreciated that Dr Josh Axe took the time to go into depth on every recommendation, ingredient and biological action. He doesn’t want to dictate to you on what you should be doing, he wants to explain to you the science behind his advice so that you can draw the correct conclusions yourself.
He so successfully sells Collagen to you, that I am SO ready to sign the dotted line on his 3-day cleanse. As soon as I can find a kosher Collagen powder. The 3-day cleanse makes use of intermittent fasting and collagen loading and of it he says;
In just three days, the collagen cleanse can help you lose weight, normalise blood sugar, decrease cholesterol, promote growth hormone, help you think more clearly, slash inflammation, reset hunger hormones to healthy levels, slow the aging process and possibly add years to your life.
Sounds miraculous doesn’t it? 😉
If the cleanse isn’t for you (and even if it is), his 28-day diet plan is a really solid way of incorporating all of his suggestions without having to do any of the hard work. His plan has you eating 3 meals a day, an optional snack and in a few instances, dessert after dinner. Every food item can be found in his recipe section and every recipe incorporates collagen, its co-factors and leaves out the bad.
My only ‘criticism’ is the emphasis he puts on “grass-fed”, “pasture raised”, “wild-caught”, “organic”. While I fully appreciate the wisdom behind these recommendations; (avoiding pesticides and chemicals in non-organic produce, and hormones and contaminants in conventionally raised animals) it came across as that is the ONLY way. Does that mean his diet is unachievable to many? If the only protein I’m able to purchase doesn’t have a “wild caught” or “pasture raised” label on it, does it mean it’s bad for me? Or is it better than no protein at all?
The Collagen Diet was given to us by Jonathan Ball Publishers and is available here. Jonathan Ball Publishers nor the author approved or reviewed this piece prior to publication. Opinions + images are our own.
Feige is the co-founder of Nutreats. She likes to code things, design things, and all things beauty.