Postpartum Superfoods: Collagen
You may have heard about collagen powder or seen it at health food stores - it’s become a popular health food recently! Do I love it? Yes, I’m a fan. I think it’s an awesome addition to your postpartum pantry...which is why I’m writing about it today, of course.
What is collagen anyway? Why all the hype?
Collagen is a protein, and is in fact the most abundant protein in the human body. Cool, right?! There’s a little something to keep in your back pocket for the next time you find yourself at a trivia night or something. (Okay, maybe it’s just cool to me, but I’m a nerd for this stuff.)
Collagen is located mostly in tendons, ligaments, and skin. It’s also found in cartilage, in the gut, and even bones, muscles, blood vessels, intervertebral discs, corneas, and dentin in teeth.
People are interested in collagen for a few main reasons: to help with joint issues, for gut healing, and as a natural beauty/skin supplement.
Why is it a good choice for a healing postpartum diet?
The amino acid content (read: protein) in collagen is beneficial before, during, and after pregnancy! Here are a few key areas to take note of:
To quote my friend Wikipedia: “Collagen is one of the body’s key natural resources and a component of skin tissue that can benefit all stages of the wound healing process.” After giving birth, there are wounds that need care and attention - both ones we can see (vaginal) and ones we can’t see (the placenta detaching from the uterine wall).
Hair, skin, and nails
Let’s talk about this for a moment. As you probably know or have discovered already, there’s lots of changes that can happen in these areas during and after pregnancy. It’s not vanity to try and deal with these changes; it’s actually important to address them. Collagen is a big component of hair, skin, and nails, and can help with both preventing and healing common concerns: stretch marks, hair falling out, dry or discoloured skin, weak or brittle nails.
Collagen is very healing to the lining of your digestive tract. I could (and should) write an entire post about the gut lining itself, and why you want to keep it in good shape. Just know that collagen protein can help repair a leaky gut, which benefits your digestion, which benefits your overall health. Digestion can get wonky during pregnancy and postpartum, but there’s a lot we can do, starting with eating healing foods!
Bones and joints
During pregnancy, birth, and postpartum, you’ve got extra strain on your bones and joints. We need to do what we can to keep bones and joints working optimally, to prevent aches and pains. Collagen protein is a brilliant thing to add to your diet because it’s a huge component of cartilage, ligaments, and tendons.
Simply put: proteins is essential for so many aspects of body healing and repair. Collagen powder is a good way to get more of it in your diet during this busy time. It can easily be added to smoothies or hot drinks.
I also like that it’s easily digested (see note below on choosing hydrolyzed collagen) and contains a different amino acid profile than your typical sources of protein. Many of us eat the same sources of protein again and again, and including a collagen powder can help balance out your intake of various amino acids.
What kind should I get?
Look for collagen powder that’s hydrolyzed - this means it’s been broken down into smaller components and is more easily digested. Secondly, look for one that is sourced from grass-fed cows. If you prefer, there are also marine/fish sourced collagen powders on the market, too. Head’s up: you won’t find any plant-based sources, since collagen is strictly an animal/mammal product.
There are many brands that you can peruse at your local health food store. The one I use most often is by Organika (pictured above) since it meets my requirements and I’ve found it to be the most cost effective at the moment. Great Lakes, Vital Proteins, and Bulletproof are also excellent choices.
How can I start using this?
My favourite way to consume collagen powder is in a hot drink. Check out my turmeric latte and hot chocolate recipes - both super healing, delicious, and comforting postpartum beverages. If you’re into smoothies, you can easily add collagen to them. It can be added to any preferred drink or liquid!
When possible, as always, rest up - have someone make and bring your food and drink to you.
To your health and healing!