What’s the Scoop on Collagen Powder?

Your skin covers your whole body and is a protective barrier from all sorts of environmental dangers [1]. Part of what makes your skin is a type of protein called collagen.

Collagen is a protein found in our skin, bones, joints, and other tissues to help maintain strength, structure, or elasticity [1]. There are different types of collagen:

  • Type I is found mostly in skin, bones, tendons, and ligaments.
  • Type II found in cartilage and skin as well [2]. When our skin ages, it’s because the collagen in it is deteriorating. Type I is found mostly in skin, bones, tendons, and ligaments.
  • Type III is typically found with Type I and is also a component of connective tissue [2].

I keep hearing about different types of collagen supplements. How are they different?  

The collagen supplements you may see in health food stores come from three major sources – chicken, bovine (from cows), and marine (from fish). Since cow and marine collagen are usually Type I, it is often recommended by professionals for healthier skin. Chicken collagen, which is usually Type II, has gotten attention in recent years for its rumoured role in joint health. 

Is it true that collagen levels decrease naturally over time?

Yes! As we age, your body breaks down collagen at a faster rate in your skin, bones, and joints. Here are a few signs you can begin to notice with time [3][4]:

  • Wrinkles on your skin
  • Aching muscles
  • Issues with your gut
  • Poor wound healing

I’ve noticed some of these things! Will collagen powder help me?

So you’ve noticed some wrinkles and are considering collagen supplements. The thing is, though, that consuming collagen supplements does not necessarily mean it will go straight to your skin (or joints) and make them healthier or stronger.

Let’s look at what happens in our body when we consume collagen supplements [5]:

As shown above, your body will decide where and how to use the amino acids broken down from your collagen powder supplement.

But what does the research say?

Good, unbiased research articles that show clear benefits to taking collagen supplements are few and far between. While waiting for more conclusive evidence to come through, it is important to remember that our bodies are amazing and actually make collagen naturally anyways! By consuming a balanced diet with enough protein and making sure you aren’t missing out on important vitamins and minerals, you will be able to give your body the tools to make the collagen you need.

So what’s needed to make collagen? 

Your body needs protein, vitamin C, and trace minerals like zinc, sulfur, and copper to make collagen. Let’s explore each one:

  • Vitamin C and other antioxidants not only help with making collagen but also protect it [5] [6]. It can be found in fruits and vegetables like oranges, bell peppers, strawberries, and broccoli. 
  • Zinc assists in the process of making collagen and also comes in handy with wound healing [6]. It is mostly found in meat, whole grains, pulses, and seafood, so consider foods like bran cereal, pumpkin seeds, baked beans, organ meats, and even oysters for some natural sources of this important mineral.
  • Sulfur as part of glutathione prevents the breakdown of collagen in your body [7]. It can mostly be found in protein foods and things like onion and garlic. If you’ve ever wondered what makes these foods taste and smell the way they do, sulfur is your answer!
  • Copper is a major player in building collagen. It can be found in organ meats and seafood such as lobster and oysters [8]. For those hoping to avoid animal products, sesame seeds contain some copper as well. Vitamin C and other antioxidants not only help with making collagen but also protect it. It can be found in fruits and vegetables like oranges, bell peppers, strawberries, and broccoli. 
In conclusion…

Collagen production is actually quite simple: by eating a well balanced diet and a variety of healthy foods, you can ensure that you’ll get all the nutrients your body needs naturally. And most of all, you won’t have to spend money on supplements 😉

Until next time,

Huda Amareh, MAHN, RD & Almas-Sadaf Shaikh, PMDip, RD

*Please be aware that these are general guidelines. Nutrition and intake varies by age, sex, height, activity, being pregnant or breastfeeding, and medical conditions. For more information or to sit with one of our dietitians for an individualized nutrition counselling session, please contact us at amananutrition@gmail.com or visit our Contact Us page to book your first appointment.

References:

[1] Vollmer, D., West, V., & Lephart, E. (2018). Enhancing skin health: By oral administration of natural compounds and minerals with implications to the dermal microbiome. International journal of molecular sciences19(10), 3059.

[2] Ricard-Blum, S. (2011). The collagen family. Cold Spring Harbor perspectives in biology, 3(1), a004978.

[3] Avila Rodriguez, M. I., Rodriguez Barroso, L. G., & Sánchez, M. L. (2018). Collagen: A review on its sources and potential cosmetic applications. Journal of cosmetic dermatology, 17(1), 20-26.

[4] Rangaraj, A., Harding, K., & Leaper, D. (2011). Role of collagen in wound management. Wounds uk, 7(2), 54-63.

[5] Murad, S., Grove, D., Lindberg, K. A., Reynolds, G., Sivarajah, A., & Pinnell, S. R. (1981). Regulation of collagen synthesis by ascorbic acid. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 78(5), 2879-2882.

[6] Bishop, A., Witts, S., & Martin, T. (2018). The role of nutrition in successful wound healing. Journal of Community Nursing, 32(4).

[7] Liu, R. M., Liu, Y., Forman, H. J., Olman, M., & Tarpey, M. M. (2004). Glutathione regulates transforming growth factor-β-stimulated collagen production in fibroblasts. American Journal of Physiology-Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology, 286(1), L121-L128.

[8] Harris, E. D., Rayton, J. K., Balthrop, J. E., DiSilvestro, R. A., & Garcia-de-Quevedo, M. (1980). Copper and the synthesis of elastin and collagen. In Ciba Foundation Symposium (Vol. 79, pp. 163-182).

Cool Cucumber Lemon!

Cucumber and Lemon battle it out in this refreshing flavoured water drink!

You will need:

  • ½ cucumber, sliced
  • ½ lemon, sliced
  • 1L (4 cups) tap water

Directions

  1. Combine lemon and cucumber in a pitcher.
  2. Pour in tap water and cover before placing in the fridge for 3-4 hours, allowing for flavours to blend.

Serve cold and enjoy!

Orange Mango Mayhem!

Ever wondered what happens when you mix orange and mango in water? You’re about to find out!

Put aside:

  • 1 cm (about ½ inch) of ginger
  • 1 small orange, sliced
  • ½ cup of mango chunks
  • 1.5L (6 cups) tap water

Directions

  1. Place ginger, water, orange, and mango into a large pitcher and lightly mix with a spoon to have the flavour infuse a bit better.
  2. Cover and place in the fridge for 3-4 hours. Serve cold or with crushed ice.

Fasting with Diabetes

Everyone is different, so Diabetes Canada recommends seeing your health care provider 1-3 months before ramadan to determine if it is safe for you to fast [1].

Diabetes is a widespread issue in the Muslim community – you may even know someone living with it! There are over 148 million Muslims living with diabetes around the world [2]. Checking your blood sugar, taking insulin, and remembering to take your medications… how do these coexist with fasting during the beautiful month of Ramadan? What does Islam say about this, and what does today’s research recommend?

ISLAM AND FASTING

Fasting in Islam is a requirement for healthy adults, however Allah (God) has allowed (and even recommended) that people with serious illnesses not fast.

This is clearly in the Qur’an (Islam’s Holy Book), which includes the following verse:

The month of Ramadan [is that] in which was revealed the Qur’an, a guidance for the people and clear proofs of guidance and criterion. So whoever sights [the new moon of] the month, let him fast it; and whoever is ill or on a journey – then an equal number of other days. Allah intends for you ease and does not intend for you hardship and [wants] for you to complete the period and to glorify Allah for that [to] which He has guided you; and perhaps you will be grateful.” (Surah al-Baqarah, Ayah 185) [3]

Islamic scholars have explained that a person living with any sickness/medical condition that would worsen with fasting should avoid it [4]. In addition, there are accounts of the Prophet Muhammed (pbuh) stating that, “Verily, Allah loves for you to take His concessions, just as He dislikes you to be disobedient” [5]. These proofs, among others, show that Muslims should not feel bad for avoiding the fast for health reasons. But how does this tie into diabetes?

DIABETES

Fasting while living with diabetes can result in some serious risks [6]:

  • Hypoglycemia, which means low blood sugar levels (<3.9mmol/L)
  • Hyperglycemia, which means high blood sugar levels (>16.7mmol/L) [7]
  • Dehydration & thrombosis, especially in hot and long days of fasting
  • Diabetic ketoacidosis, which means your body is breaking down fat, making your blood acidic. This is very dangerous and can lead to hospitalization.

Diabetes Canada explains that those with low to moderate risk that can fast with medical advice usually have diabetes that’s well controlled, healthy lifestyle measures in place, or an otherwise healthy individual that is treating diabetes with medication such as metformin, acarbose, incretin-therapies (DPP-4 inhibitors or GLP-1 RA), second generation SU, SGLT2 inhibitors, TZD) or basal insulin [8].

If you would like more information on risks relating to fasting in Ramadan for those living with diabetes speak to your family doctor and visit Diabetes Canada’s Ramadan and Diabetes Guidelines.

Always remember to check your blood sugars more often in Ramadan to make sure they are not too low or too high. Keep an eye on your symptoms for each and ask your doctor how to treat a high or low!

If you and your doctor decide that fasting in Ramadan is safe for you, one of the ways to help stabilize your blood sugars is to be mindful of what and when you eat! This is where evidenced based advice from a Dietitian comes in handy!

NUTRITION

Suhoor (The Pre-Dawn Meal):

Suhoor is important and should be eaten as close as possible to the fajr (dawn prayer). An early suhoor means you’re just making the fast even longer – and we don’t want that!

To support this practice, we know the “Prophet (pbuh) said: “My Ummah (nation of followers) will not cease being upon goodness as long as they hasten in breaking the fast and delay the suhoor.” (Authentic, Musnad Imam Ahmad) [9]

Tips for Suhoor:

  • Have suhoor! This will help break up your daily food intake so you’re not just having one big meal at iftaar (the breaking of the fast) aka a sugar spike!
  • Eat a good amount! This will increase energy levels and lower the chance of low blood sugars

Be sure to include:

  • Carbohydrates: Have whole grains and foods with low glycemic index (these will raise blood sugars slowly)
    • Examples: whole grain bread/pita, whole wheat chappatti, laxoox/enjeero made with whole wheat flour, sareen (barley porridge), daal (lentils), or ful (fava beans).
  • Protein: Have protein to help you feel full longer.
    • Choose meat options, such as lean poultry, beef, or fatty fish, or meat alternatives, like eggs, beans, lentils, and tofu.
  • Fat: Have healthy unsaturated fats to help you feel full.
    • Choose nuts, seeds, avocado, fatty fish, and unsaturated vegetable oils (olive, canola, flaxseed, sunflower, etc).

An example Suhoor: Vegetable omelet with whole grain bread, a cup of berries and water

Iftar:

As tempting as it is, try not to overeat! This will spike your blood sugars! Have a date and water to rehydrate, and avoid the fried samosa/sambusa/pakora/bhajia etc! They have little nutrition, and can fill you up when your body needs a nutritious and fulfilling meal. Ramadan is a time for spiritual cleansing, and it can be a great time to clean your diet too as your body is an amana!

Tips for Iftaar:

  • Follow the Plate Method:
    • ½ plate with your favourite vegetables
    • ¼ plate with protein
    • ¼ plate with carbohydrates
  • As with suhoor, choose whole grains and low glycemic index foods (to avoid raising blood sugars too high), lean meats or meat alternatives, and healthy unsaturated fats.

An example of an iftar meal: Dolma (meat stuffed grape leaves) with whole wheat couscous, & fattoush salad.

Ramadan is a time for spiritual cleansing, and it can be a great time to clean your diet too as your body is an Amana!

Snacks:

Incorporate two snacks between iftar and suhoor.

  • Timing is everything. Going for taraweeh (Ramadan night prayers) at 10pm? Consider having a snack on your way to the mosque/musalla. Rehydrate with water in between prayers and go in for a second snack on your way back home before bed. (Remember: if you avoid overeating at iftar, you leave room for snacks to space out your food intake- i.e stable blood sugars)
  • These snacks should ultimately include both protein and carbs, so that the protein can slow down the absorption of carbs and not cause your blood sugars to spike.
  • Great ideas for snacks include greek yogurt (a good source of protein!) with some tropical fruit, such as mango. Maybe even get really fancy and have some almond butter (oh là là!) on whole grain crackers. Have fun with it!

Let us know what snack and meal ideas you come up with this Ramadan in the comments. We’d love to hear from you!

**Ask your family doctor if fasting in Ramadan is safe for you. If you do decide to fast, it is important to talk to your doctor about any adjustments required, such as: medication dosage and timing, how often you should check your blood sugars, as well as when and how you should break your fast. **

*Please be aware that these are general guidelines. Nutrition and intake varies by age, sex, height, activity, being pregnant or breastfeeding, and medical conditions. For more information or to sit with one of our dietitians for an individualised nutrition counselling session, please contact us at amananutrition@gmail.com or visit our Contact Us page to book your first online appointment.

Until next time,

Huda Amareh, MAHN, RD & Almas-Sadaf Shaikh, PMDip, RD

Amana Nutrition


References:

[1] Diabetes Canada, (2018). Ramadan and Diabetes. Retrieved from http://guidelines.diabetes.ca/healthcareprovidertools/ramadan-and-diabetes

[2] Salti I, Benard E, Detournay B, et al. A population-based study of diabetes and its characteristics during the fasting month of Ramadan in 13 countries: results of the epidemiology of diabetes and Ramadan 1422/2001 (EPIDIAR) study. Diabetes Care 2004;27:2306-11.

[3] Surah al-Baqarah, Ayah 185. Sahih International English Translation.

[4] Al-Mawsoo’ah al-Fiqhiyyah, V. 2. (2010, July 24). Reasons for which one may excused from fasting in Ramadaan – Islam Question & Answer. Retrieved from https://islamqa.info/en/answers/23296/reasons-for-which-one-may-excused-from-fasting-in-ramadaan  

[5] Musnad Aḥmad ibn Hanbal 5832. Sahih (authentic) according to Al-Albani

[6] Hassanein, M. (2018). The International Diabetes Federation- Diabetes and Ramadan: A Challenge and an Opportunity? . [PDF slides]. Retrieved from

[7]  American Diabetes Association. (2004). Hospital admission guidelines for diabetes. Diabetes Care, 27(suppl 1), s103-s103.

[8] Bajaj, H. S., Abouhassan, T., Ahsan, M. R., Arnaout, A., Hassanein, M., Houlden, R. L., … & Verma, S. (2019). Diabetes Canada Position Statement for People With Types 1 and 2 Diabetes Who Fast During Ramadan. Canadian journal of diabetes, 43(1), 3-12.

[9] Musnad Aḥmad ibn Hanbal. Sahih (authentic).